More Arrests in US Embassy Bombing to be Announced

By Patrick Goodenough | July 7, 2008 | 8:07 PM EDT

( - Law-enforcement authorities in New York City are scheduled to hold a press conference Friday to announce the arrests in South Africa of several more suspects in last August's bombing of two American embassies in East Africa. learned from a diplomatic source in Pretoria that a "major" announcement was expected in this regard.

The source said South African authorities were cooperating fully with American officials in the investigation.

According to local press reports, the FBI and South African police and immigration officials arrested several foreign citizens in Cape Town. One report said a Tanzanian was among those detained.

A joint operation is reportedly continuing, with a manhunt underway for suspected accomplices in the bombings in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania. More than 220 people, including 12 Americans, were killed.

Contacted by, neither South African safety and security officials nor a spokesperson at the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria would confirm or comment on the reports.

Tracking down the bombers is a major priority for the FBI, which has named the alleged mastermind, Islamist terror chief Osama bin Laden, as one of its ten "most wanted" fugitives. He and eight other known suspects remain at large, while five others are under arrest in New York, and another three in Britain.

The US reacted to the twin bombings by launching missile attacks at suspected Bin Laden strongholds in Afghanistan and a factory in Sudan.

Shortly thereafter, a Cape Town branch of the Planet Hollywood restaurant chain was bombed, in what South African police suspected was a retaliatory attack at a perceived American target.

South Africa, and Cape Town in particular, has experienced increasingly serious Muslim violence in recent years. The local Muslim media is outspokenly anti-Western, and sympathetic towards Middle Eastern organizations accused of terror, such as Hamas and Hizb'Allah.

A confidential police report leaked in 1996 said the country was facing infiltration by extremists backed by Iran and Libya, with the goal of establishing an Islamic state.

Muslim leaders and some academics scoffed at the notion, pointing to the fact only one in 40 South Africans is a Muslim.

Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow