The man accused of being the bombmaker in the Lockerbie terrorist attack is now in US custody, authorities in Scotland have said.

Abu Agila Mohammad Mas’ud Kheir Al-Marimi was said to be the “third conspirator” behind the downing of Pan Am flight 103 in 1988.

Former Libyan intelligence officer Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was found guilty of mass murder in 2001.

Lockerbie bombing
Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was convicted in 2001 (Crown Office)

A spokesman for the Crown Office said: “The families of those killed in the Lockerbie bombing have been told that the suspect Abu Agila Mohammad Mas’ud Kheir Al-Marimi (‘Mas’ud’ or ‘Masoud’) is in US custody.

“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 bombing of Pan Am flight 103, travelling from London to New York on December 21 1988, killed 270 people in Britain’s largest terrorist attack.

In 2020, Mas’ud 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.”

Megrahi was released from prison in 2009 on compassionate grounds while terminally ill with cancer, and died in Libya in 2012.

In January 2021, his family lost an appeal against his conviction at the High Court in Edinburgh.

Lawyers of Megrahi’s family said the decision to move Mas’ud into US custody may have implications on the miscarriage of justice appeal rejected against the late client.

Lawyer Aamer Anwar said Mas’ud’s confession was extracted by a Libyan law enforcement agent in 2012 while he was in prison in the North African nation – which would not be legally recognised in Scotland or the US.

Adding that Mas’ud’s confession could “fundamentally undermine” Megrahi’s case, Mr Anwar said in a statement: “We find it astonishing that the US now claims that Mas’ud was given 500 dollars by Megrahi to buy clothes to fill the suitcase but Megrahi then also bought the clothes too.

“We are now trying to imagine the ridiculous situation that Mas’ud will say ‘I bought the clothes’ (presumably from Marys House, Malta) which would fundamentally undermine Megrahi’s case.

“What will the Scottish Crown Office say ‘No you didn’t’ especially as it played a key role in their case against Al-Megrahi.”

The statement added: “For the Megrahi family this is just another piece in the jigsaw of monumental lies, built on the back of the Libyan people, the victims of Lockerbie and the incarceration of an innocent man Abdelbaset Al-Megrahi.”

The US Department of Justice said: “The United States has taken custody of alleged Pan Am flight 103 bombmaker Abu Agila Mohammad Mas’ud Kheir Al-Marimi.

“He is expected to make his initial appearance in the US District Court for the District of Columbia. Additional details, including information regarding public access to the initial appearance, will be forthcoming.”

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Police Scotland remains deeply committed to this investigation and to supporting the families and communities who suffered such devastating losses in this terrorist attack on 21 December 1988.

“We continue to work closely with the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service in Scotland, along with our partners within the UK Government and the authorities in the United States, in supporting the continued pursuit of justice against those responsible.”