Arrest of ’96 Alkhobar blast suspect ‘big achievement’
JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia is holding the main suspect in the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers residence at a US military base in the country, Arab News’ sister publication, Asharq Al-Awsat reported Wednesday.The newspaper said Ahmed Al-Mughassil, 48, leader of the Hezbollah Al-Hejaz who had been indicted by a US court for the attack that killed 19 US service personnel and wounded almost 500 people, had been captured in the Lebanese capital Beirut and transferred to Riyadh.Both Riyadh and the Washington have accused Iran of being behind the truck-bomb attack, although Iran has denied any responsibility.Asharq Al-Awsat quoted Saudi sources as saying the country’s security service had received information on Al-Mughassil’s presence in Beirut.“The discovery of Al-Mughassil and his arrest in Lebanon and his subsequent transfer to Saudi Arabia is a qualitative achievement, for the man had been in disguise in a way that made it hard to identify him,” Asharq Al-Awsat said, without elaborating on when he was captured and who captured him.In 2006, a US federal judge ordered Iran to pay $254 million to the families of 17 US service personnel killed in the attack in a judgment entered against the Iranian government, its security ministry and the Revolutionary Guards after they failed to respond to a lawsuit initiated more than four years earlier, Reuters said.According to the 209-page ruling, the truck bomb involved in the attack was assembled in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, operated by Hezbollah and the Revolutionary Guards, and the attack was OK’d by Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. However, Iran denies the findings.
The FBI has offered a reward of up to $5 million for information leading directly to his apprehension or conviction.
The Khobar Towers dormitory complex housed US, British, French and Saudi military personnel attached to the nearby King Abdul Aziz air base.
Separately, a court in Jeddah jailed a Saudi for nine years on a conviction of spreading extremist and “terrorist” ideology on Twitter, the Al-Riyadh daily reported Wednesday.He was also found guilty of calling for protests to demand the release of detainees held in cases linked to “national security” matters, it said.