Decades after the Lockerbie bombing a new suspect was charged

In the United States, a new suspect has been charged who may have made the bomb for the bombing of a plane that crashed in 1988 over the Scottish village of Lockerbie. The disaster, which cost 270 people their lives, is still causing a lot of damage decades after that.

The suspect is a Libyan intelligence officer named Abu Agila Mohammad Masud, reporting to the U.S. intelligence bureau.

Masud is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence in Libya for a series of crimes in the capital Tripoli, where there has been a civil war since the beginning of 2011. He is described by the Justice Department as the “top bomber” for the assassinated dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

The US prosecutors want Libya to turn him over to the United States. On Wednesday it was already announced that Masud was in the picture, today he was also officially charged with a court in Washington.

The fact that this happened today is no coincidence: it was exactly 32 years ago that the plane crashed. On board the Boeing 747 of the American Airline PanAm were 190 Americans and 32 British.

PanAm flight 103 left just before Christmas with 259 passengers on board from Frankfurt to New York. Shortly after the plane, after a stop in London, resumed its journey, it suddenly disappeared from the radar.

It soon became clear that this was an attack. The cause of the crash turned out to be a semtex bomb detonated by terrorists at over nine kilometers altitude. They put the bomb in a suitcase in the luggage compartment. All the occupants were killed, just like 11 people on the ground.

After a long investigation, two suspects came into the picture. The Libyan ex-spy Abdel Basset al-Megrahi was the only one convicted of the attack in 2001. Another Libyan secret service agent, al-Amin Khalifa Fhima, was acquitted. That trial took place in neutral territory in the Netherlands, near Soesterberg.

Since then, there has always been a search for the accomplices of Megrahi and what exactly was the role of Gaddafi. By the way, Megrahi was released in 2009 because he would only have three months to live. He died of cancer three years later.

The new suspect has been in the DOJ’s sights for some time. He would have confessed to making the Lockerbie bomb in Libya as early as 2012. That statement would not have been shared with Scotland until 2017, along with information about Masud’s home and travel, reports The Wall Street Journal today.

Masud stated in 2012 that he made the bomb on behalf of the Libyan secret service and that Gaddafi ‘thanked him and other members of the team for their successful attack on the United States’.

About the author: David Foster

With a background in international relations and a deep understanding of strategic intelligence, David Foster is a sought-after commentator on global security dynamics.

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