U.S. Arrests Lockerbie Bombing Suspect 34 Years After Deadly Scottish Plane Attack


The FBI has arrested a Libyan man accused of making the bomb that killed 270 people when it detonated on a plane flying over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988, multiple outlets reported—two years after the U.S. announced charges against the suspect.

Key Facts

A Justice Department spokesperson and prosecutors in Scotland told reporters Sunday that Abu Agila Mohammad Masud had been taken into custody and is expected to appear in federal court in Washington, D.C.

Masud, who faces two charges including destruction of an aircraft resulting in death, would be the first suspect to stand trial in the U.S. in connection with the terrorist attack on December 21, 1988, which is the deadliest terrorist attack on U.K. soil.

The Justice Department announced charges in December 2020 against Masud, a former Libyan intelligence official who was serving a 10-year sentence in Libya for bombmaking in an unrelated case, after he allegedly confessed his role in the Lockerbie bombing to Libyan officials.

The Justice Department in 2020 accused Masud of constructing the bomb in a suitcase, setting the timer on the device and transferring it to another Libyan intelligence operative at an airport in Malta before it ultimately ended up on New York-bound flight from London.

Key Background

The attack killed all 259 people aboard the American-operated Pan Am flight, including 190 Americans, plus an additional 11 people on the ground in Lockerbie, Scotland. Before 9/11, it was the deadliest terrorist attack for Americans. Masud is the third person charged in connection with the bombing. Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi and Al-Amin Khalifa Fhimah were charged in 1991 and prosecuted by Scottish authorities in the Netherlands. Fhimah was acquitted and al-Megrahi was convicted, but the latter was freed from custody in 2009 on compassionate release; he died of prostate cancer in Libya in 2012. Masud was arrested by Libyan officials in 2012 after the collapse of the regime led by Muammar Gaddafi, who allegedly thanked Masud for his role in the terrorist attack, according to the Justice Department.

Further Reading

U.S. Charges Third Suspect In Lockerbie Bombing, 32 Years After Attack (Forbes)

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/saradorn/2022/12/11/us-arrests-lockerbie-bombing-suspect-34-years-after-deadly-scottish-plane-attack/