“To have one of the people responsible for the murder of our loved ones stand trial in the U.S. is one of the most important things to the families and to all of us,” Kara Weipz, whose brother was killed in the attack, told CBS News. The arrest showed a commitment to victims’ families from the federal government, Weipz said.
The December 1988 midair bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, which killed 259 in the air and 11 on the ground in Lockerbie, Scotland, was one of the worst terrorist attacks against Americans before 9/11. A total of 190 Americans were among those killed; 35 of those killed were students at Syracuse University coming home from a semester abroad.
Libya, and then-dictator Moammar Gadhafi, have long been blamed for the attack and subsequent efforts to keep the bombers from being prosecuted internationally. The bombing remains the deadliest terrorist attack on British soil.
Mas’ud would be the first to stand trial in an American courtroom for the attack.
Ken Dornstein, whose brother was killed in the attack, wrote and produced a PBS “Frontline” documentary series that investigated Mas’ud’s role in the bombing.
“If there’s one person still alive who could tell the story of the bombing of Flight 103, and put to rest decades of unanswered questions about how exactly it was carried out — and why — it’s Mr. Mas’ud,” Dornstein said in an email to the New York Times, after he learned Mas’ud was in custody. “The question, I guess, is whether he’s finally prepared to speak.”
In 2017, U.S. officials obtained a copy of an interview in which Mas’ud told Libyan law enforcement that he built the bomb used to attack the flight, and worked with two others to carry it out, according to American officials.
Crediting intelligence agencies, retired Gen. Jack Keane said Sunday on Fox’s “Sunday Morning Futures” that the development was likely a “huge relief” to the victims’ families.
“The suffering that they’ve gone through all of these years and not having anybody truly held accountable for this horrific act that was committed against their family members and loved ones — finally we have an answer,” Keane said.
In 2001, former Libyan intelligence officer Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was convicted of bombing the flight, and he’s the only person to be convicted over the attack. He was freed in 2009 on compassionate grounds because he was terminally ill with cancer, and he died in Libya in 2012.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.