U.S. authorities have apprehended a Libyan man suspected of developing the bomb that destroyed a passenger airplane over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988, killing 270 folks, together with 190 Individuals.
“The US has taken custody of alleged Pan Am flight 103 bombmaker Abu Agila Mohammad Mas’ud Kheir Al-Marimi,” a spokesperson for the Division of Justice mentioned in a press release to NPR.
Scotland’s Crown Workplace and Procurator Fiscal Service confirmed that the households of these killed within the bombing have additionally been notified of the arrest.
“Scottish prosecutors and police, working with UK Authorities and US colleagues, will proceed to pursue this investigation, with the only real goal of bringing those that acted together with Al Megrahi to justice,” the workplace mentioned in a press release.
On Dec. 21, 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 exploded into items over Lockerbie, Scotland after a bomb was positioned within the cargo space of the airplane. The bombing was the only deadliest terror assault within the historical past of the UK, and the second deadliest for Individuals after Sept. 11, 2001. The airplane had taken off from London and was on its option to John F. Kennedy Airport in New York.
In accordance with federal officers, passengers and crew from 21 completely different international locations have been killed within the assault. Of the 190 Individuals who died, 35 of them have been college students from Syracuse College in upstate New York who have been returning dwelling for the vacations after a semester finding out overseas.
The assault launched a decades-long worldwide manhunt for the bomb-makers.
In 2020, U.S. authorities introduced a breakthrough within the case — they found that Libyan authorities had apprehended Mas’ud, a former Libyan intelligence operative, and interviewed him about his involvement within the bombing. Throughout that interview, Mas’ud admitted to constructing the bomb that introduced down the airplane, in keeping with the Justice Division.
In 2020, the Justice Division charged Mas’ud with destruction of an plane leading to loss of life and destruction of a automobile via an explosive leading to loss of life.
The division says he’ll make his preliminary courtroom look within the U.S. District Court docket for the District of Columbia.
Kara Weipz, the president of the group, Victims of Pan Am Flight 103, advised CBS that the newest arrest was a tribue to the federal authorities’s dedication to see justice served for the victims and their households.
“To have one of many folks accountable for the homicide of our family members stand trial within the US, is among the most necessary issues to the households and to all of us,” mentioned Weipz, who’s brother, Richard Monetti, was killed within the Lockerbie bombing.
Mas’ud is believed to have set the timer on the explosive
Federal officers mentioned Mas’ud was summoned by Libyan authorities within the winter of 1988 to journey to Malta with a suitcase used to hold out the assault. He was joined in Malta by two different Libyan intelligence brokers, Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah, in keeping with the Justice Division.
There, Masud was instructed to organize the timer contained in the suitcase in order that an explosion would detonate precisely 11 hours later. The following day, on the airport, Mas’ud handed off the suitcase to Fhimah who then positioned the baggage onto a conveyor belt, in keeping with the Justice Division. Mas’ud and the 2 others returned to Libya, the place former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, thanked them for finishing up the operation, in keeping with federal officers.
The Lockerbie bombing is taken into account of probably the most difficult investigations in U.S. historical past
The FBI mentioned that the Lockerbie case was probably the most complicated investigations they’ve ever labored on. Investigators interviewed greater than 10,000 folks world wide and analyzed the biggest crime scene in latest historical past — about 845 sq. miles of scattered particles.
Within the rubble, authorities discovered two tiny fragments that helped hint the bomb to a radio inside an merchandise of bags and the explosive’s timer to a shirt.
In 1991, U.S. and British governments charged Megrahi and Fhimah, the 2 Libyan intelligence brokers suspected of working with Mas’ud. They have been tried in Scottish courtroom a 12 months later, the place Fhimah was acquitted and Megrahi was sentenced to life in jail.
In 2009, in a extremely controversial transfer, the Scottish authorities allowed Megrahi to return to Libya on compassionate grounds after he turned terminally sick with prostate most cancers.