A Kenyan court on Monday sentenced two Iranians to life in prison on terror-related charges, including the possession of explosives allegedly to be used in bomb attacks. Ahmed Mohammed, 50, and Sayed Mansour, 51, who were arrested last June, were found guilty of possessing 15 kilos (33 pounds) of the powerful explosive RDX, found by police hidden in a hole in a golf course.
The two were planning to blow up Israeli-owned businesses and targets, as well as Saudi and US-affiliated targets, Kenyan security officials said. Israeli businesses in Kenya have been targeted in the past, including the Al Qaeda-claimed bombing of an Israeli-owned hotel in Mombasa in 2002, in which 18 people died, as well as a failed missile strike on an Israeli charter plane at the same time. The officials said that the two had planned attacks with the same modus operandi used in similar attacks on Israeli targets elsewhere.
According to one Kenyan official, the two are members of the “Quds Brigades,” an elite unit of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, which specializes in planning and executing terror attacks around the world.
The court said they had suspected links to a network planning bombings in Nairobi and the eastern port of Mombasa, the country's second largest city. "I shudder to imagine the amount of damage that could have been seen," judge Kiarie Waweru Kiarie told the court in the capital Nairobi. “I have considered their individual pleas," Kiarie said, but added: "The cry of victims of previous terrorist attacks is louder."
The two were sentenced to life on charge of committing an act intended to cause grievous harm, as well as 10 years for possession of explosives and 15 years for intention to commit serious crime, with the sentences to run concurrently.
Both defendants, dressed in suits and open neck shirts, showed little emotion as the sentence was read out, although when they were led out to the cells one angrily tried to kick a photographer.Defense lawyers described the life terms as "outrageous" and said appeals would be launched. According to their lawyers, prior to their travel to Kenya the Iranians were retired civil servants who ran a tour company out of Iran together.