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Bomb suspects 'had US passports'
By Patrick Sawer, Evening Standard
29 November 2002

Two of 12 suspects being held in connection with the terrorist attack which killed 15 at a Kenyan hotel were using US passports, it was claimed today.

The manager of a hotel where the man and woman were staying when the suicide bombers devastated the Mombasa Paradise today revealed the pair were from Florida. Ben Wafula, general manager of Le Soleil Beach Club, said: "They had American passports and they said they were from Florida."

It came as the bodies of the Israeli victims were flown home today. The dead were identified as brothers Noy and Dvir Anter, aged 12 and 14, from the West Bank settlement of Ariel, and Albert Dehaville, a 60-year-old tour guide from Raanana.

Mr Wafula said the suspects were a mixed-race man and a white woman, both in their early twenties. They arrived on Monday and were trying to check out yesterday morning, two hours after the bombing of the Paradise Hotel, about three miles away. Staff alerted police.

US embassy spokesman Peter Claussen, when asked about the US passport holders, said it had "indications from its own information that this may be correct".

The latest development increases suspicion that the attack on the Paradise Hotel and the simultaneous firing of two missiles at an Israeli jet leaving Mombasa airport was the work of al Qaeda.

The flight school used by a number of the 11 September hijackers was in Florida. But if the pair are linked to the attack it will also embarrass the US authorities that they were able to travel freely. Police commissioner Philemon Abong'o said: "I feel they could give us useful information."

US and Israeli agents have joined the search for the terror gang and are searching the wreckage of the hotel for clues.

All 235 Israeli survivors of the attack were flown home as their government vowed to catch the terrorists. Arriving at Lod airforce base, near Tel Aviv, some spoke of their terror and questioned whether they would ever be able to feel safe anywhere. Many cried with relief as they fell into the arms of loved ones.

The call to hunt down the Kenya bombers was led by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who won re-election as the leader of the Likud party, defeating his hawkish foreign minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

In his victory speech Mr Sharon called for party unity, and was echoed in his appeal by Mr Netanyahu. The 74-year-old Prime Minister is expected to be returned to office in the general election in January.

The Israeli army sent a team of 150 doctors, psychologists and soldiers to Mombasa after the attack on the hotel which killed nine Kenyans, three Israelis and the three suicide bombers. Traditional dancers bore the brunt of the explosion after a jeep packed with explosives crashed through the gates.

Meanwhile, Osama bin Laden's brother today confirmed that the voice on a tape released three weeks ago was that of the world's most wanted terrorist. Yeslam bin Laden, 52, said he recognised the voice on the tape and others that have surfaced in past months.

In the latest tape Bin Laden warned Britain, Australia, France, Italy, Canada and Germany not to join a US-led war in Iraq or they would face the kind of "scattered attacks that have taken place recently".

Downing Street, while refusing to confirm details publicly, signalled it was aware of warnings received in Australia. But Tony Blair's spokesman reaffirmed his reluctance to spread alarm on the basis of vague intelligence.

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Simultaneous kenya attacks

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