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Lockerbie bombing: Abu Agila Masud in US custody, authorities say


A Libyan man accused of making a bomb that killed hundreds aboard a US airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland nearly 34 years ago is in US custody, officials said Sunday.

A Justice Department spokesman said Abu Agela Mas’ud Kheir al-Marimi is scheduled to appear for the first time in US District Court for the District of Columbia, but did not say when. The former Libyan intelligence agent is accused of making the explosive device that destroyed a Pan Am plane on December 21, 1988, killing all 259 people aboard the Boeing 747 and 11 others on the ground.

The Justice Department charged Mas’ud in 2020 with helping to make the bomb. Announcing the charges on the 32nd anniversary of the attack, then-Attorney General William P. Barr said the operation was ordered by the leadership of Libya’s intelligence services and that Muammar Gaddafi , Libya’s leader from 1969 to 2011, personally thanked Mas’ud for his work.

It is unclear how authorities took Mas’ud into custody.

A spokesman for the Scottish Crown Office said on Sunday that Scottish prosecutors and police, working alongside colleagues in the US and UK, “will continue this investigation”. The office said it would not comment further, citing the ongoing investigation.

Stephanie Bernstein, 71, a Maryland resident whose husband Michael was one of the victims, called the development “surreal”.

“It’s critical to hold people like these accountable, no matter how many years after the fact,” said the retired rabbi and vice president of Victims of Pan Am Flight 103. generations of people who have worked there for 34 years. We will never stop. This is a critical step. »

The plane bound for London in New York “exploded into pieces almost instantly,” federal investigators said in a statement of facts filed in 2020. Everyone on board was killed, including 190 Americans, including a group of Syracuse University students returning home for vacation.

Mas’ud was the third person charged in the case. In 1991, during Barr’s first term as attorney general, he announced the first charges – against Libyan intelligence agent Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi and his alleged accomplice Lamen Khalifa Fhimah. Libya has refused to send them to the United States or Britain for trial, blocking prosecution efforts and prompting sanctions.

In 1999, the Libyan government handed over the two men to stand trial in a Scottish court at a former US military base in the Netherlands. Fhimah was acquitted, while Megrahi was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. He was released in 2009 after being diagnosed with cancer. He died about three years later.

Alexandra Ma contributed to this developing story, which will be updated.


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