1998 US Embassy Bombings & the Smoking Gun

by Anthony C Heaford - 09 December 2018 (Redrafting Sept 2021)

On 07 August 1998 two truck bombs targeted two US embassies, detonating near simultaneously in Nairobi, Kenya and in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Two hundred and twenty four people were killed - murdered - and over four thousand were injured. Many of the injured were Kenyan secretarial students in a college building neighbouring the embassy, blinded by secondary fragmentation (glass) from the first blast.

Both bombs were built by Mohammed Saddiq Odeh, a Saudi national of Palestinian descent. Starting in 1986 Odeh studied architecture and engineering in the Philippines before travelling to Afghanistan around 1990. By the time he returned to the Philippines in 1993 Odeh was a trained insurgent and an explosives expert. Odeh spent from 1993-95 training and assisting the Filipino Abu Sayyaf terrorists, a group named after Afghan Warlord Abdul Rasul Sayyaf in whose training camps Abu Sayyaf’s founder trained and where Odeh probably learnt his craft too.

Also connected to Sayyaf, to Afghanistan and to the Philippines is 9/11’s Engineer Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, making his and Odeh’s career paths seemingly run in tandem. I can prove KSM’s role the 1998 US embassy bombings too. He manufactured the TNT explosives used by Odeh in Kenya and Tanzania, using chemicals sourced by the US embassy in Yemen for KSM’s hosts and financiers there - the Hayel Saeed Anam Group.   

KSM is a Kuwaiti national born to Baluchi parents. He studied engineering in the USA before travelling to Afghanistan in 1987. Two of KSM’s Uncles were reputedly killed when serving with the Baluchistan Liberation Army (a British Empire legacy insurgent organisation in Pakistan/Iran/Afghanistan)and so it could be said he came from a family of rebellious significance and that would explain his early introduction to Abdul Rasul Sayyaf by his brother Zahid in 1987. Sayyaf employed KSM at the “Services Office” from 1988-92, where part of his role was assisting foreign volunteer fighters travelling through Pakistan to attend Sayyaf’s insurgent training camps. 

KSM’s work for Sayyaf in the Service’s Office overlapping with the African embassies bomb-maker Odeh’s attendance at training camps in Afghanistan, makes their being at minimum passing aquentencies highly likely. Both were engineering graduates; each had their grievances against the legacies of the British Empire (Palestine & Baluchistan); and now both were proteges of Abdul Rasul Sayyaf. In 1985 Sayyaf had been accused of misappropriating Gulf nation's donations to the 1980’s Mujahideen cause to built his own insurgent organisation. That accusation was made by the US Central Intelligence Agency in a now declassified intelligence assessment of Sayyaf, someone they described as “the Arab’s fair-haired child”.


The Nairobi truck bomb contained 400-to-500 cylinders of TNT explosive, each cylinder about the size of a drinks can. Please think of 20-trays of twenty-four drinks cans each to give yourself an idea of the size of the TNT component of the bomb. Please keep this image of twenty trays of drinks cans in mind, specifically how easy it would be to hide such an amount in other shipments for transport.

I believe this TNT was manufactured in the HQ compound of the multi-billion dollar company the HSA Group, at PO Box 5302, Taiz, Yemen, with chemicals imported from the USA via the US Embassy

Export opportunities

hsa salem export us embassy

The principle component of TNT is toluene, a liquid solvent with an odour like paint thinners:

On August 06 1996 the US embassy sourced one year’s supply of an 80% proof Toluene solvent on behalf of Mohamed A. Salem, general manager of the HSA Group at PO Box 5302 Taiz. This was supposedly for the manufacture of plastics and foam for packaging applications. 

To make TNT the toluene is first nitrated with a mixture of sulfuric and nitric acid

On August 13 1996 the US embassy sourced one year’s supply of nitric acid on behalf of Mohamed A. Salem, general manager of the HSA Group at PO Box 5302 Taiz. This was supposedly for the manufacture of tiolet soap.

A final stage in TNT manufacture is rinsing with sodium sulphates to stabilize the chemical compound: 

One years supply of sodium sulphate for Mohamed A. Salem, general manager of the HSA Group at PO Box 5302 was included in the US Embassy’s August 1996 “export opportunities” shopping list. 

yempak contact sheet copy 2

Chemicals sourced for the HSA Group by the US embassy in August 1996 included: 

Toluene, nitric acid, sodium sulfates, sulfur, sodium sulfonate, caustic soda flakes, linear alkaline benzene, dodecol benzene,

sodium caboxy methyl cellulose, sodium hypochloride, sodium silicate alkaline, hydrochloric acid, hydrogen peroxide, sodium benzoate, titanium dioxide, 

polyl hydroxyl, paraformaldehyde, silicone, polyvinyl chloride, high density polyethylene, polystyrene, polypropylene, polyvinyl chloride resin.


My Accusation

The privately owned HSA Group accounts for 1/3 of Yemen’s economy and has huge global investments, specifically in Africa and South East Asian countries. To suggest the HSA Group manufactured the TNT used to attack the US embassies in Africa in 1998, based only on the chemical purchase attempts noted above would be insane. But the list of chemicals above is not the basis for my accusation, it is the final confirmatory evidence of a long held suspicion I’ve held about the HSA Group at PO Box 5302, and its general manager Mohamed A. Salem.

hsa aq new overview

The basis for my accusation against the HSA Group are my observations and meetings whilst visiting the compound at PO Box 5302, Taiz in 1997. Mohamed A. Salem, the site’s general manager, was my principle contact during my six day visit - he directed my work there as well as arranging my local transportation and accommodation in Taiz city. 

This photo from my 1997 visit shows me in a line-up with Mohamed A. Salem and his boss (the Chief) on one side and two members of al Qaeda on the other. The al Qaeda members photographed are their bomb building ‘Engineer’ and ‘Mechanic’, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Ahmed al Darbi, Pakistani and Saudi nationals respectively.

It was Mohamed A. Salem who took me to al Qaidah town for a clanestine meeting after this photo was taken. To illustrate the significance of the al Qaidah town I visited, I have recently been informed that Osama bin Laden’s 5th wife, a Yemeni national, comes from al Qaidah town.

My Conclusion

After KSM’s exit from Qatar in May 1996 the HSA Group provided sanctuary and an operational base for him and other al Qaeda members in Taiz, Yemen . The HSA Group’s ‘hospitality' extended to purchasing explosive chemicals for the group in August 1996 and furnishing a front company with over $3-million of printing equipment as a cover.

The ‘drinks can’ sized cylinders of explosives used in the US Embassy bombing were produced at the HSA Group HQ compound in Taiz in 1996/97 for an indeterminate end use. When it was later decided to attack the Nairobi embassy these explosives were shipped from Taiz to Kenya where the truck bomb was assembled in the weeks before the August 7th attack.

The presence of al Qaeda in Yemen was tolerated by US diplomats due to the group’s historical ties with the CIA - these ties are best summarized by former CIA contractor Billy Waugh in his autobiography:

“I worked right there with these al-Qaeda operatives and heard these arguments [about the badness of US policy] firsthand many times, especially during an assignment in Yemen.”

Throughout the 1990s al Qaeda’s presence in Yemen was tolerated by the Yemeni government and military due to historical ties and allegences in the region, specifically with Saudi, Qatar and the UAE. They were supported by a Yemeni army General (a cousin of the late former President Saleh) and al Qaeda units fought in the 1994 Yemeni civil War in support of President Saleh and US aims in the region.

Today in Yemen al Qaeda alligned units are still in control of Taiz city. The BBC reported in 2016 that al Qaeda and the Saudi coaltion were allied to each other in Taiz. In November 2018 it was determined that both US and British weapons sold to Gulf states are being redirected to al Qaeda in Yemen.

Truly, for some of us nothing is written, unless we write it 
© Anthony C Heaford - The Quiet Mancunian