The unending pain of terror attack

February 5, 2011 12:00 am

, NAROBI, Kenya, Feb 5 – Terrorism can be compared to a theater. It acts on the ancient Chinese maxim, "Kill one person, frighten ten thousand." Unless you are at the immediate site of a terrorist attack, your worst injury is likely to be fright.

The same thoughts were echoed by Paul Wilkinson a British terrorist expert who likened the fight against terrorism to being a goalkeeper. He said, “You can make a hundred brilliant saves but the only shot that people remember is the one that gets past you.”

And indeed, that statement holds true for the first ever terrorist attack on Kenyan soil which occurred in 1998 at the US Embassy and claimed the lives of over 218 people and injured 5,000 more.

For Tom Oloo (Not his real name), that day was a life defining moment as he lost his brother who up to that moment was taking care for his livelihood.

“The incident took away the life of whoever was paying for my school fees and that meant that my High school education was affected. I wasn’t able to continue with my education so I have had to struggle all through,” he said, recounting with bitterness the struggles in life he had to undergo.

He said he had to drop out of school and eke out a living to try and support his family.

Bringing attention to the jailing to life of Ahmed Ghailani, a Tanzanian national for his role in the incident he said this would not change things for him and his family.

He told Capital News that the gap left by his brother’s death still ached and pained like a raw wound.

He is calling on the government to turn its focus on those who lost their friends, families and relatives in the incident and recompense them appropriately.

“It is not something that we can celebrate because at the end of the day, our loved ones can never come back. The only thing we need to do is just to sensitise on peace,” he said.

The same call was made by a commissioner at the Kenya National Commission of Human Rights Hassan Omar Hassan.

Mr Hassan said that an assessment should be made of the victims and those affected and then proper restitution provided by both the Kenyan and American governments.

“Anybody who suffers certain injury or loss in a situation of let’s say a terrorism attack must be adequately compensated. I do not believe it is ever too late. Justice is not a one of occurrence, it is a continued quest,” he stated.

“There are people who get justice 30 years down the line but the faster one gets avenues of justice accessible to him or her, then the better. But this does not mean that 12 years down the line, the government cannot look into the matter,” he added.

Speaking to Capital News, Mr Hassan said although the incident occurred about 12 years ago, the time period does not matter when it comes to looking at the interests of those affected.

“The government should make an assessment in terms of what kind of damages or loss or injuries were accrued to businesses and individuals and on account of that, it needs to afford an adequate compensation to family, victims or probably the interests that were severed,” he stated.

Mr Ghailani was convicted late last year of conspiring to destroy government buildings but acquitted of more than 200 counts of murder and dozens of other charges.

He had asked for leniency, saying he never intended to kill anyone and he was tortured in government custody.

The Judge however rejected Ghailani\’s pleas for leniency, saying that whatever he suffered at the hands of the CIA and others was minimal in comparison to the suffering and the horror he and his confederates caused.

Ghailani, who flew to Karachi, Pakistan, with senior al Qaeda operatives the day before the embassy bombings, was a fugitive for six years until his capture in Pakistan in 2004.

He spent five years in CIA and military custody, before his transfer to face a long-standing indictment in federal court exclusively for his pre-9/11 conduct.

Evidence at trial showed that Ghailani helped purchase bomb components prior to the attacks, including 15 gas tanks designed to enhance the power of the bombs, along with one of the bomb vehicles.

Written descriptions of FBI interviews quoted Ghailani as saying he realized a week before the bombings that they were intended to strike a U.S. embassy.

There have been periods of history in which episodes of terrible violence occurred but for which the word violence was never used. Violence is shrouded in justifying myths that lend it moral legitimacy, and these myths for the most part kept people from recognizing the violence for what it is. Terrorism! 

Indeed, as a novelist George Bernard Shaw, Maxims for Revolutionists once quoted, it is the deed that teaches, not the name we give it.  Murder and capital punishment are not opposites that cancel one another, but similars that breed their kind.  

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