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Terrorist who planted bomb on Honolulu flight released to West Africa

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    In this December 12, 1991photo Mohammed Rashed, center, convicted of the 1982 PanAm jetliner bombing, listens to his unidentified PLO interpreter, left, during his appeals court hearing in Athens, Greece.

BUFFALO, N.Y. >> A Jordanian-born Palestinian who was imprisoned in the United States for putting a bomb on a Hawaii-bound flight in 1982 has been relocated to the West African country of Mauritania.

Mohammed Rashed’s attorney said Monday that Rashed, who had been held in federal detention outside Buffalo, was removed from the United States earlier this month.

Rashed pleaded guilty in 2002 to setting off a bomb on Pan Am Flight 830, killing a Japanese teenager and injuring 15 other people on its flight from Tokyo. As part of the plea agreement, the government agreed to work to deport Rashed to the country of his choice after prison.

Rashed finished serving his sentence in 2013 but removal efforts were stalled by diplomatic complications. Rashed’s stated destination of choice was the West Bank.

The plea deal reflects the balancing of two government interests that are sometimes in conflict: securing lengthy prison sentences for dangerous felons while also incentivizing their cooperation against higher-value targets through the prospect of an early release. Rashed’s cooperation has already been extensive by some accounts, including providing information about a 1986 airplane explosion that killed four Americans and a 1982 Berlin restaurant bombing that killed a child, former Assistant U.S. Attorney General David Kris wrote in a 2011 article for the Journal of National Security Law & Policy.

The man believed to be the matermind of the Pam Am Flight 830, Abu Ibrahim, who is on the FBI’s most wanted terrorists list, has never been captured. Ibahim, who in 1979 formed his own terrorist faction — “15 May” — named after the date of Israel’s founding, was known for crafting sophisticated plastic explosives that could be smuggled in bags and suitcases and that relied on a unique delayed-timing device.

The August 11, 1982, bombing of Pan Am 830 was set in motion when Rashed, wife Christine Pinter and their son traveled to Tokyo with fraudulent identification documents. Rashed tucked the bomb beneath window seat 47K, pulled the pin, engaged the timer and got off in Japan. Toru Ozawa, a 16-year-old vacationing with his family, occupied the same seat on the next leg.

The bomb exploded as the plane crossed the Pacific Ocean, filling the rear passenger cabin with smoke, screams and blood.

Ozawa was killed as he cried out for his parents. More than a dozen others were injured. The pilot managed to land the plane despite a gaping hole in the cabin floor and bulge in its exterior.

“The sad thing about this is Toru Ozawa is dead. He’d be a man with a family, and it was heartbreaking,” said Dan Bent, then Hawaii’s U.S. Attorney. “He was killed right in the presence of his family. He was eviscerated by this bomb.”

A piece of gold-plated nickel located inside Ozawa’s body helped link that explosion to others by Ibrahim. Another big break came after a 15 May defector FBI betrayed Rashed to the FBI.

Rashed flew back to Baghdad after the bombing, and though at large for years, was arrested in Athens in 1988 with a phony Syrian passport. The Greek government refused to extradite Rashed and insisted on prosecuting him.

In Greek court, Rashed delivered long, rambling monologues that veered between didactic and combative.

He denied being a terrorist and called the charge a “frame-up,” insisting his real name was Mohammed Hamdan — the name on his passport — and that he was a PLO fighter in Beirut at the time of the Pan Am explosion. But he also said the Palestinians, as victims of the “Zionist establishment,” were justified in using “violence against their conquerors in any way they deem appropriate.”

A three-judge panel convicted Rashed of the bombing and sentenced him 18 years in prison — a punishment later reduced to 15 years.

He was released for good behavior in 1996, after just eight years. The FBI whisked him out of Egypt in 1998 and returned him to the U.S. for prosecution.

After years of legal wrangling, he struck a deal that allowed for his release in 2013, after less than 25 years in custody.

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    • Incredible just how dangerous Obama, and the Democrat party, have made the world, and the United States. This pos had no standing to deal anything that got him released in 2013. The extreme left has become the most dangerous threat facing our nation. Far more than ISIS, they have infiltrated society in places that have effected mass damage. Foreign policy, and in education. Friggen’ tragic, but we’ve allowed it.

    • Read his plea agreement with DOJ, 5 years after Rashid made it. US government got intelligence on how terrorist were using delay systems in IEDs, how they were putting them in baggage linings, type of explosive s, and who was making them. He also tied some looses ends on IEDs used in other attempted bombings on airplanes, foreign carriers with no ties to US. He got jail, and government would not go after his wife, caucasin that travelled with him as placed bomb on flight 830 along with his baby son. Was instructed to take wife and baby son so as not to draw attention. US was way behind intelligence curve at that time.
      Ramzi Yosef followed his tactics, strategy in the bombing of Philipine flight 434 back in 90s. Terrorist share intelligence.

  • I remember that incident….yet the defendant didn’t receive a life sentence is simply appalling….it’s amazing that the plane didn’t crash as a result of the explosion

  • This is the kind of SCUM that needs the water boarding and MORE! Drawing and Quartering this jerk would be too kind. Just like on the movie BRAVEHEART. Just use 4 trucks instead of horses and YouTube instead of a public setting. Let Al Jazera cover that.

  • Thank you Star Advertiser for assuming we’re too dumb to know that Mauritania is a country, therefore referred to it as “West Africa” in this headline.

  • Make sure that all the people he snitched on (and even those he didn’t) KNOW that he snitched. Wherever he is released, find some nasty groups in the region and “let slip” that he snitched on them, too.

    • Still out their teaching how to make IEDs, just modified delay system and explosives. Key is he is teaching and has a cadre. Some of the stuff seen in 2000s have similar MOs to his IEDs of the 80s and 90s.

  • Absolutely ridiculous policy we have on terrorists. This guy should have been forced to give up all his info simply for the privilege of continuing to breathe. You don’t jail people like him, you put them down. He will no doubt find his way back to his muslim terrorists brothers and continue killing innocent people.
    Obama is incredibly stupid, only a fool would have authorized the release of this murderer.

      • Yep, the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government are all separate should operate that way according to the US constitution which the president is sworn to uphold. If people didn’t like it, then they should have dealt with it in court. When presidents start overstepping their bounds, that’s when you run into the danger of creating a dictatorship if people are willing to let the prez get away with it.

    • In spite of what Trump may have told you, President’s don’t decide who will be prosecuted and who will not. Nor do they decide how long a convicted criminal’s sentence will be. You and Trump might be surprised to learn about the separation of powers in the American system of government. Rasheed’s plea deal was negotiated while Bush was President. Rashed was held in prison for three years after the end of the sentence, which had been negotiated in 2002. U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara, the Buffalo judge handling the case )and a Ronald Reagan appointee), had serious concerns about the constitutionality of Rashed’s three years of post-prison detention. “The man served his sentence,” Arcara said at one point. “I’m concerned about the open-endedness.”

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