US charges Libyan in 1988 Lockerbie bombing that killed 270
Masud is in Libyan custody, but officials believe he will stand trial in the US
Washington — The US unsealed criminal charges against a third alleged conspirator on Monday in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, that killed 270 people, mostly Americans.
The suspect, Abu Agila Mohammad Masud Kheir Al-Marimi, a former senior Libyan intelligence official, was charged with two criminal counts related to the bombing. He is in Libyan custody, US attorney-general William Barr said, adding that US officials are hopeful that Libya will allow Masud to be tried in the US.
“No amount of time or distance will stop the US and our Scottish partners from pursuing justice in this case,” Barr told a news conference on Monday.
The US department of justice said Masud carried the bomb that eventually blew up the plane from Libya to Malta in a suitcase and then set the device’s timer.
It said that from around 1973 to 2011 Masud worked for Libyan intelligence, including as a bomb-making expert. It alleged Masud was involved in the 1986 bombing of the LaBelle Discotheque in West Berlin, Germany that killed two US service members.
In 1991, two other alleged Libyan intelligence operatives were charged in the Lockerbie bombing: Abdel Baset Ali al-Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah.
Megrahi was found guilty of the Lockerbie bombing in 2001 by a Scottish court which convened in the Netherlands. He was jailed in Scotland but later was allowed to return to Libya on compassionate grounds before dying of cancer in 2012. The Scottish court found Fhimah not guilty.
Barr said the breakthrough that led to charges against Masud came after the US learnt in 2016 that he “had been arrested after the collapse of the Gaddafi regime and interviewed by a Libyan law enforcement officer in September 2012”.
The US justice department said late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi personally thanked Masud and Fhimah for attacking the US target, and that Gaddafi described the operation as a total success.
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