The following article is from the New York Times on August 24, 1996, about a month after TWA flight 800 exploded off Long Island [emphasis added]:
The era of terrorist bomb attacks on airplanes is generally acknowledged to have begun on Aug. 11, 1982, when an explosion went off aboard a Pan Am jet en route to Honolulu from Tokyo. A 16-year-old Japanese boy was blown from his seat and bled to death before the pilots could land the Boeing 747.Follow this a moment. The bomb that killed the Japanese teenager on a Pan Am 747 in 1982 was linked to 12 other unexploded bombs, all traced to one entity. The Times tells us who:
Two weeks later, a bomb was discovered inside a small vinyl bag aboard another Pan Am jet. It did not explode and was found after the plane landed in Rio de Janeiro on a flight from Miami.
Comparing the devices, the F.B.I. found that the same plastic explosive, containing PETN -- the same substance found on wreckage from Flight 800 -- was used in both bombs. Federal officers also found that wiring from the unexploded bomb matched a hair-thin sliver retrieved from the body of the young victim, Toru Ozawa. In the following weeks, an informer helped the F.B.I. track down 12 more unexploded bombs aimed at Western interests. Similarities between the explosives and timers led authorities to conclude that the bombs were made by the same person or organization.
The bomb that killed the Japanese teen-ager in 1982 had a devilish twist, which came to be regarded as the signature of the May 15 Organization, a Palestinian terrorist group named for the date in 1948 on which Israel was established.And where was the 15th of May Organization based? Guess:
Location/Area of OperationAfter serving time in Greece the bomber of TWA 830, Mohammed Rashid, was released then nabbed by the FBI and recently sentenced to an American prison for his role in the murder. The leader of the gang, Abu Ibrahim, explained Iraq's connection in this Time article in 1991:
Baghdad until 1984. Before disbanding, operated in Middle East, Europe, and East Asia, Abu Ibrahim is reportedly in Iraq.
Awad felt he had no choice. He knew that the Iraqi government paid for May 15 members' rent and gasoline and provided Abu Ibrahim with documents, untraceable license plates and security guards. Now the May 15 chief had shown that with a word from him, the Iraqi military would bring Awad's business to a halt. Awad realized that he could not continue his life in Baghdad if he defied the bombmaker, and he headed for Abu Ibrahim's villa in the wealthy diplomatic quarter of southwest Baghdad. Abu Ibrahim welcomed the reluctant terrorist and personally trained him. At one point, Awad asked what would happen if the Iraqi police found the bomb in his suitcase while he was at the airport. "Don't worry," Abu Ibrahim replied. "The Iraqis know about everything we do."Wow--decent proof that Saddam conspired with terrorists against the US from way back. But read the rest of it, which provides a rationale as to why Reagan didn't blow Saddam to kingdom come back in the 80s. As you might guess, it had something to do with our efforts to stop the Iranian revolution from expanding across the Sunni Arabian plains. Perhaps that was our biggest foreign policy mistake.
As to Ibrahim, he remains at large along with Rashid's wife Christine Pinter, whom he met through connections with the Baader-Meinhof Gang.
And speaking of Abu's, here's a story more pertinent to the news, featuring an Islamic fighter named Abu Ibrahim and his cross-border journey from Syria in an effort to fight for the Arab cause in Iraq.