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US authorities apprehended a Libyan man accused of making the bomb that destroyed a passenger plane over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988, a major milestone in a decades-long investigation into the deadliest terrorist attack in the United Kingdom, NPR reported.
Scottish officials confirmed that the US took into custody Abu Agila Mohammad Mas’ud Kheir Al-Marimi, a former Libyan intelligence operative, this week.
Mas’ud is alleged to have built the bomb that blew up Pan Am Flight 103 flying from London to New York on Dec. 21, 1988. The plane exploded over Lockerbie, killing 270 people, including 190 Americans.
The terrorist attack initiated the most complex investigation for the US Federal Bureau of Investigation in history: More than 10,000 people were interviewed around the world and investigators analyzed the largest crime scene in recent history – about 845 square miles of scattered debris.
Authorities initially discovered two tiny fragments in the rubble that allowed them to trace the bomb to a radio inside a bag and the explosives’ timer to a shirt.
A major breakthrough came in 2020 when Libyan officials detained Mas’ud and interviewed him about his involvement in the bombing. The former intelligence officer admitted to building the bomb that downed the plane.
That year, the US Department of Justice indicted Mas’ud on a number of charges, including causing the destruction of a vehicle using an explosive.
The department added that the suspect will make his first court appearance at the US District Court for the District of Columbia.
The Libyan’s arrest was welcomed by the victims’ families, who have been waiting for decades for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.