Kenyan embassy bomb victim on Bin Laden's death

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Audio Transcript:

Lisa Mullins: President Obama visited Ground Zero in New York today. He laid a wreath there for the victims of the 9-11 attacks. It was a moment that came just days after the man who ordered those attacks was killed by US Navy Seals. Osama Bin Laden was also behind other attacks, such as the 1998 bombings of the US Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Douglas Sidialo is chair of Kenya's Embassy Bomb Victims' Association. He's also a survivor of the bombing in Kenya 13 years ago.

Douglas Sidialo: August 7th, 1998 was a sunny Friday morning. I was driving to work. I saw a truck, which took a turn and went towards the American embassy. Suddenly, I saw commotion, and I heard some gunshots, which I was told were hand grenades being thrown at the embassy. Then, I saw men run from the scene of the shooting towards my car with the walkie-talkie on his right hand. And that's when the huge blast went. And from that day, I have never seen light of day again. I became blind.

Mullins: There were similar injuries that happened to other people who were in the area at the time, weren't there?

Sidialo: Yes. Many became blind. Some lost their limbs. Some became deaf. And over 200 people lost their lives.

Mullins: So, I wonder, for you, then, what goes through your mind now, just a few days after the killing of Osama Bin Laden, and what it means to you?

Sidialo: The hand of god delivered Bin Laden to his destiny. When you kill by the sword, you die by the sword. When you kill by the bullet, you die by the bullet. Bin Laden killed by bombs, and he died through a similar tragedy. It's a huge relief for us victims and survivors of terrorism in the world that Bin Laden is no more. However, it would have been better if he were captured alive, so that he could confess his sins to the world.

Mullins: And what would that have meant to you?

Sidialo: It would have given me enormous peace that the man who caused loss of my sight, he shared and unraveled the mystery behind the Al-Qaida network, which would help a great deal in bringing peace and sanity to the world.

Mullins: How concerned are you that Bin Laden's death might spawn retaliation by Al-Qaida? I mean, you're in a country that was bombed by Al-Qaida forces.

Sidialo: You know, when it dawned on me that I wouldn't see again, I'm blind, I was very angry. If I would've met Bin Laden, I would have skinned him alive. But down the line, I realized that bitterness and rage only retards healing. So, I started picking up the pieces and have been moving on with my life. But, my honest prayer to the world and people who look at Bin Laden as their idol is that they should exercise peace, caution, and restraint from any act of evildoing, so that this world can experience peace, love, and tranquility.

Mullins: You say that you've moved on. How has your life changed since 1998?

Sidialo: Actually, I went for my rehabilitation training at the Virginia Rehab Center for the Blind. And while there, I learned how to cope as a blind person. In 2002, I did participate in the first of America bike ride from the World Trade Center to the Pentagon, organized by World Team Sports, which is based in Boston. And because of the World TEAM Sports and my great friend Erik Weihenmayer, from Colorado, the first blind person to reach the top of Mount Everest, he did support me to climb to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro and sponsored me to cycle the distance of Africa from Cairo to Cape Town in 95 days, becoming the first blind person in the world to achieve that feat.

Mullins: So your life has changed radically since then. Could you say it's changed for the better?

Sidialo: If only I can be used by god to preach a message of peace and hope to the world, that is when I can say it changed for the better.

Mullins: Douglas Sidialo, who was blinded in the 1998 US Embassy bombing in Kenya. Very good to talk to you, we wish you well.

Sidialo: Thank you, too.