Ali Soufan Op-Ed in Foreign Policy: Did Iran Give Up the Khobar Towers Terrorist?
September 8, 2015

Did Iran Give Up the Khobar Towers Terrorist?

Foreign Policy
By:  Ali Soufan


The capture of Ahmed al-Mughassil, the prime suspect in the June 1996 bombing of Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, was particularly and personally gratifying for me, a former FBI agent who spent years investigating and disrupting other terrorist attacks. But it’s unlikely that a lucky intelligence break alone led to Mughassil’s apparent capture in Hezbollah territory.

That’s not to take anything away from the impressive ability of intelligence agencies around the world to coordinate and track those like Mughassil, who’ve successfully evaded detection for years. Indeed, the “how” of his capture, which involved the intelligence and security services of Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and the United States, is the stuff of spy novels. But the question of why Hezbollah allowed Mughassil to be plucked from its own backyard — without any retaliation or even a tangible response — may be even more fascinating.

That “why” likely stems from the shifting self-interests of both Iran and Saudi Arabia — specifically, from the realities posed by the soon-to-be-enacted Iranian nuclear deal. With the historic accord now in Tehran’s back pocket, it will make less and less sense for the regime going forward to offer safe havens to wanted terrorist suspects (with American blood on their hands, no less), who present glaring political and diplomatic liabilities. To prove its skeptics wrong…


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