2 Iranians charged with plan to attack Israeli Embassy in Kenya

Suspects were caught in diplomatic vehicle in Nairobi with video footage of Israeli facility on their phones

Nairobi, capital of Kenya (Flickr/CC BY-2.0/Demosh)
Nairobi, capital of Kenya (Flickr/CC BY-2.0/Demosh)

A Kenyan prosecutor has charged two Iranian men with collecting information to carry out a terrorist attack after they were allegedly found with video footage of the Israeli embassy.

State Prosecutor Duncan Ondimu said in court on Thursday that Sayed Nasrollah Ebrahim and Abdolhosein Gholi Safaee were arrested Tuesday in an Iranian diplomatic car while taking the pictures of the Israeli mission using a mobile phone, including when they were intercepted.

They were detained in the capital, Nairobi after they had come from visiting Kamiti Prison where they saw two other Iranians who have been jailed for 15 years on terrorism charges.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem had no comment on the incident.

A Kenyan driver, Moses Keyah Mmboga, who was chauffeuring the vehicle belonging to the Iranian embassy has been charged along with the suspects and also faces a separate charge of “abetting terrorism,” Ondimu said.

In June 2013 a Kenyan court convicted two Iranian nationals of being Quds agents plotting attacks against Western targets in Kenya and they were sentenced to life in prison. That sentence was reduced on appeal in February to 15 years imprisonment.

Ahmad Abolfathi Mohammad and Sayed Mansour Mousavi were arrested in June 2012 and led officials to a 15-kilogram (33-pound) stash of the explosive RDX. At least 85 kilograms (187 pounds) of the explosives that authorities say was shipped into Kenya has not yet been found.

Kenyan anti-terror officials said the two Iranians are members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force, an elite and secretive unit.

In November 2015, two Kenyans admitted assisting Iranian state intelligence to plot attacks on western targets in Kenya, according to the country’s police chief. Abubakar Sadiq Louw, 69, and Yassin Sambai Juma, 25, confessed to being spies for the Quds Force, according to Joseph Boinnet.

He said the two had been given money by their handlers to case their targets for future terror attacks and to recruit others, including children. He declined to say which western targets were being surveyed.

Kenya has previously been the site of terrorist attacks against Israeli targets. In 2002, terrorists bombed a hotel in Mombasa, Kenya’s second largest city, after a large group of Israeli tourists had arrived. 13 people were killed in the attack, including 3 Israelis.

At the same time as the bombing, terrorists fired surface to air missiles at a plane belonging to Israel’s Arkia Airlines while it was taking off at Mombasa’s airport, but missed the plane.

The attacks were credited to al-Qaeda’s east Africa affiliate.

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