US embassy bomb blast: Kenyan lives matter too


A scene of the 1998 bomb blast attack. [File, Standard]

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the twin bombing of US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

On August 7, 1998, Al Qaeda terrorists under the command of Osama Bin Laden drove an explosives-laden van into the US embassy compound on Haile Selassie Avenue and detonated a bomb. The destruction that followed that cowardly act was massive and resulted in the deaths of 224 people while more than 4000 were left with grievous body injuries. 

The US government later exacted revenge when it hunted and killed Osama in 2011. However, that wasn’t enough consolation for people whose lives were shattered; people who lost the ability to fend for themselves and now depend on others for a living and their medical bills. It is disheartening that 25 years later, most Kenyan victims are still pleading for compensation to ease their suffering.

In 2021, Sudan committed to pay $335 million to compensate families affected by the bombings, but that compensation left out locals, yet they bore the brunt of the attack. The US Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Act that initially only offered compensation to American citizens of terror attacks was amended in 2019 to take on board other groups of people. But while that should have paved the way for victims of the US embassy bombing in 1998 to be compensated, it has not.

The US government, a long time diplomatic and trade partner of Kenya should do the right thing and compensate Kenyan victims too, some who, unfortunately, have passed on while patiently waiting for compensation that is too long in coming.

These families deserve compensation for suffering in a dispute they had nothing to do with. The bias in compensating victims makes it look like Kenyan lives, unlike those of Americans, do not matter. That is unacceptable.

The local victims deserve justice for paying the price of something they knew nothing about. The US must demonstrate it cares for human rights as it professes to do by ensuring all victims get an equal share of the Sudanese compensation.