For Barr, Lockerbie Charges End a 30-Year Mission

Attorney general announces charges against Libyan bombmaker
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 21, 2020 11:45 AM CST
For Barr, Lockerbie Charges End a 30-Year Mission
Attorney General William Barr.   (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, Pool)

The Justice Department announced new charges Monday against a Libyan bombmaker in the 1988 explosion of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, an attack that killed 259 people in the air and 11 on the ground, per the AP. The charges were announced on the 32nd anniversary of the bombing and in the final news conference of Attorney General William Barr's tenure, underscoring his personal attachment to a case that unfolded during his first stint at the Justice Department. He announced an earlier set of charges against two Libyan intelligence officials in his capacity as acting attorney general nearly 30 years ago, vowing that the investigation would continue. Though Barr hadn't appeared at a press conference in months, he led this one two days before his departure as a career bookend.

The case against the alleged bombmaker, Abu Agela Masud Kheir Al-Marimi, is right now more theoretical than practical since Masud isn't yet in US custody, but it's nonetheless one of the more consequential counterterrorism prosecutions brought by the Trump administration. "At long last, this man responsible for killing Americans and many others will be subject to justice for his crimes," Barr said. A breakthrough in the investigation came in 2016 when US officials learned that Masud was in Libyan custody after the collapse of the regime of Col. Moammar Gadhafi. In an interview that Masud gave to Libyan law enforcement several years earlier, US officials said, Masud admitted building the bomb in the Pan Am attack and working with the two other defendants to carry out the plot.

(More Lockerbie stories.)

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