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

Islamic State Survivor: A Yazidi Girl's Tale

Sarah Said Haydar, captured a year ago while fleeing Islamic State onslaught in northern Iraq, was so traumatized by militants, she sought to end her own life More

EU, US Applaud Kosovo Law on Special Court

Joint statement says lawmakers' decision to address allegations of war crimes 'demonstrated their commitment to the rule of law and to honor international agreements' More

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' 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.
Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Tradei
X
Robert Carmichael
August 04, 2015 3:07 PM
Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Trade

Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Growing Number of E. Jerusalem Palestinians Seek Israeli Citizenship

Most Palestinians living in East Jerusalem have long rejected the option of full Israeli citizenship, seeing it as a betrayal to their political cause - the formation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. But as that dream remains elusive, more and more Palestinians are applying for Israeli citizenship. Zlatica Hoke reports the decision is hard for many Palestinians who say they have to be pragmatic about it.
Video

Video With No Money, More Students, African Universities Struggle

Academics from around the African continent converged in Johannesburg last week for the African Universities Summit, a chance to tackle some of the major issues facing higher education in Africa today. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Wisconsin's Voter ID Law Still Mired In Controversy

Voter ID laws have sparked controversy across the US. More than 30 states enacted laws requiring citizens to show identification before they vote. Against fierce opposition, the state of Wisconsin recently enacted one the most restrictive voter ID laws in country. As Jeff Swicord reports, no one can predict its impact as the 2016 election nears.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Hailed as Highly Effective

At last, there's a way to end the suffering from the Ebola epidemic that has ravaged West Africa for more than a year. Researchers say the vaccine is so effective, there may never be a major outbreak of Ebola again. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs