US official who announced Lockerbie bomb suspect charges calls for death penalty

Former U.S. Attorney General William Barr announced charges against the Lockerbie bombing suspect in late December 2020

Former U.S. Attorney General William Barr says the Lockerbie bombing suspect must face the death penalty. 

Barr was U.S. Attorney General when he announced charges against Abu Agila Mohammad Mas’ud Kheir Al-Marimi on Dec. 21, 2020. That date marked 32 years since a bomb brought down Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 259 people aboard the plane and 11 on the ground. 

This image provided by the Alexandria, Va., Sheriff's Office shows Abu Agila Mohammad Mas’ud Kheir Al-Marimi, who is in custody at the Alexandria Adult Detention Center, Dec. 12, 2022 in Alexandria, Va. 

This image provided by the Alexandria, Va., Sheriff's Office shows Abu Agila Mohammad Mas’ud Kheir Al-Marimi, who is in custody at the Alexandria Adult Detention Center, Dec. 12, 2022 in Alexandria, Va.  (Alexandria Sheriff's Office via AP)

The Justice Department announced Sunday that Mas’ud had been taken into U.S. custody. Mas’ud appeared in federal court on Monday, charged with an act of international terrorism

FILE - Unidentified crash investigators inspect the nose section of the crashed Pan Am flight 103, a Boeing 747 airliner in a field near Lockerbie, Scotland, Dec. 23, 1988. U.S. and Scottish authorities said Sunday, Dec. 11, 2022 that the Libyan man suspected of making the bomb that destroyed a passenger plane over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988 is in U.S. custody. 

FILE - Unidentified crash investigators inspect the nose section of the crashed Pan Am flight 103, a Boeing 747 airliner in a field near Lockerbie, Scotland, Dec. 23, 1988. U.S. and Scottish authorities said Sunday, Dec. 11, 2022 that the Libyan man suspected of making the bomb that destroyed a passenger plane over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988 is in U.S. custody.  (AP Photo/Dave Caulkin, File)

Two other Libyan intelligence officials have been charged in the U.S. for their alleged involvement in the attack, but Mas’ud was the first defendant to appear in an American courtroom for prosecution. 

LOCKERBIE VICTIM'S WIDOW SPEAKS BEFORE PAN AM FLIGHT 103'S ALLEGED BOMBMAKER MAKES FIRST COURT APPEARANCE

In an interview with the BBC published on Tuesday, Barr said it was appropriate that the trial take place in the U.S. given that 190 of the 270 Lockerbie victims were American. 

He said he wanted the first trial – which took place in the Netherlands in 2000 – to be held in the U.S. In that earlier trial, Abdel Baset Ali al-Megrahi – was eventually found guilty of murder. His co-accused, Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, was found not guilty. 

FILE: US Attorney General Bill Barr holds a news conference to provide an update on the investigation of the terrorist bombing of Pan Am flight 103 on the 32nd anniversary of the attack, at the Department of Justice December 21, 2020, in Washington, DC. 

FILE: US Attorney General Bill Barr holds a news conference to provide an update on the investigation of the terrorist bombing of Pan Am flight 103 on the 32nd anniversary of the attack, at the Department of Justice December 21, 2020, in Washington, DC.  (Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images)

"I wanted it to be tried in the United States as well. And I wanted to pursue the death penalty in the United States," Barr said. "I didn’t want to proceed to Scotland, partly because Scotland would not impose the death penalty." 

He added: "Personally, I think terrorists who commit these kinds of atrocities should be executed." 

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Prosecutors said in court that they would not be pursuing the death penalty because that punishment was not available for those specific crimes when the bombing occurred. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.