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2 Kenyan bombers may be wanted terrorists

abdullah
Abdullah fled Kenya in 1998.

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MOMBASA, Kenya (CNN) -- One of the three suicide terrorists in the hotel bombing here was identified by Israeli Army Radio as Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah -- a name that matches one of the most wanted al Qaeda terrorists sought by the FBI.

The name of one of the other bombers also is similar to a wanted al Qaeda terrorist. Both of the men were indicted in absentia in connection with the deadly 1998 twin U.S. embassy bombings in Africa that killed 224 people.

John Malan Sawe, the Kenyan ambassador to Israel, said he believed the attack was the work of al Qaeda.

At President Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas, a spokesman said it was premature to say whether the attack was linked to al Qaeda.

The FBI had no immediate comment on the identities of Thursday's bombers.

Thirteen people and the three bombers were killed in the hotel attack. The missiles missed the aircraft and it arrived safely in Tel Aviv.

State Department sources said they have not determined who is responsible in Thursday's "clearly coordinated" attacks -- the firing of surface-to-air missiles at an Israeli charter plane and the car bombing.

An Israeli Army Radio report identified Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, of Egyptian origin, and Faed Ali Sayam, a Kenyan Muslim, as two of the three suicide bombers. The third attacker was not immediately identified.

The name Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah is well-known to authorities and terrorism experts.

Abdullah, also known as "Saleh," is the al Qaeda leader of East African cells and a member of al Qaeda's leadership group, the shura council, according to federal prosecutors.

Abdullah is accused of having a direct role in plotting the 1998 embassy bombings and is charged with murder of all 224 persons killed in Kenya and Tanzania. The 5-foot, 8-inch Abdullah is on the FBI's most wanted list, with a $25 million reward posted on his head.

"He has a lot of contact with Osama bin Laden and the hierarchy in Afghanistan," FBI agent John Anticev testified during the trial of some of those indicted in the 1998 bombings.

Prosecutors said that in 1993, Abdullah provided military training and assistance to Somali tribes who violently opposed the United Nations' intervention in Somalia's civil unrest.

In the summer of 1998, three days before the twin embassy bombings, Abdullah allegedly surveyed the Nairobi embassy with co-defendants Fazul Abdullah Mohammed and Mohamed Rashed Daoud al-'Owhali.

Al-'Owhali was convicted in May 2001 for carrying out the Kenya bombing and sentenced to life in prison.

Abdullah fled Kenya for Pakistan on August, 6, 1998, the day before the coordinated bombings occurred. He left Kenya that day for Karachi, Pakistan accompanied on a flight with an alleged Tanzania bomb plotter.

Abdullah was among the last five persons originally indicted in the alleged worldwide conspiracy to kill Americans abroad and destroy U.S. government property led by bin Laden.

The other man identified in Thursday's blast, Faed Ali Sayam, is a name similar to one on the FBI's wanted list: Fahid Mohammed Ally Msalam, who has several aliases, including Fahid Ali Salem.

Msalam, 26, a Kenyan national, was one of five men originally accused of direct involvement in the Dar es Salaam embassy bombing that killed 11 Tanzanians on August 7, 1998. He was also charged with the murders of those killed in the Kenya embassy attack.

According to prosecutors, Msalam showed off TNT and detonators obtained in Tanzania to co-conspirator Mohamed Sadeek Odeh as early as 1996. Odeh was convicted in May 2001 and sentenced to life in prison.

Msalam also was accused of purchasing, along with two co-defendants, the Nairobi embassy bomb truck and a Suzuki Samurai used as a utility vehicle by the Dar es Salaam bombers.

-- CNN Producer Phil Hirschkorn and Senior International Correspondent Sheila MacVicar contributed to this report.



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