Terrorist Abu Nidal held in Egypt, U.S. officials say Palestinian extremist had been living in Libya

August 25, 1998|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

WASHINGTON -- Abu Nidal, the Palestinian extremist whose reign over a terrorist network in the 1980s made him one of the world's most dangerous men, has been apprehended in Egypt and is being detained there, according to U.S. officials.

Abu Nidal apparently was caught after he crossed the border from Libya, where he has been headquartered for several years. The Egyptian government has informed Washington of his detention but U.S. officials know few details, the sources said.

Recent reports in the Arab press have suggested that Abu Nidal is ailing and might require advanced medical care unavailable in Libya.

The capture of Abu Nidal coincides with a major U.S. campaign to deal with the threat of terrorism on several fronts.

Just four days after a U.S. cruise missile attack on alleged Afghan terrorist camps linked to the recent U.S. Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright announced yesterday that the United States and Britain have agreed to a compromise that would allow two Libyans charged in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 to be tried under Scottish law in a Dutch location, The Hague.

"The delays in bringing the suspects to trial have gone on for far too long. We now challenge Libya to turn promises into deeds," Albright said after phoning victims' families to announce the decision.

In the wake of the Aug. 7 bombings in East Africa, which killed more than 260 people, including 12 Americans, the United States is escalating its efforts to deal with the amorphous and multifaceted threat of terrorism, both in public and behind closed doors.

Now that it has apprehended Abu Nidal, Egypt faces a difficult decision in determining what to do with a man linked to terrorist attacks in 20 countries that killed or injured almost 900 people.

Pub Date: 8/25/98

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