May 6, 2013
Kenya jails two Iranians for life for plotting attacks
Two Iranian men were sentenced to life in prison by a Kenyan court on Monday for planning to carry out bombings in Nairobi and other cities last year.
Ahmad Mohammed and Sayed Mousavi were found guilty last week of planning the attacks and also possessing 33 lb of explosives. They were arrested in Nairobi in June.
Kenyan investigators said at the time of their arrest that it was unclear whether the pair had ties to al Qaeda-linked militants in Somalia or were part of another network.
Their lawyers said the two, who had both pleaded not guilty, would appeal against their sentence.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said the verdict was "unacceptable," Iran's state television reported.
"The two citizens entered Kenya on a valid visa for tourism purposes last year and were arrested as part of a pre-planned plot with baseless accusations," he said, adding he expected Kenya's new government to review the case in a "desirable way."
Israel's domestic intelligence service Shin Bet said at the end of last year that Kenya had arrested "two senior (Iranian) Revolutionary Guard Corps operatives who were in the midst of preparing a terrorist attack on an Israeli target in Kenya".
The agency did not say whether the two Iranians it referred to were Mohammed or Mousavi, but an Israeli official speaking on condition of anonymity had told Reuters in Jerusalem when the two were convicted that they were thought to be the same.
Dozens of people were killed last year in a spate of bombings and attacks in the capital, the port city of Mombasa and the frontier region with Somalia.
The Nairobi government mostly blamed those incidents on the Somali al Shabaab rebels, who Kenyan troops have been battling inside Somalia as part of a peacekeeping force.
(Additional reporting by Zahra Hosseinian; Writing by James Macharia and Edmund Blair; Editing by Alison Williams)