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EDITORIAL: Feds seek justice for Pan Am Flight 103 murders

EDITORIAL: Feds seek justice for Pan Am Flight 103 murders

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Justice Dept. charges bombmaker in 1988 Pan Am explosion (copy)

Attorney General William Barr speaks during a news conference, Monday, Dec. 21, 2020, to announce charges against the man suspected of bombing Pan Am flight 103 in 1988.  (Michael Reynolds/Pool via AP)

On Dec. 21, 32 years to the day after 270 people were murdered in the bombing of a jet traveling from London to New York, federal prosecutors charged the man who copped to building the explosive device that brought down Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. Credit the Justice Department under Attorney General Bill Barr, who kicked off his first stint as AG in 1991 by charging two other plotters, for seeing through the investigation on behalf of 190 Americans killed.

That Abu Agela Mas’ud Kheir Al-Marimi, a Libyan intelligence official, now stands accused of a capital crime is due to federal authorities who made a specific, concerted effort last year to close the loop on long-languishing counterterrorism investigations; that push uncovered a 2012 confession to Libyan law enforcement by Mas’ud.

It is also a tribute to the aching heart and exhaustive work of Ken Dornstein, a college student in 1988 when his older brother David was among the murder victims. Dornstein, who went on to become a documentarian, plunged himself into the facts of the case—zeroing in on Mas’ud and discovering that he was being held in a Libyan prison.

The urgent imperative now is extraditing Mas’ud here to face swift and sure justice. The two men who earlier stood trial for the murders—in the Netherlands, under Scottish law—escaped full punishment. One was acquitted. The other, Abdelbasset Al-Megrahi, was convicted in 2001, then in 2009 shamefully granted compassionate release before his death in 2012.

Last week marked the end of Barr’s second act leading the DOJ. To say the least, he has not always behaved honorably in the position. But his final acts—flatly rebutting Donald Trump’s anti-democratic nonsense and bringing a terrorist who long evaded consequences to justice—have been his noblest ones.

—New York Daily News

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