Suspect charged in ’88 Pan Am terrorist attack that killed Floral Park man

Suspect charged in ’88 Pan Am terrorist attack that killed Floral Park man
Pan Am Flight 103 that was bombed in 1988 while flying over Lockerbie, Scotland. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

A former Libyan intelligence operative has been charged for his involvement in the 1988 Pan Am Flight 103 Lockerbie bombing that killed a man from Floral Park, the U.S. attorney general announced.

Agila Mohammad Mas’ud Kheir Al-Marimi appeared in a U.S. court on Dec. 12 and was charged with destruction of aircraft resulting in the death and destruction of a vehicle in foreign commerce by means of an explosive, prosecutors said.

On Dec. 21, 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 was destroyed 38 minutes after taking off from London on its way to John F. Kennedy Airport while flying over Lockerbie, Scotland. 

Gabriel Della Ripa, 46 at the time, was a Pan Am employee returning home to Floral Park after seeing his relatives in Itay. He left behind his wife Luisa and daughters Carmela and Maria. 

Della Ripa was one of at least 12 victims from Long Island.

Of the 190 Americans who died, 35 were Syracuse University students coming back from a semester studying abroad. In total, 270 people from 21 countries were killed. 

It was the deadliest terrorist attack against Americans until Sept. 11.

“Nearly 34 years ago, 270 people, including 190 Americans, were tragically killed in the terrorist bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. Since then, American and Scottish law enforcement have worked tirelessly to identify, find, and bring to justice the perpetrators of this horrific attack,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement. “Those relentless efforts over the past three decades led to the indictment and arrest of a former Libyan intelligence operative for his alleged role in building the bomb used in the attack.”

Saying Mas’ud is now in U.S. custody, Garland said, “This is an important step forward in our mission to honor the victims and pursue justice on behalf of their loved ones.”

Mas’ud is the third person connected to the bombings who has been charged. In 1991, Abdel Baset Ali al-Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah, also Libyan intelligence operatives, were arrested for their roles. 

Megrahi, who died in 2012 at age 60, was sentenced to life in prison while Fhimah was acquitted. 

The Victims of Pan Am Flight 103 Inc. said on their Facebook page “With the USA gaining custody of Abu Agila Mohammad Mas’ud, the pursuit of justice has taken an important step. Our loved ones will never be forgotten, and those who are responsible for their murder on Dec. 21, 1988 must face justice.”

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