Just two days before his exit from the Trump administration, Attorney General William Barr, on Monday, announced criminal charges against a third suspect, Abu Agela Mas’ud Kheir Al-Marimi in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. He is the man accused of having assembled the device that blew up flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988. In 1991, two other alleged Libyan intelligence operatives were charged in the Lockerbie bombing: Abdel Baset Ali al-Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah. The Justice Department will unseal the criminal complaint on Monday.
This closes the loop for Barr who, in 1991, laid out charges against two Libyan intelligence officials who are responsible for the deaths of 270 people, including 170 Americans. The Lockerbie bombing took place on Dec. 21, 1988, 32 years ago today. Barr, who was acting Attorney General for former President George H.W. Bush, said at the time that he would pursue the case “unrelentingly until all responsible are brought to justice,” adding that he would track down “those responsible for terrorist acts against Americans . . . no matter how long it takes.” Robert Mueller was head of the Justice Department’s criminal division at the time. On Monday, he told reporters that it is “gratifying to me to be in on this chapter.”
Barr was joined by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers, Acting United States Attorney for the District of Columbia Michael Sherwin, and Kara Weipz, whose brother Rick Monetti was killed on the flight and now leads a Pan Am Flight 103 advocacy organization. Barr said the “breakthrough that has led to the charges announced today arose when law enforcement learned in 2016 that the third conspirator had been arrested after the collapse of the Qaddafi regime and interviewed by a Libyan law enforcement officer in September 2012.” The release of the interview led to the current charges. Libya accepted responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing in 2003. Masud was also involved in the 1986 bombing of the LaBelle Discotheque in Berlin, West Germany, which killed two American service members and a Turkish woman. Masud remains in Libyan custody.
During his remarks to the press pool, Barr was questioned about issues that currently captivate and concern many in our country: the Hunter Biden investigation and election fraud. Barr seemed to indicate limited interest in digging into either. With regard to the Biden investigation, he said it is being handled responsibly and no special counsel is needed. Furthermore, he seemed to ignore and minimize the potential conflicts of interest at play should such an investigation continue under a Biden administration.
Referring to the election, he doubled down on his earlier statement, even though in June, he was vocal about the potential risk of fraud associated with the increased use of mail-in ballots due to the pandemic. Barr, in a June 26 NPR Morning Edition interview, said that mass mail-in ballots present “so many occasions for fraud there that cannot be policed. I think it would be very bad. But one of the things I mentioned was the possibility of counterfeiting.”
During his comments to reporters on Monday, Barr seemed to downplay the evidence of widespread fraud saying that all elections have fraud, adding that “we are too tolerant of it.” He reiterated, however, that he has seen no evidence of “systemic or broad-based fraud that would affect the outcome of the 2020 election.” He also said that he sees no reason to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the 2020 election before he leaves.