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.