Five months ago, Scotland assured everyone that Abdelbeset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi would be dead within months, and perhaps weeks, from advanced prostate cancer. The prognosis formed their rationale for granting the Lockerbie Bomber — convicted of over 270 murders in the terrorist attack — a “compassionate” release to Libya and his family after serving less than 12 days in prison for each victim of the attack. So when was the funeral? Lloyd Grove wonders, too:
Never mind the Underpants Bomber, who failed to blow up a jetliner over Detroit on Christmas Day and will now feel the full force of the American criminal justice system. The Lockerbie Bomber, who was successful, is alive and living quietly at home in Libya—nearly five months after his so-called “compassionate release” from a Scottish prison.
Fifty-seven-year-old terrorist Abdelbeset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi—handed a life sentence after being found guilty in the Dec. 21, 1988 murders of 259 passengers and crew on Pan Am Flight 103, plus another 11 people on the ground—was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer by unnamed Scottish doctors who erroneously predicted he’d be dead by now.
And the loved ones of those who perished in the crash are livid about it.
“We are quite interested in how the Libyans, and indeed the Scots who released Megrahi, are going to spin the fact that he is still alive and kicking after he was supposed to have gone to his eternal judgment day,” said aviation security expert Frank Duggan, president of Victims of Pan Am 103 Inc., which represents the families of the 190 Americans killed in the Boeing 747’s explosion over Scotland. “We never believed he was as ill as they maintained, since they had been saying he had one foot in the grave for over a year.”
The Libyans? They don’t need to spin anything. They got exactly what they wanted, thanks to the fecklessness (and some say greed) of the UK as they broke their promise to the US and to the victims of the bombing of Pan Am 103. Moammar Gaddafi sent his son Said to give Megrahi a hero’s welcome at the airport, defying a request from Scotland to make it a low-key event. They’re not embarrassed about anything to do with Megrahi’s status, least of all his continued oxygen filtering.
The West, however, has a lot of explaining to do — and not just the UK and Scotland. The exchange of Megrahi for oil contracts shows everything wrong with handling terrorists as common criminals. Megrahi was only available for the exchange because Scotland treated him as a murderer instead of a terrorist, and refused to put him to death in the accustomed manner for unlawful combatants at war. Scotland can be forgiven that decision, given the inexperience we all had at the time of his capture. The US has much less excuse for doing the same think with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, and the dozens of Yemenis that Obama seems keen on sending back to Yemen for even less than the UK got from Libya for Megrahi.