In Summary
  • The bomb had killed 20 people and wounded more than 80.
  • Both Palestinian splinter groups had a bone to pick with Kenya for its role in the successful Entebbe raid of 1976.
  • These two events placed Kenya in the crosshairs of all of Israel’s enemies, including the numerous splinter guerrilla organisations such as the PLO and PFLP.

Diners had assembled at the Norfolk for a New Year’s Eve dinner when the room directly above the dining room exploded shortly before midnight.

By dawn, 25 per cent of the 68-year-old Nairobi landmark lay in debris and carnage.

The bomb had killed 20 people and wounded more than 80.

The Norfolk bombing was blamed on the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) but it denied responsibility.

Suspicion then shifted to its rival, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

Both Palestinian splinter groups had a bone to pick with Kenya for its role in the successful Entebbe raid of 1976.

Although the PFLP had carried out the hijacking, the PLO and other organisations were opposed to any country seen as cosying up to the Jewish state.

Owned by Block Hotels

At the time, a local Jewish firm known as Block Hotels owned and operated the Norfolk Hotel.

It was not entirely implausible that the hotel was targeted for its Jewish connections.

Bomb experts concluded that it had been a sophisticated time bomb.

Within a few hours, the Kenyan police released the name of the suspect, Qaddura Mohammed Abdel al-Hamid, a 34-year-old Moroccan man travelling on a Maltese passport.

Qadurra had booked the room directly above the bar for the last week of 1980 but slipped out on the afternoon of December 31.

He was already on his way to Saudi Arabia by the time the bomb exploded. Almost nothing else was known about him except that he was a member of the PFLP.

The guerrilla organisation, however, disowned him.

No connection

In its statement published in Lebanese newspapers, the PFLP said:  ‘‘The Front has absolutely no connection regarding the allegations of the Kenyan Government.

The front has enough courage to declare its responsibility when it undertakes any such operation.’’

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