Libya, Lockerbie and BP: The ‘Sick’ Linkages

Robert A. Cohn


A year ago, the families of the 270 people killed in the 1988 Libyan terrorist bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 which went down in Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988, were outraged that Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, who had been convicted of this mass murder, had been released by Scotland and allowed to fly back to Libya on the “humanitarian” grounds that he was dying of prostate cancer and had only three months to live. 

One year later, Megrahi is not only still alive, but the very physician who had given him such a grim prognosis now says he may live another 10 years!

Last year’s farcical release of the convicted bomber was compounded when Libya went back on its explicit promise to receive Megrahi in a “low key” manner. Instead, Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi personally welcomed Megrahi after his flight landed as a “conquering hero,” with an orchestrated mass mob welcome and fireworks display.

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The obscene spectacle was a direct insult to the families of the 270 people killed in the terrorist bombing. Some 189 of those killed were Americans.

And now comes the added horrific apparent direct linkage between Megrahi’s unwarranted release and the influence of British Petroleum (BP), the very oil firm that is responsible for the destructive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. BP apparently pressured the government of Great Britain, to pressure the semi-autonomous government of Scotland to release Megrahi in order to protect BP’s $900 million oil-and-gas exploration deal off Libya’s Mediterranean coast. The British Justice Minister at the time, Jack Straw, has admitted after Megrahi was repatriated and freed, that the BP deal was a consideration in the review of this case. If true, this link between crude oil and the blood of innocent victims of terrorism stinks to the high heavens as much as the Gulf oil spill.

Both of New York’s Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten E. Gillebrand, along with Senators Frank R. Lautenberg and Robert Menendez of New Jersey, announced that they have written a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton asking for a State Department investigation of BP’s alleged role in the prisoner transfer agreement. Further calls for an investigation have been made by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Blood for oil has been the 800-pound gorilla in ALL of the negotiations with the regime of Libyan dictator Qaddafi, who himself should be held accountable for the Lockerbie bombing as well as the 1986 bombing of a disco in Berlin in which American soldiers were killed.

Megrahi was the “fall guy” who was obliged to “fall on his sword,” when the real culprit, who deserves to be indicted as a war criminal is dictator Qaddafi himself. When Qaddafi, under international pressure agreed to a multi-million “settlement” with the families of the Lockerbie victims, he was sanctimoniously “welcomed back into the family of nations.” In other words, he was allowed to get away with mass murder in exchange for cash and in tribute to the vast oil reserves in Libya.

There should not only be prompt and thorough investigations of the British Petroleum involvement in the Megrahi case, but the Qaddafi regime itself should be called to account for its continued flouting of the international community even after it escaped justice for its acts of murder and terrorism.

Robert A. Cohn is Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of the Jewish Light.