Libya PM Asserts That Lockerbie Suspect Extradition Was Legal

Rival Libya PM Responds After Arrest of Bombing Suspect

( – In 1988, 259 people boarded a plane in London, England, heading for the John F. Kennedy Airport in New York. But, 38 minutes after they took off, the aircraft exploded midair, killing all on board and another 11 people at the crash site in Lockerbie, Scotland. There were 190 US citizens on board, including 35 university students returning from a semester abroad. The other passengers represented an additional 20 nations. Now, nearly 34 years later, the US has the alleged bomb maker in custody, causing quite a stir. Now, one of Libya’s prime ministers has revealed that his office took part in the arrest.

Libya PM Says Extradition Was Lawful

On Monday, December 12, the White House announced it “lawfully took custody” of Abu Agila Mohammad Mas’ud Kheir Al-Marimi the day before. Now in the US, he appeared in court on Monday to face a charge of international terrorism stemming from his alleged actions leading to the decades-old Pan Am Flight 103 bombing.

According to the Associated Press, it was initially exactly how Mas’ud made it into US custody, but Libyan media claimed men with guns in Tripoli kidnapped him in mid-November.

After the US government announcement, one of Libya’s Prime Ministers, Fathi Bashagha, publicly inquired how the Libyan man ended up in US custody. Bashagha, who runs a rival government in the country’s eastern region, is at odds with the militant group and its Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, running the western part of the nation from Tripoli. He stated his belief on December 13 that Mas’ud “was kidnapped,” according to the Associated Press.

However, on December 15, another Libyan Prime Minister, Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, revealed in a broadcast that his government had a hand in the extradition of the suspect. He spoke of the accused, proclaiming that Libya had to “wipe the mark of terrorism from the Libyan people’s forehead.’’ He also asserted that the extradition of Mas’ud was legal. However, he didn’t provide any further information about the government’s involvement.

Events Leading to the Arrest of Mas’ud

In November 1991, authorities from the United States and the United Kingdom filed charges against Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah for carrying out the bombing. While a court acquitted the latter, a jury found Megrahi guilty. However, the investigation led experts to believe in the involvement of a third man.

In December 2020, the DOJ filed a criminal complaint accusing Mas’ud. The complaint alleged he flew from Libya to Malta on orders from the Libyan government with the bomb in a suitcase to hand it off to his accomplices. He allegedly set the timer on the bomb before passing it along.

If convicted, Mas’ud could spend the rest of his life behind bars, although a UK court granted al-Megrahi clemency from his life sentence in 2009 to die with family after doctors diagnosed him with terminal prostate cancer. He died in 2012.

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