As Pan Am Flight 830 descended toward Honolulu and passengers finished their breakfast, a blinding burst of light washed over them. And then, "BOOM!"
The 747 shuddered violently. Confusion erupted as the airliner nose-dived. Screams and thick smoke filled the cabin. Oxygen masks dropped.
In the rear of the plane, 16-year-old Toru Ozawa lay on his back in the aisle. His lower abdomen had been ripped open, his intestines seeping out. The explosion had also sheered off one of his legs. He called out for his mother and father; they watched in horror as he died.
The Aug. 11, 1982, explosion was no accident. Ozawa was murdered — killed by a sophisticated bomb, one of many that spread like a virus around the world in the 1980s, killing and injuring scores in more than two dozen terrorist attacks.
The man behind them: Abu Ibrahim, who controlled a web of dangerous operatives while living in Baghdad under the protection of Saddam Hussein.
Long forgotten and even presumed dead by some, Ibrahim is very much alive, according to an Associated Press investigation.
Since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Ibrahim had managed to elude coalition forces — possibly while aiding the Sunni insurgency — before he recently crossed into Syria, federal law enforcement and former CIA officials believe....
With the assistance of Iraqi intelligence, Ibrahim carried out many attacks. He struck in London, Rome, Athens. In West Berlin, an infant was killed and 24 wounded after one of his bombs detonated at an Israeli-owned restaurant.
His most well-known plans, however, involved trying to sabotage Pan Am and El Al airlines.
On Aug. 11, 1982, Mohammed Rashed, a top 15 May lieutenant, boarded a flight from Baghdad to Tokyo along with his Austrian-born wife Christine Pinter and their child.
Before Rashed, Ibrahim's apprentice, disembarked in Tokyo, he activated a bomb under the cushion of window seat 47K. Once on the ground, Rashed and his wife got off the plane, which continued to Honolulu. Ozawa, who was on vacation with his family, sat in Rashed's seat.
His release could deny the government a key witness should authorities capture Abu Ibrahim (Hussayn Muhammad al-Umari), a Palestinian man believed to have masterminded the attack and who is now on the FBI's most wanted list.
Last year, Australian police reopened inquiries into the 1982 bombing of the Israeli consulate in Sydney and a Jewish club, after finding links to Rashed.
No one was killed but two people were injured in the attacks on the consulate and the Jewish Hakoah sports club in Bondi on December 23, 1982 -- crimes that have gone unsolved for almost 30 years.
Sydney police have long suspected that 15 May, named for the first day of the first Arab-Israeli war in 1948, was linked to the Hakoah club and consulate bombings.