Lockerbie bombing suspect to appear in US federal court
A Libyan intelligence operative suspected of making the bomb that killed 270 people on Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988 will appear in a federal court in Washington, D.C., on Monday, the U.S. Justice Department said.
The capture over the weekend in Libya of suspect Abu Agila Mohammad Mas’ud Kheir Al-Marimi comes nearly 34 years after a bomb on board the Boeing 747, which was flying from London to New York City, killing all 259 people on board and 11 on the ground.
Mas’ud, who allegedly confessed his crimes to a Libyan law enforcement officer in September 2012, is tentatively due to make his appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robin Meriweather at 1 p.m. ET (1800 GMT).
Mas’ud is one of three people whom U.S. and British law enforcement officials have alleged were involved with the 1988 bombing.
In 1991, two other Libyan intelligence operatives, Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah, were charged in the bombing.
At a Scottish trial before a court at Camp Zeist in The Netherlands, Megrahi was found guilty of the bombing in 2001 and was jailed for life. He was later released because he suffered from cancer and died in Tripoli in 2012.
Fhimah was acquitted of all charges, but Scottish prosecutors have maintained that Megrahi did not act alone.
At the time of the bombing, U.S. investigators uncovered evidence that one of the possible suspects went by the name of “Abu Agela Masud,” but were unable to locate him, according to a sworn statement by an FBI agent in support of the government’s criminal complaint.
The United States did not formally charge Mas’ud until 2020, when it uncovered fresh evidence revealing he had confessed his crimes to a Libyan law enforcement official.
In a criminal complaint, he was charged with the destruction of aircraft resulting in death, and the destruction of a vehicle used in interstate commerce using an explosive resulting in death. Since then, however, a formal indictment against him has not been made public.
During the 2012 interview with the Libyan law enforcement official, Mas’ud “admitted to building the bomb that brought down Pan Am Flight 103 and working with Megrahi and Fhimah to execute the plot,” according to an FBI agent’s sworn statement in support of the government’s criminal complaint.
Mas’ud also told the interviewer he was involved in other similar plots and said the bombing was ordered by Libyan intelligence leadership, according to the complaint.
In addition, he also claimed that former Libyan leader Muammar Qadaffi, who was killed by rebels in October 2011, “thanked him and other team members for their successful attack on the United States.”