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Key questions as US arrests man charged with Lockerbie bombing | world news

Three sentences from the United States Department of Justice confirmed this key development in Lockerbie’s story.

“The United States has took care of suspected Pan Am Flight 103 bomber Abu Agila Mohammad Mas’ud Kheir Al-Marimi.

“He is expected to make his first appearance in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

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

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

Masoud, as he is known, was named in a 2020 US Justice Department legal document as the man who made the bomb that detonated Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie in 1988.

He had been in the frame for many years before as a technician behind the bomb.

According to the affidavit, Masoud worked alongside the two other men charged with the bombing – Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi and Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah.

The US government alleges that Masoud was a technical expert working for the Libyan intelligence service known as the External Security Organization (ESO) which carried out operations against other nations and Libyan dissidents under the direction of the Libyan government and sometimes under the direct orders of the time. leader Muammar Gaddafi.

The US legal document claims that Masoud worked as a bombmaker for ESO between 1973 and 2011.

Abu Agila Mohammad Mas’ud Kheir al-Marimi is in US custody

What was his alleged involvement in the Lockerbie bombing?

It is alleged by the US Department of Justice that Masoud was ordered by his superiors to fly to Malta in December 1988 with a suitcase containing an explosive device.

In Malta, Masoud spent several days in a hotel preparing the device, setting a timer for it to detonate exactly 11 hours later.

It is alleged that Masoud handed over the suitcase to Fhimah on the morning of December 21, 1988 at Luqa Airport in Malta.

Fhimah, who worked with al-Megrahi as a security officer for Libyan Arab Airlines, reportedly checked the suitcase on an Air Malta flight to Frankfurt.

Investigators said the suitcase flew unaccompanied to Frankfurt before being transferred to Pan Am flight 103A to London Heathrow – the connecting flight for Pan Am 103.

At Heathrow, he was transferred to Flight 103 and exploded 38 minutes after takeoff 31,000 feet above the Scottish town of Lockerbie.

What evidence does the US Department of Justice base its charges on?

The evidence against Masoud rests largely on confessions he allegedly made to a Libyan law enforcement official while he was detained in late 2012, following the overthrow and death of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

According to confession transcripts, Masoud was questioned about his potential involvement in the 2011 Libyan revolution and any operations outside of Libya. It is claimed that he admitted his role in the bombing and gave details of his role.

He also reportedly acknowledged a role in the 1986 bombing of the LaBelle nightclub in Berlin, popular with American soldiers, which left three people dead and 230 injured.

The fact that his “confession” took place at a time when Libya was controlled by warlords will complicate the US prosecutor’s case.

270 people died on December 21, 1988
270 people died on December 21, 1988

How was he detained?

This is where it gets murky. The Americans did not provide any details on how he was detained or where he was held.

Curiously, last month it was reported that Masoud had been “kidnapped” while being held in Libya. A local Libyan media report, quoting the current intelligence chief in Tripoli, said he was taken away by a “squad of unknown affiliation, without any meaningful coordination with the intelligence service”.

According to London-based Asharq Al-Awsat, a secret deal has been reached between the Americans and the Tripoli-based Government of National Unity (GNU) to allow Masoud to be handed over.

The Americans have not commented, but the suggestion is that GNU chief Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh turned a blind eye to the kidnapping. The counterpart would be the American approval of his government.

What happens now?

The Americans said Masoud would appear in a Washington DC court but did not say when. Above all, they did not specify where he is being held.

He is being held in the United States, but where? In America or in another country awaiting transfer to America? Will he be officially extradited?

All are, for now, unanswered questions.

Was Libya really responsible?

The case of the Lockerbie suicide bomber, or suicide bombers, has been fraught with controversy and allegations of miscarriages of justice.

The prevailing narrative, backed by belief, is that Libya was responsible: the bombing was in retaliation for US bombings of Libya in 1986.

Yet conspiracies were circulating that Iran and a Palestinian terror group were in fact responsible.

In 2003, the Libyan government admitted responsibility for the bombing in the hope that sanctions would be lifted.

In a letter to the United Nations, the then foreign minister said Colonel Gaddafi said he did not order the bombing but that the government “accepts responsibility for the actions of its responsible”.

This eventually led to the trial of two men. Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah was acquitted for his part in the plot. Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi was sentenced.

Two appeals against his conviction have failed. He was released on humanitarian grounds in 2009 and died in Libya in 2012.

US officials say the third man, Masoud, will appear in a Washington courtroom in the coming days.

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