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Suspect arrested in 1996 Saudi bombing that killed 19 US airmen

Head of the Saudi Hezbollah’s military wing detained in connection with attack, Saudi daily reports

Khobar Towers after 1996 bombing that killed 19 US airmen. (Wikipedia/Public Domain)
Khobar Towers after 1996 bombing that killed 19 US airmen. (Wikipedia/Public Domain)

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — A key suspect in the bombing of a housing complex in Saudi Arabia that killed 19 US airmen almost two decades ago has been captured, a newspaper reported Wednesday.

Ahmad Ibrahim al-Mughassil, who is wanted by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, is said to be the head of the Saudi Hezbollah’s military wing, an outlawed organization whose members are drawn from the kingdom’s Shiite Muslim community.

The 48-year-old was detained in Beirut and sent to Saudi Arabia where he is being interrogated, the Saudi-owned Asharq al-Awsat daily said quoting unnamed officials.

There was no immediate confirmation from the Saudi authorities.

The massive bomb, which also wounded more than 370 people, destroyed part of the eight-story Khobar Towers in the eastern Saudi town of Dhahran in June 1996.

US prosecutors have said that Mughassil drove the explosives-laden truck and parked it outside the military compound.

The newspaper did not say when or how he was captured, but reported that he was “disguised in a way that made identifying him difficult.”

The FBI has offered a reward of up to $5 million (4.4 million euros) 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 airbase.

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