A Pan Am 747 exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 259 people on board and 11 on the ground; Islamic terrorists from Libya were later held responsible for placing the bomb on the plane.
Pan Am Flight 103 was a regularly scheduled Pan Am transatlantic flight from Frankfurt to Detroit, via London and New York. On 21 December 1988, N739PA, the aircraft operating the transatlantic leg of the route, was destroyed by a terrorist bomb, killing all 243 passengers and 16 crew, in what became known as the Lockerbie bombing. Large sections of the aircraft crashed onto residential areas of Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 11 more people on the ground.
Following a three-year joint investigation by Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), arrest warrants were issued for two Libyan nationals in November 1991. In 1999, Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi handed over the two men for trial at Camp Zeist, Netherlands after protracted negotiations and UN sanctions. In 2001, Libyan intelligence officer Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was jailed for life after being found guilty of 270 counts of murder in connection with the bombing. In August 2009, he was released by the Scottish Government on compassionate grounds after being diagnosed with prostate cancer. He died in May 2012, the only person to be convicted for the attack. He had continually asserted his innocence.
In 2003, Gaddafi accepted responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing and paid compensation to the families of the victims, although he maintained that he had never given the order for the attack. During the Libyan Civil War in 2011, a former government official claimed that the Libyan leader had personally ordered the bombing.