Somalis, Kenyans hail al-Qaida mastermind’s death

June 12, 2011

ABDI GULED, Associated Press

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — A Kenyan man blinded in an al-Qaida attack on a U.S. Embassy 13 years ago said Sunday he welcomed news of the death of the mastermind who planned the blasts in Kenya and Tanzania, as Somalis said they hoped his death in their war-torn country would bring peace.

Somali officials announced Saturday that their soldiers killed Fazul Abdullah Mohammed at a checkpoint in the capital, Mogadishu, on Tuesday.

The death of Mohammed — a man who topped the FBI’s most wanted list for nearly 13 years for planning the Aug. 7, 1998, bombings in Kenya and Tanzania — is the third major strike in six weeks against the worldwide terror group that was headed by Osama bin Laden until his death last month.

Mohammed had been on the run for more than a decade with a $5 million bounty on his head. He was thought to be hiding in Somalia, whose ineffective government has been unable to stop terror groups from operating.

Douglas Sidialo, who was blinded by the bombing in Kenya’s capital of Nairobi, said he welcomed the news.

“God the creator has delivered Fazul Abdullah Mohammed to his destiny the same way he delivered bin Laden to his destiny,” he said. “When you kill by the sword, bullets and bombs you die through a similar tragedy.”

Thousands were wounded when a pickup truck rigged as a bomb exploded outside the four-story U.S. Embassy building. Within minutes, another bomb shattered the U.S. mission in Tanzania’s commercial capital, Dar es Salaam.

Sidialo added: “Killing terrorists only breeds more terrorists. We must find a lasting solution to this menace.”

In Somalia, residents of the capital said they hoped Mohammed’s death would bring peace after decades of conflict.

“I am undoubtedly happy with his death because he was a killer, a plotter and a violence organizer,” said Ali Abdi, 27, a trader. “The death of a blood-absorber like Fazul will help peace and demoralize terrorism. As Somalis, we suffered a lot as the result of actions like his violent ones.”

Somali civilians are regularly caught in the crossfire between militants and forces defending the U.N.-backed government. The top militant group, al-Shabab, also uses harsh punishments, such as executions, in a bid to coerce the public into submission.

Representatives of al-Shabab did not immediately confirm Mohammed’s death.

On Saturday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton — who was on a visit to Tanzania as Somali officials confirmed Mohammed’s death — called the killing a “significant blow to al-Qaida, its extremist allies, and its operations in East Africa.

“It is a just end for a terrorist who brought so much death and pain to so many innocents in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam and elsewhere — Tanzanians, Kenyans, Somalis, and our own embassy personnel,” Clinton said.

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