Honoring the Victims of the 1998 East Africa Embassy AttacksPress Release
Washington, D.C. – Tomorrow marks 20 years since the bombing of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed more than 200 people, including 12 Americans. In advance of tomorrow’s anniversary, Chairman Royce recently submitted the following statement to the Congressional Record honoring those who lost their lives:
“Mr. Speaker, 20 years ago on August 7, 1998, Islamist terrorists affiliated with al-Qaida attacked American soil – bombing the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Over 200 people were killed in these attacks, including 12 Americans, and more than 4,000 were injured. I ask that we pause to remember those Americans who gave their lives in service to our country that day.
“At approximately 10:30 a.m. on that day, a non-descript delivery truck drove up to the back gate of our embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, and tried to enter the underground parking garage. When the embassy’s security guards stopped them, the terrorists inside the truck began shooting before detonating a massive bomb that devastated the embassy and many of the surrounding buildings. Nine minutes later, in Tanzania, a second truck stopped just 35 feet from the wall of our embassy in Dar Es Salaam and detonated its deadly payload. Approximately 220 people died instantly, and thousands more were wounded in the two attacks.
“With great reverence, we recognize the courage of the Kenyan and Tanzanian security and emergency personnel who prevented even greater loss of life by their bold actions. We offer our sincere condolences to the nationals of both countries who suffered the greatest number of killed and injured in these senseless, horrific attacks.
“History should record that U.S. personnel in both embassies showed extraordinary leadership and personal courage in their response to the attacks, rapidly responding to locate and rescue victims. Their offices were on fire and their colleagues dead and injured – but these men and women responded immediately and quickly restored embassy operations. U.S. embassies throughout the region went on alert.
“Unfortunately, we in Washington did not respond as quickly to the strategic threats we witnessed that day. The precisely coordinated attacks on our embassies were a declaration of war and a warning of our enemies’ intention to hit our homeland. But we failed to heed that warning and paid a price three years later when al-Qaida took us by surprise and struck again on September 11, 2001 – this time killing nearly 3,000 in a series of similarly coordinated attacks in New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.
“Since the founding of our country, our diplomats have served America in some of the most difficult and dangerous places on earth. Our embassies and consulates are platforms of U.S. influence and vigilance and our diplomats are often the first to spot threats to our national security before they arrive on our shores. These intrepid professionals defend our national security, enforce our laws, and protect our fellow citizens overseas. And they are often the first Americans our enemies target.
“Many Americans remember 9/11 as the first time al-Qaida struck the United States, but the first battle in our struggle against terrorism took place on August 7, 1998 outside our embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. Our diplomats were on the front lines that day, and they continue to serve on the front lines around the world today serving at over 275 posts around the world.
“And the threats continue. In recent years, terrorists have killed American diplomats in Libya, Iraq, Sudan, and Afghanistan, while hostile intelligence services actively target our personnel in China, Russia, Cuba and elsewhere.
“Mr. Speaker, the history of the East Africa bombings 20 years ago shows us that we ignore threats to our diplomats at our own peril. Let us therefore resolve to remember those who gave their lives for our country, and dedicate ourselves to protecting America’s national security by committing ourselves to a strong, secure, and effective Foreign Service.”