Key Tower Bomb Suspect Brought to US From Egypt
THE alleged mastermind of the World Trade Center bombing was arrested in Egypt and flown to the United States yesterday, a United States federal investigator said.
Mahmoud Abouhalima was taken into custody several days ago by Egyptian authorities as part of a crackdown on Muslim fundamentalists blamed for a wave of bombings there. Egyptian authorities agreed to hand him over to the US.
Mr. Abouhalima, a former New Jersey taxi driver, "definitely is a key guy," said a federal investigator, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "He is probably more involved in this bombing than any of the other ones we have arrested so far."
Authorities said Abouhalima is at the center of the bombing because of his knowledge of explosives. The investigators said Abouhalima fled the New York area probably on March 6, two days after the arrest of the man who rented the van believed to have carried the bomb.
Two men of Palestinian descent were arrested earlier this month on charges of helping carry out the bombing: Mohammed Salameh of Jersey City, N.J., who rented the van; and Nidal Ayyad of Maplewood, N.J., a chemical engineer. A third man, Ibrahim Elgabrowny of New York, was charged with obstruction for allegedly scuffling with federal agents who searched his apartment as part of the investigation.
Mr. Salameh, Mr. Ayyad, and Abouhalima are alledged to have ties to Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, a radical Muslim cleric. The first two worshiped at a New Jersey mosque where Sheikh Rahman has preached, and Abouhalima has been identified in news reports as Rahman's driver and assistant.
Rahman, who has denied knowing the three or having any connection to the bombing, is the spiritual leader of the extremist group Gamaa Islamiya, which advocates overthrowing Egypt's moderate government. Israel Gets New President
Ezer Weizman, a former fighter pilot and an outspoken advocate of peacemaking with the Arabs, was elected by parliament as Israel's seventh president yesterday.
Mr. Weizman is a member of the governing Labor Party headed by Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. He was chosen with support from left-wing and religious legislators. Weizman replaces President Chaim Herzog, who is retiring after two five-year terms.
Israel's presidency is a largely ceremonial office, and Weizman will represent Israel in ceremonies here and abroad. But as a senior diplomat, the president can play an important role in building foreign relations. Weizman told reporters after the vote that he hopes to work for the "advancement of relations among all peoples in the Middle East."
Mr. Rabin said Weizman's election was a boost at a time of growing hawkish sentiment because of the unrest in the Israeli-occupied territories. Rockets Slam S. Lebanon
Israeli planes slammed rockets into a guerrilla position yesterday, wounding at least two people in Israel's first raid on Lebanon this year, security sources said.
Two planes, with two others in support, fired 10 rockets into a pro-Iranian Hizbullah (Party of God) base hidden in a forest just outside Israel's "security zone" in the south. The rockets scored direct hits, the sources said.
In Tel Aviv, the Israeli Army said: "The military spokesman's office confirms there was Air Force activity in the security zone this morning. All of our aircraft returned safely to their bases."
Israeli planes and helicopters launched a total of 47 raids on Lebanese and Palestinian guerrilla targets in Lebanon last year, killing 46 people and wounding 116. Yesterday's air strike was in apparent retaliation for a Hizbullah bomb attack the day before.