Mystery terrorist in NYC plot deported to Sudan

By: AP
By: AP

AFAT Sudan Flag

NEW YORK (AP) -- A recently released Black September terrorist convicted of placing three powerful car bombs in New York City in 1973 has been deported to Sudan, an African nation that once sheltered Osama bin Laden and other terrorists.

Khalid Al-Jawary, 63, was flown out of Denver International Airport on Thursday and arrived Tuesday in Khartoum, said Carl Rusnok, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman.

Details of his deportation were released after Al-Jawary's federal escorts had safely left the volatile country that was once the site of a bloody Black September attack in the '70s.

Al-Jawary ended up in Sudan after Algeria initially agreed to accept him but then reversed course, setting off an intense scramble to find a country that would take him. It's unclear why Algeria ultimately decided against taking Al-Jawary.

Al-Jawary wanted to be deported to Jordan, where his family lives, but the country apparently would not allow him. Federal officials said he had dual citizenship with Jordan and Iraq.

He was released last week and placed in immigration officials' custody after serving about half his 30-year sentence and getting credit for time served and good behavior.

His deportation came 36 years to the day that he placed bombs in two cars on Fifth Avenue and a third at JFK Airport timed to coincide with the arrival of Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir. He was convicted in 1993 of planting the bombs, which failed to detonate.

He has always denied involvement in the bomb plot, and his identity has always been a mystery.

Al-Jawary claims his real name is Khaled Mohammed El-Jassem, and says he's a 61-year-old Palestinian refugee. The federal Bureau of Prisons had listed his age as 63.

But Al-Jawary had many aliases and was an expert in forging passports before he was finally captured in 1991 while passing through Rome, where he was spotted by British intelligence. A hardened terrorist, he never cracked in prison and refused to give up information that might have shortened his time behind bars.

He once bragged in a jailhouse interview with an Arabic-language publication that he would eventually disclose his many secrets. "Some day I will leave here and say many things," he told London's Al-Majallah newspaper in 1993.

An Associated Press investigation revealed that Al-Jawary may have been involved in a murderous letter-bombing campaign and the bombing of a 1974 TWA flight that killed 88 people, and had links to a dangerous terrorist named Abu Ibrahim, who is possibly hiding out in Iraq.

The FBI was investigating whether Al-Jawary helped carry out other terrorist attacks, but brought no charges before his deportation.

In the end, the shadowy Al-Jawary found a country that wasn't shy about taking high-profile terrorists.

Bin Laden moved to Sudan in the early 1990s and began building his al-Qaida infrastructure that included a mix of business and terrorist enterprises. Bin Laden was expelled in 1996 under pressure from the U.S. and moved his operations to Afghanistan.

French counterterrorism agents, along with the help of the CIA, helped nab Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, the infamous Venezuelan terrorist known as "Carlos the Jackal," in 1994 in Sudan and brought him out of the country. He is serving a life sentence in a prison outside Paris.

In addition, 12 detainees at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility were Sudanese; nine of them have been deported to the country. And five of the 15 suspects arrested in the wake of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing were Sudanese.

Al-Jawary's deportation comes at a sensitive time. On Wednesday, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.

In a sworn statement to immigration officials in 2000, Al-Jawary admitted he belonged to the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which routed Fatah in a takeover of Gaza in June 2007. The European Union and United States consider Hamas a terrorist organization.

Yehudit Barsky, the director of the American Jewish Committee's division on Middle East and International Terrorism, said the PLO has had a long relationship with Sudan.

The country hosted reconciliation talks between the PLO and Hamas in 1992, and its government also hosted a PLO representative for many years, Barsky said.

Black September also has a history with Sudan. Black September terrorists stormed the Saudi Embassy in Khartoum just days before Al-Jawary's bombs were supposed to detonate in New York City. The attack left three diplomats dead.

The PLO-controlled Black September was also responsible for the 1972 Munich Olympic massacre in which 11 Israeli athletes were murdered.

One of the people who lobbied for Al-Jawary's release from U.S. prison was Amin Al-Hindi, according to federal court records. Amin Al-Hindi was once in charge of Palestinian Authority intelligence and was believed to have been involved in the Munich attack.

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