Libya’s Government of National Unity (GNU) has abruptly halted the extradition of Abdullah Al-Senussi, Muammar Gaddafi’s most trusted aide and the country’s spy chief at the time of Gaddafi’s fall – who is also Gaddafi’s brother-in-law-, this week for fear of public anger following an earlier handover of a former senior Libyan intelligence operative, Abu Agila Masud Al-Mariami, The Guardian revealed on Friday.
Al-Senussi is accused of several attacks against western aircraft, among other targets, and is currently being held in a prison in the Libyan capital. The US suspects the 72-year-old of being the mastermind behind the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103.
The attack brought down the plane over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988, killing 270 people, 190 of whom were American citizens.
Al-Senussi was sentenced to death in 2015 in a mass trial. He is currently being held in prison in Tripoli. As head of Libya’s external security services, Senussi is accused of managing Abdelbaset Al-Megrahi, the man who orchestrated the Lockerbie bombing.
“The idea was to have Masud sent to the US first and then give them Senussi. There have been discussions for months about this. But then officials got worried,” one Libyan official source with knowledge of the case told the Guardian.
The handovers of both Masud and Senussi, who remains in Libya, were initiated under former US President Donald Trump and talks have continued between the Biden administration and the Libyan government over the past few months, The Guardian reported.
The Libyan GNU under Abdul Hamid Dbeibah and the US government reached an agreement to transfer Masud and Senussi in August this year.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Senussi in 2011 for the violent crackdown against protesters in Benghazi at the start of the Libyan February 17 revolution.