A man suspected in the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers residence at a U.S. military base in Saudi Arabia has been captured, a Saudi-owned newspaper reported on Wednesday.
Ahmed al-Mughassil, who had been indicted by a U.S. court for the attack that killed 19 U.S. service personnel and wounded almost 500 people, was captured in the Lebanese capital Beirut and transferred to Riyadh, according to Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper. Mughassil is believed to be the leader of pro-Iranian armed group Hezbollah Al-Hejaz, which operates in the Gulf and is considered a “terrorist organization” by Saudi Arabia.
The 1996 bombing was the deadliest attack targeting U.S. forces since the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marines' barracks in Beirut that killed 241 American servicemen.
The Saudi Interior Ministry had no immediate comment. A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the report to The Associated Press.
Saudi Arabia and the United States have accused Iran of orchestrating the truck-bomb attack. However, Iran has denied any responsibility.
Asharq Al-Awsat quoted official Saudi sources as saying Saudi security personnel had received information about the presence of 48-year-old Mughassil in Beirut.
“The discovery of 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 reported, without elaborating on when he was captured or who captured him.
In 2006, a U.S. federal judge ordered Iran to pay $254 million to the families of 17 U.S. service personnel killed in the attack in a judgment entered against the Iranian government, its security ministry and Revolutionary Guards after they failed to respond to a lawsuit initiated more than four years earlier.
The 209-page ruling had found that the truck bomb involved in the attack was assembled at a base in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley operated by the Lebanese armed group Hezbollah and Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, and the attack was approved by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Al Jazeera and wire services