United States Attorney General, William Barr, has announced charges against a third conspirator for their role in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. The charges were announced today, 32 years to the day since the Pan Am Boeing 747 exploded over Scotland.
New charges in Lockerbie bombing
In a press conference on December 21st, Attorney General Barr announced the new charges. Standing with him were Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers, Acting United States Attorney for the District of Columbia Michael Sherwin, and Kara Weipz, the sibling of a man who lost his life onboard the flight.
Mr. Barr stated the following at the press conference:
“Let there be no mistake: no amount of time or distance will stop the United States, and its partners in Scotland, from pursuing justice in this case. Well over a third of Americans alive today were not yet born on the day of the Lockerbie bombing or would not have been old enough to remember it. But for those of us who do remember, that tragic event and the iconic images of its aftermath, some of which are displayed here today, are forever seared in our memories.”
The first charges against the Pan Am 103 attack came in November of 1991 against two Libyan intelligence officers. Nearly ten years later, a Scottish court was convened in the Netherlands, where the two men were tried. One was convicted on all charges, while the others were acquitted.
Mr. Barr served as Attorney General when the first charges against the Pan Am bombers were announced in November of 1991. Today, as he prepares to leave his post, he was able to announce charges against a third man.
Simple Flying will not name any of the conspirators in the attack to avoid giving them any fame or glory.
What happens next?
Law enforcement officials learned only four years ago that the third conspirator had been arrested after the collapse of the Qaddafi regime and interviewed by a Libyan law enforcement officer in 2012. According to the criminal complaint against him, this third conspirator built the bomb that destroyed the plane and worked with the other two to carry it out.
This third conspirator remains in Libyan custody. Libyan authorities provided a copy of the interview to law enforcement. Based on that interview and other evidence, the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the Counterterrorism Section of the National Security Division charged the conspirator with terrorism-related crimes in the US District Court for the District of Columbia.
Attorney General Barr stated that he intends to have the US work closely with its Scottish counterparts to bring the third conspirator to justice. Mr. Barr hopes that the Libyan authorities will allow the third witness to stand trial.
The Attorney General cited Liba’s acceptance of responsibility for the bombing in 2003, the end of the Qaddafi regime, and the fact that Libya is no longer at war with the US as reasons he hopes it will be possible bring the perpetrator to justice.
Pan Am Flight 103
Pan Am Flight 103 was a Boeing 747-run flight. The aircraft was en route from London-Heathrow to John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) when it exploded 31,000 feet above Lockerbie in Scotland. On December 21st, 1988, “Clipper Maid of the Seas” was operating the flight.
All 259 people onboard, including 16 crew members and 243 passengers, perished in the explosion. 190 of those who died were Americans. Another 11 Lockerbie residents on the ground passed away due to falling debris. It is the deadliest single terrorist attack in the United Kingdom’s history and second to 9/11 for Americans.
Are you glad to see charges against a third conspirator? Let us know in the comments!