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Four charged over Mombasa bombing

By CNN Nairobi Bureau Chief Catherine Bond

Police investigators sift through the wreckage of the Paradise Hotel.
Police investigators sift through the wreckage of the Paradise Hotel.

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NAIROBI, Kenya (CNN) -- Four men arrested in connection with a deadly terrorist attack last year on an Israeli-owned hotel have been charged with murder in a Kenyan court.

The four suspects -- Kubwa Mohammed Seif, Mohammed Kubwa Mohammed, Aboud Rogo Mohammed and Said Saggar Ahmed -- were arrested this spring on lesser charges of harboring an illegal immigrant, and that subsequently investigators determined they were more involved in the hotel attack than initially thought.

Ten Kenyans and three Israelis were killed in the November 28 attack on the Paradise Hotel in Mombasa when three suicide bombers detonated a car bomb outside the building. On the same morning, a missile attack unsuccessfully targeted an Israeli airliner taking off from Mombasa airport.

Responsibility for the Kenya attacks was initially claimed by the previously unknown Army of Palestine, but within days, Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network claimed responsibility on an Islamic Web site.

A lawyer for Said Ahmed and Aboud Mohammed said on Tuesday the charges were being made by Kenya to appease the United States and Britain, which have been urging Kenya to crackdown harder on terrorism.

Maobe Mao told journalists: "We are not interested in giving them a fair trial. We are looking at satisfying a foreign country." The four will remain in police custody.

Previous press reports have stated that Aboud Rogo -- described as an Islamic preacher -- introduced Mohammed Kubwa to three men in 1997, who were later indicted by a U.S. court for the 1998 bombing for the U.S. Embassy building in Nairobi.

The Nairobi attack killed 213 people, including 12 Americans. The nearly simultaneous truck bombing in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania killed 11 people.

The United States brought four men accused of having links to bin Laden and his terrorist network to trial for the attacks. They were jailed for life without the possibility of parole. Bin Laden and several others were indicted.

Aboud Rogo is said to have introduced one of those men, a man believed to have played a key role in the bombing -- Fazul Abdullah Mohammed -- to Kubwa Mohammed, who subsequently allowed his daughter Amina to marry Fazul in late December 2002.

All four men originate from or have family ties to the same town on a remote island off Kenya's northeastern coast.

In March and April this year, they were charged with the relatively minor offense of harboring an illegal alien -- a reference to their relationship to Fazul who appears to have taken refuge in their home town when he worked as a teacher in the school attached to a mosque there.

Fazul, who originates from the Indian Ocean Comoros islands, remains at large. He is on the FBI's most-wanted list of terrorists.

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