Overview of Terrorism in 1998

There were 273 international terrorist attacks during 1998, a drop from the 304 attacks we recorded the previous year and the lowest annual total since 1971. The total number of persons killed or wounded in terrorist attacks, however, was the highest on record: 741 persons died, and 5,952 persons suffered injuries.

  • Most of these casualties resulted from the devastating bombings in August of the US Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. In Nairobi, where the US Embassy was located in a congested downtown area, 291 persons were killed in the attack, and about 5,000 were wounded. In Dar es Salaam, 10 persons were killed and 77 were wounded.

  • About 40 percent of the attacks in 1998-111-were directed against US targets. The majority of these--77--were bombings of a multinational oil pipeline in Colombia, which terrorists regard as a US target.

  • Twelve US citizens died in terrorist attacks last year, all in the Nairobi bombing. Each was an Embassy employee or dependent:

    --Marine Sgt. Jesse N. Aliganga, Marine Security Guard detachment
    --Julian L. Bartley, Sr., Consul General
    --Julian L. Bartley, Jr., son of the Consul General
    --Jean Rose Dalizu, Defense Attache's Office
    --Molly Huckaby Hardy, Administrative Office
    --Army Sgt. Kenneth Ray Hobson, II, Defense Attache's Office
    --Prabhi Kavaler, General Services Office
    --Arlene Kirk, Military Assistance Office
    --Mary Louise Martin, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    --Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Sherry Lynn Olds, Military Assistance Office
    --Michelle O'Connor, General Services Office
    --Uttamlal Thomas Shah, Political Section

  • Eleven other US citizens were wounded in terrorist attacks last year, including six in Nairobi and one in Dar es Salaam.

  • Three-fifths--166--of the total attacks were bombings. The foremost type of target was business related.

There were no acts of international terrorism in the United States in 1998. There were successful efforts to bring international terrorist suspects to justice, however, in several important cases:


  • On 4 November indictments were returned before the US District Court for the Southern District of New York in connection with the two US Embassy bombings in Africa. Charged in the indictment were: Usama Bin Ladin, his military commander Muhammad Atef, and al-Qaida members Wadih El Hage, Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, Mohammed Sadeek Odeh, and Mohamed Rashed Daoud al-Owhali. Two of these suspects, Odeh and al-Owhali, were turned over to US authorities in Kenya and brought to the United States to stand trial. Another suspect, Mamdouh Mahmud Salim, was arrested in Germany in September and extradited to the United States in December. On 16 December five others were indicted for their role in the Dar es Salaam Embassy bombing: Mustafa Mohammed Fadhil, Khalfan Khamis Mohamed, Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, Fahid Mohommed Ally Msalam, and Sheikh Ahmed Salim Swedan. (See box on Usama Bin Ladin on page 29.)

  • In June, Mohammed Rashid was turned over to US authorities overseas and brought to the United States to stand trial on charges of planting a bomb in 1982 on a Pan Am flight from Tokyo to Honolulu that detonated, killing one passenger and wounding 15 others. Rashid had served part of a prison term in Greece in connection with the bombing until that country released him from prison early and expelled him in December 1996, in a move the United States called "incomprehensible." The nine-count US indictment against Rashid charges him with murder, sabotage, bombing, and other crimes in connection with the Pan Am explosion.

  • Three additional persons convicted in the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 were sentenced last year. Eyad Mahmoud Ismail Najim, who drove the explosive-laden van into the World Trade Center, was sentenced to 240 years in prison and ordered to pay $10 million in restitution and a $250,000 fine. Mohammad Abouhalima, who was convicted as an accessory for driving his brother to the Kennedy International Airport knowing he had participated in the bombing, was sentenced to eight years in prison. Ibrahim Ahmad Suleiman received a 10-month sentence on two counts of perjury for lying to the grand jury investigating the bombing.

  • In May, Abdul Hakim Murad was sentenced to life in prison without parole for his role in the failed conspiracy in January 1995 to blow up a dozen US airliners over the Pacific Ocean. Murad received an additional 60-year sentence for his role and was fined $250,000. Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, who was convicted previously in this conspiracy and for his role in the World Trade Center bombing in 1993, is serving a life prison term.

Source: Patterns of Global Terrorism 1998, U.S. State Department.