Saudi operatives captured Ahmad Ibrahim al-Mughassil in Lebanon, source tells CNN
Mughassil was indicted in a U.S. court in 2001 for his role in the bombing that killed 19 airmen
He was taken to Saudi Arabia to be interrogated, source says
Ahmad Ibrahim al-Mughassil, who was indicted by a U.S. court for the 1996 bombing of a U.S. military base in Saudi Arabia that left 19 airman dead, was nabbed in Lebanon in a Saudi-led operation, an Arab intelligence source told CNN on Wednesday.
In recent months, Saudi intelligence had been zeroing in on Mughassil, the leader of the Hezbollah al-Hejaz, a Saudi-designated terror group that operated in the Gulf state, the source said.
Mughassil, 48, was picked up in Beirut, “bundled into a plane,” and taken to Saudi Arabia.
The source added Mughassil is in Saudi custody and will “provide invaluable information about Hezbollah and Iran’s involvement.”
Mughassil was in 2001 one of 13 Saudis and a Lebanese who were indicted by a federal grand jury in Virginia on charges of murder and conspiracy to kill Americans in the bombing.
The 46-count indictment alleged the 14 men were members of the Islamic militant group Hezbollah, which, federal officials said, received support and inspiration from individuals within the Iranian government.
Most of the other Saudi suspects were arrested and detained by Saudi Arabia by 2001,The New York Times reported that year. It is unclear what happened to them, the newspaper wrote Wednesday.
The 19 U.S. airmen were killed when a truck bomb exploded shortly before 10 p.m. on June 25, 1996, outside the eight-story Khobar Towers, their military housing complex near Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. In addition to those killed, more than 370 Americans and Saudis were wounded in the attack.
CNN’s Steve Almasy contributed to this report.