1. Headline
  1. Headline
Image: File photo off Libya's Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa holding a news conference in Tripoli
? Zohra Bensemra / Reuters  /  Reuters
Libya's Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa holds a news conference in Tripoli in this March 18, 2011 file photo. Koussa flew to London from Tunisia on March 30, 2011, Tunisia's official news agency reported, and the Libyan government said he was travelling on a diplomatic mission. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra/Files (LIBYA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT HEADSHOT)
By Michael Isikoff National investigative correspondent
NBC News
updated 3/31/2011 2:13:55 PM ET 2011-03-31T18:13:55

Scottish prosecutors are seeking to question Libya's ex-foreign minister Moussa Koussa, who defected on Wednesday, about his knowledge of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.

The move is the latest and most public sign yet that the investigation into the Lockerbie bombing has been revived -- and may be used by U.S. and British officials in an effort to force Moammar Gadhafi's removal from power. Asked about the Scottish request to question Koussa, a U.S. Justice Department spokesman said Thursday: "We're on it. The investigation is open and active." U.S. law enforcement officials also "are extremely interested" in talking to Koussa, the official added.

Story: What you need to know about the unrest in the Mideast

In an email sent Thursday to family members of the Lockerbie bombing victims, Lindsey Miller, the Scottish prosecutor on the case, said her office had notified the British Foreign Office that "we wish to interview (Koussa) regarding any information he may have concerning the bombing of Pan Am flight 103."

  1. Stories from
    1. Darren Wilson, Police Officer Who Shot Michael Brown, Marries While on Leave
    2. Rachel McAdams and Taylor Kitsch Officially Join the Cast of True Detective
    3. Chrissy Teigen and John Legend Eat KFC in Bed - While Topless! (PHOTO)
    4. Enjoy This Interstellar-Quality Time-Lapse of Earth from Space (VIDEO)
    5. 7-Year-Old Boy Battles School District over Service Dog

The email also stated that the investigation into the Lockerbie bombing "remains open and we will pursue all relevant lines of inquiry in conjunction with our U.S. counterparts."

Koussa, 73, is considered by law enforcement officials and family victims as a potentially crucial witness in the Lockerbie case, one of the few regime intimates who would be in a position to corroborate the recent claims of Libya's ex-justice minister that Gadhafi ordered the destruction of the civilian aircraft.

A longtime senior Libyan intelligence official and close confidant Gadhafi, the U.S. educated Koussa fled to Britain on Wednesday on a private plane from Tunisia.

Story: Libya's foreign minister defects

"His testimony would be critical," said Frank Duggan, president of a group of Lockerbie victims’ families. "He has intimate knowledge — not only who ordered the bombing, but about the bomb (that blew up the plane])and who made it.”

British Foreign Minister William Hague told reporters in London that Koussa "is not being offered any immunity from British or international justice."

But some family members of the victims remain suspicious that Koussa has been offered some sort of protection by British authorities.

"What I'm afraid of is they've already made a deal with him," said Stephanie Bernstein, whose husband, a Justice Department lawyer, was killed in the Lockerbie bombing. She said she and other family members would be strongly opposed to any move that would protect Koussa from prosecution. "This man has an unbelievable amount of blood on his hands," she said.

Story: The two faces of Gadhafi's right-hand man

A spokesman for the British Foreign Office told NBC News that Koussa was now at a "safe location in the United Kingdom." The spokesman did not immediately respond for comment on the request by Scottish prosecutors to question him.

The push to revive the Lockerbie investigation is also gaining momentum in Congress and among some Libyan dissidents as one possible way to force Gadhafi from power. One scenario being discussed on Capitol Hill is for federal prosecutors — based on new evidence — to indict Gadhafi for the Lockerbie bombing, thereby conceivably giving the FBI or even the U.S. military grounds to snatch him as a fugitive from justice.

There is a possible precedent: the U.S. invaded Panama in 1989 in part on grounds that the country's then dictator, Manuel Noriega, was a fugitive from a federal drug trafficking indictment brought by federal prosecutors in Miami.

Read more reporting by Michael Isikoff in the Isikoff Files

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether such a move was being contemplated.

In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder on Thursday, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., called for the Justice Department to step up the pressure on Gadhafi by specifically targeting him in the Lockerbie investigation. Citing the recent claims by former Libyan Justice Minister Mustafa Abdel-Jalil that Gadhafi ordered the bombing, Graham wrote, “Should the claims ... prove true, he should be punished to the fullest extent of the law."

In a separate letter Thursday to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said that any support for Libyan rebels be conditioned on their commitment to extradite Abdel Baset al-Megrahi to New York to be tried in U.S. court for the Lockerbie bombing.

A former Libyan intelligence agent, Megrahi was the only person ever convicted of the bombing, but was released by Scottish officials in 2009 on "compassionate" grounds that he was suffering from prostate cancer and had only three months to live. But he is still believed to be alive in Libya, protected by Gadhafi's regime.

© 2013 NBCNews.com  Reprints

Video: Libyan rebels determined to stop retreating

Photos: Moammar Gadhafi

loading photos...
  1. Col. Moammar Gadhafi is seen in Tripoli on Sept. 27, 1969, after leading a military coup that toppled King Idris. Gadhafi has maintained his rule over Libya for more than four decades since the coup. Gadhafi was killed in Sirte on Oct. 20 as revolutionary forces took the last bastion of his supporters. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Gadhafi, left, and Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser, right, arrive in Rabat, Morocco, in December 1969 for the Arab Summit Conference. (Benghabit / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Col. Gadhafi, left, jokes with a group of British hippies in Tripoli in July 1973. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Gadhafi was purportedly a major financier of the Black September movement, a band of Palestinian militants. Its members perpetrated the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. One of the Black September guerrillas who broke into the Olympic Village is seen in this picture. (Keystone via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Gadhafi during the summit of the Organization of African Unity on Aug. 4, 1975, in Kampala, Uganda. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Flowers are laid at the memorial to Yvonne Fletcher, a British police constable who was shot dead by terrorists in April 1984 while on duty during a protest outside the Libyan embassy in London. Fletcher's death led to an 11-day police siege of the embassy and a breakdown of diplomatic relations between Libya and the United Kingdom. (Fox Photos via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Gadhafi and his second wife Safiya wave to the crowd upon their arrival in Dakar, Senegal, for a three-day official visit on Dec. 3, 1985. Gadhafi has eight biological children, six by Safiya. (Joel Robine / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. U.S. Ambassador to West Germany Richard Burt, fourth from left, and West Berlin Mayor Eberhard Diepgen, fifth from left, inspect the damage following an April 5, 1986, bombing at a Berlin discotheque frequented by American serveicemen. Libya was blamed for the blast, which killed three and injured more than 200. Then-U.S. President Ronald Reagan retaliated by ordering airstrikes against the Libyan capital of Tripoli and city of Benghazi. (Wolfgang Mrotzkowski / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. French policemen and army soldiers unload crates of arms and ammunition seized aboard the Panamian merchant ship Eksund on Nov. 3, 1987 at Brest military port in France. A huge supply of arms and explosives purportedly supplied by Libya and destined for the Irish Republican Army was found aboard the vessel. (Andre Durand / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. This Dec. 22, 1988, photo shows the wreckage of the Pan Am airliner that exploded and crashed over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 people - most of them Americans. Gadhafi has accepted Libya's responsibility for the bombing and paid compensation to the victims' families. Libya's ex-justice minister was recently quoted as telling a Swedish newspaper that Gadhafi personally ordered the bombing. (Letkey / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, right, welcomes Gadhafi upon his arrival at Tunis airport on Jan. 10, 1990. (Frederic Neema / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi is escorted by security officers in Tripoli on Feb. 18, 1992. Al-Megrahi was granted a compassionate release from a Scottish prison in August 2009 on the grounds that he was suffering from prostate cancer and would die soon. (Manoocher Deghati / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, left, accompanies Gadhafi on a tour at the pyramids of Giza on Jan. 19, 1993. (Aladin Abdel Naby / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. An Egyptian border policeman counts passports belonging to Palestinians waiting at the post in Salloum for transit to the Gaza Strip on Sept. 12, 1995. Families were stranded at the border with Libya after Gadhafi decided to expel 30.000 Palestinians, reportedly in order to call attention to the political situation in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. (Amr Nabil / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Libyan women bodyguards provide security for VIPs during a military parade in Green Square on Sept. 1, 2003, to mark the 34th anniversary of Gadhafi's acension to power. (Mike Nelson / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Family members of people killed in the bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, read documents on Sept. 12, 2003, as the U.N. Security Council votes to lift sanctions against Libya for the 1988 bombing. (Spencer Platt / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. British Prime Minister Tony Blair, left, flew to Libya in 2004 to hold talks with Gadhafi inside a Bedouin tent. Here, Blair and and Gadhafi stroll to a separate tent in Tripoli for lunch during a break in their talks. Blair's role was particularly vital in Gadhafi's international rehabilitation. He praised the leader for ending Libya's nuclear and chemical weapons program and stressed the need for new security alliances in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks. (Stefan Rousseau / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. U.S. President George W. Bush looks at material and equipment surrendered by Libya, during a tour of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee on July 12, 2004. Bush officially lifted the U.S. trade embargo against Libya on Sept. 20, 2004. (Tim Sloan / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. View of the remains of Gadhafi's bombed-out headquarters, now turned into a living memento, inside his compound in Tripoli on Oct. 15, 2004. The sculpture in the center represents a golden fist grabbing a U.S. jet fighter. U.S. jets bombed Tripoli, killing Gadhafi's adopted 4-year-old daughter, in April 1986 in retaliation for the Berlin discotheque bombing. (John Macdougall / AFP/Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. French President Nicolas Sarkozy is welcomed by Gadhafi in Tripoli on July 25, 2007. Sarkozy arrived for a meeting with the Libyan leader a day after the release of six foreign medics from a Libyan prison. (Patrick Kovarik / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Gadhafi's son Saif, center, attends a ceremony in the southern Libyan city of Ghiryan on Aug. 18, 2007, to mark the arrival of water from the Great Manmade River, a project to pipe water from desert wells to coastal communities. (Mahmud Turkia / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Gadhafi looks at a Russian-language edition of his book "The Green Book" during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on April 17, 2008, in Tripoli. Putin was in Libya for a two-day visit to rebuild Russian-Libyan relations. (Artyom Korotayev / Epsilon via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Gadhafi and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi pose for a picture after signing an agreement in the eastern city of Benghazi on Libya's Mediterranean coast on Aug. 30, 2008. Berlusconi apologized to Libya for damage inflicted by Italy during the colonial era and signed a $5 billion investment deal by way of compensation. (Mahmud Turkia / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Gadhafi poses with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice prior to a meeting in Tripoli on Sept. 5, 2008. Rice arrived in Libya on the first such visit in more than half a century, marking a new chapter in Washington's reconciliation with the former enemy state. (Mahmud Turkia / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Gadhafi attends the closing session of the Arab League summit in Doha, Qatar, on March 30, 2009. (Marwan Naamani / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. Gadhafi waves after delivering a speech during a meeting with 700 women from the business, political and cultural spheres on June 12, 2009, in Rome. The Libyan strongman drew cheers and jeers when he criticized Islam's treatment of women but then suggested it should be up to male relatives to decide if a woman can drive. (Christophe Simon / AFP/Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. U.S .President Barack Obama shakes hands with Gadhafi during the G-8 summit in L'Aquila, Italy, on July 9, 2009. (Michael Gottschalk / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Libyan Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, who was found guilty of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, top left, is accompanied by Seif al-Islam el-Gadhafi, son of the Libyan leader, upon his arrival at the airport in Tripoli on Aug. 20, 2009. Scotland freed the terminally ill Lockerbie bomber on compassionate grounds, allowing him to die at home in Libya despite American protests that he should be shown no mercy. (Amr Nabil / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. The president of the U.N. General Assembly, Ali Abdussalam Treki, top center, listens in apparent misery as Gadhafi speaks on Sept. 23, 2009, at U.N. headquarters in New York. It was Gadhafi's first appearance before the U.N., and he emptied out much of the chamber with an exhaustive 95-minute speech in which he criticized the decision-making structure of the world body and called for investigations of all the wars and assassinations that have taken place since the U.N.'s founding. (Stan Honda / AFP/Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. Gadhafi greets Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez during the plenary session at the Africa-South America Summit on Margarita Island on Sept. 27, 2009. Chavez and Gadhafi urged African and South American leaders to strive for a new world order countering Western economic dominance. (Carlos Garcia Rawlins / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, Gadhafi and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak during a group picture of Arab and African leaders ahead of the opening of the second Arab-African summit in the coastal town of Sirte, Libya, on Oct. 10, 2010. Ben Ali and Mubarak were driven out of power by popular revolts in 2011. (Sabri Elmehedwi / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. Gadhafi is followed by members of the press in Tripoli before making a speech hoping to defuse tensions on March 2. Gadhafi blamed al-Qaida for creating turmoil and told applauding supporters there was a conspiracy to control Libya and its oil. (Ahmed Jadallah / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. Libyan rebels step on a picture of Gadhafi at a checkpoint in Tripoli's Qarqarsh district on Aug. 22. Libyan government tanks and snipers put up a scattered, last-ditch effort in Tripoli on Monday after rebels swept into the heart of the capital, cheered on by crowds hailing the end of Gadhafi's 42 years in power. (Bob Strong / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. A man in Tripoli holds a photo said to be of Moammar Gadhafi after the announcement of the former leader's death, Oct. 20, 2011. Gadhafi was killed when revolutionary forces overwhelmed his hometown, Sirte, the last major bastion of resistance two months after the regime fell. (Abdel Magid Al-fergany / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  1. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  2. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  3. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  4. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments

More on TODAY.com

  1. Samantha Okazaki / TODAY

    Can love be blind? 'Paper bag dating' tests how much faces matter

    11/24/2014 10:04:19 PM +00:00 2014-11-24T22:04:19
  1. Save these sites and apps for the best Cyber Monday deals

    Looking for the best deals on Cyber Monday? Retailers keep most of their plans super secret but savvy shoppers can still plan ahead by lining up all their links and getting their bookmarks ready.

    11/24/2014 4:07:42 PM +00:00 2014-11-24T16:07:42
  1. Maya Evoy; We Are Not Martha

    5 ways to reinvent cranberries for Thanksgiving

    11/24/2014 8:00:35 PM +00:00 2014-11-24T20:00:35
  1. Aj Mast / AP

    NFL player's touchdown celebration honors daughter born that day

    11/24/2014 11:31:40 PM +00:00 2014-11-24T23:31:40