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Key questions as US arrests man accused of Lockerbie bombing

This key development in Lockerbie’s story was confirmed by three sentences from the United States Department of Justice.

“The United States has taken possession of the alleged Pan Am flight103 bombmaker Abu Agila Mohammad Mas’ud Kheir Al-Marimi.

“He is expected make his first appearance at the US District Court in District of Columbia.

“Additional details, including information about public access to the initial appearance will be available.”


Who’s Abu Agila Mohammad Mas’ud Kheir Al-Marimi,?

Masoud as he is known was identified in 2020 US Department of Justice legal documents as the person who created the bomb that blew up Pan Am103 over Lockerbie, 1988.

He was the bomb’s technician for many years.

According to the affidavit Masoud was in the same group as two other suspects in the bombing, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi (Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah).

According to the American government, Masoud worked as a technical expert for the Libyan Intelligence Service (also known as the External Security Organisation or ESO) that conducted operations against Libyan dissidents under the direction of the Libyan Government. Sometimes these operations were also ordered by Muammar Gaddafi.

According to US legal documents, Masoud was a bomb-maker for the ESO from 1973 to 2011.

Image Abu Agila Mohammad Mas’ud Kheir al Marimi is under US custody

Was he involved in the Lockerbie bombings?

The American Department of Justice claims that Masoud was directed by his superiors in December 1988 to fly to Malta with a suitcase containing an explosive device.

Masoud spent many days in Malta preparing the device and setting a timer for it to explode exactly eleven hours later.

According to some reports, Masoud gave the suitcase to Fhimah at Luqa airport in Malta on 21 December 1988.

Fhimah was a security officer for Libyan Arab Airlines and is believed to have carried the suitcase on board an Air Malta flight from Frankfurt.

Investigators believe the suitcase was unaccompanied from Frankfurt to London Heathrow, where it was then transferred to Pan Am Flight 103A to London Heathrow, which is the feeder flight to Pan Am 103.

It was transferred to Flight 103 at Heathrow and exploded 38 minutes later at 31,000ft above Lockerbie, Scotland.

On what evidence does the US Department of Justice base their accusations?

The evidence against Masoud is largely based on a confession that he made to a Libyan law enforcement official in prison in 2012 after the overthrow of Libyan leader Muammar Gadafi.

Transcripts of the confession show that Masoud was being questioned about possible involvement in the 2011 revolution in Libya and any other operations. According to the transcripts of the confession, Masoud admitted his involvement in the bombing and provided details about his role.

He is also believed to have admitted his role in the 1986 attack on the LaBelle Discotheque, Berlin, which resulted in three deaths and 230 injuries.

His “confession” occurred at a time when Libya was under the control of warlords, complicating the case for the American prosecutor.

Image 270 People died on 21 Dec 1988

Why was he taken into custody?

Here is where things get murky. The Americans do not provide any details about how or whereabouts he was held.

Surprisingly, Masoud was “abducted” last month from Libyan custody. According to a local media report, Masoud was “abducted” from Libyan custody by a “squat of unknown affiliation”, without any coordination with the intelligence agency.

According to Asharq Al–Awsat (London-based), a secret agreement was made between the Americans, the Tripoli-based Government of National Unity(GNU) in order to permit the handover of Masoud.

Although the Americans have yet to comment, it is possible that Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh, the GNU leader, turned a blindeye to the abduction. American approval of his government would be the quid pro quo.

What now?

Although Masoud has been told by the Americans that he will appear in court in Washington DC, they have not specified when. They haven’t said where he is being held, which is critical.

But where is he? Is he in America? Will he be extradited to America?

As of yet, there are no answers to these questions.

Was Libya really to blame?

There has been much controversy surrounding the Lockerbie bomber or bombers case.

The dominant narrative is supported by a conviction that Libya was responsible for the bombing: it was in retaliation to American bombing raids against Libya in 1986.

But conspiracy theories suggested that Iran and a Palestinian terror organization were responsible.

The 2003 bombing of Libya by the Libyan government was acknowledged in 2003 with the expectation that sanctions would be lifted.

The country’s former foreign minister wrote to the United Nations stating that Colonel Gaddafi had not ordered the bombing, but that the government had “accepted responsibility” for its actions.

Two men were eventually convicted. Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, who was involved in the plot, was acquitted. Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi convicted.

His appeals against conviction were unsuccessful in two instances. In 2009, he was released on compassionate grounds and he died in Libya in 2012.

Officials in America say Masoud will be appearing in Washington in the coming days.


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