Alleged mastermind of 1996 Khobar Towers bombing captured in Beirut

Investigators sift through the wreckage of the 1996 Khobar Towers complex
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Ahmed al-Mughassil, the alleged mastermind of the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers U.S. military apartment building in Saudi Arabia, was captured in Beirut, Lebanon, two weeks ago, Saudi and U.S. intelligence officials told The Associated Press on Wednesday. The attack, carried out by a truck bomb that blew the face off the building, killed 19 American servicemen and wounded another 372 people. Al-Mughassil is on the FBI's most-wanted list, with a $5 million reward for information leading to his arrest.

Details of al-Mughassil's arrest are scant, but Saudi Arabia's Asharq Alawsat newspaper says that he was captured after Saudi intelligence discovered his location in Lebanon, then transferred to Riyadh. The Saudi official tells AP that al-Mughassil, also called Abu Omran, was nabbed after crossing into Lebanon from Iran, where Saudi intelligence believes four of the other outstanding Khobar Towers suspects are living.

In a 2001 indictment, U.S. prosecutors and the FBI blamed the bombing on al-Mughassil and 13 other members of the armed faction of Saudi Hezbollah, a Shiite group in eastern Saudi Arabia, and said Iran helped plan the attack. Saudi Hezbollah and Iran have both denied any role in the bombing. It's not clear what kind of trial al-Mughassil will receive in Saudi Arabia, but nine other Saudis imprisoned for the bombing were tried and convicted in secret.

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.