Flyers Rights Founder Paul Hudson’s Role in the 1988 Crash of PAN AM Flight 103

USA v Al Marimi Ex. B Deceased Victim Images p. 2 | eTurboNews | eTN

36 years later Flyers Rights president Paul Hudson has not forgotten about PAN AM flight 103 crashing over Scotland in December of 1988 killing everyone on board. Among the victims was a 16 year old girl Melina Hudson, Paul Hudson’s daughter.

The trial against two of the terror suspects is about to begin and Paul Hudson wants to be part of it. He filed a declaration in Federal court today.

Flyers Rights is not only an advocate of passengers’ rights but an advocate for the flying public to stay safe. The man behind this advocacy group is a father who is an aviation lawyer and lost his daughter in a horrifying terror attack. His advocacy for the rights of the flying public has a deeper history.

Paul Hudson requested to play a role in this criminal trial.

In a US Federal Criminal court briefing filed today in Washington DC, he is trying to play a role in the ongoing criminal procedures against two of the terrorists from Tunisia and Libya who brought down Pan American Flight 103 that was brought down in a bomb attack over Scotland in 1988 killing everyone onboard.

Hudson wrote in his declaration filed in Case NBo. 22-CR-00392 (DLF):

I am the father of Melina Hudson who died on December 21, 1988, at age 16 in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie Scotland with 269 other innocent victims.

  1. I submit this declaration in support of the Court authorizing remote access to the criminal trial as well as pre-trial and post-trial proceedings to victims as defined in the enabling special legislation recently enacted and as otherwise provided by law.  Public Law 118-37 118th Congress 138 STAT. 11 January 26, 2024
  2. Since December 1988, I have been active with other relatives in seeking justice for the murder of my daughter and the loved ones of others.
  3. I traveled to Lockerbie Scotland with six other American victim family members on December 23rd, 1988, and over the next week met with other grieving victim family members, Lockerbie residents, clergy, Pan Am representatives, government responders and officials.
  4.  I arranged for the identification and retrieval of my daughter’s body for transport to the United States for her funeral on December 31st, 1988 in Albany, New York which was attended by about 900 persons. 
  5. They included her parents, four grandparents, three brothers then aged 18, 9, and 7, uncles, aunts, and cousins, plus classmates and friends.
  6. I witnessed in Lockerbie the devastation caused by the bomb which detonated in the baggage hold of the Pan Am 747 jumbo jet at over 30,000 feet, causing it to break apart into five main pieces raining bodies, debris, and devastation on Lockerbie and the surrounding countryside.
  7.  In 1989, I co-founded and became the initial leader of two victim family relative organizations, the Victims of Pan Am Flight 103 and then the Families of the Pan Am 103/Lockerbie.
  8. I am presently a board member of the Pan Am 103/Lockerbie Legacy Foundation which maintains a large digital archive and interactive website for the public and all those involved in the Pan Am 103 bombing aftermath.
  9. I have also been an attorney for nearly 40 years, and as Counsel to the New York State Crime Victims Board (1977-87) and in private practice, was the second lawyer in the United States to devote full time to crime victim rights issues.
  10. Approximately 190 of the 270 murdered victims were United States residents with the largest concentration from the Northeast and Midwest (the flight departed Frankfurt then stopped in London and headed for New York City and Detroit); the other 80 deceased victims were from 20 other countries.  Several thousand others in the Lockerbie area were present at the scene and directly impacted by the disaster. 
  11. In the weeks after the bombing, I estimate approximately 100,000 people attended funerals for the deceased victims, the great majority of whom were under 50 years of age.
  12. It has been over 35 years since this horrendous crime and mass murder occurred, which ranks as the second most deadly foreign terrorist attack against America after 9/11 and the most deadly terrorist attack and air disaster in British history. 
  13. Because many victims are now aged and/or infirm, because many lack financial resources to travel thousands of miles to a District of Columbia courthouse, and because many will not even know of the trial without US government notice and assistance,  only a tiny percentage of victims will be able to attend the trial and related proceeding in person without remote access through the internet and at remote physical locations. 
  14. So far, in these proceedings, only about a dozen family members have attended in person, and the court has not permitted remote access.
  15. As to the family of Melina Hudson, I reside primarily in Sarasota Florida 1,000 miles from the Court House, her brothers now reside in South America (4500 miles away), Miami Florida (1200 miles away), and New York City, and her other surviving relatives and close friends reside in Israel, Upstate New York, Maryland, Cleveland, Ohio, Indiana, South Dakota, Texas, and Illinois. 
  16. I know other victim family members who reside in Europe, California, Utah, West Virginia, and other states and countries; many are now in assisted living facilities or so infirm as to make travel to the Court House virtually impossible.
  17. The court should also be aware that only a minority of victim’s family members have been involved with any of the victim’s family organizations and upon information and belief the Department of Justice contact list is far from being comprehensive and up to date.
  18. Accordingly, if victims are to have a reasonable opportunity to attend the proceedings in this case, in addition to remote access, they need notice plus financial and informational assistance; that can best in my opinion be provided by the US Office of Victims of Crime OVC within the US Department of Justice in cooperation with foreign crime victim government offices, crime victim NGOs, victim attorneys and other US government agencies.
  19. Notice of trial proceedings should be provided to the public and eligible victims both in the US and internationally by the OVC, the State Department Office of Consular Affairs by the branch charged with assisting US victims of international terrorism, US government overseas media broadcasts and US and UK based Pan Am 103 NGOs.
  20. Upon information and belief, OVC is funded by a portion of criminal fines and forfeitures and has discretionary funding for such activities.
  21. Upon information and belief, such OVR funding was used to provide financial and in-kind assistance in prior cases involving mass murder by terrorism for victim trial attendance, including the prior trial of two Libyans indicted for planting the bomb on the Pan Am Flight 103 aircraft.
  22. Beyond victim access, the court should be aware that this trial is one with worldwide public interest.
  23. The bombing and hijacking of civilian airliners remains one of the most deadly forms of terrorism having killed over 4,000 directly, resulted in at least one war plus countless billions in economic losses; and it is particularly damaging and threatening when supported or fostered by state actors. 
  24. The Pan Am 103 Lockerbie bombing resulted in the strongest possible sanctions against Libya permitted by the United Nations Charter, and a condition of lifting those sanctions requires Libya to cooperate with the criminal justice investigations and proceedings, which would include information allowing others responsible to be brought to justice in the United States. See United Nations Resolution 1506 adopted September 2003.
  25. As to the court’s concerns, about the security of the proceedings by restricting access to eligible victims, I believe that OVC and the prosecution should be charged by the court with notice, screening of eligible persons for remote access, assigning passwords, and instructing victims on any restrictions on recording or rebroadcasting proceeding without further permission of the court.
  26. In light of the importance of the victim’s access to this trial, which has already resulted in swift Congressional action, and the fact that crime victims are the real parties in interest but are not directly represented in these proceedings, it is respectfully requested that the court hold a hearing with remote and in-person access prior to issuing its victim access order, so victims or their representatives can directly address and respond to any concerns by the parties or the court.
  27. Finally, in situations of disagreement or problems with access, victims should have a contact person with the court and, if necessary, standing to petition the court for trial proceeding access.

   I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct, except as to any matters stated upon information and belief which I believe to be true.

Where this trial stands

Abu Agila Mohammad Mas’ud Kheir Al-Marimi (Mas’ud), 71, of Tunisia and Libya, made his initial appearance in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on federal charges, unsealed today, stemming from the Dec. 21, 1988, civilian aircraft bombing that killed 270 people.

The victims included 190 Americans, 43 citizens of the United Kingdom, including 11 people on the ground in Lockerbie, Scotland, and citizens from the following countries: Argentina, Belgium, Bolivia, Canada, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Philippines, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Trinidad and Tobago.

On Dec. 21, 2020, the US Department of Justice made public a criminal complaint charging Mas’ud with destruction of aircraft resulting in death and destruction of a vehicle used in foreign commerce by means of an explosive resulting in death.

The United States subsequently requested the publication of an INTERPOL Red Notice – as is typical in cases involving foreign fugitives – requesting all INTERPOL member countries to locate and arrest the defendant for his extradition or lawful return to the United States to face the charges.

On Nov. 29, 2022, a federal grand jury formally indicted Mas’ud on the same charges contained in the criminal complaint. That indictment was unsealed today.

From the time the tragic events occurred in 1988 through the present, the United States and Scotland have jointly pursued justice for all the victims of the Pan Am 103 bombing. The partnership will continue throughout the prosecution of Mas’ud.

“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. 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,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland.

“The defendant is currently in U.S. custody and is facing charges in the United States. This is an important step forward in our mission to honor the victims and pursue justice on behalf of their loved ones.”

“Today’s action is another crucial step in delivering justice for the victims of the senseless terrorist attack on Pan Am Flight 103,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco.

“Our thoughts are with the victims’ families, whose tireless work to honor the lives and legacies of their loved ones has inspired the Department of Justice and our Scottish partners throughout our investigation for the last 34 years. Let this be a reminder that the men and women of the Department of Justice will never forget the loss of innocent lives or waver in our commitment to holding terrorists accountable – no matter how long it takes.”

“While it has been nearly 34 years since the tragic bombing of Pan Am 103, the FBI and our partners throughout the U.S. government have never forgotten the Americans harmed and we will never rest until those responsible are brought to justice,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “Our reach and our memory are long, as this investigation shows. The progress we have made would not have been possible without the hard work and determination of the men and women of the FBI and the Justice Department, and the assistance of our Scottish partners. My thoughts today are focused on those lost and their loved ones as the work to achieve justice continues.”

“The Justice Department has worked for more than three decades to seek justice for the 270 innocent victims of the Pan Am 103 bombing,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “Today, Mas’ud is charged for his alleged role in this heinous act of terror and he will appear in an American courtroom to answer for those crimes. To those who would seek to harm Americans anywhere in the world, know that we will find you however far you run and we will hold you accountable however how long it takes.” 

“We never forget an act of terrorism against American citizens,” said U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves for the District of Columbia. “This defendant is charged with making the fateful decision to carry out a callous, cold-blooded act of terrorism, one that left behind devastation and despair for so many. Thanks to the vigilance, skill, and dedication of this team of investigators and prosecutors, and so many who preceded them in working on this case, the families of the victims will finally see a defendant face charges in a U.S. courtroom for his role in this heinous attack.

This prosecution may bring little solace to those who have lost a child, a spouse, a parent, a sibling, a relative, or a friend. But we hope, today, the victims feel the embrace of the people who have poured their hearts and souls into bringing them a few steps closer to achieving some sense of justice for them and their loved ones.” 

“We cannot heal the wounds left nearly 34 years ago, but we can and will continue to work to bring the justice that we can to the families of the victims of Pan Am 103. The lawful arrest and presentment in court of the alleged bombmaker, Abu Agila Mas’ud Kheir Al-Marimi, is the product of hard work and partnerships across the globe,” said Acting Assistant Director in Charge Michael H. Glasheen of the FBI Washington Field Office. “He will now face justice in the U.S. for the crimes he is charged with having committed decades ago against citizens of 21 countries.

Thank you to the investigators, prosecutors, and victim advocates who have diligently and tirelessly continued to work for decades and across the globe to find answers about the horrific bombing of Pan Am 103. Most importantly, thank you to the families of the victims for showing us your perseverance and strength for decades. The U.S. government will also persevere in our quest to bring justice, on your behalf, for those we so tragically lost.”

December 21, 1988

At 7:03 pm (GMT), on Dec. 21, 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 was destroyed, almost instantaneously, 38 minutes after takeoff, when a bomb in the forward cargo area exploded. The plane was at 31,000 feet over Lockerbie, Scotland. It had taken off from London Heathrow and was en route to John F. Kennedy Airport in New York.

Citizens from 21 countries were killed. Among the 190 Americans lost were 35 Syracuse University students returning home to the United States for the holidays after a semester studying abroad. Of the 43 victims from the United Kingdom, eleven residents of Lockerbie, Scotland perished on the ground as fiery debris from the falling aircraft destroyed an entire city block of homes. The international terrorist attack planned and executed by Libyan intelligence operatives, was considered the largest international terrorist attack in both the United States and the United Kingdom at the time.

Immediately after the disaster, Scottish and American law enforcement undertook a joint investigation that was unprecedented in its scope, and, in November 1991, it led to criminal charges filed in both countries charging two Libyan intelligence operatives – Abdel Baset Ali al-Megrahi (Megrahi) and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah (Fhimah) – for their roles in the bombing. They were tried in a Scottish court sitting in The Netherlands. Fhimah was acquitted. Megrahi was found guilty.

Planning and Executing the Bombing of Pan Am Flight 103

The December 2020 criminal complaint alleged that from approximately 1973 to 2011 Mas’ud worked for the External Security Organization (ESO), the Libyan intelligence service which conducted acts of terrorism against other nations, in various capacities including as a technical expert in building explosive devices. In the winter of 1988, Mas’ud was directed by a Libyan intelligence official to fly to Malta with a prepared suitcase.

There he was met by Megrahi and Fhimah at the airport. Several days later, Megrahi and Fhimah instructed Mas’ud to set the timer on the device in the suitcase for the following morning, so that the explosion would occur exactly eleven hours later. Megrahi and Fhimah were both at the airport on the morning of Dec. 21, 1988, and Mas’ud handed the suitcase to Fhimah after Fhimah gave him a signal to do so. Fhimah then placed the suitcase on the conveyor belt. Subsequently, Mas’ud boarded a Libyan flight to Tripoli scheduled to take off at 9:00 a.m.

According to the allegations in the complaint, three or four days after returning to Libya, Mas’ud and Megrahi met with a senior Libyan intelligence official, who thanked them for a successful operation. Approximately three months after that, Mas’ud and Fhimah met with then-Libyan leader Muamar Qaddafi, and others, who thanked them for carrying out a great national duty against the Americans, and Qaddafi added that the operation was a total success.

If convicted, Mas’ud faces a maximum penalty of life in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The FBI Washington Field Office is investigating the case along with prosecutors from the National Security Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs and the U.S. National Central Bureau provided valuable assistance in this matter.

Victims of this crime and their families may contact the Department of Justice.

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About the author

Juergen T Steinmetz

Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1977).
He founded eTurboNews in 1999 as the first online newsletter for the global travel tourism industry.

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