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Justice expected to unseal charges against Lockerbie bombing suspect

Justice expected to unseal charges against Lockerbie bombing suspect

Federal prosecutors will reportedly unseal charges against a suspect in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing that killed 270 people.

In the days ahead, the Justice Department is expected to unseal criminal charges against Abu Agila Mohammad Masud, who is alleged to have built the device that exploded on Pan Am Flight 103 as it flew over Lockerbie, Scotland. The department plans to begin extradition proceedings against Masud, currently in Libyan custody, in the days ahead, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Masud reportedly confessed to Libyan officials in 2012 that he built the bomb, with Scottish authorities obtaining the confession in 2017, according to the newspaper.

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The U.S. Attorney’s office in Washington, D.C., also reportedly has obtained pieces of a timer used in the device as well as traces of clothing from a suitcase believed to have been used to store it. The charges against Masud include destruction of an aircraft resulting in death and destruction of a vehicle of interstate commerce resulting in death.

Former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has been accused of ordering the bombing, and Libya was designated a state sponsor of terrorism following the incident. However, only one person has ever been convicted in connection with it: Abdel Baset al-Megrahi. Al-Megrahi was freed from prison on compassionate release grounds in 2009 and died three years later.

Gaddafi’s regime denied involvement for years but in 2003 agreed to pay more than $2 billion in compensation to the victims’ families. The settlement came during a period where numerous Middle Eastern leaders were wary of provoking the U.S. after the Sept. 11 terror attacks. Gaddafi was killed in 2011 during Libya’s Arab Spring uprising.

“There’s no Libyan ownership of these things,” Tarek Megerisi, a Libya expert at the European Council on Foreign Relations in London, told the newspaper. “These things were done by Gaddafi and Gaddafi was a bit crazy and we suffered internationally as a result.”

The Hill has reached out to the Justice Department for comment.