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Book Seeks Justice for Early Al-Qaida Attacks

Susan Hirsch lost her husband in the 1998 bombing of the U.S. embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Her Kenyan husband, Abdurahman "Jamal" Abdalla, was killed in the attack outside the embassy, while Hirsch was inside the building, cashing a check.

Hirsch attended the 2001 trial of the four men accused in the Tanzania bombing and a simultaneous attack in Kenya. More than 200 people died in the two bombings.

The defendants were members or associates of a group that most people had heard nothing about in early 2001: al-Qaida.

At the time of the trial, Hirsch spoke about her opposition to capital punishment, as prosecutors sought the death penalty against two of the four men. (Ultimately, the men were found guilty and sentenced to life in prison without parole.)

Hirsch, a cultural anthropologist, has written a book about dealing with the tragedy, In the Moment of Greatest Calamity. In it, she details her struggles to come to terms with the prosecution of the perpetrators, its shortcomings, and about her own search for justice as a victim.

She believes strongly in confronting terrorism through the legal system, but also worries about the fairness of the trials.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

As special correspondent and guest host of NPR's news programs, Melissa Block brings her signature combination of warmth and incisive reporting. Her work over the decades has earned her journalism's highest honors, and has made her one of NPR's most familiar and beloved voices.
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