December 18, 2009
Where's the Lockerbie Bomber?By Jane Jamison
The world's astonishment and anger have barely subsided in the four months since the abrupt release from Scottish prison of the "Lockerbie bomber." It hardly seems possible that this ham-handed mishandling of justice could get any worse, but now the only man ever to be convicted of the deaths of 270 people aboard Pan Am #103...has gone missing?
The London Times reports that Abdel Baset al-Megrahi could not be reached in his home in Tripoli, in the nearby hospital, or by telephone.
Al-Megrahi was convicted in 2001 of helping to plan and orchestrate the 1988 bombing in which the airliner exploded over Scotland after takeoff. All 259 people aboard and 11 on the ground died when the flaming wreckage fell on Lockerbie, Scotland. Many of the passengers were Americans returning home for the holidays.
When al-Megrahi was only seven years into his life sentence, a Scottish Justice secretary decided that the terrorist was "near death" from terminal prostate cancer and should be allowed to return home to die in Libya on humanitarian grounds.
The families of the 190 American victims were understandably outraged. What made everything worse was al-Megrahi's behavior: Initially, he hobbled and hunched out of Scotland with a mask over his face. But when the smiling terrorist stepped off the plane, he was walking upright, had changed into a very natty Western-style gray suit and red tie, and gave Libyan strongman Muammar Khadafy a vigorous bear hug. Oh, to be a bug on the lapel to hear what he told Momo.
President Obama and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton said the release of a convicted terrorist was "highly objectionable" and a "mistake." British officials later insisted that both the president and the secretary were kept apprised of all negotiations, and neither had done anything to protest or intervene on behalf of the United States or the American victims' families.
There has been one very odd photo opportunity, arranged by the Libyan government, in which al-Megrahi appeared to be gargling his last in the hospital. A reporter thought it odd that platters of food were served to the room as he left.
The deal just kept getting dirtier after the big "coming-home" party. Muammar Khadafy's son confirmed that al-Megrahi's release was part of an bargain to resume trade and exchange prisoners. British Justice Secretary Jack Straw admitted that the deal to give up al-Megrahi was signed in 2007, and six weeks later, British Petroleum closed a $24-billion contract with Libya. Three cancer doctors admitted that they were paid by the Libyan government to give their patient a very "helpful" short life expectancy of only three months, which allowed the immediate release on "humanitarian" grounds.
The surreal horror of what happened in Lockerbie twenty years ago is a grainy memory for most people, if it's remembered at all. Emergency personnel and forensics experts said that the bomb in the cargo hold ripped the plane apart -- the pressure expanded and then collapsed the passengers' lungs, and they took two minutes to fall to earth. Many did not die a merciful, immediate death. There were 147 who were still alive after the bomb blast; one worker found a passenger who was clutching a handful of grass.
The Lockerbie villagers spent many traumatic days unable to move the dead bodies on their streets, draped over their porch railings, or in their gardens as the investigation was conducted.
What happened to real people who were members of real families apparently doesn't matter in the case of Pan Am #103. It's all about Muammar Khadafy the terrorist literally getting away with murder to rehabilitate his prestige and profitability.
The London Times broke the full story in 2004: The Lockerbie bombing fourteen years before was dreamed up by Muammar Khadafy in 1988 after he botched a 1986 attempt to hijack an American plane and blow it up over Israel. That was a revenge plot for the air raid President Reagan had ordered on Khadafy's home a few months before. Khadafy's baby daughter was killed. Reagan was retaliating for a Libyan bombing of a Berlin discothèque in which two American soldiers perished.
Thus, the bodies of the Lockerbie crash victims, and that of their convicted murderer, have always been the bargaining chips which Muammar Khadafy crafted to return himself to good standing on the world stage. Libya incurred U.N. sanctions in 1992 and was marginalized for getting caught red-handed in Lockerbie and other terrorist acts. The deal to renew trade with the West was for Libya to pay $2.7 billion to the Pan Am victims' families and cease all development of nuclear weapons. U.N. trade approval was granted, and Libya was removed from the U.S. state-sponsored terror list.
In the past year, Libya's dictator has begun stepping out and living large. A glitzy $5-billion "Smart City" is being built outside Tripoli for the oil company executive offices. International contractors are building a new airport, and the capital city's downtown has major projects underway.
The gnarly-nosed strongman is so emboldened now that he could walk right onto U.S. soil for the first time ever this fall without fear of being arrested for murder. Muammar Khadafy pitched his Bedouin tents and harem on one of "the Donald's" (Trump) back lots. He strutted into New York looking like bad-hair Sgt. Pepper wearing 1970's bordello curtains. He loony-lectured the United Nations for 98 minutes on such topics as abolishing Switzerland because the Swiss arrested one of his sons for domestic abuse, reinvestigating JFK's assassination, and moving the U.N. somewhere closer to his home so he won't get jetlagged.
Oh, and Barack Obama shook his hand!
With the blood of 270 Pan Am passengers on his hands, not to mention billions of oil-bucks, Muammar Khadafy is back and badder than ever because people on both sides of the pond let him get away with murder.
Not that any of them care, but where is the Lockerbie bomber? It turns out that the Times' reporter is the one who discovered him missing, not the Scots or the Libyans.
Shame on all of you.