NAIROBI, Kenya, May 5 – US Secretary of State John Kerry called for unity in the face of terror attacks Monday, as he visited a memorial in Kenya to the 1998 bombing of the US embassy.
The embassy bombing by Al-Qaeda was the worst attack in the east African nation by Islamist militants, killing 213 people.
“The terrorists who struck on August 7, 1998 failed utterly in their purpose, which was to implant fear in the hearts of the Kenyan people and to divide America from the citizens of this country,” Kerry said.
“They failed for the same reason that terrorists will always fail. Yes they can reduce a building to rubble, and yes they can even deprive innocent people of their lives, but they do not give anyone anything of what really makes life worthwhile.”
Last month Al-Qaeda-affiliated Shabaab gunmen massacred close to 150 people, mostly students, in a raid on a university in the northeastern Kenyan town of Garissa.
The raid followed a string of other massacres in the northeast and Muslim-majority coastal areas, and after the September 2013 siege of the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi which left at least 67 dead.
“We know that the struggle in which we are all engaged now is not going to be over soon – nearly two years ago at Westgate mall, five weeks ago at Garissa university and at other times,” the top US diplomat said.
“Words are not sufficient to express our sorrow, our outrage, or our wish that we can somehow reverse time and bring all the victims back.”
Kerry arrived in Kenya on Sunday for talks on security cooperation and ahead of US President Barack Obama’s visit to his late father’s home country.
The fight against Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-linked Shabaab militants features high on the agenda, with Kenya struggling to stop increased cross-border attacks by the militants even though it has thousands of troops in southern Somalia.
“We do have however the power to fight back, not only with our military and law enforcement, but also through something that may be even more powerful and that may make a bigger difference in the end, and that is our unity and the character of our ideals,” Kerry said.
“Unlike some we do not define ourselves in terms of hate. We are builders, we are teachers, we are dreamers, we are doers.”