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

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' 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.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs