The two Libyan intelligence operatives indicted last fall in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 have disappeared from Tripoli and may have been executed, Western sources say.
The Libyan government had planned to announce the disappearance of the two men to suggest they had been kidnapped, perhaps by the West, said one source, Vincent Cannistraro, former chief of CIA counterterrorist operations. But Middle East and European intelligence sources say the two are dead.
The Libyan suspects, Abdel Basset Ali Al-Megrahi, 39, and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah, 35, were indicted by a federal grand jury last November in Washington on 193 felony counts stemming from the explosion of the jumbo jet on Dec. 21, 1988, over Lockerbie, Scotland. It was en route from London to New York.
They also were charged in Scotland with murder and conspiracy in connection with the bombing that killed all 259 people aboard and 11 on the ground.
The United States and Britain have demanded the men's extradition. But Libya has refused, saying it would detain them for its own investigation.
Cannistraro said one of his sources, a Libyan, told him in the last few days that Basset and Fhimah had "disappeared and will not be found." He said two other sources, one in Europe and one in the Middle East, told him the Libyans had been executed. A French intelligence source told the Washington Post on Monday that a similar report had reached Paris, but he cautioned that it could be disinformation.
Libya has sought a "compromise" to avoid U.N. sanctions if the two are not surrendered. Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi told the Post recently that Libya was a "scapegoat" in the case. But U.S. officials have said there could be no compromise.