The nearly two-decade manhunt for the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing mastermind is finally over. Ahmed al-Mughassil was captured in Beirut and then transferred to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia where he will face justice for the bombing that killed 19 American servicemen.
In a 2001 indictment that took place in Alexandria, Virginia, al-Mughassil was charged along with 13 others for murdering federal employees and a bombing that resulted in death. Al-Mughassil was described by the FBI as the head of the Saudi Hezbollah group that orchestrated the bombing.
The Khobar Towers were an eight-story dormitory that housed U.S. Air Force personnel in the Gulf. The attack killed 19 Americans, and wounding 372. At the time this was the worst attack against Americans since the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marines’ barracks in Beruit where 241 servicemen lost their lives.
“In the attack, militants parked a fuel tanker truck just outside the shallow perimeter of the apartment complex, 85 feet from one of the dormitories. The blast tore the face off one side of the building, leaving a massive crater,” according to the AP.
After attacks many members of the Saudi Hezbollah went in to hiding outside of Saudi Arabia. The Saudi intelligence service believes at least four others were living in neighboring Iran at this point.
Saudi Arabia has never directly accused their Iranian neighbors of being involved in the attack, but in 2006 U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth ordered the Iranian government to pay $254 million to the victims of the attacks.
The U.S. is still seeking three other Saudi’s in connection with the attack: Ali al-Hoorie, Abdelkarim al-Nasser, and Ibrahim al-Yacoub.
Saudi officials have captured nine other people believed to be linked to the attack and they have all been imprisoned for the last 19 years. They all faced secret trials, and the results of those trials have never been disclosed. At this point it is unknown what type of trial al-Mughassil will be given.
Currently both Saudi Arabia and the U.S. are not releasing any official statements regarding the arrest. However, one anonymous Saudi official did confirm that al-Mughassil was detained two weeks ago.