MADRID — A member of a breakaway faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization was arrested Friday for allegedly tricking another man into trying to carry a suitcase bomb aboard an Israeli airliner in an attempt to blow it up in flight.
Police said Nasser Hassan Ali, a lieutenant in the Abu Moussa Group, offered Isaias Manuel Jalafe $1,000 and a ticket on El Al Flight 396 from Madrid to Tel Aviv to carry the suitcase on the pretense that it contained heroin.
Jalafe was trying to put the suitcase on the plane when the bomb exploded at Madrid's Barajas Airport on Thursday. Thirteen people were injured, two seriously, in the blast. Police said the bomb was timed to explode at 6 p.m., about two hours into the flight.
Spanish authorities said Ali told them that he was sent to Paris in April to trick someone into carrying a booby-trapped suitcase onto an Israeli airliner but that he failed and then went to Madrid later in the month.
False Passport Found
The Damascus-based Abu Moussa Group has been allied with Syria since breaking away from PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat's organization in 1983. The Abu Moussa Group, with about 5,000 followers, has claimed responsibility for bombings in Jerusalem and the West Bank in 1984 and 1985.
Ali was arrested at his home in Madrid, where police said they found bomb-making chemicals and a false Syrian passport.
Police said Ali posed as a drug smuggler in his dealings with Jalafe, 32, who they said has a record of petty theft.
Jalafe was arrested soon after the bomb exploded.
Authorities said El Al security agents were alerted to Jalafe's behavior when he arrived late at the check-in area. When an El Al agent opened his suitcase, smoke began spewing from a toilet kit inside.
El Al security chief Nir Ran then apparently detonated the bomb when he sprayed the luggage with foam from a fire extinguisher. He suffered severe burns on his face and arms in the blast.
Ran and a Spanish student, Michel Sandin Bacon, remained hospitalized Friday.