US unveils new charges against suspect in 1988 Lockerbie bombing

A Libyan accused of putting together the device that blew up Pan Am Flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988 has been charged in a US court related to the bombing that killed 270 people.

Mohammed Abouagela Masud was charged on the 32nd anniversary of the bombing, which took place on 21 December 1988, killing all 259 people on the plane as well as 11 people on the ground. Masud has been described as a former Libyan intelligence officer and one of the top bomb-makers working for the late Libyan dictator, Moammar Gadhafi.

The new charges represent the third Libyan to have prosecuted over the past 30 years in relation to the Lockerbie bombing. In 1991, two intelligence officials – Abdel Baset al-Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah – were charged.

They were put on trial eight years later. Megrahi received a life sentence which he served until his release in 2009, and Fhimah was acquitted.

Monday’s unsealing of the charges against Masud was the product of a personal mission by the US attorney general William Barr. In one of his first acts during his initial term as the chief prosecutor under George H Bush, he laid out the 1991 indictments.

The charges brought against Masud was likely to be Barr’s final act as attorney general in his second stint under Donald Trump. He is expected to stand down from the post on Wednesday.

At a press conference announcing the charges, Barr said: “On this day 32 years ago a bomb destroyed Pan Am flight 103 as it flew 31,000ft over Lockerbie, Scotland. The Lockerbie bombing remains the deadliest terrorist attack in the history of the United Kingdom, and the second deadliest terrorist attack in the United States” after 9/11.