Suspected 1988 Lockerbie bombing in US custody: officials
- US News
- December 11, 2022
- No Comment
LONDON (AP) – US and Scottish authorities said on Sunday the Libyan man suspected of building the bomb that destroyed a passenger plane over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988 is in US custody.
Scotland’s Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service said in a statement that “the families of those killed in the Lockerbie bombing have been informed that suspect Abu Agela Mas’ud Kheir Al-Marimi is in US custody”.
The US Department of Justice confirmed the information, adding that “he is expected to make his first appearance in the US District Court for the District of Columbia.” There was no information on how Mas’ud ended up in US custody.
Pan Am Flight 103, en route from London to New York, exploded over Lockerbie on December 21, 1988, killing all 259 people on board the plane and another 11 on the ground. It remains the deadliest terrorist attack on British soil.
The US Department of Justice announced new charges against Mas’ud in December 2020, on the 32nd anniversary of the bombing.
“At last this man responsible for the murders of Americans and many others is being brought to justice for his crimes,” William Barr, then Attorney General, said at a news conference.
In 2001, former Libyan intelligence officer Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was convicted of bombing the flight. He is the only one so far convicted of the attack. He lost one appeal and gave up another before being released on compassionate grounds in 2009 because he was terminally ill with cancer.
He died in Libya in 2012 and still maintained his innocence.
A breakthrough in the investigation came when US officials obtained in 2017 a copy of an interview Mas’ud, a longtime explosives expert with Libyan intelligence, gave to Libyan law enforcement in 2012 after he was taken into custody following the collapse of the regime leader of the country, Col. Muammar Gaddafi.
In that interview, US officials said Mas’ud admitted building the bomb in the Pan Am attack and working with two other conspirators to carry it out. He also said the operation was ordered by Libyan intelligence and that Gaddafi thanked him and other members of the team after the attack, according to an FBI affidavit filed in the case.
While Mas’ud is now the third Libyan intelligence operative charged in the US in connection with the Lockerbie bombing, he would be the first to face trial in an American courtroom.
The Crown Office added in its statement that “Scottish prosecutors and police officers, in cooperation with the UK Government and US colleagues, will continue this investigation with the sole aim of bringing those who worked with al-Megrahi to justice. “