Libyan official claims Gadhafi ordered bomb for Pan Am flight 103

pan am flight 103

Moammar Gadhafi's former justice minister claims to have evidence the dictator issued personal orders to the Lockerbie bomber. Image: CC openDemocracy/Flickr

Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi personally ordered the bombing of Pan Am flight 103, according to Libya’s former justice minister. Pan Am flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988, killing 270 people aboard and on the ground. Gadhafi allegedly pulled strings to get the Lockerbie bomber released from Scotland on “humanitarian grounds” in 2010, fearing that the dictator’s role in the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 would be revealed.

Ex-justice minister betrays his boss

Mustafa Abdel-Jalil told a Swedish tabloid Wednesday he had evidence Gadhafi ordered the Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, to commit the terrorist act that brought down Pan Am flight 103. Abdel-Jalil, who was Gadhafi’s justice minister, resigned Monday in protest over Gadhafi’s violent crackdown against Libyan protesters demanding the dictator’s ouster. In recent moves to restore Libyan relations with the west, Gadhafi renounced terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. He also admitted Libya was responsible for the Lockerbie bombing and paid compensation to families of al-Megrahi’s victims. But he blamed the demise of Pan Am flight 103 on rogue Libyan intelligence officers.

The Lockerbie bomber

One of those rogue Libyan intelligence officers was al-Megrahi, who was also head of security for Libyan Arab Airlines. An intense investigation by Scotland Yard and the FBI pinned the crime on al-Megrahi and the station manager for Libyan Arab Airlines based in Malta. The Scottish government filed charges against the two suspects in 1991. In 1999 Gadhafi double-crossed his minions and handed them over to Scotland. They stood trial in the Netherlands, and al-Megrahi was convicted in 2001 as the Lockerbie bomber. The Lockerbie bomber was released from prison in 2009 and returned to Libya on humanitarian grounds. It was reported that al-Megrahi had terminal cancer and six months to live.

A desperate dictator

Analysts are inclined to take Abdel-Jalil at his word, considering that a such an order in the centralized Libyan dictatorship likely came from the highest level.  Abdel-Jalil said Gadhafi took every measure possible for al-Megrahi’s release to avoid being implicated, including the promise of a lucrative Libyan oil deal with British oil giant BP. Today the supposedly terminal al-Megrahi is alive and well in Libya–conditions that may not get started to Colonel Moammar Gadhafi, who has vowed to fight the Libyan uprising to his death, much longer.


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