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Hunt for Suspects In Embassy Bombings Elicits Anger in Kenya

Kenyan Premier Raila Odinga, second from left, visits a Nairobi memorial Aug. 7 for victims of the embassy bombings. Authorities, hunting for suspects, conducted raids around the same time.
Kenyan Premier Raila Odinga, second from left, visits a Nairobi memorial Aug. 7 for victims of the embassy bombings. Authorities, hunting for suspects, conducted raids around the same time. (By Khalil Senosi -- Associated Press)

Acting upon that information -- but apparently without informing FBI agents or Malindi authorities -- Kenyan anti-terrorism agents descended on the cafe, where they found Ashur and questioned him. They suspected his family was harboring Fazul, but when they reached their apartment, he was not there.

They arrested Ashur and his parents and confiscated two passports and a computer they said Fazul had left behind. A second U.S. official in the region expressed frustration that FBI agents were not involved.

"We would have loved to have been with them when they knocked those doors down, but they didn't inform us," said the official, who was not authorized to discuss the matter.

Around the same time, about two dozen Kenyan anti-terrorism police descended on Amina Adan's house, down the road. Adan and her three children, terrified that they were being robbed, barricaded themselves in an upstairs bedroom as the officers broke through three heavy wooden doors and rifled through the family's belongings. The authorities confiscated their cellphones and passports.

Adan said she is an acquaintance of Ashur's family but had no idea why her house was raided.

"They are just looking for something to do so they can say they are working," said Adan's daughter, Mumina Fazzini, 21. "I think they have failed -- they are poor in their jobs so they have to try something."

Karia would not comment further on the raids but said legitimate operations are often wrongly interpreted as a crackdown against Muslims. He added that capturing Fazul has been "a challenge" because of the support he receives from Kenyans who live along the coast.

"It's only the sympathizers who are keeping him from being arrested," Karia said.

Kimathi, the human rights advocate, said the Kenyan anti-terrorism unit has cultivated a network of informants who often supply its agents with names of people who turn out to be business enemies, or others with whom they are trying to settle scores. The informants receive a stipend for information, he said.

In the Nairobi neighborhood of Eastleigh, mostly composed of Somali immigrants and Somali Kenyans, residents say they and their neighbors have been harassed routinely by the unit, arrested without charge and asked for bribes for their release.

"Americans must know they're dealing with police in a third-world country . . .," said Guled Hassan, 42, a businessman. "Only this week several people have been arrested just for ransom, because anyone who paid the police was released."

Similar stories are common in Mombasa, a nearby resort town where the city's old Arab area, a predominantly Muslim neighborhood, is full of skepticism about the anti-terrorism campaign.


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