CNN Editorial Research
Here’s a look at the bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania on August 7, 1998, which killed 224 people. Terrorist group al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the bombings.
The bombings took place eight years to the day after US troops were ordered to Saudi Arabia in the aftermath of Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden considered the presence of US troops in Saudi Arabia, home to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, a grave offense.
More than 20 people have been indicted in the United States for the bombings.
August 7, 1998 – Almost simultaneously, bombs explode at US embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, killing 224 people and injuring about 5,000. Twelve of those killed are US citizens.
August 20, 1998 – The United States launches cruise missiles at suspected terrorist targets in Afghanistan and Sudan, in retaliation for the embassy bombings.
August 27, 1998 – US officials charge Yemeni citizen Mohamed Rashed Daoud al-‘Owhali with 12 counts of murder, one count of conspiracy to commit murder, and one count of conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction in connection with the embassy bombing in Kenya.
August 28, 1998 – US officials charge Mohammed Saddiq Odeh with 12 counts of murder one count of conspiracy to commit murder, and one count of conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction. Odeh claims that the bombings were orchestrated by al Qaeda, led by bin Laden.
September 1998 – Suspect Wadih el Hage is arrested in Arlington, Texas. El Hage has previously worked for bin Laden in Sudan as a personal secretary. El Hage is initially charged with perjury and later with conspiracy to kill US citizens.
September 16, 1998 – Mamdouh Mahmud Salim, reportedly a founding member of al Qaeda, is arrested in Munich, Germany. He is later extradited to the United States and charged in the embassy bombings.
November 4, 1998 – US officials indict bin Laden and al Qaeda military chief Muhammad Atef on 224 counts of murder for the embassy bombings. The State Department offers a $5 million reward for information leading to bin Laden’s arrest or conviction.
July 11, 1999 – Suspects Ibrahim Hussein Abdel Hadi Eidarous and Adel Abdul Bary are arrested in London.
October 20, 2000 – Former US Army Sergeant Ali Mohamed pleads guilty to terrorism conspiracy charges in connection to the embassy bombings. He had admitted in court to visiting the Nairobi embassy in the 1990s to assess its potential as a target for a terrorist attack.
November 1, 2000 – Salim stabs a prison guard in the eye with a sharpened comb, causing serious brain damage.
May 29, 2001 – A jury in New York finds Mohamed Rashed Daoud al-‘Owhali and Khalfan Khamis Mohamed guilty of murder in the embassy bombings. Two other defendants, Mohamed Saddiq Odeh and Wadih el Hage are convicted of conspiracy.
September 11, 2001 – The deadliest terrorist attack in US history takes place when 19 men hijack four US commercial airliners. The plot is orchestrated by al Qaeda leader bin Laden. A total of 2,977 people are killed at the World Trade Center in New York; at the Pentagon in Washington, DC; and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
October 18, 2001 – US District Judge Leonard Sand formally sentences al-‘Owhali, Mohamed, Odeh and el Hage to life in prison without parole.
March 3, 2003 – The United States opens a new, fortified embassy on the outskirts of Nairobi.
May 3, 2004 – Salim is sentenced to 32 years in prison for the 2000 attack on prison guard Louis Pepe.
July 2008 – Suspect Eidarous dies under house arrest in Great Britain, while fighting extradition to the United States.
November 24, 2008 – The 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals upholds the convictions of al-‘Owhali, el Hage and Odeh. The court also rules that el Hage is eligible for resentencing.
August 31, 2010 – Salim is resentenced to life in prison.
January 25, 2011 – Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, the first Guantánamo Bay detainee to be tried in US civilian court, is sentenced to life in prison without parole for his role in the embassy bombings.
May 2, 2011 – Al Qaeda leader bin Laden is killed by US Special Forces in a raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
October 5, 2012 – Suspects Khaled al-Fawwaz and Adel Abdul Bary are extradited to the United States from Great Britain.
April 23, 2013 – El Hage is resentenced to life in prison.
October 5, 2013 – Suspect Abu Anas al Libi, also known as Nazih al-Ruqaii, is captured in Tripoli, Libya.
September 19, 2014 – Bary pleads guilty to conspiracy to kill US citizens and charges relating to making threats.
January 2, 2015 – Al Libi dies in custody, before his trial begins.
January 22, 2015 – The trial of al-Fawwaz begins in New York. He is accused of setting up an al Qaeda media office in London in the 1990s and facilitating conversations among members which led to the 1998 bombings.
February 6, 2015 – Bary is sentenced to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to three counts, including conspiracy to murder US citizens abroad.
May 15, 2015 – Al-Fawwaz is sentenced to life in prison, after being convicted on conspiracy charges in February.
May 18, 2020 – The US Supreme Court rules that victims of the bombings and their family members are entitled to the $4.3 billion in punitive damages, of a total $10.2 billion in damages, previously awarded against Sudan, which was found to have assisted the al Qaeda operatives.
March 31, 2021 – US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says in a statement that the United States has received the $335 million settlement from Sudan that will be paid out to victims and families of individuals impacted by the 1998 bombings at the US Embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, the 2000 attack on the USS Cole and the murder of a USAID employee in Khartoum. The Sudan Claims Resolution Act, among the provisions of the omnibus bill signed by former US President Donald Trump in late December, resolved a major point of contention over an earlier settlement — unequal compensation for the victims. Under the $335M settlement, those who were US citizens at the time of the bombings would receive more than those who became citizens after the fact and foreign national embassy employees. The legislation signed into law as part of the omnibus includes $150M in additional funds to allow for equitable compensation between birthright and naturalized citizens.
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