REUTERS NAIROBI: One of the FBI’s most wanted al-Qaeda suspects has been sighted in the Somali capital of Mogadishu and could be operating inside Kenya, Kenya’s security ministry said on Thursday.
Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, a Comoros islander, is accused of being the mastermind behind both the 1998 bombing of the US embassy in Nairobi and last November’s suicide bombing of an Israeli-owned hotel in the Kenyan resort of Mombasa.
National Security Minister Chris Murungaru released his photograph on Wednesday night and said that security forces in the east African country had been put on high alert.
“Given that this fellow has been sighted in Mogadishu and the information gathered is that he has been coming in and going out (of Kenya), then we have to be on high alert,” ministry spokesman Douglas Kaunda said.
“The minister said that there’s already heightened surveillance of major installations, particularly western interests.”
The United States updated its travel warning for east Africa on Wednesday, reiterating a March warning that there was a high potential for terrorist actions against US citizens.
Britain’s foreign office has also warned westerners to be vigilant, particularly in the Kenyan capital. Both the US and British embassies in Nairobi said on Thursday they could not comment further on security issues.
Mohammed has been indicted for the 1998 embassy bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, which killed 224 people. He is also believed to have been the lynchpin in the 2002 Mombasa attacks, in which 16 people died.
Somalia has no effective central government and is divided among rival warlords, making it an ideal hideout for fugitives.
Kaunda said Mohammed was thought to use 17 different names, and hold various passports. His favourite alias was Harun.
According to his FBI wanted poster he likes to wear baseball caps and dress casually, and he is good with computers.