The United States has reportedly asked Israel to accept and prosecute a Kenyan man held at Guantanamo Bay over his alleged involvement in a deadly 2002 bombing at an Israeli-owned hotel in Mombasa.
According to US government documents, Mohammed Abdul Malik Bajabu, 43, has confessed to a role in the terror attack, as well as an unsuccessful attempt to down an Israeli passenger plane that same day, the Miami Herald reported.
Thirteen people — 10 Kenyans and three Israelis — were killed and 80 others were wounded when a car bomb went off at Mombasa’s Paradise Hotel on November 28, 2002, shortly after a large group of Israeli tourists checked into the beachfront resort. At around the same time, a surface to-air missile targeted but missed an Arkia plane carrying 271 people as it took off from Mombasa airport.
Kenyan authorities arrested Bajabu in Mombasa in 2007, and turned him over to the US. He has been held at the US military prison without charge.
The Herald reported that US officials traveled to Israel in April this year to discuss the possibility of transferring Bajabu to Israel for prosecution over his role in both attacks.
Though Israeli authorities had expressed interest in accepting Bajabu, the transfer has been delayed for months by the FBI refusal to share the prisoner’s confession from his 2007 interrogations.
“The government of Israel has repeatedly asked for information to support their possible prosecution. But, for reasons that are unclear, the FBI has declined to provide the information that has been requested by senior Israeli prosecutors,” an unnamed US government official told The Herald.
“They want to see the incriminating statements. And that’s where we are stuck — and have been for many months — which is frustrating.”
Kenya has unsuccessfully attempted to prosecute the other alleged suspects in the 2002 attacks. In 2005, a High Court justice acquitted four Kenyan nationals accused of involvement in the attacks over lack of evidence.
The attacks were credited to al-Qaeda’s east Africa affiliate, but Kenyan Judge John Osiemo said state prosecutors were unable to connect the four suspects to the bombing or the terror group.