The arrest of a Lybian secret service operative suspected of having assembled and triggered the bomb that killed 270 people aboard PanAm's Flight 103 as it went off when the aircraft was overflying the Scottish town of Lockerbie on Dec. 21, 1988, has been confirmed Sunday.
Both US and Scottish authorities announced that Abu Agila Mohamad Massud had been placed under custody for his alleged involvement in the explosion of the US-flagged Boeing 747. The suspect, a longtime explosives expert for Libya's intelligence, is accused of assembling and programming the bomb that blew up the Pan Am airliner and must now appear before a court in the District of Columbia, at a date yet to be determined, a spokesperson for the US Department of Justice explained.
There were no details revealed as to when and how Massud was handed over to Washington.
In addition to the PanAm passengers, 11 bypassers when the aircraft hit the ground were among the victims.
Although the arrest was not made until 2022, Massud had been indicted in December 2020, the US justice system announced it would prosecute Massud, a former member of Muammar Gaddafi's intelligence who had been detained in Libya.
So far, only former Libyan intelligence agent Abdelbaset Ali Mohamed al-Megrahi has been convicted in the so-called Lockerbie case. Al Megrahi died in 2012 and maintained his innocence until the day he died.
The Scottish prosecution and police, in coordination with the US government and US colleagues, will continue this investigation with the sole purpose of bringing to justice those who acted alongside al Megrahi, a spokesperson for the Scottish prosecution said in a statement.
Flight 103 had taken off from London and was bound for New York when it exploded in the deadliest terrorist attack ever committed on UK soil. Megrahi was convicted of the bombing. Then he lost one appeal and dropped another before being released in 2009 on humanitarian grounds, as he was suffering from terminal cancer.
In January 2021, Megrahi's family lost a posthumous appeal in Scotland which was based on the alleged grounds that classified documents which British authorities refused to release would produce a different verdict.
In 2003, Gaddafi's regime officially acknowledged responsibility for the attack and paid US$ 2.7 billion in compensation to the families of the victims. The case was reopened in 2016 when US authorities learned that Massud had been arrested and reportedly confessed his involvement along with two other accomplices to the new Libyan government in 2012.
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