By Steve Holt, Opinion Editor
Thursday’s terrorist attacks in Mombasa, Kenya, literally hit close to home for Libby Talley.
The sophomore political science major lives just 20 miles from an Israeli-owned resort hotel where two suicide bombers killed 10 Kenyans and three Israelis. At the same time, two missiles whizzed by an Israeli Arkia Airlines airplane seconds after it took off from Moi International Airport-the same airport into which Talley will fly when she returns home for Christmas break next week.
Talley’s parents, missionaries in Mombasa since 1985, did not know anyone who was hurt or killed in the attacks.
“It’s scary because it was so reminiscent of the American Embassy bombing in 1996,” Talley said. “When that happened, Americans just kept a low profile for a while.”
The attacks themselves will have little direct effect on the university’s international recruiting, said Kevin Kehl, associate director for the Center for International and Intercultural Education.
“But the general insecurity can do nothing but have a negative impact on international exchange,” he said. “It’s just one more thing that helps generate an atmosphere of insecurity.”
Talley’s aunt told her about the attacks on Thanksgiving morning at her aunt and uncle’s house in Memphis.
“When I came downstairs she said, ‘There’s been an accident in Mombasa, but your family’s OK,'” Talley said.
Her parents were at their home when the attacks occurred, and found out about them from teachers when picking their daughters up from school.
Muslim extremist group al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attacks Monday, and Talley said she is troubled by the fact that the terrorist group had apparently struck in her hometown.
“It bothers me a lot-that was one of the most upsetting things about it,” Talley said. “I wasn’t really worried about my family because they are pretty street smart. But Mombasa is a relatively quiet place.
“At the same time, there is a mixture of relief that it was al Qaeda,” Talley said. “That it was imported terrorism, not some local Arabs.”
She said that close Muslim friends have been supportive to her family since the attacks.
“So many of our close friends are Muslim,” Talley said. “They are heart-sick about what happened. The support they have been getting from the Muslim community has eased some of the tension there.”
Talley will be flying back to Mombasa Dec. 13 for the holidays, but she said she is looking forward to it rather than fearing it.
“To tell you the truth, I’m excited,” Talley said. “By the time I land in Mombasa I will be so ready to see my family. It is home to me, and it feels natural. I don’t think I’ll feel that differently, be that wise or not.”