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  • Terrorism Report: Lockerbie Bombing

  •   Time Line
    The Bombing of Pan Am Flight 103

    Pan Am Flight 103 crashed into the town of Lockerbie, Scotland on December 21, 1988 killing all 259 people on board and 11 on the ground. The following time line details the aftermath of the crash, including the investigation and the fight to bring the suspects to justice.

    | 1988 | 1989 | 1990 | 1991 | 1992 | 1993 | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 |

    Pan Am 103/AP
    Crash site in 1988. (AP)
    21: A Pan American jumbo jet bound from London to New York crashes into the town of Lockerbie, Scotland, killing all 259 persons aboard and 11 more on the ground.

    28: British investigators conclude that a bomb in the luggage compartment caused the midair disintegration of Pan Am Flight 103.

    29: The Federal Aviation Administration imposes new security measures on American airlines that fly out of 103 airports in Western Europe and the Middle East.

    11: The Washington Post reports that a Central Intelligence Agency assessment of the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing has concluded that Iran hired a Damascus-based radical Palestinian faction to carry out the operation.

    22: Czechoslovak President Vaclav Havel discloses that his country's former Communist regime supplied to the Libyan government 1,000 tons of Semtex – a virtually undetectable explosive believed to have been used in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103.

    15: A presidential commission places much of the blame for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 on a "seriously flawed" aviation security system, and the Federal Aviation Administration's failure to enforce its rules.

    Abdel Basset Megrahi/AP
    Abdel Basset Ali Al-Megrahi. (AP)
    Lamen Khalifa Fhimah. (AP)
    14: The United States and Britain announce criminal charges against two Libyan intelligence officers for the bombing and said the evidence also suggested involvement by higher-level aides to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. Gadhafi subsequently refuses to turn over the suspects.

    21: The U.N. Security Council unanimously adopts a resolution urging Libya to "provide a full and effective response" to U.S. and British requests for the surrender of the two Libyans linked to the bombing.

    22: A federal jury in Brooklyn awards $9.23 million to the family of a man killed in the bombing. The jury earlier found that Pan American World Airways guilty of "willful misconduct" in its airport security.

    27: The United States, Britain and France condemns Libya's continued refusal to surrender the intelligence agents accused in the bombing and threatened new efforts to compel Libya to cooperate in bringing the suspects to justice.

    7: A Scottish lawyer tells reporters that he is now representing the two Libyans accused of planting the bomb that destroyed the plane.

    11: The Security Council votes to tighten trade sanctions on Libya to force the extradition of two suspects in the bombing.


    21: Libya marks the sixth anniversary of the bombing by proposing that a Scottish court conduct a trial of the two Libyan suspects at the International Court of Justice in the Hague.


    23: The FBI announces a $4 million reward for the two Libyan intelligence officers charged with the bombing, and says it plans a worldwide information blitz seeking help in bringing them to justice.

    27: The Clinton administration says that it will ask the United Nations to impose a worldwide oil boycott against Libya in retaliation for that country's refusal to turn over the two suspects.

    17: A federal jury awards $19 million to the widow of an executive killed in the airline disaster. A federal appeals court later upholds most of the record damage award.


    05: President Clinton signs legislation imposing harsh economic sanctions on companies that make future investments in Iranian and Libyan petroleum ventures and vows to wage an international battle against terrorism.

    06: Newsday reports that a former federal informant, who had been accused of perjury for falsely swearing that a federal undercover operation was responsible for the explosion, is arrested reentering the United States after several years as a fugitive in Europe.


    07: The Washington Post reports that Libya has made a direct appeal to families of victims of the bombing, declaring that the country is ready to enter into serious negotiations over procedures for handing over the two accused Libyan intelligence agents.


    Moammar Gadhafi/AFP
    Moammar Gadhafi. (AFP)
    24: The United States and Britain announce a proposal to convene a Scottish court in the Netherlands in an effort to bring the two Libyan agents to trial.

    26: Libya announces its acceptance of the U.S. and British plan to put the two suspects on trial in the Netherlands. Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi later hesitates on the deal and demands guarantees that the suspects won't be turned over to Britain.

    05: United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan holds discussions with Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi over the extradition and trial of the two Libyans wanted in the bombing. No agreement is reached but Annan says later a settlement is "well on the way."


    14: Saudi Arabian diplomats tell U.N. officials that Libya has agreed to the terms of a trial of the two Libyans in a Scottish court. The announcement is met with skepticism.

    19: Libya officially tells the United Nations it will hand over the two suspects by April 6, 1999.

    05: The two Libyans are turned over to Scottish authorities in preparation for trial. The arrival of the men in the Netherlands triggers an automatic suspension of U.N. economic sanctions against Libya.

    © Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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