The Libyan army captured the Lockerbie suspect before handing him over to the US | Jobs Recent


In the middle of the night in mid-November, Libyan soldiers in two Toyota trucks arrived at a residential building in the suburbs of the capital Tripoli. They entered the house by force, and brought out a blindfolded man in his 70s.

Their target was a former Libyan intelligence agent, Abu Agila Mohammad Mas’ud Kheir Al-Marimi, who was wanted by the United States for planning the bomb that brought down Pan Am Flight 103 in Lockerbie, Scotland, just days before Christmas 1988. .The attack killed 259 people in the air and 11 on the ground.

Weeks after that night’s attack in Tripoli, the US announced that Mas’ud was in custody, surprising many in Libya, which is divided between two rival governments, each backed by a majority of the military and foreign powers.

Analysts say that the Tripoli government involved in giving Mr. Mas’ud may be looking for favors and favors from the US during the struggle for power in Libya.

Libyan security sources and government officials with direct knowledge of the operation described the trip that ended with Mas’ud in Washington.

Officials said he was first taken from his home in the Abu Salim neighborhood of Tripoli. He was taken to the coastal city of Misrata and later handed over to American agents who extradited him out of the country, they said.

The officials spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation. Many said the United States had been pushing for months to see Mas’ud extradited.

“Every time they talked, Abu Agila was on the agenda,” said one official.

In Libya, many questioned the truth of how he was taken, just a month ago he was released from a Libyan prison, and he was sent to the US Libya and the US does not have a standing agreement on extradition, so there was no obligation to lend a hand. Mas’ud above.

The White House and Justice Department declined to comment on the latest news about Mas’ud’s offer. US officials said privately that in their opinion, it played out like a book release through the court process.

A State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity in connection with summary orders, said Saturday that Mas’ud’s transfer was legal and described it as the end of years of cooperation with Libyan officials.

The chief prosecutor of Libya has opened an investigation following a complaint from the Mas’ud family. But for almost a week after the US announcement, the Tripoli government remained silent, while rumors circulated for weeks that Mas’ud had been kidnapped and sold by the army.

After public outcry in Libya, the head of the government of Tripoli, Mr. Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, has admitted on Thursday that his government has sent Mr. Mas’ud. In the same statement, they also said that Interpol has issued a warrant for Mas’ud’s arrest. A spokesman for the Dbeibah government did not return phone calls and text messages seeking further information.

On December 12, the United States Department of Justice said it had requested Interpol to issue a warrant.

After the fall and assassination of Libya’s long-time leader, Moammar Gadhafi in the 2011 civil war, Mas’ud, an expert on Libyan explosives intelligence, was detained by the army in western Libya. He served 10 years in prison in Tripoli for crimes related to his position during the Gaddafi regime.

He was released in June after serving his sentence. After his release, he was completely monitored and did not leave his family home in the Abu Salim district, the army chief said.

The region is controlled by the Stabilization Support Authority, a military umbrella led by warlord Abdel-Ghani al-Kikli, a close ally of Dbeibah. Al-Kikli has been accused by Amnesty International of involvement in war crimes and other serious human rights violations over the past decade.

After Mas’ud was released from prison, the Biden administration stepped up extradition requests, Libyan officials said.

At first, the government of Dbeibah, one of the two competing rulers claiming to rule Libya, hesitated, citing political and legal concerns, said an official in the prime minister’s office.

The official said that the US officials continued to raise this issue with the government in Tripoli and with the commanders of the war they are dealing with in the fight against Islamic militants in Libya. With pressure mounting, the prime minister and his aides decided in October to hand Mas’ud over to American officials, the official said.

Mr. Dbeibah’s work continues to be strongly contested after the planned elections failed to take place last year.

“It fits in with the larger campaign being carried out by Dbeibah, which includes giving donations to powerful countries,” said Jalel Harchaoui, a Libya expert and fellow at the Royal United Services Institute. He said Dbeibah should be asked to help him stay in office.

More than a decade after Gaddafi’s death, Libya remains violent and lawless, with militias still holding large swaths of territory. The national defense forces are weak, compared to the local forces, with which the Dbeibah government has various partnerships. To arrest Mas’ud, the Dbeibah government summoned al-Kikli, who has a legitimate position in the government.

The prime minister discussed Mas’ud’s case in a meeting in early November with al-Kikli, according to a Stabilization Support Authority official briefed on the matter. After the meeting, Dbeibah informed US officials of his decision, agreeing that the handover would take place within weeks in Misrata, where his family has influence, a government official said.

Then came the attack in the middle of November, which was explained by the authorities.

The soldiers rushed to Mas’ud’s bedroom and grabbed him, then carried him blindfolded to the SSA-run detention center in Tripoli. He was there for two weeks before being assigned to another force in Misrata, known as the Joint Force, which reports directly to Dbeibah. A new paramilitary unit was launched as part of a network of paramilitary forces.

In Misrata, Mas’ud was interviewed by Libyan officials in the presence of US intelligence officials, said a Libyan official cited for the interview. Mas’ud refused to answer questions about his alleged role in the Lockerbie attack, including the content of an interview the US says he gave to Libyan officials in 2012 where he admitted to being the bomb’s maker. He insisted his arrest and deportation were illegal, the official said.

In 2017, US officials received a copy of a 2012 interview in which they said Mas’ud admitted to building a bomb and working with two others who conspired to attack Pan Am Airlines. According to a filed FBI affidavit, Mas’ud said that the operation was ordered by Libyan intelligence and that Gadhafi later credited him and other members of the gang.

Some have questioned the legality of Mas’ud’s handover, given the role of irregular armed groups and the lack of formal extradition procedures.

Harchaoui, the analyst, said Mas’ud’s release shows that the US is condoning what he described as lawlessness.

“What foreigners are doing is that they are saying we don’t care about how sausages are made,” he said. “We’re getting the things we want.”



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