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Local News

Pan Am Flight Suspect Over Lockerbie Bombing has been Apprehended

Credit: iStock

Mohamed Bughrara

32 years after Pan Am Flight 103 crashed over Lockerbie, Scotland, on December 21, 1988, Attorney General William Barr presented charges against another suspect in the explosion that killed 270 people.

A diverse group of 16 Michiganders were killed in the fatal collision, which happened four days before Christmas 33 years ago. They included students, toddlers, parents with young children, auto executives, and the heir to a renowned banking and automotive dynasty in Detroit. There were mainly Americans on board. 

 Since the disaster, U.S. authorities have worked closely with victims’ relatives and survivors to gather information that would eventually lead to arrests.

Abu Agila Muhammad Mas’ud Kheir Al-Marimi is suspected of creating the explosives used in the assault on the London-bound aircraft to New York during Moammar Gadhafi’s dictatorship in Libya.

Two Libyan intelligence officials, Abdel Baset Ali al-Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah, had already been accused of the attack in a special Scottish court. Al-Megrahi was found guilty, but Fhimah was found not guilty.

According to court records, Libyan intelligence personnel were commanded by former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, who died in 2011 after his regime was destroyed. Masud is believed to have been congratulated by Gadhafi for his part in detonating the airplane.

The suspect is scheduled to appear in court for the first time in Washington, D.C. He will face accusations from two years ago, when federal prosecutors accused him of destroying an airplane resulting in death and using an explosive to harm an interstate commerce vehicle. 

Masud, a former Libyan intelligence officer, is accused of assisting in the creation of the device. It detonated onboard a Boeing 747 as the plane sailed over the little Scottish town of Lockerbie on its way to London.

At the time of the charges’ announcement, then-Attorney General William Barr, stated that a “breakthrough” in the case occurred in 2016, once federal investigators learned that Masud, a lengthy co-conspirator, had been arrested and interrogated by Libyan authorities in 2012 following the fall of the Moammar Gadhafi regime.

A copy of the interview and additional information reportedly tying Masud to the explosive’s manufacture were sent to US officials. According to court records, Libyan intelligence officers approved the operation, and Gadhafi commended Masud for “the successful strike on the United States.” 

Officials in the United States suspect Masud was also engaged in the 1986 bombing of the LaBelle Discotheque in Berlin, West Germany.

Prosecutors said in federal court on Monday, December 12th, that the law does not allow them to pursue the death sentence for the former Libyan intelligence official charged with manufacturing the bomb that exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland.

Masud is facing two separate criminal allegations, including causing death by destroying an airplane. He faces life in jail if convicted. Prosecutors informed Magistrate Judge Robin M. Meriweather that the accusations Mas’ud is facing now are capital.

This might assist in clearing up any shaky relations between Libya and the United States, as Libya strives to become a more stable political and social entity.