Three sentences from the DOJ confirm this key development in the Lockerbie story.
“America has being guarded Alleged bomber of Pan Am Flight 103, Abu Agila Mohammad Mas’ud Kheir Al-Marimi.
“He is expected to make his first appearance in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
“Additional details, including information on the initial appearance for public access, will be announced shortly.”
Who is Abu Agila Mohammad Mas’ud Kheir Al-Marimi?
Masood is known to have been named in a 2020 U.S. Justice Department legal filing as the bomber that blew up Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie in 1988.
Before that, he had been involved for many years as the technician behind the bomb.
According to the affidavit, Masood worked with two other men accused of carrying out the bombing, Abdulbassit Ali Mohammad Megrahi and Amin Khalifa Fima.
U.S. political leader Muammar Gaddafi.
US legal documents say Masood worked as a bomb maker for ESO from 1973 to 2011.
What was the reason for his alleged involvement in the Lockerbie bombing?
In December 1988, Masood was ordered by his superiors to fly to Malta with a suitcase containing an explosive device, the Justice Department said.
In Malta, Masood spent several days in a hotel preparing the device and set a timer to explode after 11 hours.
Masood allegedly handed over the suitcase to Ferma on the morning of 21 December 1988 at Luqa Airport in Malta.
Fhimah, who worked alongside al-Megrahi as a security officer for Libyan Air Arabia, is said to have checked the suitcase on the Air Malta flight to Frankfurt.
Investigators said the suitcase was flown unaccompanied to Frankfurt and then diverted to Pan Am Flight 103A to London Heathrow, the Pan Am regional flight 103.
At Heathrow, it was diverted to flight 103, which exploded 38 minutes after takeoff at 31,000 feet above the Scottish town of Lockerbie.
What is the basis for the DOJ’s charges?
The evidence against Masood is largely based on statements he gave to a Libyan law enforcement official while he was in custody following the overthrow and death of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in late 2012.
Masood was asked open-ended questions about his possible involvement in the 2011 Libyan revolution and any actions outside Libya, according to the transcript of the confession. He allegedly admitted his involvement in the bombing and detailed his role.
He is also said to have admitted to being involved in the 1986 bombing of the LaBelle disco in Berlin, which was popular with American soldiers, killing three people and injuring 230.
His “confession” comes at a time when Libya is under warlord control, which will complicate the case for U.S. prosecutors.
How was he detained?
This is where it gets blurry. The American released no details of how or where he was detained.
Interestingly, there were reports last month that Masood had been “kidnapped” in Libya. Local Libyan media reports quoted Tripoli’s current intelligence chief as saying that he was taken “by a squad of unknown affiliation without any significant coordination with the intelligence services”.
The Americans had struck a secret deal with the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNU) to allow the handover of Masood, London-based Asharq Al-Awsat reported.
The Americans did not comment but suggested GNU leader Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh was turning a blind eye to the kidnapping. The quid pro quo is the United States’ endorsement of its government.
What’s happening now?
The American said Masood would appear in court in Washington, D.C., but did not specify when. Crucially, they did not say where he was being held.
He is in US custody, but where? Waiting in the US or another country to transfer to the US? Will he be formally extradited?
All of these are open questions so far.
Is Libya really responsible?
The Lockerbie Bomber case, or bomber case, has been fraught with controversy and allegations of miscarriage of justice.
The prevailing narrative, supported by a belief, is that Libya is responsible: that the bombing was in retaliation for the US bombing of Libya in 1986.
However, conspiracy theories hold that Iran and a Palestinian terrorist group were actually responsible.
In 2003, the Libyan government acknowledged responsibility for the bombings and expected sanctions to be lifted.
In a letter to the United Nations, the country’s foreign minister at the time said Colonel Gaddafi said he had not ordered the bombing but that the government “accepted responsibility for the actions of its officials”.
This eventually led to the trial of the two men. Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah was acquitted of his involvement in the conspiracy. Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi was convicted.
Both appeals against his conviction failed. He was released on compassionate grounds in 2009 and died in Libya in 2012.
A third, Masood, will appear in a Washington court in the coming days, U.S. officials said.