Alleged Lockerbie Bomb Maker In US Custody
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent
WASHINGTON (Worthy News) – A former Libyan intelligence officer accused of preparing the bomb that brought down Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988, killing 270 people, is in U.S. custody after a spectacular operation.
Abu Agila Mohammad Mas’ud Kheir Al-Marimi appeared briefly in a Washington courtroom Tuesday, accused of setting the timer for the bomb that destroyed the Boeing 747 flying from London to New York City.
His detention over the deadliest terror attack on British soil, which killed all 259 people on board and 11 residents of the town of Lockerbie, was confirmed by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Officials with knowledge of the case in Libya said Mas’ud was seized at his home in the Libyan capital Tripoli by forces linked to a warlord, Abdel Ghani al-Kikili, known as “Gheniwa.”
The warlord commands the Stability Support Authority (SSA) of the Tripoli-based internationally recognized Government of National Unity (GNU).
At the time, Mas’ud’s family told local media that he had been kidnapped by armed men and accused Tripoli authorities of remaining silent on the abduction.
He had been living in his home after being released from prison six months ago after serving a 10-year sentence for crimes under the former regime of late Muammar Gadaffi.
His nephew said his uncle was detained by forces linked to the Defence Ministry of Libya’s GNU on November 17 and was then taken to Misrata, 200 kilometers (124 miles) from Tripoli.
Later, a “team of Americans” arrived in Misrata and bundled Masud onto a flight in a private jet from the city’s airport to Malta, sources said.
Masud’s nephew, Abdulmenam Marimi, told the media that the family only learned he had been moved to the United States when they saw it reported on the news.
Back in Washington D.C., the 71-year-old Mas’ud, clad in a green jumpsuit, appeared to walk limp and complained of flu symptoms as he clutched a tissue while in court.
“I cannot talk before I see my attorney,” Mas’ud told U.S. Magistrate Judge Robin Meriweather, speaking through an interpreter.
Mas’ud, who the U.S. Justice Department said is from Tunisia and Libya, allegedly confessed his crimes to a Libyan law enforcement officer in September 2012.
He appeared in court just days after being captured in Libya. His capture is part of an ongoing investigation since the flight to New York blew up over Scotland minutes after takeoff from London on that fateful night on 21 December 1988, killing 270 people.
On January 31, 2001, a three-judge Scottish court at a former U.S. base in the Netherlands found Libyan intelligence agent Abdel Baset Ali al-Megrahi guilty while acquitting another agent, Lamen Khalifa Fhimah.
The trial followed years of wrangling between Libya, Britain, and the United States over the investigation.
On August 15, 2003, Libya, in a letter to the United Nations, accepted responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing, and Libya eventually paid more than $2 billion in compensation.
On September 12, the U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution lifting sanctions imposed on Libya over the bombing.
On August 20, 2009, the Scottish government released Megrahi after his lawyer said the prisoner had been diagnosed with advanced-stage prostate cancer. He returned home to Libya. On May 20, 2012, Megrahi, then 60 years old, died in Tripoli.
Mas’ud’s capture and appearance in Washington, D.C., was expected to reopen old wounds that never healed completely among those who loved their loved ones in the tragedy.