NAIROBI, Kenya – NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — A Kenyan man who once told authorities he was part of an al-Qaida plot to blow up the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi is now facing charges in connection with last month's terror attacks in Uganda but is free on bail, authorities said Wednesday.
Salmin Mohammed Khamis, 34, also was acquitted in 2005 in the bombing of a beachfront hotel, two years after he divulged the embassy plot. Khamis was never charged in connection with the embassy case and his statement to authorities was viewed by The Associated Press.
Under Kenyan law, a confession can only be acted on if it is made in front of a magistrate or judge. Confessions made during police interrogations are not admissible as evidence in court.
Khamis was one of seven people acquitted in the 2002 bombing of an Israeli-owned hotel near Mombasa, Kenya in which 15 people died. He also was acquitted of charges in connection with a failed attempt to shoot down an Israeli passenger plane leaving Mombasa that same day.
Kenya's anti-terrorism police chief, Nicholas Kamwende, confirmed to The Associated Press on Wednesday that the same man is now facing charges in connection with the Uganda bombings that killed 76 people. Khamis, though, is out on bail after a Mombasa court released him Monday.
He is accused of harboring three suspects in connection with the Uganda attacks, when a Somali al-Qaida-linked group, al-Shabab, attacked fans watching the World Cup final match on television at two locations. One of the Ugandan suspects came to Kenya to stay with Khamis after the July 11 bombings while the other two stayed in hotels in Mombasa, Kamwende said.
The spokesman for Uganda's judiciary said the three men voluntarily confessed before two magistrates Tuesday evening that they were involved in the bombings. Eliasa Kisawuzi did not give details of the men's confessions.
Kamwende said anti-terrorism police have been watching Khamis since his acquittal in 2005 and know that he has been to Somalia several times since. The last time Khamis tried to go to Somalia was in June, but police stopped him at the border town of Liboi, Kamwende said.
Back in 2003, Khamis told Kenyan investigators that al-Qaida planned to simultaneously drive a truck bomb and fly a small plane laden with explosives into the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi. The men, however, did not set a date for their attack and it was not clear at the time whether Khamis' arrest in July 2003 foiled the plan.
But the report provided a possible reason for the actions American and Kenyan authorities took in June and July 2003. For four days in June 2003, the U.S. Embassy was closed down and Kenyan officials banned flights from June 20-July 8, 2003 to and from Somalia.
Kamwende said Khamis is "most probably," still in touch with the other men involved in the 2003 plot to attack the U.S. Embassy.
Kenyan authorities have been alert to terror threats since the 1998 car bombing of the old U.S. Embassy in downtown Nairobi, which killed 213 people including 12 Americans.
Associated Press Writer Godfrey Olukya in Kampala, Uganda, contributed to this report.