Lockerbie bombing suspect in US custody

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By Euronews  with AFP
 wrecked houses and a deep gash in the ground in the village of Lockerbie, Scotland, after the Lockerbie bombing.
wrecked houses and a deep gash in the ground in the village of Lockerbie, Scotland, after the Lockerbie bombing.   -   Copyright  Martin Cleaver/AP1988

A Libyan man suspected of being involved in the Lockerbie bombing has been taken into custody by the United States, Scottish authorities said on Sunday. 

He is accused of making the bomb that blew up the Pan Am flight 103 over Scotland in December 1988, killing 270 people. 

"The families of the victims of the Lockerbie bombing have been told that the suspect Abu Agila Mohammad Massoud is in custody in the United States," Scottish prosecutors said in a statement.

"Scottish prosecutors and police, working with UK government and US colleagues, will continue to pursue this investigation, with the sole aim of bringing those who acted along with Al Megrahi to justice," it added.

Abdelbaset Ali Mohamed al-Megrahi, also Libyan, is the only person who has been convicted in connection with the attack, the most deadly act of terrorism in British history. 

Megrahi was jailed for life but was released on compassionate grounds by the Scottish government in 2009 after being diagnosed with cancer.

He died in Libya in 2012.

The attack targeted a transatlantic flight from London to New York. 

The aircraft, a Pan Am Boeing 747, exploded on 21 December 1988 over the Scottish village of Lockerbie. 

All 259 passengers and crew on board the plane were killed, along with 11 people on the ground by wreckage hitting their homes. 

Massoud has been arrested and detained by the US and will appear in a court in the District of Columbia, according to AFP. But no date has been set. 

In December 2020, the US announced that it would prosecute Massoud, a former member of the Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi's intelligence services. He was in Libya at the time. 

It is not known when and under what conditions Massoud was handed over to the US. 

Last month it was reported that Massoud had been kidnapped by a militant group in Libya, fuelling speculation that would be given to the Americans to stand trial.

The Lockerbie bombing is the deadliest ever terrorist attack committed on UK soil but also the second deadliest against US citizens, after the attacks of September 11, 2001.

190 Americans died in the explosion. 

Gaddafi's regime officially acknowledged responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing in 2003, paying 2.7 billion euros in compensation to the victims' families. 

The investigation was relaunched in 2016 when the US learned that Massoud had been arrested after the fall of Gaddafi. 

He allegedly confessed to the intelligence services of the new Libyan regime in 2012. 

Five years ago Massoud was serving a prison sentence in Libya