Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

Blast suspect 'aimed for Americans'

From left: Isah Luyima, Mugisha Muhamood and Haruna Luyima

The confessed mastermind of bomb attacks in Uganda against World Cup football fans said he had hoped to kill many more Americans in the explosions in which 76 people, including one American, died last month.

At a press conference in which four arrested suspects appeared, it transpired that the death toll from the three explosions would have been much higher if one of them had not backed out at the last minute.

Haruna Luyima, the younger brother of the confessed plotter, said he was tasked with planting a fourth device at a dance hall.

"But when I reached there I wondered why so many people watching football on television should be killed over nothing," the 27-year-old said.

At the news conference organised by Ugandan officials, Luyima said he placed the laptop bag containing the bomb in a flower bed and fled without detonating it. Officials found it the day after the July 11 attacks on crowds of people watching the World Cup final on TV.

Al Shabab, a militant Somali group with links to al Qaida, claimed responsibility for the attacks and said it targeted Uganda because Ugandan troops belonging to an African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia killed Somali civilians.

Isah Ahmed Luyima said he masterminded the bombings and recruited his younger brother and a friend to help. A fourth man who claims to be a member of al Qaida allegedly made mistakes in the planning and was sidelined. All four men are in custody and have admitted to taking part in the attack, according to Ugandan officials.

Luyima, a 33-year-old Ugandan and former university librarian, said he joined al Shabab insurgents in 2009 and fought alongside other foreign fighters against the AU peacekeepers who are protecting the beleaguered UN-backed government in Somalia.

Most of the dead in the bombings in Kampala were Ugandans watching the final game of the World Cup. "I targeted places where many Americans go," the elder Luyima said. "I was made to believe that Americans were responsible for the suffering of Muslims all over the world."

He said he also targeted Ugandan civilians because he was told by his commanders in al Shabab that Ugandan soldiers in the AU peacekeeping force were killing Somali civilians.