UPDATE 9/28/2015:  Jamie Lee Peterson Exoneration (Loevy & Loevy)



Nearly 27 years after Pan Am Flight 103 blew up over Lockerbie, Scotland, Scottish and U.S. authorities are closing in on two new suspects in the terrorist attack that killed 270 people, including 189 Americans.  The actions come two days after a FRONTLINE investigation by filmmaker Ken Dornstein revealed new information about a suspected Libyan explosives expert who may have built or designed the bomb.  A spokesman for Scotland’s Crown Office said that the 2 Libyan suspects were believed to be involved alongside Abdel Basset al Megrahi.  Megrahi was the only person ever convicted for the 1988 attack, though recently there has been a big push to exonerate him.  Megrahi, who U.S. officials allege is a member of Libyan intelligence, served 8 years of a life sentence before he was released by Scotland, over objections by the U.S., on compassionate grounds in 2009.  He maintained his innocence until his death 3 years ago.  The 3-part FRONTLINE special, My Brother’s Bomber, showed Dornstein tracking down 2 suspects.  He found them both alive and still living in Libya:  alleged bomb expert Abu Agela and Abdullah Senussi, head of Libyan intelligence at the time of the terrorist attack.  In the film, Dornstein found a Libyan man, Musbah Eter, convicted for an unrelated terrorist attack who told him that Agela helped assemble the bomb that exploded in a Berlin disco in 1986, just two years before the Lockerbie attack.  Eter said he had no doubt that the attack was coordinated by Libyan intelligence officials.  Records show that Agela entered Malta, where the bomb is believed to have originated, just a week before the bombing, prosecutors believe the bomb was loaded onto a flight via a briefcase in Malta and then transferred to the Pan Am 103 flight.  A passenger list puts Agela and Megrahi together the day of the attack.

“Based on Ken’s story, the only two people that are alive, that were in the picture and have never been charged would be Abdullah Senussi and Abu Agela,” said Richard Marquise, a retired FBI agent who worked on the Lockerbie investigation from its inception, “[Agela] was never identified. We knew this man was a black Libyan, and he was a technical expert, but the Libyans never acknowledged that he existed.  Senussi was harder to hide, because he was a senior official in the government. That would be like the U.S. government saying, ‘We don’t know who John Kerry is.’”

In 1999, Libyan leader Muammer Qaddafi, who had been repeatedly accused of state sponsored terrorism, said that he was responsible, but not guilty of the Lockerbie bombing and he paid the families of the victims $2.7 billion.  He also joined the coalition against terrorism.  In the aftermath of a 2011 Libyan uprising (Arab Spring) in which the leader of Libya was killed, Agela was arrested and sentenced to 10 years for making bombs for Qaddafi’s regime.  Senussi fled to Mauritania, but was apprehended and extradited.  He was later convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity and sentenced to death by firing squad.

“The lord advocate and the U.S. attorney general have recently agreed that there is a proper basis in law in Scotland and the United States to entitle Scottish and U.S. investigators to treat two Libyans as suspects in the continuing investigation into the bombing of flight Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie,” a spokesman for Frank Mulholland, the lord advocate (top prosecutor) for Scotland said.

Many details of the Dec. 21, 1988, bombing remain unresolved.  In 2001, Megrahi was convicted in a Scottish court hearing in the Netherlands – a highly unusual arrangement agreed to by Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, which allowed the deportation of Megrahi and Al-Amin Khalifa Fhimah.  Fhimah was acquitted, but Megrahi was convicted.

The Lockerbie bombing occurred at the lowest point of American-Libyan relations.  Just two years before the attack, President Reagan ordered airstrikes against Libyan cities in retaliation for the West Berlin nightclub bombing.  The nightclub was frequented by American soldiers.  The film raises questions about another man, Badri Hassan.  His widow told Dornstein that she suspected her husband had something to do with the bombing.  Badri, a former airline executive, died a few years ago. Libyan authorities have agreed to allow Scottish and American investigators to question the new suspects.

The National Salvation government, which controls the capital of Libya and other large parts of the country, but is not recognized as a government by the international community, invited the investigators.

Sources:  My Brother’s Bomber Documentary  |  PBS  |  NYTimes  |  BBC  |  TWC  |  Salon  |  New Yorker


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