African and American leaders have welcomed the death of al-Qaeda’s East Africa chief and mastermind of the 1998 US Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the death of Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, a ''significant blow'' for the group. Clinton was speaking on the second leg of an African tour. She said the terrorist’s death:
''Is a significant blow to al-Qaeda, its extremist allies, and its operations in East Africa.''
Clinton said in the Sydney Morning Herald report:
'It is a just end for a terrorist who brought so much death and pain to so many innocents in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam and elsewhere - Tanzanians, Kenyans, Somalis, and our own embassy personnel.”
The Ugandan New Vision Online also reflected relief at the death of Mohammed. Ugandan People’s Defence Force (UPDF) spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Felix Kulayigye said:
“It is significant because he has been the brain behind al-Qaeda. He was also named as a mastermind of the July , 2010 bombings in Kampala. With his death, the threat of attacking Uganda becomes less and it reduces the ability of the terrorists to attack Uganda. He was a prominent person and it is a great success in the struggle against terrorism.”
Ugandan Police counter-terrorism chief Abbas Byakagaba also welcomed the news. He said:
“He has been a fugitive and his death is a positive happening because he has been one of the key planners of terrorist activities in the region.”
South Africa’s Times newspaper called on the African Union (AU) to move swiftly to follow up this success, which comes only five weeks after the death of Osama bin Laden, with further action, but does not hold out much hope for this.
Fazul Abdullah Mohammed was killed last week, according to the BBC, when his vehicle failed to stop at a government checkpoint in the Somali capital, Mogadishu. He was killed in the ensuing gunfire and was identified later.
Mohammed was born in the Comoros Islands off East Africa in the 1970. In the US Embassy bombings in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi and the Tanzanian capital, Dar es Salaam in 1998, he and his followers killed 224 people, most of them local employees.
In a recent development, the South African government said it was looking into reports that Mohammed had been carrying a fake South African passport. This might mean links in South Africa, which has a sizeable Somali community, or could simply be a coincidence.