The person suspected of blowing up the Lockerbie plane was taken into custody in the United States

The person suspected of blowing up the Lockerbie plane was taken into custody in the United States
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LONDON/WASHINGTON, Dec 11 (Reuters) – A Libyan man accused of making the bomb that killed 270 people after blowing up Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988 is in custody in the United States, Scottish and US law enforcement agencies. he said on Sunday.

Abu Aqila Mohammed Masoud Kheir Al-Marimi was arrested nearly two years after former US Attorney General Bill Barr first made the announcement. The United States has filed charges against him.

A Justice Department spokesman confirmed to Reuters on Sunday that the suspect is in US custody. Massoud is expected to make a preliminary appearance in federal court in Washington.

The press secretary added that detailed information about the time of the hearing will be provided.

Court documents describe Massoud as a bomb maker who joined Libya’s Foreign Security Service in the 1970s and rose to the rank of colonel in a series of operations outside Libya.

A spokesman for the Crown and Prosecution Fiscal Service for Scotland (COPFS) said the families of those killed in the Lockerbie bombing were told on Sunday that the suspect was in custody in the United States.

The BBC was the first to report on Masud’s arrest.

The bomb on board the Boeing 747 flying from London to New York killed all 259 people on board and 11 on the ground in what was Britain’s deadliest gun attack ever.

The crime scene from the attack stretched over 840 square miles (2,175 square kilometers).

In 1991, two other Libyan intelligence operatives were also charged with the bombing: Abdel Baset Ali al-Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah.

Megrahi was convicted of the bombing at a trial in Scotland at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands and sentenced to life in prison in 2001. He was later released after suffering from cancer and died in 2012 at his home in Tripoli.

Fhimah was acquitted of all charges, but Scottish prosecutors argued that Megrahi did not act alone.

In 2020, the United States announced criminal charges against Massoud, a third conspiracy suspect, adding that he had worked as a technical expert in the development of explosive devices.

During the bombing, US investigators uncovered evidence that identified one of the alleged suspects as “Abu Agela Massoud,” but were unable to locate him, according to an FBI agent’s sworn statement in support of the government. criminal complaint.

Decades later, the FBI obtained a copy of Sept. 12, 2012, interview conducted by a Libyan law enforcement officer while Massoud was in custody there.

During the interview, Massoud admitted to “developing the bomb that shot down Pan Am Flight 103 and working with Megrahi and Fhimah to carry out the plan,” the FBI agent said in a statement.

Massoud also told the interviewer that he was involved in other similar plots and that the explosion was ordered by the Libyan intelligence leadership.

He also said that former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who was killed by rebels in October 2011, “thanked him and other members of the team for the successful attack on the United States.”

The agent who made the statement said that the FBI was able to confirm Masud’s confession during the investigation.

Reporting by Alistair Smout in London and Sarah N. Lynch in Washington; Edited by Raissa Kasolowsky, Frances Kerry, Lisa Shumaker, and Daniel Wallis

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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