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US brings new charges in Lockerbie bombing case

Dec 21, 2020

The United States announced new charges today against a former Libyan intelligence officer pertaining to the 1988 Lockerbie bombing.

Abu Agela Masud Kheir Al-Marimi was charged with the destruction of an aircraft resulting in death and in the destruction of a vehicle by means of an explosive resulting in death, the Department of Justice said in a press release on Monday.

The Lockerbie bombing refers to the explosion that brought down Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988. The flight was heading to New York from London when it exploded above the Scottish town of Lockerbie. All 259 passengers, mostly Americans, died, as did 11 people in the town.

Marimi, whom the department referred to as Masud, worked for Libya’s External Security Organization. He was allegedly instructed to set the bomb timer in the rigged suitcase aboard the plane. He also gave the suitcase to another Libyan intelligence operative, Lamen Khalifa Fhimah, who then placed the suitcase on the plane’s conveyor belt, the department alleged.

The Libyan government of former President Moammar Gadhafi had an acrimonious relationship with the United States. The US government blamed Libya for the 1986 Berlin nightclub bombing that killed two US soldiers. The US military bombed Libyan military targets the same year in retaliation.

Libya is now mired in a civil war. The Government of National Accord (GNA) is the UN- and US-recognized government in the country.

Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, who also worked for Libyan intelligence, was convicted in a Scottish court in 2001 of murder in relation to the bombing. In 2009, he was released for medical reasons; he died in 2012. In November, his family posthumously appealed his conviction in a Scottish court.

Masud is still alive in Libya. The US government brought the charges against him following an interview current Libyan law enforcement officers conducted with him, US Attorney General William Barr said at a press conference on Monday.

Barr said he is confident that Libya’s GNA will turn Masud over to the United States to stand trial.

“We have no reason to think that government is interested in associating itself with this heinous act of terrorism,” said Barr. “We are optimistic that they will turn him over to face justice.”

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