Kenya police: U.S. embassy ‘bomber’ escaped

/ Source: The Associated Press

A man accused of masterminding the bombings of two American embassies in East Africa 10 years ago escaped a police raid early Sunday, a senior Kenyan policeman said.

The officer spoke on condition of anonymity because he could lose his job for making unauthorized statements to the press.

Fazul Abdullah Mohammed has a $5 million bounty on his head for allegedly planning the 1998 attacks on the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 225 people and injured more than 5,000.

Police said they discovered two of his passports and have arrested two men accused of aiding him in the Kenyan coastal town of Malindi.

Fazul was apparently in Kenya to seek treatment for a kidney complaint, the officer said.

Kenyan police spokesman Eric Kiraithe confirmed that the anti-terrorist unit had been conducting operations along the Kenyan coast but declined to comment further.

The 32-year-old suspected member of al-Qaida is originally from the Comoros Islands, in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Africa. He is also suspected of planning the nearly simultaneous car bombing of an Israeli-owned hotel, which claimed 13 lives, and a failed attempt to shoot down an Israeli airliner in Kenya in 2002.

Fazul joined al-Qaida in Afghanistan and trained there with Osama bin Laden before becoming a teacher at a religious school in northern Kenya in the mid-1990s. He was captured by Kenyan police in 2002 for credit card fraud, but escaped after a day and fled to war-ravaged Somalia where authorities believe he has been hiding ever since.