Still No Justice for Lockerbie

December 22nd, 2011 at 12:00 am | 11 Comments |

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In 1988, Libyan terrorists, sponsored by the intelligence services of the now-deceased Muammar Qaddafi, made a bomb using a plastic explosive planted within a Toshiba cassette player with the cruelly-ironic name “Bombeat.” Twenty-three years ago today, Libyan operative Abdelbaset al Megrahi planted the device aboard Pan Am flight 103, the final leg of which was to deliver 259 souls from Heathrow to JFK airport.

As the aircraft flew 31,000 feet above Lockerbie, Scotland, the IED detonated, killing all onboard and sending the Maid of the Seas and its occupants crashing to the ground in the quiet, sparsely populated village. Eleven more innocents in Lockerbie were killed by the falling debris.

It took hundreds of local volunteers to scour the formerly pristine earth of Lockerbie in search of debris from the catastrophe, and hundreds more FBI agents and Scottish police to conduct a world-wide investigation into the mass murder of these innocent civilians, many of whom were American college students headed home for the holidays from studies abroad. Thanks to the tiresome work of those investigators, Libya was held responsible for the attack and Megrahi was convicted in early 2001 of 270 counts of murder by a special panel in the Netherlands consisting of three Scottish judges. He was sentenced to life in prison, and the Libyan government paid compensation to a fund set up for the victims’ relatives.

Just over seven months after Megrahi was convicted, US civil aviation was attacked again by militant Islamists who hijacked four aircraft to kill nearly 3,000 civilians and cause unprecedented damage on lower Manhattan, at the Pentagon, and in the small town of Shanksville, Pennsylvania—a place not dissimilar in its quaintness from Lockerbie.

Then, on December 22, 2001, just a day after the 13th anniversary of the Lockerbie bombing, Richard Reid, an al-Qaeda operative, attempted to detonate a bomb secreted in his hiking boots aboard an American Airlines flight destined for Miami. Thanks to the bravery of the crew and passengers, likely inspired by the heroism of the passengers aboard United Airlines flight 93, Reid’s attempt was foiled.

The enormity of the 9/11 attacks and the specter of al-Qaeda virtually wiped from our memories the horrors of the Pan Am 103 disaster. Osama bin Laden and his fanatical brethren set a new standard for evil on that day, making the Libyans look like small-time outlaws in comparison. Qaddafi himself was so shaken by the U.S.-led response to the al-Qaeda attacks that he announced his willingness to dismantle his weapons of mass destruction program, despite having received $3.5 billion from Saddam Hussein in 2002 to ward off an American challenges to his power.

Qaddafi’s apparent about-face seemed to be just the sort of ebb to state-sponsored terrorism that President George W. Bush hoped to inspire. And despite an enormous amount of vitriolic criticism against his “War on Terror,” President Bush forged ahead, convinced that taking the fight to the terrorists was essential to securing Americans at home and abroad. More than 10 years after 9/11, there have been no successful terrorist attacks on American civilians, the longest such period of security in the modern age of terrorism—this despite the fact that every single terrorism expert who testified before the 9/11 Commission stated with certainty that the United States would be struck again. It’s difficult to argue with such results.

Unfortunately, though, the latest chapter on terrorism against U.S. civil aviation doesn’t close there. In August of 2009, Abdelbaset al Megrahi, the only man convicted for his role in the Pan Am 103 murders, was released on grounds of “compassion” by the Scottish Government. Megrahi, it seems, was found to be suffering from terminal prostate cancer and had only weeks to live. The Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Kenny MacAskill, decided that the terrorist should be allowed to return to Libya to live out his dying days. Megrahi, a convicted mass murderer, returned to Tripoli where he was greeted with a hero’s welcome, while again the families of the victims were forced to endure unimaginable heartache. In one fell swoop, Secretary MacAskill made a mockery of the concept of life imprisonment and the grief of the Pan Am 103 families.

That was more than two years ago. Since then, Osama bin Laden has been killed and the architect of 9/11, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, still sits in federal custody awaiting what one hopes is a conviction and death sentence. But, ironically, 23 years after his crime, Megrahi is still alive, living comfortably at home, even surviving the upheaval that led—with American support—to the overthrow of their dictator. And though Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called for Megrahi to be returned to prison, still he rests at home surrounded by his friends and family, who will surely be with him when he finally meets his long overdue demise.

Clearly, it is time for some measure of true justice and respect for the families who lost loved ones on December 21, 1988. President Obama should make a demand to Libya’s National Transitional Council for the immediate extradition of Megrahi to the United States. The families should no longer have to endure the insult of knowing Megrahi is a free man at home with his relatives while they endure their twenty-third holiday season without their own.

Recent Posts by Anthony Amore



11 Comments so far ↓

  • Graychin

    Releasing Megrahi was idiotic.

    That said – even if the Brits had drawn and quartered Megrahi, it would bring no justice for Megrahi’s innocent victims. They would remain dead, and their loved ones would still mourn their loss.

    When you embark on a journey of revenge, first dig two graves.

    • Houndentenor

      That’s absurd. Justice is not the same as revenge. No, holding someone responsible for a crime does not undo the crime. No one ever suggested that it did. It’s a mockery of justice that the architect of a mass murder is allowed to walk around free. He needs to be brought to justice.

      • Graychin

        How do you define “justice” in this context? Is retributive justice so different from revenge?

        Would you agree that we lock up more people because we are mad at them than because we are afraid of them?

  • Mole5000

    All of this ignores that it almost certainly wasn’t Megrahi who planted the bomb. His trial was a joke which has been described as a miscarriage of justice by the UN observer. The evidence qagainst him was flimsy at very best and tainted or even corrupt at worst. The crucial eye witness identification of him is a nonsense given that the eye witness saw a picture of Megrahi with the strap line “Is this man the Lockerbie Bomber?” before doing the formal identification. there was an extreme irregularity with identifaction of the circuit board used in the explsoive device. Megrahi’s co-conspiritor who was apparently crucial to the plot was found innocent because there was not a scrap of evidence against him.

    The focusing on Libya pretty much ignores the blindingly obvious. That the Lockerbie bombing was almnost certainly a revenge attack ordered by Iran (acting through Syrian proxies) for the USS Vincennes shooting down a civilian Iranian air liner.

    Eight weeks before the bombing The German police raided a cell of a Syrian group with known links to Iran and found a number of explosive devices (with a fifth device unaccounted for), The bomb maker for the cell was known to have practivced making bombs using Toshiba bombeat radios and made at least one Bombeat disguised bomb for the cell. Scottish police wrote a warrant for the extradition of him but the FBI persuaded them that he was to valuable an asset to be, you know, arrested and tried fro the bombing.

  • baw1064

    If Magrahi was indeed responsible, he clearly didn’t come up with the plot all on his own. Fortunately the person who bears the ultimate responsibility met his end on the outskirts of Sirte a couple months ago.

    In an act of state-sponsored terrorism, nothing short of capturing or killing the responsible head of state is “justice”.

  • armstp

    Believe me I am no conspiracy person, but the investigation of Lockerbie was bullshit and completely full of holes.

    It is a joke that Abdelbaset al Megrahi was charged for the bombing. It is hard to believe he did it.

    The very good documentary linked below goes through the entire Lockerbie case. There are more holes in the investigation than a piece of swiss cheese. The documentary interviews the actual experts and people involved. It tells a very different story. It seems like there was a rush by British and FBI officials to solve the case at the time.

    Lockerbie: The Pan Am Bomber

    “When the Libyan intelligence operative Abdel Baset al-Megrahi eventually dies of the prostate cancer, his death triggers headlines around the world. But few tears will be shed for the only man ever found guilty of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am 103 — until 9/11, the most lethal terrorist attack ever on American civilians. Certainly not by the American families, who felt shock and revulsion at al-Megrahi’s release.

    Nor by American politicians, infuriated at the long list of British and Scottish officials who have refused to testify before a Senate committee investigating possible backroom deals involving Scottish and British officials, British commercial interests and the Libyan government. Yet by the accounts of those who knew him best, the convicted man himself will go to his grave insisting he was innocent of the murder of the 270 passengers, crew and residents, who perished at Lockerbie in Scotland, that December night.

    Drawing exclusively on a previously confidential, legal report, The Pan Am Bomber reveals the evidence that would have been presented in al-Megrahi’s stillborn appeal against his conviction. The investigation is backed up by 97 gigabytes of official documents, whistleblower testimony and photographic evidence – all of which will explain why and how al-Megrahi’s conviction was fatally flawed. It reveals how the chain of evidence used to convict al-Megrahi was broken and, in at least one crucial instance, tampered with. It also shows why it was in the interest of all of the parties (except the convicted man himself) to make sure that the appeal was never heard.”

    http://documentary.net/lockerbie-the-pan-am-bomber/

    Just this December the British police have opened a new inquiry on Lockerbie.

    Libya gives Lockerbie inquiry go-aheadBritish police to visit Tripoli to conduct investigations into airline bombing and assassination of PC Yvonne Fletcher

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/dec/08/libya-lockerbie-inquiry-police

    Anthony Amore you have worked in the security field, so do yourself a favor and watch the documentary that I linked to above and tell us what you think.

  • Primrose

    He went to jail. So technically justice was served.You may not think he deserved compassion leave but that doesn’t mean consequences were not applied. One of the supposed planners/funders Quaddafi has been deposed and died a horrible death. What more do you want?

    There are crimes that go unpunished (or seriously under-punished)in this world. This is not one of them. This revenge fetish we seem to be indulging in, revenge as entertainment, is not good for justice and it is not good for our souls.

  • tommybones

    Looking forward to the next article, titled “Still No Justice For The Palestinian People”

  • nister

    Still no justice for the 290 innocents on the Iranian Airbus brought down by the Vincennes.

    I believe that was a calculated act; Iran does too.

    I also believe Lockerbie was the response.