Document:Call for US to give update on fourth Lockerbie suspect

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Senussi Masud.jpg
Trial in 2015: Masud sitting behind Senussi
Former Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill: "Britain and America know everything. I want the UK and US to be more open. Libya have offered up Abu Agila Masud. But Masud is smaller beer. The Lord Advocate should find out what progress is being made on bringing Abdullah Senussi to court."

Disclaimer (#3)Document.png Article  by Kathleen Nutt dated 18 December 2022
Subjects: Pan Am Flight 103, Abu Agila Mas'ud, Abdullah al-Senussi, Ken Dornstein, Kenny MacAskill, Dorothy Bain, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, William Barr, Merrick Garland, La Belle discotheque bombing, UTA Flight 772
Source: The Herald (Link)

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Call for US to give update on fourth Lockerbie suspect

Scotland's former Justice Secretary has urged the Lord Advocate to seek an update on a fourth Lockerbie suspect when she travels to the United States.

As the 34th anniversary of the bombing approaches on Wednesday, Dorothy Bain KC is travelling to the US this week to meet with state prosecutors to discuss the case and attend commemoration ceremonies for victims of the bombing.

Her visit follows the announcement last Sunday by Washington that Abu Agila Mohammad Masud Kheir Al-Marimi had been detained in the United States in connection with the attack.

The Libyan national appeared in court in the US capital on Monday charged in connection with the bombing which downed Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie in 1988, killing 270 people including 11 people on the ground.

Speaking to The Herald on Sunday Mr MacAskill, a former SNP Justice Secretary, said Ms Bain should find out what progress was being made on bringing Abdullah Senussi to court.

It was reported in 2015 that Scottish police were trying to interview Senussi, the brother-in-law and intelligence chief of former Libyan dictator Colonel Gaddafi.

"The interesting thing is why have they not got Senussi? Senussi is even more evil than Masud and was responsible for everything.

"Senussi was Gaddafi's spy master. He was the deputy leader and is understood to be in a jail in Libya. He's the main man," said Mr MacAskill, who is now an Alba Party MP.

"[Libya] have not offered him up. They have offered up Masud. But Masud is smaller beer."

Mr MacAskil pointed to the UK authorities' interrogation of Gaddafi's former foreign minister Moussa Koussa who defected to the west, arriving in the UK in March 2011 at the start of the civil war in Libya. He now lives in Qatar.

"I think the US and the UK through their secret services know what's going on and they should be telling us," he said.

"Britain and America know everything. I want the UK and US to be more open. The Lord Advocate could ask."

As Justice Secretary, Mr MacAskill released Abdelbaset al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds in 2009 after he was convicted of the bombing in 2001. He had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and died in Tripoli in 2012.

A second suspect, Lamin Khalifah Fhimah, stood trial with al-Megrahi but was acquitted.

It is not clear how Masud was apprehended by US officials.

In 2020, he was charged by the US Attorney General William Barr with being the third person involved in the terrorist attack.

At the time, he was said to be in Libyan custody and Mr Barr said US authorities would work “arm in arm” with their Scottish counterparts.

Mr Barr said: “Let there be no mistake, no amount of time or distance will stop the US and our Scottish partners from pursuing justice in this case.”

“The obvious way forward it seems to me is to resort to the United Nations and invite them to provide a court with appropriate facilities to try this man and hopefully to review all the evidence that was used against the unfortunate Megrahi.”

The BBC reported in 2015 that Scottish prosecutors wanted to interview Masud and Senussi after identifying both as suspects over the Lockerbie bombing.

At that time Senussi was reported to have been in prison in Libya awaiting execution after having been sentenced to death by firing squad.

Pan Am Flight 103 was on its way from London to New York when it exploded above Lockerbie killing everyone on board and 11 people on the ground.

Both men were named as possible suspects in the bombing by an American TV documentary in 2015.

A Crown Office spokesman said at the time: "The Lord Advocate and the US Attorney General have recently agreed that there is a proper basis in law in Scotland and the United States to entitle Scottish and US investigators to treat two Libyans as suspects in the continuing investigation into the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie.

"The Lord Advocate has today, therefore, issued an International Letter of Request to the Libyan Attorney General in Tripoli which identifies the two Libyans as suspects in the bombing of flight Pan Am 103."

The Crown Office told The Herald on Sunday that there are currently no criminal proceedings in Scotland against Senussi and none have been issued to date.

Libya's Government of National Unity, the internationally recognised administration in Tripoli, had no comment on Masud's transfer to the United States.

However, its political rivals have accused it of illegally handing him over to Washington to curry its support in Libya's ongoing standoff over control of government.

Holyrood statement

In a statement in Holyrood last Tuesday (13 December 2022), Ms Bain said Masud was on the original Scottish indictment but did not currently face criminal proceedings in Scotland.

"The suspect is an individual who featured on the original Scottish indictment, and investigations into his involvement have continued over the years. Scottish prosecutors and law enforcement stand ready to afford all possible co-operation to our US partners in accordance with the rule of law and will continue to pursue the investigation into the involvement of all those who were part of this terrorist attack," she told MSPs.
"The US authorities have confirmed that Mr Masud was transferred to US custody on a lawful basis, following upon US authorities making a formal extradition request for him from Libya to stand trial in the US in March 2021."
She added: "A joint investigation is being carried out, with American and Scottish prosecutors and law enforcement officers working together, as they have done for the past 34 years. There are no current criminal proceedings in Scotland against Mr Masud."[1]

"Lockerbie Continues"

On 15 December 2022, in an article titled "Lockerbie Continues", Kenny MacAskill wrote:

Abu Agila Mas’ud's involvement in the Lockerbie bombing is well known, the only surprise being his recent apprehension. At the very outset he was one of many sought. Top of the list was Gadhafi, followed by his evil henchman Senussi. But Masud was up there and far higher in the wanted list than either Megrahi or his co-accused Fimmah.
But the agreement to a trial in the Netherlands albeit under Scots Law was only brokered on several conditions. Firstly, the main man Gadhafi wasn’t to be in the frame. Secondly, that it wouldn’t be in the USA or under American jurisdiction. And thirdly only Megrahi and Fimmah would be offered up. In a nutshell, they were the highest-ranking suspects Libya would release and the lowest the UK/USA would accept.
But Masud's role was always known and hence why he’s remained on the wanted list. Megrahi and Fimmah were bit part players whilst he was the technician. Megrahi and Fimmah didn’t have the skills to make the bomb that destroyed the plane and devastated the town below, but Masud certainly did. My view is he primed the bomb that was placed in a suitcase brought into Malta by Megrahi and handed over by him to Fimmah who was Libyan Airlines head of security at Luqa Airport.
Indeed, as documented by Ken Dornstein whose brother died in the atrocity, his skills as a bombmaker seem longstanding with him suspected of involvement in the La Belle discotheque bombing in Berlin before Lockerbie, when US servicemen were killed and suspicion fell once again on Libya and the PFLP-GC.
He was easily identifiable as he’s black rather than Arab but despite demands for him to be offered up for trial on Pan Am 103, Gadhaffi held firm. Access even to interview him was denied and hence he remained a main suspect but always out of reach.
Even when Gadhaffi fell Masud remained out of reach. Warlords hated each other but all loathed the US and handing him over was unthinkable. Why it’s been done now who knows? Arms, money, but whilst he’s been offered up, Senussi remains off limits, yet he’s also in a Libyan jail.
But it’s a further piece in the Lockerbie jigsaw and maybe offers some further closure for some.[2]

Handover aborted

On 23 December 2022, The Guardian reported that Senussi's handover by Libya to the US had been aborted:

The extradition to the US of Muammar Gaddafi’s most trusted and notorious aide was abruptly halted by Libya at the 11th hour this week for fear of public anger after the handover of another ex-senior Libyan intelligence operative, officials in Tripoli have told The Guardian.
Abdullah al-Senussi, a former intelligence chief and brother-in-law of Gaddafi, is blamed for a series of lethal bombings directed at western aviation as well as other targets.
The US want the 72-year-old, currently held in prison in Tripoli, to answer questions connected to the attack which brought down a US-bound aircraft over Lockerbie in Scotland in 1988. Senussi has long been suspected of masterminding the operation, which killed 270 people.
Earlier this month the US announced that another Libyan suspect in the Lockerbie bombing, Mohammed Abouagela Masud, was in its custody. Masud was taken from his Tripoli home by armed men on 17 November, held for two weeks by a militia and then handed over to US government agents in the port city of Misrata.
His family said he had been unlawfully abducted. In a statement on Tuesday, the US embassy in Libya said the process had been “lawful and conducted in cooperation with Libyan authorities”.
The handover of Masud has provoked outrage in Libya, putting the government of interim prime minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh under severe pressure and leading to the shelving of plans to transfer Senussi to US custody.
“The idea was to have Masud sent to the US first and then give them Senussi. There have been discussions for months about this. But then officials got worried,” said one Libyan official source with knowledge of the case. A second said Senussi was meant to be handed over at the weekend.
Known as “the butcher”, Senussi is being held in the Rawawa prison in Tripoli and is thought to be in ill health. He was sentenced to death in a mass trial that concluded in 2015.[3]