US authorities detain Libyan suspect in Lockerbie bombing – Day 24
Libby, suspected of making the bomb used to blow up an American airliner over Lockerbie in December 1988, killing 270 people, is in US custody, according to what was officially announced on Sunday.
Two years ago, the United States indicted Abu Agheila Mohamed Massoud in connection with the Lockerbie case, and he had previously been held in Libya for alleged involvement in the 1986 Berlin nightclub attack.
And the US Justice Department confirmed in a statement that Massoud was in the custody of US authorities following the announcement by Scottish prosecutors, without explaining how it happened.
A US Justice Department spokesman said he expected Massoud to appear in federal court in the US capital at a specific time, without giving details.
The New York Times reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) arrested Massoud as he was on his way to be handed over to the United States by Governor M.
So far, only one defendant has been tried in the case of the bombing of Pan American Flight 103 between London and New York on 21 December 1988, which remains the deadliest attack on British soil.
The attack killed 259 people on board, including 190 Americans, as well as 11 people on the ground.
Former Libyan intelligence officer Abdel Basset al-Megrahi spent seven years in a Scottish prison after being convicted in 2001 and died in Libya in 2012. Megrahi has long maintained his innocence.
The Scottish Public Prosecutor’s Office said “the families of the victims of the Lockerbie attack have been informed that the suspect, Abu Agheila Muhammad Massoud, is being held by the US authorities” and expressed its intention to “continue the investigation to bring those involved with al-Megrahi to justice.”
The families thanked the American and British intelligence officers.
“Our loved ones will never be forgotten and those responsible for their death on December 21, 1988 must be brought to justice,” she said in a statement.
Scottish officials did not provide any information about the date of the arrest of Massoud, whose fate was linked to the conflicting parties in Libyan politics.
And last month, the BBC reported that he was kidnapped by a Libyan armed group after being arrested in connection with a terrorist attack in Berlin that killed two US soldiers and a Turkish citizen.
Massoud was known as a bomb maker for Muammar Gaddafi’s regime. According to US charges, he assembled and programmed the bomb that brought down the Pan American plane.
The investigation into the case was reopened in 2016 when it became known to the US judicial authorities that Massoud had been arrested after the fall of the Gaddafi regime and that in 2012 he allegedly confessed to intelligence of the new Libyan regime.
But Libya’s responsibility in the Lockerbie case has long been questioned by some.
The family is demanding that British authorities declassify documents alleging that Iran used a Palestinian group based in Syria to manufacture the bomb that brought down the plane.
The authors of this novel believe that the Lockerbie bombing occurred in response to the downing of an Iranian passenger plane by a US Navy missile in July 1988, which killed 290 people.
But the regime of late Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi has officially acknowledged responsibility for the 2003 Lockerbie bombing and has paid $2.7 billion in compensation to the families of the victims.
The Lockerbie attack is the second largest terrorist attack against Americans (190 dead) after the September 11, 2001 attacks.
After the news of Massoud’s detention by the US authorities, Al-Megrahi’s son’s lawyer issued a statement in which they once again try to cast doubt on Libya’s responsibility in the Lockerbie case.
Lawyer Amer Anwar said in a statement that the US indictment mentions, for example, that Massoud bought clothes to fill a suitcase containing the bomb that brought down the plane.
However, the owner of a shop in Malta that sells these clothes confirmed that it was Megrahi who bought them, and this information played a decisive role in the case against him.
“How then can both Megrahi and Massoud be held accountable?” the lawyer wrote.