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Officials: Lockerbie bomb suspect in US custody

Officials: Lockerbie bomb suspect in US custody

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LONDON (AP) — U.S. and Scottish authorities said Sunday that the Libyan man suspected of making the bomb that destroyed a passenger jet over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988 is in U.S. custody.

The Crown Prosecution Service and the Procurator Fiscal Office said in a statement that “the families of those killed in the Lockerbie bombing have received information that the suspect, Abu Agela Masoud Kheir Al-Marimi, is in custody in the United States.”

The US Department of Justice confirmed the information, adding that “he is expected to make his first appearance in the US District Court for the District of Columbia.” It did not say how Massoud came to be in American custody.

Pan Am Flight 103, traveling from London to New York, exploded over Lockerbie on December 21, 1988, killing all 259 people on board and 11 more on the ground. It remains the deadliest terrorist attack on British soil.

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

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

In 2001, former Libyan intelligence officer Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was convicted of blowing up the flight. To date, he is the only person convicted of the attack. He lost one appeal and abandoned another before being released in 2009 on compassionate grounds because he was terminally ill with cancer.

He died in Libya in 2012, still protesting his innocence.

The breakthrough in the investigation came when U.S. officials in 2017 obtained a copy of an interview Massoud, a longtime Libyan intelligence expert on explosives, gave to Libyan law enforcement in 2012 after he was detained following the fall of the leader’s regime of the country Col. Muammar Gaddafi.

In that interview, U.S. officials said Massoud admitted to making the bomb in the Pan Am attack and working with two other conspirators to carry it out. He also said the operation was ordered by Libyan intelligence and that Gaddafi thanked him and other members of the team after the attack, according to an FBI affidavit filed in the case.

While Massoud is now the third Libyan intelligence official indicted in the US in connection with the Lockerbie bombing, he will be the first to stand trial in an American courtroom.

The Crown Office added in its statement that “Scottish prosecutors and police, working with the UK government and US counterparts, will continue to pursue this investigation with the sole aim of bringing to justice those who acted in concert with al-Megrahi.” .

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