- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 28, 2009

NEW YORK (AP) | An FBI official says a notorious terrorist suspected of aiding the insurgency in Iraq will be added to the agency’s list of its most wanted terrorists.

The official said Monday that an FBI committee recommended this month that 73-year-old Palestinian Abu Ibrahim be placed on the list. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the decision wasn’t official.

An investigation by the Associated Press had revealed the terrorist was still alive and had fled to Syria.

Ibrahim has been indicted in the 1982 bombing of Pam Am Flight 830. The explosion killed a 16-year-old boy and wounded more than a dozen passengers as the plane headed to Honolulu from Tokyo.

The FBI official said it could take months for Ibrahim to appear on the list.

The AP story also raised questions about whether Ibrahim had been involved in the insurgency.

Efforts are being made, meanwhile, to dramatically increase the $200,000 bounty through the Rewards for Justice program run by the State Department.

More than two decades after he was indicted in Washington, the FBI is hoping it can finally nab Ibrahim. The bureau has recently ratcheted up efforts to find the fugitive, whose real name is Husayn al-Umari. The bureau has released an age-enhanced sketch, the only known picture of Ibrahim ever made public.

When Ibrahim finally ascends to the list, he will join some notorious company that includes Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda’s No. 2 leader, Ayman al-Zawahri. Ibrahim would be the 25th person on the list.

While foreign intelligence agencies have pursued Ibrahim for decades, he has mostly remained out of reach, hiding in Baghdad since about 1979. He once ran a terrorist organization in Baghdad named “15 May” - named after the date for which Israel was founded.

Ibrahim, a devout Sunni who was born in Tripoli, Lebanon, is suspected of carrying out more than two dozen attacks on mainly American, Israeli and Jewish targets in a career that spans decades.

After the 2003 Iraq invasion, Ibrahim, a skilled operative, managed to elude coalition forces and moved from Baqouba to Mosul, which attracted insurgents and later became an al Qaeda stronghold. Intelligence experts think he slipped into Syria recently, perhaps with his family and his second wife, Selma.

A former senior CIA official who was stationed in Baghdad after the invasion said Ibrahim was possibly living in Al Qamishli in northern Syria, where his family either owned or rented a house. His spouse’s family was providing sanctuary and support, the official said.

The former CIA official spoke on the condition of anonymity because he still works in the Middle East.

There have also been questions about whether Ibrahim supported the Sunni insurgency. In 2004, coalition forces raided a bomb-making factory and found possible signs that Ibrahim hadn’t retired, as many former intelligence specialists have suggested.

A former Pentagon official said the Defense Intelligence Agency put together “a fairly elaborate” report that was prepared in Baghdad.

“What was striking to me was that it seemed his expertise was still very much in use and he, himself, was still involved,” said the former Pentagon official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the sensitive report.

“He was definitely part of the current supply of bombing-making expertise to the insurgency and that factory was a dramatic example of it if the military intelligence guys were right,” the former Pentagon official said. “I spoke with the young officers who had done the report and they were quite convinced of what they had found.”

A DIA spokesman declined to comment in e-mail, saying any information about Ibrahim was classified.

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