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

Polls Open in Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

China to Invest $20 billion In India Amid Border Dispute

Border spat between armies of two countries in Himalayas underlines mutual tensions despite growing commercial ties highlighted by Xi Jinping's high profile visit More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country 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.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid