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.
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.
Where was he and what was he doing since 2013?