Lockerbie: These revelations are not new, so why now and why this suspect? - Kenny MacAskill

The latest Lockerbie revelations aren’t really anything new to either the authorities or those who’ve followed events closely. The suspect’s name has been known for quite some while but as with so much to do with Lockerbie, the authorities have kept it obscure and only roll it out when they think it’s of use to them.

The nose section of the Pan Am Boeing 747 flight 103 airliner,lies in a field near Lockerbie after the bombing
The nose section of the Pan Am Boeing 747 flight 103 airliner,lies in a field near Lockerbie after the bombing

Masud, the man, who the USA’s now seeking to bring to trial, has in fact been in the frame since suspicion first turned to Libya. Indeed, he’s one of many who the Scots sought to bring to trial, his name appearing on the initial indictment. Regime change had already been ruled out in the United Nations brokered deal between US/UK and Libya, ensuring that Colonel Gadhafi was out of the frame, but other senior Libyans weren’t.

The reason that only Megrahi and his co-accused Fimmah were in the dock at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands, was that they were the most senior that Libya would release, and the least that the US/UK would accept. Senussi, Gadhafi’s evil henchman, was also there along with Masud and quite a few others.

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Both of those two accused currently languish in jail in Libya having been incarcerated following the Libyan despots toppling. Why Masud and not Senussi now, who knows and if anything, Senussi’s perhaps more culpable, given seniority.

So, who’s Masud? In the parlance of the late John le Carré, he was the technician. Viewed to be the actual bombmaker, having an expertise, if that’s the definition, that others including Megrahi lacked. He was distinctive as he was black, not all Libyans being of Arab ethnicity, and had past form for making explosive devices.

His role was highlighted by Ken Dornstein, an American filmmaker whose brother was killed on Pan Am flight 103. There’s both a film and a fascinating article in the New Yorker that he’s produced detailing his detective work.

They’re both compelling reading and viewing, and during lockdown anyone with an interest should take a look. Dornstein literally tracks him down and it must have been risky then, even if the situation in Libya has now plunged into chaos, if not anarchy in parts.

But why now and why him? CIA and MI6 know everything, having had informers and debriefing major players since, including Moussa Koussa the former Foreign Minister. Perhaps, the outgoing Trump regime seeking a final hurrah? Maybe a reminder of overall Libyan involvement as Megrahi’s posthumous appeal proceeds? Will they actually get him is an even bigger question?

The warlords holding Masud and Senussi are no fans of the old regime, having been tortured and killed by them. But equally they’re no friends of the UK and certainly not the USA.

The word has always been that it would be a deal too far for any Libyan regime, though one obviously was done for Megrahi. That came about as sanctions bit hard and it was felt there was no alternative. Maybe that’s the same now, though I won’t hold my breath.

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