Libyan FM walks back on comments over Lockerbie suspect extradition

Libyan FM walks back on comments over Lockerbie suspect extradition
2 min read
07 November, 2021
The foreign minister denied previous comments she made regarding the extradition of a Libyan bombmaker to the United States, thirty-three years after he allegedly helped blow up a plane above a Scottish city.
Libyan Foreign Minister Najla al-Mangoush attends a press conference with her Kuwaiti counterpart in the Libyan capital in October [AFP/Getty]

Libyan Foreign Minister Najla Mangoush denied on Sunday comments she had made earlier in an interview with the British Broadcasting Cooperation [BBC], in which she claimed Tripoli was ready to collaborate with the USA on the extradition of a Libyan terrorist.

"The issue falls into the jurisdiction of the Libyan Public Prosecutor's office, who is responsible for addressing the issue between the judicial authorities in both countries," Mangoush said in a statement denying the comments.

Mangoush’s reversal came one day after the Libyan Presidency Council decided to suspend her for fourteen days, citing "administrative violations".

The Presidency Council is a collective head of state formed to oversee external relations and the armed forces during Libya's ongoing political transition. The suspension decision was, however, immediately contested by the Libyan government, the executive branch of Libya's transitional authorities.

In an interview with the BBC on Thursday, Mangoush stated that "positive developments are coming" and that Libya was ready to collaborate with the USA on the Lockerbie bombing case. The comments referred to the case of Abu Agila Mohammed Masud, a Libyan citizen accused of blowing up a plane flying over the city of Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988.  

Masud is a former Libyan intelligence official. He has been charged in the US for terrorism. He was allegedly a top bomb-maker for Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, who ruled Libya with an iron fist until he was toppled and killed by rebels in 2011. 

The Lockerbie bombing was allegedly Gaddafi's retaliation for the downing of an Iranian passenger jet by a US Navy missile in July 1988, that killed 290 people.

The bomb exploded on a Pan American flight from London to New York and killed 270 people, mostly US and British citizens. It remains the deadliest terrorist incident in the UK’s history.

Libya admitted responsibility for the bombing in 2003 and paid compensation to the victims’ families.