Two Iranians in Kenya found guilty of bomb plots

The men were found with enough RDX explosives to bring down a building, and more could be hidden. They scoped-out British and Israeli embassies, and a synagogue.

Two Iranians accused by Israel of planning to target its citizens in East Africa face 15 years in a Kenyan prison after they were found guilty of plotting a terror attack.

Ahmad Mohammed and Sayed Mousavi had 33 pounds of powerful explosives they intended either to use themselves or to give to others preparing bombings, a senior Kenyan judge ruled on Thursday.

The two men were arrested last June outside a five-star Libyan-owned hotel in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, after an eight-day surveillance operation.

Intelligence agents trailed the pair as they appeared to scout for targets including the British High Commission, the Israeli embassy, and a nearby synagogue. 

They also allegedly made contact with a Kenyan man living in the port city of Mombasa who was known to have links to Al Qaeda in Somalia

Mr. Mohammed and Mr. Mousavi made several trips to Kenya’s coast during the week before they were arrested. 

Within hours being taken into custody, they were flown from Nairobi to Mombasa where they led investigators to where they had hidden 33 pounds of RDX explosives in two grey rucksacks on the edge of a golf course. 

RDX is more powerful than TNT and Kenyan police told the men’s trial that the amount found would have been enough to bring down a multi-story building. 

Detectives fear that the original consignment that the men allegedly brought from Iran was 220 pounds and that most of it has yet to be found. 

"I have no doubt in my mind that they were part of the group that placed explosives there," Kiarie Wa Kiarie, the presiding magistrate, told the court in Nairobi. "I must appreciate our Kenyan security personnel for detecting and taking swift action to stop the catastrophe and ensure our country was safe.”

Kenya was hit by a spate of bombings and attacks last year, which the Nairobi government mostly blamed on Somalia’s Al Shebab army that Kenyan forces were fighting inside Somalia.

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, claimed that Mohammed and Mousavi were members of the elite Al Quds division of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and were planning attacks on Israelis in East Africa.

"Iranian terrorism knows no borders," he said at the time. "The international community must fight against this major player in the world of terrorism."

Israel said Iranian agents were also behind an alleged conspiracy to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Washington, and other plots in Thailand, India, and Azerbaijan.

Analysts believe each mission was to be carried out by Al Quds agents as part of a retaliation program against Israel following the deaths in recent years of five Iranian scientists with links to Tehran's nuclear program.

Mohamed and Mousavi will be sentenced on Monday. They face up to 15 years in jail. 

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