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The U.S. has taken custody of the alleged bomb maker in the 1988 Lockerbie attack

A police officer walks by the nose of Pan Am flight103 in a field near the town of Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988.
Martin Cleaver
A police officer walks by the nose of Pan Am flight103 in a field near the town of Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988.

U.S. authorities have arrested a Libyan man suspected of constructing the bomb that destroyed a passenger plane over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988, killing 270 people on board, including 190 Americans.

"The United States has taken custody of alleged Pan Am flight 103 bombmaker Abu Agila Mohammad Mas'ud Kheir Al-Marimi," a spokesperson for the Department of Justice said in a statement to NPR.

Scotland's Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service confirmed that the families of those killed in the bombing have also been notified of the arrest.

"Scottish prosecutors and police, working with UK Government and US colleagues, will continue to pursue this investigation, with the sole aim of bringing those who acted along with Al Megrahi to justice," the office said in a statement.

On Dec. 21, 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 exploded into pieces over Lockerbie, Scotland after a bomb was placed in the cargo area of the plane. The bombing was the single deadliest terror attack in the history of the United Kingdom, and the second deadliest for Americans after Sept. 11, 2001. The plane had taken off from London and was on its way to John F. Kennedy Airport in New York.

According to federal officials, passengers and crew from 21 different countries were killed in the attack. Of the 190 Americans who died, 35 of them were students from Syracuse University in upstate New York who were returning home for the holidays after a semester studying abroad.

The attack launched a decades-long international manhunt for the bomb-makers. In 2020, U.S. authorities made a breakthrough in the case after Libyan authorities apprehended Mas'ud, a former Libyan intelligence operative, and interviewed him about his involvement in the attack.

In 2020, the Justice Department charged Mas'ud with destruction of an aircraft resulting in death and destruction of a vehicle by means of an explosive resulting in death.
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Corrected: December 11, 2022 at 12:00 AM EST
An earlier version of this article incorrectly reported that Megrahi and Fhimah were tried in Scottish court in 1992. In fact, they were tried in 2001.
Juliana Kim
Juliana Kim is a weekend reporter for Digital News, where she adds context to the news of the day and brings her enterprise skills to NPR's signature journalism.