Third Lockerbie bomb suspect now in US custody, officials say | Lockerbie plane attack

A Libyan accused of planning the bomb that killed 270 people when an explosion destroyed Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988, is currently in US custody, sources have confirmed. responsible.

Scottish prosecutors, who have been closely involved in the investigation, said the families of those killed “have been informed” that Mohammed Abouagela Masud has been extradited to the United States.

Masud, a former Libyan intelligence agent, is accused by the United States of setting the timer for the bomb that destroyed the Boeing 747 and being the third man in a plot that was the terror attack deadliest to take place on British soil. .

Two other men were prosecuted at the time, one of whom, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. Released from terminal cancer, he died in 2012. The second man, Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, was acquitted.

But US investigators also pursued Masud and eventually announced criminal charges against him two years ago. It is unclear exactly how he was extradited, but he was previously held in Libya.

The Pan Am flight from London Heathrow to John F Kennedy Airport in New York exploded 31,000ft over Scotland on December 21, 1998, after 38 minutes in the air. A total of 259 people were killed on board, while flaming debris from the exploded plane killed 11 others on the ground at Lockerbie.

According to the US affidavit, Masud was a key figure in the bomb plot and worked with Megrahi and Fhimah to carry it out. Fhimah was later acquitted in a trial.

Investigators say Masud met the other two in Malta, where he had been asked to fly by a senior Libyan intelligence official with a prepared suitcase. The other two men asked him to set the timer, and the suitcase traveled via supply flights to the Boeing 747’s cargo hold, where it exploded.

Three months after the attack, according to the United States, Masud and Fhimah met with then-Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who “thanked them for fulfilling a great national duty” and said the operation was a total success.

At the time, Gaddafi was in conflict with the West, but later, under his leadership, Libya renounced terrorism and accepted responsibility for the downing of the plane in 2003 in exchange for relief from economic sanctions.

A spokesperson for the US Department of Justice confirmed that the United States had taken charge of Masud and indicated that he would be tried in due course. “He is expected to make his first appearance in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia,” the spokesperson added.

Scotland’s Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service said: ‘Scottish prosecutors and police, together with the UK Government and their US colleagues, will continue to pursue this investigation, with the sole aim of bringing to justice those who have acted with Megrahi.”

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