Biden's Staff Remarks on Terror Victims Anger Kenyans

  • US President Joe Biden giving an address
    US President Joe Biden giving an address.
    File
  • A law firm representing Kenyan victims of the 1998 terrorist bombing by Al Qaeda of the American Embassy in Nairobi has petitioned President Joe Biden over recent sentiments made by US National Security Council spokesperson, John Kirby.

    According to a letter dated Thursday, August 4, Musolini law firm argued that the heated exchange between Kirby and a journalist was interpreted to reflect a lack of American interest in the losses suffered by Kenyans.

    The law firm explained to President Biden that his sentiments had angered many Kenyans who felt disregarded despite suffering the blunt of the 1998 terror attack that targeted the US Embassy.

    US National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby during a past press address
    US National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby during a past press address
    File

    "I would very much appreciate the opportunity to meet with your team so that we can dispel those reactions. I enclose for your consideration some background information that may help in that process," his letter read in part.

    According to Musolini law firm, it had secured Ksh6.6 trillion (USD56 billion) as compensation for the Embassy bombing victims.

    To help dispel the notion that the US government has neglected Kenyan families, Musolini law firm invited President Biden to witness as Kenyan families commemorate the tragic ordeal on August 7 and share their emotional stories.

    "That ceremony will be video streamed live so that your team will have the opportunity to observe the enduring responses of the Kenyan people. I hope that representatives of the US government will be in attendance."

    "Many Kenyans are of the view that the 25th Commemoration will be a litmus test for American friendship and steadfastness in East Africa," Musolini law firm added.
     
    The US official was put to task by an international news reporter, Simon Ateba, who pointed out the neglect of the Kenyan and Tanzanian families who were affected by the 1998 bombing.

    The exchange escalated forcing Kirby to state that all lives matter.

    "Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, who was killed Saturday in a US drone strike, killed more than 200 people in Tanzania and in Kenya in 1998 and right now, even though the US compensated US citizens who were victims of those bombings, the people in Kenya and Tanzania received nothing. The families of the victims of those bombings were not compensated by the US. What message do you have?" the reporter inquired. 

    "I don’t have any compensation policies here to speak to. Again, Mr Zawahiri’s death is good for everybody around the world," Kirby responded. 

    "So are you saying that the lives of Kenyans and Tanzanians don’t really matter?" the reporter further pressed. 

    "Wow! I got to take issue with that. I did not say that. And I don’t even know where you came from on that one. Of course, all lives matter."

    "I really take exception to the tone and the implication in that question. Of course, their lives matter. Every life matters, particularly a life taken so violently as by the hands of a terrorist. If those lives didn’t matter, sir, we wouldn’t have taken the action that we took this weekend," Kirby stated.

    His response to the reporter drew criticism especially from Kenyans who accused the US of failing to come clear on how it plans to compensate Kenyan victims.

    On August 7, 1998, at 10:30am, a massive truck bomb exploded outside the US Embassy in Nairobi. Minutes later another bomb detonated outside US Embassy in Tanzania.

    The dual terrorist attacks killed 224 people, including 12 Americans, and wounded more than 4,500 others.

    Bombing Incident That Rocked American Embassy in Nairobi on August 7, 1998
    Bombing Incident That Rocked American Embassy in Nairobi on August 7, 1998
    DW
    bomb death terrorist wounded killed