CNN BREAKING NEWS
At Least Two Missiles Fired at Civilian Charter Jet
Aired November 28, 2002 - 10:22 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: We're continuing our reports of the terrorist attacks in Kenya, and what many consider a very ominous escalation. At least two missiles were fired at a civilian charter jet. Israel media reports government officials were saying the weapons were strella missiles, which are a shoulder-launched type of missile against aircraft, and they had been previously linked to Al Qaeda operatives.
CNN's senior international correspondent Sheila MacVicar is in London with a closer look at all of this -- Sheila.
SHEILA MACVICAR, CNN INTL. CORRESPONDENT: Marty, indeed, those missiles may provide us with some clues as to who might be responsible for this attack, but because they are so widely available, one Kenyan official saying today, look, you could basically buy them in a supermarket or close to it. They may not be able to provide us to definitive information as to who was responsible.
The strella missile is another name for the SA-7, or the SAM-7. It's a relatively unsophisticated Soviet-made missile that is very widely distributed, not only through Afghanistan, but through the Middle East as well.
Al Qaeda has been linked to use of the SA-7 in the past. Just this past spring in May 2002, a Sudanese national named Abu Jusifa (ph), who is a man with known links to Al Qaeda, fired an SA-7 at a U.S. military plane as it took off Prince Sultan Airbase in Saudi Arabia.
Investigators taking a look at that incident found the remnants of the SA-7 launch tube at the perimeter of the airbase. Jusifa (ph) was later captured, and is currently undergoing interrogation. Now prior to that, in June, 2001, and this is where it gets messy, and you can't definitively say, well, that proves a link to Al Qaeda, the Lebanese media quoted a Hezbollah communique, claiming that Hezbollah had acquired SAM-7s -- that's the strella missile -- and that Lebanese missiles media further reported that two of those missiles were fired at Israeli aircraft Israeli the Lebanese city of Tier (ph) on June 12, 2001.
In addition, in May of 2001, SA-7s were among A weapons cache seized off a Lebanese fishing boat, which was really, officials say, was destined for Palestinians in the territories.
So, Marty, you can see, these things are widely available; they are around. It's not possible to say based on the missile type precisely who was responsible. Now we from Israeli intelligent sources telling CNN this afternoon that Kenyan authorities on the ground have recovered from field next to that airport, the launch tubes, two launch tubes for what we are being told are SA-7s, or strella missiles. That may provide some additional clues.
Now in addition to that, Marty, there is some information about identities that are out there in the ether in this world of Internet chat and Islamist sites, which suggests, if true, and at this point, it is not possible to say, but if true, that indeed this attack may have very direct links to Al Qaeda.
Two of those people who are being named in Islamist Web sites, we haven't tracked fully back where precisely this information originates from, but it is out there on Web sites, organizations like Al-Jazeera TV and other Islamist Web sites being quoted by Israeli army radio saying two of the three suicide bombers that were killed this morning in that attack, one of them a man named Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah (ph).
Now if this is correct, there is an Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah who was on the FBI's most wanted list, who was been named previously in association with attacks linked to Al Qaeda, including the embassy bombings. And on top of that, he has been identified in recent months as having become a big financial chief for Al Qaeda. It seems a little unlikely that Al Qaeda would risk losing someone of his clear value to the organization in at attack like that, but it possibly rule it out.
So at this moment, there is a number of things out there, a possibility this is Al Qaeda or a groups linked to Al Qaeda, a possibility that this is Al Qaeda or Hezbollah together. That would be a first. Or a possibility that this is another contract organization operating on behalf of some unknown perhaps Palestinian- linked terror group -- Marty.
SAVIDGE: So the clues may be there, it's just going to take a lot of work to actually bring them all together.
Sheila MacVicar, joining us from London. Thanks very much.
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