Lockerbie bomb-making suspect in US custody

Authorities reveal Abu Agila Mohammad Masud has been detained in connection with bombing of Pan Am flight 103 in 1988

Remnants of Pan Am flight 103 on the ground in Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988. AFP
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The man accused of being the bombmaker in the Lockerbie terrorist attack is now in US custody, authorities in Scotland have said.

Abu Agila Mohammad Masud was said to be the “third conspirator” behind the downing of Pan Am flight 103 in 1988.

Former Libyan intelligence officer Abdelbaset Al Megrahi was in 2001 found guilty of mass murder.

A spokesman for the Crown Office said: “The families of those killed in the Lockerbie bombing have been told that the suspect Abu Agila Mohammad Mas’ud Kheir Al-Marimi (‘Mas’ud’ or ‘Masoud’) is in US custody.

“Scottish prosecutors and police, working with UK government and US colleagues, will continue to pursue this investigation, with the sole aim of bringing those who acted along with Al Megrahi to justice.”

A representative for the US Department of Justice confirmed that Masud had been taken into custody.

“The United States has taken custody of alleged Pan Am flight 103 bombmaker Abu Agila Mohammad Mas’ud Kheir Al-Marimi”, the representative said.

The bombing of the commercial flight, travelling from London to New York on December 21, 1988, killed 270 people in Britain’s largest terrorist attack.

In 2020, Masud was charged by the US Attorney General William Barr with being the third person involved in the terrorist attack.

At the time, he was said to be in Libyan custody and Mr Barr said US authorities would work “arm in arm” with their Scottish counterparts.

Mr Barr said: “Let there be no mistake, no amount of time or distance will stop the US and our Scottish partners from pursuing justice in this case.”

Abu Agila Mohammad Masud was charged by the US two years ago over the Lockerbie bombing. AFP.

Al Megrahi was released from prison in 2009 on compassionate grounds while terminally ill with cancer and died in Libya in 2012.

In January 2021, his family lost an appeal against his conviction at the High Court in Edinburgh.

Masud is expected to appear in the US District Court for the District of Columbia in the coming days.

Scottish officials gave no information on when Masud was handed over, and his fate has been tied up in the warring factionalism of Libyan politics.

He was kidnapped by a Libyan militia group, according to reports last month, following his detention for an attack on a Berlin nightclub that killed two US soldiers and a Turkish citizen.

The investigation was relaunched in 2016 when Washington learnt of Masud's arrest, and his reported confession of involvement to Libyan authorities in 2012.

Updated: December 12, 2022, 7:17 AM