Kenya police: Iranians shipped 100kg of explosives
Iranian nationals charged with preparing to commit acts intended to cause grievous harm to western targets.
Two Iranians accused of planning attacks on Western targets in Kenya shipped more than 100 kilograms of powerful explosive into this East African country, and most of it has not been recovered, a police officer told a court on Tuesday.
Iranian nationals Ahmad Abolfathi Mohammad and Sayed Mansour Mousavi are charged with preparing to commit acts intended to cause grievous harm after they were arrested last month and led officials to a 15-kilogram stash of the explosive RDX.
Police Sgt. Erick Opagal of Kenya's Anti-Terrorism Police Unit asked the court to deny the two suspects bail because more than 85 kilograms of the explosive authorities say was shipped into Kenya has not been found.
"The police have information that the [suspects] have a vast network in the country meant to execute explosive attacks against government installations, public gatherings and foreign establishments," Opagal said in an affidavit.
Granting bail would allow the suspects to continue planning attacks, he told the court.
Officials say the two suspects may have been planning attacks on Israeli, U.S., British or Saudi Arabian interests in Kenya. Security officials believe the two are members of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force, an elite and secretive unit that acts against foreign interests.
Iranian agents are suspected in several successful or thwarted attacks, especially against Israeli interests, around the globe over the last year.
Several resorts on Kenya's coast are Israeli-owned, as is Nairobi's largest and newest shopping mall. Militants bombed an Israeli-owned luxury hotel near the coastal city of Mombasa in 2002, killing 13 people, and tried to shoot down an Israeli airliner. An Al-Qaida operative was linked to those attacks.
On June 12 the two Iranian suspects arrived in Kenya and traveled to Mombasa, Opagal's affidavit said, adding that they returned to Nairobi on June 16 after receiving the explosive from an accomplice who is still at large. Opagal said that after their arrest on June 19 in Nairobi they led officers to some of the explosives hidden at a Mombasa golf course.
One of the Iranian's lawyers, David Kirimi, said on Tuesday that the prosecution was "blowing the matter out of proportion." He said his clients were sickly men, one with a liver condition and the other a heart ailment, and their detention was further damaging their health.
Kirimi said they were civil servants in Iran who were in Kenya on tourist visas.
Magistrate Paul Biwott said he would rule on the bail application on Monday.
Five Iranian scientists with links to Tehran's nuclear program have been killed in the last two years, according to Iran by Israel as well as U.S. and British intelligence agencies. In return, Israel blames Iran for alleged reprisal missions on Israeli property and personnel overseas.