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Opinion: Where are the other three Khobar Towers suspects? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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FILE – This June 30,1996 file photo, show a general view of the destroyed Khobar Towers and crater where a truck bomb exploded at a U.S military complex killing 19 Americans and injuring hundreds in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Ahmed al-Mughassil, suspected in the bombing has been captured, a U.S. official tells The Associated Press, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015. Al-Mughassil was described by the FBI in 2001 as the head of the military wing of Saudi Hezbollah. (AP Photo/Saleh Rifai, File)

All the 19 years he spent living in hiding and under assumed identities did not protect Ahmed Al-Mughassil from being eventually caught. Mughassil, who thought he had escaped from justice, was caught by the Saudi authorities in a complex intelligence operation this month. It is not surprising that Mughassil was living in Iran, using forged Iranian ID cards all along. What would have been really surprising is if the scenario was different: that Iran had no hand in the terrorist bombing that killed 19 US airmen and injured 372 others and that it did not provide the perpetrators with shelter over the past two decades. Following the discovery and arrest of Mughassil, three out of the 14 suspects remain at large. Where are they? Who operates their movements and hides their identities?

Guesswork aside, the other three suspects presumably live in Iran, the country accused of standing behind the terrorist bombing. Even if they were not there, they must have received orders from Tehran to return immediately since Mughassil’s arrest. There is no country in the whole world capable of defying the United States and the international community, sheltering fugitives and terrorists, but Iran. It previously did that with Al-Qaeda members—something which could be supported with evidence. It cannot be imagined that the suspects—Ali Al-Houri, Ibrahim Al-Yacoub and Abdel karim Al-Nasser—who are also members of the so-called Hezbollah Al-Hejaz, an Iran-allied group, have escaped the Interpol’s clutches without some country providing them with shelter and legal cover.

The Iranian regime has moved from organizing terrorist operations in secret to plotting attacks in broad daylight and in full view of the international community. Iran is of the view that it will carry on with its hostile policy as long as no international power is stopping or at least containing it. In fact, sometimes Iran gets rewarded for its disruptive behavior, as was evidenced by the nuclear accord which the US Congress will vote on next month. Though commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, which is on the US terror list, Qassem Suleimani is publicly involved in the region, particularly in Iraq, whether militarily—through the Popular Mobilization force, known as Hashed— or politically—such as, his recent intervention to defend Iraq’s former PM Nuri Al-Mliki. So, do we expect Iran will change its hostile and destabilizing policies while the international community turns a blind eye to its obvious involvement in terrorism?

The arrest of Mughassil has revealed that Iran, a country who supports terrorism and shelters terrorists, is safe from any form of accountability and punishment. This selective policy was exclusively used with Israel, but not anymore.