The Guardian: Dbeibeh’s government, US agreed on abduction of Masud 3 months ago

The Guardian: Dbeibeh’s government, US agreed on abduction of Masud 3 months ago

The abduction of a former Libyan intelligence operative accused of preparing the bomb that brought down Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988 and his transfer into US custody was agreed about three months ago after conversations between US government and Libyan officials, British newspaper the Guardian reported on Tuesday.

Citing unnamed Libyan officials “with knowledge of the case”, the Guardian reported that Abu Agila Masud was seized at his home in Tripoli’s Abu Salim neighbourhood on 17 November by gunmen loyal to Abdel Ghani al-Kikli, an infamous local militia commander known as “Gheniwa”, then handed over to a second militia group who detained him for two weeks before final transfer to US government agents.

The officials said Trump administration officials had been in discussions with local authorities about bringing Masud to the US to stand trial since 2019, and that these “conversations” had continued under President Joe Biden.

Until six months ago, Masud was serving a 10-year sentence for crimes committed as an intelligence operative under the regime of Muammar Gaddafi, who was ousted in 2011. He was released earlier this year having served his term.

According to the Guardian, the lack of legal justification for the detention of Masud initially appeared to have blocked the US efforts, until powerful individuals within the Government of National Unity (GNU), thought to be the influential nephew of GNU prime minister, Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh, offered to detain Masud and hand him over to the US government anyway.

After being abducted, Masud was transferred to a heavily armed paramilitary unit called the Joint Force in the port city of Misurata.

The Guardian reported that only a small number of senior officials in Washington, mainly in the ministry of justice and the state department, were aware of the fate planned for Masud, though the CIA and the White House are thought to have been notified.

US prosecutors will not pursue death penalty against Lockerbie suspect Masud