US Vice President says slain Iranian General plotted terror attacks on Kenya
WASHINGTON - In 2011, Iranian Gen Qassem Soleimani plotted deadly attacks on Kenya, a top US official has said, without giving many details.
Soleimani, who led the most loathed Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps, was killed by US troops in Baghdad following an order by US President Donald Trump.
Prior to his death, Trump had issued a series of warnings on his Twitter account, linking him to unprecedented protests at the US embassy in Iraq.
And Mike Pence, the US Vice President, alleged that Nairobi and Ankara were some of the slain general's targets in his "terror plots".
“(Soleimani) directed IRGC QF terrorist plots to bomb innocent civilians in Turkey and Kenya in 2011,” Pence said in a tweet.
Kenya is a key US ally in Africa
Kenya and Turkey are key US allies both economically and in the political sphere, with the three nations also cooperating on military training and enhancement.
Moments after Soleimani's death, Kenya beefed up security in key buildings associated with the US and Israel given the probability of revenge.
The US embassy and the UN headquarters remained 'no go zone' for civilians even as dreaded GSU frisked visitors to confirm their identity.
While Pence did not give explanations on the alleged terror plots, Kenya has paid price before for working closely with Washington.
In 1998, Al-Qaida militants executed a deadly attack on the American embassy in Nairobi, killing 214 people. Sudan has pledged to compensate victims.
Trump warns of a possible fightback
US President Donald Trump announced that the US killed Soleimani “to stop a war, not to start one”.
During his funeral mass in Iran on Sunday, thousands gathered at Tehran, chanting anti-US slogans besides calling for "practical revenge" against the US.
Iranian authorities also vowed to continue with the nuclear enrichment program, a clear indication that it will violate 2015 deal with the US.
"Iran will continue its nuclear enrichment with no limitations and based on its technical needs," a statement said.
Trump warned that his media posts shall serve as "notification to Congress should Iran strike any US citizen or target", thus ruling out legal intervention.
Kenya mourns General Qassem Soleimani
Communist Party of Kenya mourned Soleimani as a true peacekeeper, lauding his efforts in neutralizing militias in the Middle East.
“Soleimani and the IRGC played and continued to play the most crucial role in neutralizing al-Qaeda, IS and other terrorist formations," said Benedict Wachira.
On Thursday, Al-Shabaab militants attacked a US Naval Base in Kenya killing one US Serviceman and two DoD contractors.
Al-Shabaab attack on US Naval Base
However, in an interview with Al-Jazeera TV, a spokesman of the Somalia-based militants said: "the attack had nothing to do with US-Iran scuffle".
During the intensive fighting that lasted for five hours, five militants were killed on spot. Several weapons including RPG launchers were recovered.
KDF said in a statement that "we shall pursue the insurgents in their hideout and flush them. Their propaganda and plans will never work".
Al-Shabaab however, claimed that 17 US Marine and nine KDF troops succumbed to their injuries during the attack. No photos were posted to prove the claims.
Al-Shabaab attack no links to US-Iran scuffle
While a number of security analysts have linked the attack to US-Iran scuffle, the opposite may be true given the Al-Shabaab's confirmation.
Harun Maruf, the author of Inside "Al-Shabaab", says "If anything they will be quietly pleased with his demise given his role against Sunni jihadists in Syria."
"Shabaab doesn’t have relations with Iran, but it’s aware that Al-Qaeda members used Iran as a transit," added the VOA journalist.
Shiite and Sunni groups have been clashing in the Middle East. Al-Shabaab subscribes to Sunni ideologies thus ruling out the US-Iran standoff in the Kenyan attack.