Barr announces unsealed charges against alleged Lockerbie bomb-maker

Justice Department officials on Monday formally unveiled charges against a man they said built the explosive device detonated on a flight over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988, killing 270.

Prosecutors formally unsealed the charges against Abu Agela Masud on Monday, the 32nd anniversary of the bombing. Attorney General William Barr also said at a Monday press conference that Masud is believed to have been involved in the 1986 bombing of a Berlin nightclub that killed a Turkish woman and two American service members.

The explosion killed all 259 people on Pan Am Flight 103 and 11 people on the ground.

Although then-Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi long denied any Libyan involvement in the airplane bombing, the affidavit states that Libyan intelligence personally ordered the bombing and that Qaddafi personally thanked Masud. Although Qaddafi denied having ordered the bombing until his death in 2011, his government accepted responsibility and agreed to pay the victims’ families $2.7 billion in 2003.

“Let there be no mistake: no amount of time or distance will stop the United States, and its partners in Scotland, from pursuing justice in this case,” Barr said in a statement Monday.

“Well over a third of Americans alive today were not yet born on the day of the Lockerbie bombing or would not have been old enough to remember it,” he added. “But for those of us who do remember, that tragic event and the iconic images of its aftermath, some of which are displayed here today, are forever seared in our memories.”

Masud is in Libyan custody, where the Justice Department said his confession was obtained.

“It is my hope that Libyan authorities will allow Masud to be tried for this crime and will provide the support and witnesses necessary to bring him to justice,” Barr said. “Nevertheless, while we will never rest in our efforts to hold Masud accountable, I hope that the families of the lost will find some comfort in the charges filed today.”

Barr praised the efforts of Scottish investigators as “Homeric,” saying it “shows the professionalism of the Scottish police and … how important international cooperation is in cracking these heinous crimes.”

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