Was Lockerbie bomber released as part of a business deal?

Libyan Abdel Basset Ali Al-Megrahi escorted by security officers in 1992 before appearing at the Supreme court for a hearing in connection with the 1988 December bombing of a Pan Am fligh over Lockerbie, Scotland.


Tess Vigeland: Tomorrow, Libya will mark the first anniversary of its controversial release of the Lockerbie Bomber. Abdel Basset Ali Al-Megrahi was serving a life sentence for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. 270 people -- most of them Americans -- died in the attack. But last year, Al-Megrahi was set free from a Scottish jail after just eight years. Now, a Senate committee is investigating whether the release happened for business reasons To benefit the British oil giant BP.

From London, Stephen Beard reports.

Stephen Beard: It was billed as an act of compassion. One year ago, Scotland's Justice Minister Kenny Makasgill released the Lockerbie Bomber on the grounds that he had less than three months to live.

Justice Minister Kenny Makasgill: On the basis of the medical evidence given to me, I've returned him to Libya to die.

But one year later, Al-Megrahi still isn't dead. The decision to set him free now looks naive at best. Professor Robert Kirby is a cancer specialist.

Robert Kirby: It was a big mistake to let him out on the premise that he would be dead within three months. That was always likely to end up to be embarrassingly wrong.

Kirby says the decision did not take into account the obvious possibility that Al-Megrahi would receive chemotherapy in Libya. Critics claim that the release is incredibly suspect -- especially since Britain's biggest oil company BP has acquired drilling rights in Libya.

U.S. Senator Robert Menendez is chairing a Senate investigation raising questions about the case.

Senator Robert Menendez: What were the circumstances that led to Al-Megrahi's release? Did BP play a role in those factors because of a deal with Libya to the tune of $900 million?

BP points out that it signed its deal with Libya two years before Al-Megrahi was set free. And it denies it ever lobbied for his release. But skeptics say that even after signing the deal, BP would still need to curry favour with the Libyan regime. And Senator Menendez claims there is evidence of lobbying by BP representatives.

Menendez: There is a business group of which BP is one of the prime sponsors that made a direct communication with the Scottish minister, and said that "We believe very strongly you should give Al-Megrahi a release."

Sounds of cheers and whistles

These were the jubilant scenes in Tripoli when Al-Megrahi returned a year ago. More celebrations are scheduled tomorrow to mark the first anniversary of his return. More fuel for the Senate inquiry, more embarrassment for BP.

In London, this is Stephen Beard for Marketplace.

About the author

Stephen Beard is the European bureau chief and provides daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.
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BBC: "US calls for Lockerbie bomber to return to jail"

Hahahhaaahhhhaaaahahaa! *phew* Oh yeah, I can see him waking up tomorrow and saying to Libyan officials, "yaknow, I should go back to jail for what I did." as they nod in agreement. ROFLMAO!

Here's a thought: Let the idiots who released him take his place.

With reference to the comment from Iain McCorquodale in New York. Yes, Iain I do understand � the dynamics of Scottish and UK politics. � But in the context of this report they are irrelevant. I do not make any reference to BP lobbying the UK government; I do however quote Senator Menendez referring to a business group � of which BP is a sponsor � lobbying the Scottish government.

It is SHOCKING to think that there might be a link betweeen oil money and terrorism.

How does $900 million stack up for BP?

Against whom were they competing for the deal - the Chinese? The same guys who are protecting Sudan, with everyone's complicity, from any real effort to bring their president to justice?

We are led to understand that Libya has been a pretty good citizen of late. Better to have them taking "our" money so we might have some leverage for good.

How much money have we given to the Saudis over the years? And would there still be a Saudi regime sponsoring fundamentalist movements everywhere if not for all the oil the world buys and has bought? What ever came of the FBI wanting to talk with the Bin Ladens secretly flown out of the US immediately after 9/11? Where were these brave senators on that investigation?

How could a doctor possibly have guessed wrong about how long somebody had to live?

Where is the gas tax?

This is piling on, and pre-election posing and covering of rear ends, in the wake of a BP spill that never should have allowed to happen and which happened because, when it comes to oil money, all governments, and politicians, are for sale.

The vast majority of Scots didn't lose a loved one at Lockerbie. The vast majority of Scots didn't lose a loved one to the IRA.

But the irony (clearly lost on MacAskill's toadies) is that Kaddafi was the IRA. Kaddafi financed, supported, directed, trained and armed the IRA for decades. They were among his favorite Marxist hired goons.

Up to 6,000 innocents were killed or injured with Libyan supplied guns and explosives. And many IRA bombs employed the same Semtex that sent what was left of Clipper Maid of the Seas crashing into Christmas dinner tables in tiny Lockerbie (incinerating 11 Scots on the ground). Kaddafi has accepted liability and responsibility for both IRA terrorism AND Lockerbie terrorism– along with many other mass murders of innocents orchestrated by his terror-state.

Kaddafi’s IRA proxies might still be in business if not for the tireless efforts of the Victims of Pan Am 103 to sanction and isolate Libya. But (apparently) no good deed goes unpunished– at least among the cheap Scotch-adled SNP brains of Kenny MacAskill fans.

IRA and Lockerbie bombing victims properly hold Kaddafi responsible for his bloody atrocities. They can no longer afford to ignore the kabuki theatre of Libyan state-sponsored terrorism.

Guilt-riddled Scots can sneer at America all they want– meanwhile the jihadists continue their demographic conquest of your quaint little island.

Good luck with that, Quislings.

Cardinal O'Brien's 'culture of vengeance'

As we read in Deuteronomy, "Those who show mercy to the wicked will bring cruelty to the world." I would argue that terrorists around the world see weakness and corruption in this move, not compassion. We embolden terrorists when we are too cowardly to uphold our own judgments. How is it right that al-Megrahi served only 11 days for murdering a little child four days before Christmas in Lockerbie?

For years, I have prayed over the issue of vengeance v justice. I often thought it would be easier simply to "forgive and forget", and that is what many people want.

However, I think justice – in and of itself – is worthy of relentless pursuit. We never asked for al-Megrahi to be put to death. We simply begged that we not sell his release for political expediency. In fact, we strongly advocated that he should receive the best palliative care possible in Scotland.

I resent and condemn Cardinal O'Brien's characterisation of a supposed US "culture of vengeance" – purely because we have the courage to hold people responsible in this instance. Unfortunately, it is not the first time the leaders of the Catholic church have landed on the wrong side of history and righteousness. I only hope my fellow Catholics in Scotland will see through the hypocrisy.

You clearly do not understand the dynamics of Scottish and UK politics. The Scottish government would not do the UK government any favours as the two parties in power at the time loath each other to such a degree that they cannot work together. BP lobbying the UK government would have no effect on the Scottish government. The Scottish government wants to end the union with England and it is for this reason that it is villified by the UK press.

The Scottish people on the other hand when asked their opinion in a YouGov poll - The poll of 1,212 people, conducted on the 17th and 18th August shows:

• 72% of Scots agree that the Scottish Government is accountable to the Scottish Parliament, not US politicians, and was right to decline to attend the US Senate hearings.

• only 14% agree with the US Senators that oil industry lobbying was played a part in the decision, a figure dwarfed by the 54% who believe that Al Megrahi was released solely in accordance with Scots law.

• 76% of those polled think it was right that the decision on Al Megrahi was made by the Scottish Government, and not the UK.

Don't believe everything you read in the UK press concerniong Scotland.

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