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Kenya announces al Qaeda arrest

From Catherine Bond
Nairobi bureau chief

Al Qaeda has carried out two high-profile attacks in Kenya.
Al Qaeda has carried out two high-profile attacks in Kenya.

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NAIROBI, Kenya (CNN) -- Kenya is holding a suspected al Qaeda operative seized in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, Kenya's Foreign Minister Kalonzo Musyoka said Thursday.

Musyoka described the arrest as "very, very important."

"With regards to what happened in Mogadishu... this was plainly a Kenyan affair. The Americans were not involved, neither were the Israelis," he said. "I want to thank the Somali collaborators who worked alongside the Kenyan security forces to be able to make this very, very important arrest."

Musyoka would not identify the suspect. But he said he was believed to have been involved in the two terrorist attacks Kenya has suffered in recent years -- the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy, which killed 213 people, and more recently, a bombing of an Israeli-owned hotel on Kenya's coast that killed 16 people.

He indicated the suspect was giving investigators information about other Kenyans linked to al Qaeda. "Right now he's talking, and we're very happy with that," Musyoka said at a press conference in Nairobi.

"There is that feeling that a terrorist attack is just about to occur in Nairobi or in Kenya, in Mombasa," Musyoka said. "And this is why it has become imperative for us to urge all Kenyans not to act in a manner that is clearly not in the best interests of this country."

Newspaper reports in the Kenyan port city of Mombasa said police have recently taken back into custody two Kenyans they previously questioned in connection with an alleged al Qaeda suspect named "Abdulkarim."

Abdulkarim, the sources said, is thought by investigators to be the same man as a suspect who appears on an FBI list of terrorists wanted by the United States for involvement in the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Kenya.

Kenyan police have been reported as saying they believe Abdulkarim passed on a cell phone used at the time of the bombing of the Israeli hotel last November to a woman related to him by marriage.

Police had been tracing calls made to this phone early this year, from phone numbers recognized by investigators as used by al Qaeda operatives outside Kenya.

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