The strange and murderous journey of Abdel Basset al-Megrahi has finally come to a destination, at least according to his brother. The Lockerbie bomber died in his bed this weekend of cancer almost three years after a sleazy deal with the British government sent him back to Libya:
The former Libyan intelligence officer convicted of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing that killed 270 people has died, his brother said on Sunday. He was 59.
Abdel Basset al-Megrahi died at home after a long battle with cancer. His health had deteriorated quickly, his brother Abdulhakim told Reuters on Sunday.
Megrahi had a status unusual in Libya the past two years. At first he lived under the protection of Moammar Qaddafi, whose son publicly celebrated Megrahi’s release despite an agreement with the British government to keep the return more low-key. After a NATO bombardment initially led by the US allowed rebels to overthrow Qaddafi, we asked for Megrahi’s extradition. Despite Megrahi’s connection to the old regime, the new regime refused to extradite Megrahi for his murders, most of which victimized Americans.
In the end, Megrahi only served eleven days for each of the murdered victims in the Lockerbie bombing. The Scottish and British governments granted Megrahi a compassionate release with an explanation that he only had weeks to live. That was in the late summer of 2009. At that time, the UK was negotiating oil contracts with Qaddafi, which made the “compassionate release” appear a lot more like “mercenary release.” The release violated an agreement to extradite Megrahi to the US if and when the UK decided to release him.
Megrahi has gone on to his final judgment. We still need an accounting for the violation of that agreement and the appeasement involved in Megrahi’s release.