On Hanukkah 2002, four Hercules planes bearing hundreds of evacuees from Africa landed in Israel. The passengers included Israeli families who had been vacationing in Kenya. Some were alive, some wounded, and some children were returning to their homeland in coffins.
Now, Biden has decided to release Mohammed Abdul Malik Bajabu, an Islamic terrorist who “participated in the planning and execution of the terrorist attacks,” from Guantanamo Bay.
2002 had been a bad year in Israel. Four hundred and fifty seven Israelis were murdered by terrorists in one of the worst years of the Islamic campaign of genocide against the country’s indigenous Jewish population. By the time fall came around, families in a terrorized nation were looking to get away from a year of suicide bombings, shootings and brutal atrocities. Families, many working class, scrimped and saved to be able to afford a Hanukkah trip somewhere safe, out of the country.
On the eve of Hanukkah, a group of Israeli tourists had just arrived at the Paradise Hotel in Mombasa, while another group was flying back to Israel.
The Islamic terrorists timed their attack precisely: two missiles were launched, targeting the Israeli plane with 271 souls aboard, passengers and crew. The aircraft trembled, but few of the passengers noticed anything had gone wrong. The missile damaged the plane’s tail, but the aircraft was able to continue flying and landed safely with all of its passengers in Tel Aviv.
The Israeli captain thought that a bird had hit the plane.
The terrorist attack at the Paradise Hotel proved more successful. A booby-trapped SUV smashed past a barrier to get through to the hotel. One of the terrorists, wearing a bomb vest, ran out shouting, “Allahu Akbar,” and blew up, and the driver smashed the vehicle into the hotel, while the remaining terrorist detonated the bomb inside, filling the entrance with shrapnel.
There is video footage showing a final moment before the attack, showing a Paradise Hotel employee telling the Israelis, “Welcome to Africa.”
Two decades ago, Ayelet, then 15 years old, saw the carnage firsthand. “Everything was burning. I thought my sisters were inside the fire,” she told reporters.
When I contacted Ayelet on Friday, she was shocked to learn that Bajabu would be released.
“Thank God, my family and I got back home safely from Mombasa, but I am sure that those who have lost their beloved children, parents or partners won’t be able to understand how come this kind of person is getting free,” she said.
“I would like to see justice done,” she added.
Few in America or Israel understand the manic obsession with which the Obama and Biden administrations have pursued the release of some of the worst Islamic terrorists on the planet. Some advocates have even tried to use false accusations of racism to justify their crusade.
Lee Wolosky, Obama’s point man for freeing Gitmo terrorists, recently argued, “If these detainees had been white and not brown or black, is there any realistic chance the United States … would imprison them without charge for decades?”
And yet the victims of the terrorists whom Obama and Biden have worked so hard to set loose were “brown or black,” Africans and Middle Eastern Jews, often poor or working class.
Albert de Havila, the tour guide leading the trip, a Jewish immigrant from Morocco, had been struggling financially. The trip was his opportunity to turn things around. He was killed where he stood in the lobby. His daughter, who later moved to America, was not injured.
Upstairs, the Anter family, who also originated from the Muslim world, was just getting settled. Rahamim Anter, who worked in a rope factory, had carefully saved money to take his three children somewhere safe to enjoy Hanukkah after a year of murderous Islamic terrorism.
Ora Anter, their mother, wanted to get some refreshments downstairs. The two boys joined her.
Noy had been excited to take his first trip out of the small country he had lived in all his life.
It was his final trip.
The Islamic terrorist attack killed Noy and his brother Dvir, described as a smart and shy boy, and left their mother Ora hooked up to a respirator.
“Suddenly there was an explosion. I jumped up and saw fire through the window. I ran outside and looked everywhere for them, trying with all my might to save them,” recalled Rahamim.
Mercy Neema Mwagambo, the hotel’s receptionist, was seeing to the guests when the bomb went off. Covered in burns, she crawled to the swimming pool and jumped in. The Israelis flew her and her mother, along with other wounded staff, out to a Jerusalem hospital.
Other hotel employees, who were closer to the blast, were not so lucky. Ten of them were killed.
“It was a giant explosion. I saw a lot of people injured, covered with blood,” one woman said.
Seven years later, a few days after the latest 9/11 anniversary, “Operation Celestial Balance” took out Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, Al-Qaeda’s Somalia boss and the FBI’s third most wanted terrorist.
After helicopters shot up his convoy, Seal Team Six went in and confirmed that Nabhan was dead. The Somali Al-Qaeda leader had been linked to some of the terrorist group’s earliest operations against America, the bombing of the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, as well as the Paradise Hotel attack. The operation would later be seen as prep for getting Bin Laden.
The Kenyans had already captured Mohammed Abdul Malik Bajabu a few years earlier, and turned him over to the United States. And from there he was sent on to Gitmo.
According to Bajabu’s lawyer, he is a peace-loving man who “can quote Mohandas Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King like teenagers quote Taylor Swift.”
That raises the question of which hotel full of Jews Martin Luther King bombed.
A Gitmo terror threat assessment noted that Bajabu “admitted that he participated in the planning and execution of the terrorist attacks in Mombasa, which included the bombing-of the Israeli-owned Kikambala Paradise Hotel and a missile attack on an Israeli airliner.”
The peace-loving Bajabu who can’t stop quoting Gandhi was also allegedly “involved in a plot to attack the Kenyan Anti-Terrorism Headquarters located in Nairobi, and the Mombasa Marathon, with the intent of killing Americans and Israelis.”
Other terrorists said that they “discussed future operations at detainee’s home, to include potential attacks on U.S. and Israeli Embassies.”
While no copies of Gandhi or MLK speeches were found at Bajabu’s home, the assessment noted that he “stored rockets, anti-aircraft missiles, explosives, and mines at his residence.”
After abortive discussions during the Obama administration about turning over Bajabu to the Israelis to face justice for the Hanukkah massacre, the Biden administration is setting him free.
Bajabu’s lawyer claims that the terrorist has a “a large and loving family” in Somalia.
After the attack, Rahamim Anter called his brother, shouting, “I have no children. Noy and Dvir have gone.”
The pro-terrorist leftist lawfare groups, like Human Rights Watch, that labored to help the terrorists are celebrating Bajabu’s release. There are no celebrations in Kenya or Israel.
The Paradise Hotel terrorist attack has left deep scars in both nations. Thirteen people, most of them Kenyans, were killed in the Paradise Hotel attack. Many others, including a number of other Israeli teenagers and children, were wounded. Some still live with the trauma to this day.
“I think these kinds of people should stay behind bars, not just for what they did, but for their intentions as well,” Ayelet told me. “I think that a long time won’t pass before he will do something like that again, the minute he will have the chance.”
Last year we learned that 229 former Gitmo detainees had returned to terrorism. And yet last month, Biden complained that the defense spending bill prevented him from closing Gitmo.
Bajabu is one of five Islamic terrorists freed by Biden from Guatanamo Bay. The radical administration is determined to free as many of the enemy as possible to kill again.
“Today’s decision is wonderful news,” the terrorist’s lawyer declared, and claimed that his client “longs to be reunited with his family.”
That is a privilege forever denied to the families of his victims.
Biden, who himself has lost a son, has shown no empathy for the loss and suffering caused by the terrorists he is protecting, whether in the Palestinian Authority, in Hamas, or even in our custody in Guantanamo Bay.
Rahamim Anter said that he had taken his family on vacation “to look for calm far from the intifada to take the children on safari, but I brought back their little bodies to put them in the ground.”
When Biden addressed the anti-Israel J Street lobby group, he closed with a poem by Seamus Heaney, “History says, Don’t hope, On this side of the grave, But then, once in a lifetime, The longed-for tidal wave, Of justice can rise up.”
Whatever justice comes to the Islamic terrorists of Gitmo and to their victims whose coffins rode those four planes on a Hanukkah two decades past, it will not come on this side of the grave.
Or at least not if Biden and his pro-terrorist administration have anything to say about it.
After the attack, the Israeli defense minister vowed that the “killers of children” would face a reckoning. “Our hand will reach them.”
Biden, his radical regime, the multitude of lawyers who lobbied for the terrorists hoped to help Bajabu, but they may have instead ensured that he faces justice on “this side of the grave.”
Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical left and Islamic terrorism.
This article was first published by FrontPage Magazine.