News / Middle East

Libyan Minister Accuses Gadhafi of Lockerbie Attack

Libya's ex-justice minister Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, February 23, 2011
Libya's ex-justice minister Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, February 23, 2011

Multimedia

Audio
Henry Ridgwell

Libya's former justice minister, who has resigned following the government's crackdown on protestors there, says the country's leader Moammar Gadhafi personally ordered the Lockerbie plane bombing in 1988. Mr. Gadhafi has always denied that he knew of the plans to carry out the attack. The claim has reignited the debate over whether Western countries were too quick to welcome Mr. Gadhafi back into the international community.

Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over Scotland in 1988, killing all 259 passengers and crew as well as 11 people on the ground in the town of Lockerbie. In 2003, Libyan leader Colonel Gadhafi finally admitted his country was responsible for the bombing - but Mr. Gadhafi himself has always denied prior knowledge.

Now his former justice minister, Mustafa Abdel-Jalil – who resigned this week following the violent crackdown on anti-government protests - says Mr. Gadhafi personally ordered the attack.

The Swedish newspaper Expressen says Jalil told their correspondent in Libya, "I have proof that Gadhafi gave the order about Lockerbie." He has not yet produced that evidence.

He said Gadhafi gave that order to Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the only man convicted of the attack - who was released from a Scottish jail on compassionate grounds in 2009 as he was suffering from cancer.

Bert Ammerman’s brother, Tom, was of one of the Lockerbie victims. At his home in the U.S. state of New Jersey, Bert has been listening avidly to the latest news from Libya.

“This information that's coming out today is the smoking gun that we've been waiting for 23 years,” Ammerman said. “It's now out in the open. A justice minister has clearly stated that Gadhafi ordered the bombing of Pan Am 103. That is an act of war. Finally an American administration can't hide behind rhetoric any longer. They must respond, they must react. President Obama what are you going to do?"

The allegation has reignited accusations that the West, and especially Britain, was too quick to welcome Mr. Gadhafi back into the international fold.

David Trefgarne, a former British government minister, is now chairman of the Libyan British Business Council. He says people should not jump to conclusions.

“Well, if you look back at the Lockerbie incident and all that happened from it, there have been huge numbers of allegations of all sorts of different kinds, some of which have proved to be true and some of which have proved to be not true,” said Trefgarne. “I’m not in a position to provide any authenticity for the one to which you have referred.”

In 2003, Colonel Gadhafi hosted former British Prime Minister Tony Blair in his tent in the desert. It was seen as the moment Libya – long a pariah state – came in from the cold.

Lord Trefgarne of the Libyan British Business Council says the relationship brought many benefits.

“They handed over their weapons of mass destruction, handed over their WMD program, they gave an undertaking not to support any form of international terrorism in the future,” he added.

The fact that Mr. Gadhafi now appears to be using lethal force against his own people has brought further accusations of hypocrisy for the British government. Many Western countries have sold arms to Libya. British companies shipped sniper rifles to Tripoli as recently as November.

Kaye Stearman is spokesperson for the Campaign Against Arms Trade.

“The European picture, of course, is that everybody is trying to sell to Libya – they’re a very, very rich country and it’s opened up enormously in the past few years,” Stearman said. “So there, I think you’ll find the Italians, the French, the Germans are very much competing with the British to sell things. Even tiny Malta has sold I think about $120 million worth of weapons to Libya.”

The brutal suppression of the protests has led to calls from many European governments to impose trade sanctions on Libya.

Scotland, meanwhile, says it will pursue any new lines of inquiry that become available in relation to the Lockerbie bombing.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid