Lockerbie bomber finally dies
Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, the only man convicted in the Lockerbie bombing, has finally died.
He was released in 2009, supposedly on death's door. Subsequent information that came out revealed his release was part of an oil deal between Great Britain and Libya.
The death of Mr. Megrahi, who always insisted he was innocent, foreclosed a fuller accounting of his role, and perhaps that of the Libyan government under Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, in the midair explosion of Pan Am Flight 103, which killed 270 people, including 189 Americans.
A former Libyan intelligence officer who worked undercover at Libya's national airline, Mr. Megrahi was found guilty in 2001 of orchestrating the bombing and sentenced to life in prison, with a 27-year minimum. But eight years later, after doctors said he was likely to die within three months, he was freed in 2009 under a Scottish law providing for compassionate release of prisoners with terminal illnesses.
Cheering crowds greeted his return to Libya, escorted by Colonel Qaddafi's son Saif al-Islam in a grim propaganda coup. But his release infuriated many families of the bombing victims, touched off angry protests in Britain and the United States, and was condemned by President Obama and other Western leaders, including Britain's Conservative opposition after Gordon Brown, then prime minister, waffled.
Critics charged that Mr. Megrahi's release had been a part of Libyan oil and gas deals with Britain. A British cabinet official admitted that he and the prime minister had discussed Mr. Megrahi with Colonel Qaddafi's son at a European economic conference, but denied there had been any deal for his release.
There are some who claim that Megrahi was indeed innocent, and that he was a scapegoat. That seems plausible if only becaus the evidence against him was largely circumstantial.
But it is equally plausible that he had knowledge of the plot and may have been a key operator in bringing the conspiracy to fruition. Whatever role he played, he took that information to the grave.