When the Israeli-owned Paradise Hotel on Mombasa's Kikambala beach was blown up on the morning of 28 November--allegedly by the Al Qaeda network--serious questions were asked about what Kenyan and Western intelligence knew. Or who was behind the "missile attack" on the Israeli Arkia Airlines Boeing 757 that was taking off from Mombasa Airport with 264 Israelis on board.
The Kikambala Beach attack killed 16 people, including the three suicide bombers. The fact that some Israeli tourists managed to rake off with their belongings as Kenyan TV footage showed them sitting on top of heavy briefcases away from the burning building, baffled many independent observers. How did they get all that out in the midst of the mayhem?, Kenyans are now asking.
Another mystery is why the terrorists decided to repaint the two launch tubes used to launch the surface-to-air missiles--from either camouflage khaki or olive drab to brilliant skyblue--and later abandoned them near the Mombasa Airport perimeter?
Military experts in Nairobi told New African that the two launchers were "real" but had no heavy battery packs, which were missing. They had been designed to fire the SA-7B "Strela" missile, an infra-red heat seeker attracted by engine gases.
It is still a miracle how the Israeli aircraft managed to evade the two missiles. The plane could have been fitted with "secret-on-board defences", according to Western news agencies. But the airliner has yet to confirm that it is fitted with such technology. All we know is that the captain of the plane insists he "saw two smoke trails coming up from behind the airplane on the left side, a bit above us".
Did some group or intelligence agency other than the usual suspects--Al Qaeda--organise it, to seek a link between the Palestinians and Al Qaeda? At first, a group calling itself the Army of Palestine claimed responsibility for the attacks. That was soon dismissed and quickly replaced with either Al Qaeda or the Somali-based group, AI-Itihad al-Islamiya, also known as Islamic Union. On 8 December, it was reported that Al Qaeda had accepted responsibility on an internet website.
Another question was why the Kenyan authorities did not act on a tip-off about the attacks. Some Western intelligence agencies were quoted by the British daily, The Guardian, as saying that the Australians knew about the then...