Suspect in 1996 Bombing that Killed 19 American Arrested
A suspected terrorist who has been on the run for more than 20 years after killing nearly two dozen Americans in a 1996 terror attack in Saudi Arabia has been arrested.
The New York Times reports that Ahmed al-Mughassil was arrested in Beirut, Lebanon and handed over to Saudi authorities. A Saudi newspaper first made the news public, and an intelligence officer told the Times that the report is most likely true, although the U.S. is still waiting to hear concrete details about the arrest.
Al-Mughassil is said to have carried out the attack with the help of Iran and was able to live freely in Beirut because he was under the protection of Hezbollah, a powerful militant group in the country that is backed by Iran. Hezbollah has a long history of conflict with Israel, but as it works for Iran, it has recently found itself fighting groups like the Islamic State and al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabat al-Nusra on behalf of the government of Bashar al-Assad.
Al-Mughassil is accused of being a member of a Saudi branch of Hezbollah known as Hezbollah al-Hijaz.
The attack that took place in 1996 targeted an apartment complex known as Khobar Towers, which was used to house U.S. airmen serving at military bases in Saudi Arabia. That attack involved a truck bomb and left 19 Americans dead, while injuring 400 other people in the vicinity.
Al-Mughassil is the second suspect to be arrested for the attack. Hani al-Sayegh was arrested in Canada in 1997 and said he had information on the bombing. He never provided any and was deported to Saudi Arabia.
The other 11 other suspects in the crime were named by the U.S. government but Saudi Arabia refused to extradite them and no one knows if they were brought to justice or not.