Washington, Dec 21 (PTI) The US on Monday charged a former Libyan intelligence operative for his role in making the bomb that blew up Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie in 1988, killing 270 people, including three Indian nationals and more than half a dozen of Indian origin.
Pan AM Flight 103 exploded into pieces almost instantaneously when a bomb in the forward cargo area exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, at 7:03 p.m. local time at an altitude of 31,000 feet after 38 minutes of flight on December 21, 1988. The plane had taken off from London-Heathrow and was en route to John F. Kennedy Airport in New York.
Citizens from 21 countries were killed in the deadliest terrorist attack in Britain's history. Thirty-five Syracuse University students, who were returning home to the United States for the holidays after a semester studying abroad, were among 190 Americans killed in the attack.
Three victims were from India. Forty-three victims were from the United Kingdom, including 11 residents of Lockerbie, Scotland, who perished on the ground as fiery debris from the falling aircraft destroyed an entire city block where homes had peacefully stood just minutes earlier.
The Justice Department on Monday unsealed charges on the 32nd anniversary of the attack.
According to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, the External Security Organization (ESO) was the Libyan intelligence service through which Libya conducted acts of terrorism against other nations and repressed the activities of Libyan dissidents abroad.
Abu Agela Mas’ud Kheir Al-Marimi, aka, 'Hasan Abu Ojalya Ibrahim' (Masud) worked in various capacities for the ESO, including as a technical expert in building explosive devices from approximately 1973 to 2011.
According to the affidavit, Masud participated in the 'Lockerbie airplane bombing,' among other plots against the United States and the west, including but not limited to, the April 5, 1986, bombing of the LaBelle Discotheque in West Berlin, Germany. Two US service members were killed in that attack and scores of others left seriously injured or permanently disabled.
'These charges are the product of decades of hard work by investigators and prosecutors who have remained resolute in their dogged pursuit of justice for our citizens, the citizens of the United Kingdom, and the citizens of the other 19 countries that were murdered by terrorists operating on behalf of the former Muamar Qaddafi regime when they attacked Pan Am Flight 103,' said William P. Barr, Attorney General of the United States.
'As to all the victims and the families, we cannot take away your pain from your loss, but we can seek justice for you. Our message to other terrorists around the world is this – you will not succeed – if you attack Americans, no matter where you are, no matter how long it takes, you will be pursued to the ends of the earth until justice is done,” Barr said.
'Today’s announcement should remind the world that when Americans are harmed, the FBI and the US government will never stop pursuing justice for our citizens, no matter where that takes us, how long it takes us to get there, or how difficult the road might be,” said FBI Director Chris Wray.
Acting US Attorney Michael Sherwin for the District of Columbia said that the criminal complaint against the alleged 'bomb maker' signifies that the work of federal prosecutors never ends, even after several decades, until all criminal actors are held accountable.
In addition, these charges remind the public of the horrific effect that acts of terrorism continue to have on victims and their families, he said.
The bombing of Pan Am 103 was historic in that it was, until the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the deadliest terrorist attack on US civilians in history. It also remains the deadliest terrorist attack in the history of the United Kingdom – for all of these reasons we will never forget and the D.C. United States Attorney’s Office will continue to seek justice for all of the Pan Am 103 victims and their loved ones, Sherwin said. PTI LKJ ZH ZH