Thursday, August 20, 2009

Bye Bye Lockerbie Bomber

The Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, went home to Libya yesterday. In case his name doesn't exactly ring a bell, he is the guy who was convicted of blowing up Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988.

In 1988 the world was a very different place. Reagan was in the White House and the Cold War was going strong. Libya's Muammar Gaddafi' was playing the Russians and Americans off against each other. The PLO was beating it's chest. Iran was yelling " Death to America" but all that didn't seem too important compared to the possiblity of nuclear attack from the Soviet Union. Then poof-- there went Pan Am Flight 103. It shocked the world. The trail was hard to follow, but it seemed that this was an act of state-sponsored terrorism and the sponsor was Libya.

Megranhi and a co conspirator were wanted men. Libya refused to turn them over for trial for eight years, keeping them under house arrest in Tripoli, where it must be said they were seen as heros rather than criminals. Finally, in 1999 a trial began in the Netherlands. Only Megranhi was convicted in 2001 and sentenced to life imprisonment in Scotland. Lucky for him it wasn't an American jail. He would have been dead within a year. The inmates would have killed him.

What Really Happened?

I always had the feeling that Megranhi was a scape goat and that there was more to this story than met the eye. Conspiracy theories have abounded over the years. Some have pointed the finger at the PLO or the CIA. Iran has been implicated, but nobody has proof of anything. Megranhi is a former Libyan intelligence officer ( former?? I wonder) who always maintained his innocence. There are, it must be admitted, a lot of loose ends.

Now, Megrani, suffering from terminal cancer, has been allowed to go home to die , his sentence commuted on grounds of compassion. Lots of people are quite upset-- from the families of the victims to the President of the United States. I don't blame people for being angry. Me? I feel there is something funny going on. Part of me would like to see this guy rot in jail. Another part of me thinks this is about somethng bigger than just one man-- innocent or guilty.

Muammar Gaddafi',the bad boy Libyan dictator, has recently decided to play nicely with the West. This is going down well in high places because Libya has more oil than any other country in Africa. Gaddafi has stopped his nuclear program,restored diplomatic relations, gotten America and the EU to lift economic sanctions, paid reparations to the Lockerbie families and issued an apology. And now Megrani's sentence has been commuted on compasionate grounds. It's a regular little lovefest, isn't it? Nice to get that nasty Lockerbie thing over and done with forever.I don't know what is really going on, but I would guess that as always, it would be illuminating to follow the money.

So yesterday, Gaddafi sent his private jet to pick up Megrani and fly him home. Jubilant crowds waited at the airport in Tripoli. In two weeks Gadaffi will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the military coup that brought him to power. In three months or so, Megrani will be dead. In six months oil will be flowing and big money will be made. No doubt Megrani's family will get their share.

Families of the victims will continue to mourn. Terrorists will continue to plot. Nations will continue to jockey for power, and we, the people of the world, will believe what we wish to. Bye bye Lockerbie bomber. Are you a mass murderer or a patriotic soldier who fell on his spear for the good of his people? Truth, like beauty, is often in the eye of the beholder.


Matt said...

I think in all likelihood this guy was a scapegoat because of an enormous amount of pressure to convict SOMEONE.

His conviction is considered unsafe. It is on public record that new evidence and evidence not admitted to court at the time of his trial indicates that he may have been subjected to a miscarriage of justice.

He rescinded his appeal (which would have taken longer than he has to live) in favor of a compassionate discharge. At some point in the future, had his granted appeal been able to go ahead, it is likely that his conviction would have been overturned. I believe it is this potential for embarrassment, combined with his terminal illness, which led to his release.

We all feel for the families of the 270, the Americans, the British and those of all 21 nations who lost their lives and in an ideal world we would all like to see full payment but justice for the sake of justice is no justice at all. Convictions must always be safe.

pinkpackrat said...

Thanks Matt. What you say makes sense. It is clear that something is going on under the surface here and I too think it has to do with rapprochement to Libya-- however I would add that " he who sups with the devil must use a long spoon"

My thoughts and prayers are with the families. When the big dogs fight, it's the little dogs who get hurt.

britesprite said...

Aye. Even in the bad-old 80s, there was never anything for Libya to gain by blowing up a Flight103; the idea that Megranhi let alone Gaddafi's regime was solely responsiblehas always laughable. Wheels within wheels, etc.

I have to say I have got very upset at the American parents who have been on TV asking why we should show Megranhi any kind of compassion when he (or whomever he represents) showed none for their family.

I really do feel their hurt and pain, still alive and raw decades later. But by seeking vengence, not justice, by wishing suffering on a man, not peace, you are doing nothing to stop the men of violence (on all sides) and everything to encourage them.

Please, let no one believe that cruelty is ever justified.

LondonGirl said...

I don't know whether he did it or not, although I hae me doots, as they might say in Scotland.

Even if he did it, for sure, then I still think releasing him is the right thing to do. The quality of mercy is not strained, it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven.

JamaGenie said...

Forget the money. Follow the oil. Libya has it, the rest of the world can't give up its addiction to it despite proof that being dependent on it has accelerated global warming.

Scout's Honor said...

I agree that it seems a political convenience rather than justice. I would be so angry if I had a love don on that plane. Screw it, I am angry and I didn't have a loved one on that plane. Outrageous. There should be no compassion for terrorist, cancer or not. Their victims did not receive such compassion.

pinkpackrat said...

Thanks everyone for leaving such cogent, interesting comments on this post-- great feedback and gives me lots to think about. Yes, Britesprite-- wheels within wheels, as you say and your point is well taken regarding vengence and compassion, however you can't really expect those who lost loved ones to take the emotional high road-- it all does depend on whose ox is being gored, doesn't it:-)

I expect many agree with ScoutsHonor-- me, I don't know what to think. The whole thing leaves me very sad. I'm with Rodney King: " why can't we all just get along?"

Wendy R said...

Dear Pinkpackrat
Still relishing both your blogs. I have passed on a strange little prize to you. You'll find it at my place.


pinkpackrat said...

Wendy-- what a lovely prize-- thank you. I am honored:-)