A Bond Forged By Bombs

After the bombing of the American embassy in Kenya, among the first assistance came from Israel, geographically the closest American ally able to help.

It was an ironic development, reports CBS News Correspondent Bob Simon, because, to the radical Islamic groups suspected of the bombings, there is little difference between Israelis and Americans.

As a matter of fact, when the Israeli team returned to Tel Aviv Aug. 13, Prime Minister Netanyahu suggested there was now a bonding of victims.

"We're fighting a common battle against international terrorism," he said.

Israeli intelligence agents say they are not acquainted with the group which has claimed responsibility -- the self styled Islamic Army for the Liberation of Holy Places. However, they caution that the group should not be dismissed because, Israeli intelligence believes, the bombings were aimed at ending U.S. military and political domination of Saudi Arabia.

That's partly why, from the first, suspicion focused on Osama bin Laden, the notorious Saudi billionaire living in the wilds of Afghanistan. Intelligence sources say his associates were known to be in Nairobi on or near the time of the attack.

But the Israelis insist bin Laden is not alone in funding acts of terror, that many other billionaires in the gulf are making their own generous contributions.

The Israelis say the money goes to groups that have become the main target of every western intelligence agency, but that they're very difficult to penetrate because of the countries they operate from. They are not only from Afghanistan, but also Pakistan and Iran.

One Israeli intelligence officer expressed a certain perverse satisfaction that the Americans may now experience a very Israeli-type frustration. We've watched our enemies parade around European capitols for years, he said, and have not been able to touch them. Well, now you know America's enemies are headquartered in Afghanistan. What, he asked, are you going to do about it?

The answer came Thursday, delivered by the U.S. military.

Reported by Bob Simon
©1998, CBS Worldwide Inc., All Rights Reserved
  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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