U.S. Embassy Bombings

Updated February 21, 2017 | Factmonster Staff
Primer on the Embassy Bombings and the U.S. Strikes on Sudan and Afghanistan

by Ben Snowdon and David Johnson

Kenya | Map

Tanzania | Map

Osama bin Laden


In 1998, the Clinton Administration demonstrated an atypically aggressive response toward terrorism after the assault on two U.S. embassies in Africa. On Aug. 7, 1998, the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, were bombed by terrorists, leaving 258 people dead and more than 5,000 injured.

In response, the U.S. launched cruise missiles on Aug. 20, 1998, striking a terrorism training complex in Afghanistan and destroying a pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in Khartoum, Sudan, that reportedly produced nerve gas. Both targets were believed to have been financed by wealthy Islamic radical Osama bin Laden, who was allegedly behind the embassy bombings as well as an international terrorism network targeting the United States.

Serious doubts have been raised about whether the pharmaceutical company was indeed involved in terrorist activities, or whether the U.S. made an ill-conceived, trigger-happy strike against a nation it has long considered a pariah state.

Past U.S. foreign policy has opted for the use of sanctions or a UN resolution authorizing the use of force, but the UN's flaccid dealings with Iraq, the lack of support from Muslim allies (most notably the Saudis' indifference to the 1996 truck bomb explosion that killed 19 U.S. service members), and the necessity of deterring attacks on other American embassies led to the U.S.'s more hawkish policy.

Convictions in Embassy Bombings

Four men, believed to be followers of Osama bin Laden, were convicted on May 29, 2001, for their roles in the bombing of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. The blasts killed 224 people, including 12 Americans. Some 5,000 people were injured.

Mohamed Rashed Daoud al-'Owhali, Khalfan Khamis Mohamed, Wadih al-Hage, and Mohamed Sadeek Odeh are believed to be connected with bin Laden's terrorist organization, al-Qaeda ("The Base"). Another six defendants are in custody, while at least 15 more, including bin Laden, remain at large. 13 suspects in this case, including Osama bin Laden, were placed on the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorists list on Oct. 10, 2001.

More Terrorism features

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