Saturday, February 4, 2023

Lockerbie bombing suspect in US custody

LONDON ( Associated Press) – A Libyan man suspected of building a 1988 bomb on a plane over the Scottish village of Lockerbie is in US custody, Scottish and US officials said Sunday.

“The families of the victims of the Lockerbie attack have been informed that suspect Abu Agela Massoud Kheir al-Marimi remains in US custody,” the Scottish prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

The United States Department of Justice confirmed the information, adding that the individual “is scheduled to make his first appearance in the United States Federal District Court for the District of Columbia.” He did not give details of how American authorities took Masood into 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 and 11 others on the ground. It remains the deadliest terrorist attack on British soil.

The US Department of Justice announced new charges against Masood in December 2020, on the 32nd anniversary of the attack.

“Finally, this man responsible for the deaths of Americans and many others will be brought to justice for his crimes,” William Barr, the US attorney general at the time, said at a press conference.

In 2001, former Libyan intelligence agent Abdelbaset al-Magrahi was found guilty of the attack. To date, he is the only person convicted of assault. He lost one appeal and paroled another before being released in 2009 on humanitarian grounds suffering from terminal cancer.

Protesting his innocence, he died in Libya in 2012.

A breakthrough in the investigation came when US officials obtained a copy of an interview in 2017 that Massoud, a longtime explosives expert for the Libyan intelligence service, conducted in Libya after he was arrested after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2012. was given to the security forces of

In that interview, according to US officials, Massoud admitted to planning and carrying out the Pan Am attack bombing and working with two other conspirators. He also said that the operation was ordered by Libyan intelligence and that Gaddafi thanked him and other team members after the bombing, according to an FBI affidavit filed in the case.

Although Massoud is now the third Libyan intelligence officer to be charged in the US in connection with the Lockerbie bombing, he will be the first to stand trial in a US court.

The Crown Prosecution Service said in its statement that “Scottish prosecutors and police, in cooperation with the UK government and their US partners, will continue this investigation with the sole aim of bringing those who worked with al-Magrahi to justice.”

Nation World News Desk
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