With news that a Libyan man suspected of being involved in the 1988 bombing of a passenger jet had been taken into American custody, the infamous terrorist incident and ongoing efforts to find those responsible were brought back into the spotlight.
The bomb that destroyed a Pam Am flight over the Scottish town of Lockerbie is allegedly the work of the suspect, Abu Agela Mas’ud Kheir al-Marimi.
All 259 individuals on board the plane and 11 people on the ground perished in the attack. Americans made up the majority of the victims.
Even though the case has occasionally made headlines again 34 years after the attack, the public’s memory of it has largely faded. Nevertheless, the past is shown here:
HOW DID THE LOCKERBIE ATTACK HAPPEN?
On December 21, 1988, less than 30 minutes after the plane took off from London’s Heathrow airport in the direction of New York, a bomb placed aboard Pam Am Flight 103 detonated.
The jet, which was transporting people from 21 different countries, was destroyed in the attack. 190 Americans were among the victims.
They included 35 students from a semester abroad at Syracuse University in upstate New York. The blast continues to be the deadliest terrorist attack on British territory.
Investigators quickly established a link between the bombing and Libya, whose government had longstanding conflicts with the United States and other Western governments.
The bombing of a Berlin disco that resulted in three deaths, including two American soldiers, and numerous injuries occurred about two years before the incident, and Libya was held responsible.
WHO WAS HELD RESPONSIBLE?
The United States accused two Libyan intelligence agents of placing a bomb inside the aircraft in 1991. Col. Moammar Gadhafi, the country’s leader, steadfastly resisted handing them over. Finally, after protracted talks, Libya consented in 1999 to hand them over so a Scottish judicial panel in the Netherlands could try them.
Abdel Baset Ali al-Megrahi, one of the men, was found guilty and given a life sentence. Lamen Khalifa Fhimah, the other, was declared innocent. After learning that Al-Megrahi had prostate cancer, Scottish officials decided to release him on humanitarian grounds in 2009. However, 2012 saw him passing in Libya.
WHAT LED INVESTIGATORS TO MASUD?
Masud, a longstanding explosives expert for the nation’s intelligence service, was detained by Libyan law enforcement after Ghadafi’s overthrow.
A copy of the interview with Masud was conducted by Libyan authorities shortly after his arrest was given to U.S. officials in 2017.
Masud confessed to creating the bomb used in the Pan Am attack and working with the two men previously indicted to install it on the aircraft during that interview, according to U.S. officials.
According to an FBI affidavit, he claimed that Libyan intelligence had ordered the operation and that Ghadafi had commended him and others after the assault.
The U.S. Justice Department filed charges against Masud in late 2020.
But because Libya held Masud, his prosecution remained purely hypothetical. So officials from the United States and Scotland agreed to fight his extradition so that he may face justice.
On Sunday, it was unclear how Masud came into American custody. He would be the first to testify in a courtroom in America regarding the attack.