The Guardian reported that the nephew of Libya’s Prime Minister, Abdel-Hamid Dbaiba offered to hand over a Libyan citizen, suspected of making the bomb that blew up Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Abu Ajila Masoud, to the United States.
The abduction of Abu Ajila was agreed upon, about three months ago after conversations between the US government and Libyan officials, sources told The Guardian.
It explained that the lack of legal justification for the detention of Masoud initially appeared to have blocked US efforts. But the powerful, and influential nephew of the PM offered to detain Masoud, and hand him over to the US government anyway.
Libyan officials with knowledge of the case told The Guardian that Masoud was seized at his home in Tripoli’s Abu Salim neighbourhood on 17 November. “Gunmen loyal to Abdel-Ghani Al-Kikli, an infamous local militia commander known as Gheniwa, seized and handed over him to a second militia group who detained him for two weeks, before final transfer to US government agents,” the sources added, according to The Guardian.
After being abducted, Masoud was transferred to a heavily armed paramilitary unit called the Joint Force in the port city of Misrata. The force was set up a year ago by Dbaiba to act as a personal praetorian guard, and is described by experts as “very well-armed, small, very nasty, and able to get things done.”
Masoud, a former intelligence operative appeared in a US courtroom on Monday, according to a statement issued by the US Department of Justice.
US Attorney General, Merrick B. Garland said the “relentless efforts over the past three decades led to the indictment and arrest of Abu Ajila for his alleged role in building the bomb used in the attack.”
“The defendant is currently in US custody and is facing charges in the United States. This is an important step forward in our mission to honour the victims, and pursue justice on behalf of their loved ones,” Garland added.
Meanwhile, the Libyan Parliament called on the Attorney General, Al-Siddiq Al-Sour to begin criminal proceedings against those involved in the kidnapping and extradition of the Libyan citizen.
In a separate context, a member of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF), Ahmed al-Sharkasi accused the Dbaiba family of “wasting 120 billion dinars.”
Al-Sharkasi said that “Dbaiba continues to make false promises, the latest of which is the holding of elections.”
In February, an investigation was conducted by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and its partners, on the prominent Dbaiba family in Libya. It drew on leaked data from inside Swiss banking giant, Credit Suisse, and discovered previously unknown accounts belonging to Ali Ibrahim Dbaiba, the cousin of Libyan Prime Minister, Abdel-Hamid Dbaiba.
Three other businessmen who benefited from the public contracting system, were involved in the case.
“Billions of dollars given out through public contracts had gone missing. Investigators said the money appeared to have been stolen by the former head of Libya’s Organization for the Development of Administrative Centres (ODAC), Ali Ibrahim Dbaiba, and his family,” the OCCRP said.
Both Ali, and his son were named in a request for international assistance that Libya sent to Scotland in 2013, as it sought help tracing looted state funds. According to a report by ‘The Guardian’ newspaper, their luxury properties in the United Kingdom are worth over £25 million pounds.