Kenya Hands Over Al Qaeda Suspect to U.S. Officials
Kenya handed over a suspected member of the Al Qaeda terror network to American officials Wednesday, saying he participated in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa that killed 231 people, including 12 Americans.
The suspect was identified by authorities as Suleiman Abdalla Salim Hemed.
National Security Minister Chris Murungaru said Hemed, whose alleged involvement in the bombings was not detailed, already was on his way to the United States, but he would not elaborate.
U.S. officials in Nairobi refused to comment on Hemed, whose nationality was unclear. He has claimed to be from several East African countries and Afghanistan, Murungaru said.
Hemed provided information on the Aug. 7, 1998, embassy bombings in Kenya and neighboring Tanzania and gave investigators “useful leads” on the Nov. 28 suicide bombing at Kenya’s coastal Paradise Hotel, the minister said. The hotel blast killed 11 Kenyans and three Israeli tourists.
Investigators told Associated Press that they believe the attacks are linked.
Hemed, who reportedly used the aliases Ngaka and Chuck Norris, also told investigators about “possible future terrorist plans in the region,” Murungaru said.
Somali gunmen seized Hemed on March 18 from a hospital in Mogadishu, the capital of neighboring Somalia, and handed him over to Kenyan authorities.
Last week, U.S. officials in Washington said Hemed was believed to be a low- or mid-level Al Qaeda operative suspected of involvement in the embassy bombings.
Four men are serving life prisons in the United States for their roles in the embassy bombings.
The officials said it was unclear whether Hemed was involved in the Nov. 28 attacks. The previously unknown Army of Palestine and Al Qaeda both claimed responsibility.