Home News Stories 2003 August Remembering the Losses of KENBOM/TANBOM
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Remembering the Losses of KENBOM/TANBOM

The War on Terrorism
Remembering the Losses of KENBOM/TANBOM


U.S. Embassy in Kenya Following Terrorist Attack on August 7, 1998Five years ago today, August 7, 1998, nearly simultaneous bombs blew up in front of the American embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Two hundred and twenty-four people died in the blasts, including 12 Americans, and more than 4,500 people were wounded. In the aftermath of the attacks, over 900 FBI special agents alone—and many more FBI employees—traveled overseas to assist in the recovery of evidence and the identification of victims at the bombsites and to track down the perpetrators. Extraordinary efforts from our federal and international partners led to the identification, arrest, and extradition to the United States of four members of the al Qaeda terrorist network for their role in the bombings. An American jury found each terrorist guilty, and all were sentenced to life imprisonment in 2000 for their roles in the conspiracy.

The KENBOM and TANBOM investigations—as the FBI calls them—represented at that time the largest FBI deployment in FBI history and highlighted the need for an expanded FBI overseas presence that could quickly respond to acts of terrorism that involve Americans. It could not have happened at all, however, without three landmark pieces of legislation enacted by Congress in the 1980s and 1990s—all having to do with extraterritorial jurisdiction, the “long arm of the law.”

The 1984 Comprehensive Crime Control Act authorized the Bureau to investigate international terrorism cases where Americans are taken hostage. Two years later, the Omnibus Diplomatic Security and Antiterrorism Act broadened FBI extraterritorial responsibilities to include terrorist incidents where an American is assaulted or murdered. For example, in 1988, the FBI arrested, under these laws, terrorist Fawaz Younis in international waters for his role in hijacking Royal Jordanian Flight 402 with four American nationals on board. In 1996, the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act was enacted, creating additional ways to specifically combat the problem of international terrorist infrastructures.

Today the FBI works 24/7 in concert with international law enforcement and intelligence agencies, as well as with its partners in the United States, to stop terrorists in their tracks and eliminate their support structures. It’s our number-one priority.