Libyan Government Bullies Brits
Like many of you, I was caught by surprise when the Brits and Scotland announced they were going to release the Lockerbie bomber “on humanitarian grounds.” For those of you who do not know or remember, Abdel Baset Ali al-Megrahi was convicted of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie Scotland killing 243 passengers. My surprise was simple. What humanitarian grounds would justify letting this monster out. His sentence was life in prison, which meant that he stayed there until he died. Now they were going to let him go home because he was sick? Say it ain’t so….
Well, according to documents released by our friend Julian Assange, here is the true reason. The British government feared a furious Libyan reaction if the convicted Lockerbie bomber wasn't set free and expressed relief when they learned that he would be released on compassionate grounds, the leaked U.S. diplomatic cables show.
A cache of cables from the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli describes the run-up to the decision to free Abdel Baset Ali al-Megrahi, a former Libyan agent whose freedom on Aug. 20, 2009, sparked jubilation in Libya but injured relations between London and Washington.
Critics of the decision on both sides of the Atlantic have alleged that British officials were motivated by commercial interests -- including those of energy company BP PLC -- when they moved to free al-Megrahi
While officials here have always stressed that the 58-year-old al-Megrahi was released because he suffers from terminal prostate cancer, the cables show the Brits were keenly aware that they faced a hugely damaging backlash if they didn't do as the Libyans wanted.
The U.K. was caught "between a rock and a hard place," an Oct. 24, 2008 U.S. cable warned. "The Libyans have told HMG (Her Majesty's Government) flat out that there will be 'enormous repercussions' for the UK-Libya bilateral relationship if (al-)Megrahi's early release is not handled properly." Britain's ambassador to Tripoli, Vincent Fean, said a few months later that a refusal to release the convicted terrorist would have meant disaster for British interests in Libya. "They could have cut us off at the knees, just like the Swiss," the cable quotes Fean as saying.
Fean seemed to be referring to the Swiss detention of Moammar Gadhafi's son and daughter-in-law in July 2008 for assaults on their servants in Geneva -- arrests that sparked a spectacular collapse of relations between the two countries. Tripoli suspended visas for Swiss citizens, withdrew funds from Swiss banks, stopped oil shipments, reduced flights to Switzerland, and imprisoned two Swiss businessmen in retaliation -- forcing Switzerland into an embarrassing apology
British officials have long acknowledged that commercial interests -- as well the desire to deepen anti-terrorism cooperation -- played a role in the U.K.-Libyan prisoner transfer agreement which first raised the prospect of al-Megrahi's release.
But they have always stressed that the decision to release al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds was made independent of that deal, and that, in any case, officials in the Scottish capital of Edinburgh had the final say on whether to set him free.
Scotland has insisted that its decision was made on humanitarian grounds alone, although the cables do suggest that Libya tried to lean on the Scottish Executive to do its bidding.
Scottish leader Alex Salmond is quoted as telling a U.S. official that the Libyan government had offered the Scottish government "a parade of treats" in return for a deal on al-Megrahi's release -- although he said all the inducements were turned down.
|This is a picture of how he looks today...-yeah real sick eh?|
Update: There was a report on the news this morning that a source close to the family of the Lockerbie bomber Abdul Baset al Megrahi said his death is imminent and every day is "expected to be his last." Suffering from prostate cancer, the Libyan's health has rapidly deteriorated -- and his relatives said he has been in a coma and on life support for around a week. That may be true but it has taken a long time coming --and I am not sure how smart it is to believe reports from Libya.
Live Long and Prosper...