Sunday, 10 August 2008

Patrick Haseldine on US-Libya compensation agreement

I am grateful to Patrick Haseldine for allowing me to reproduce here the text of an e-mail that he sent to me today:

'A week ago, President Bush signed off the Libyan Claims Resolution Act (see

'A fortnight ago, the Libyan leader's son Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi publicly confirmed that a comprehensive agreement with the United States over further payments of compensation for past bombing incidents for which Libya has been blamed (April 1986 Berlin discotheque, December 1988 Pan Am Flight 103 and September 1989 UTA Flight 772 bombings) was close to being concluded. However, Saif al-Islam was insistent that the United States should first compensate Libya for the June 1986 bombing of Tripoli and Benghazi: "We offered the United States a comprehensive deal putting all the cases in one package but we want them to compensate the Libyan victims of the U.S. strike. This is our condition and they must satisfy it" (see

'It would be wrong to regard this Libyan demand for compensation as something new or simply the latest negotiating tactic. Giving evidence in a 2002 legal action against The Daily Telegraph, Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi recounted a terrifying event that took place in his youth:

'"One of the worst times in my family's life together was the United States bombing raid on Tripoli and Benghazi (the two biggest cities in Libya) in 1986. I was only 14 at the time and my family were all together in our home in Tripoli. One night, without any warning, the bombers came and, for five minutes, rained rockets down on us. I was woken up by loud crashing sounds and explosions, it was absolutely terrifying. Our house had been directly hit. I knew that we had to go to a shelter which had been built within the house. Sadly, some of my brothers and sisters were too young to know what to do, and they became trapped in one part of the house when a corridor collapsed. They were stuck there until the rescue services arrived, and, when we dug them out we found that Hannah, my youngest sister, had died. She was just four years old" (see

'It was claimed that the U.S. air strike killed at least 40 people in Libya, and injured 220. As recently as 3 August 2008, it was revealed that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi had been forewarned of the attack in a telephone call from Malta's Prime Minister, Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici. When Gaddafi heard that unauthorised aircraft were flying over Maltese airspace heading south towards Tripoli, he rushed out of the family residence in the Bab al Aziziya compound moments before the bombs dropped, and escaped injury (see

'The Libyan claim for compensation might not be limited just to the United States but could perhaps be extended to the United Kingdom. This is because Margaret Thatcher's government authorised the use of RAF Lakenheath and RAF Upper Heyford for the bombing raid by the USAF's 22 strike aircraft. France, which denied the USAF overflying rights, could also put in a compensation claim because the French embassy in Tripoli was seriously damaged by a precision-guided bomb which "missed" its intended target!'

This item was reproduced by Mathaba News Network on 12 August 2008.

1 comment:

  1. On 31 October 2008, CNN reported:

    "Libya has paid $1.5 billion to the families of terrorism victims, overcoming the final obstacle to full relations with the United States, the State Department said Friday.

    "The payment ends Tripoli's legal liability in US terror cases and paves the way for increased US involvement in the oil-rich nation.

    "President Bush signed an executive order Friday restoring Libyan immunity from terrorism-related lawsuits and dismissing pending cases over compensation as part of a deal reached this summer.

    "David Welch, the top US diplomat for the Middle East, who negotiated the agreement, called Libya's rehabilitation from a terrorist nation to a US ally 'historic'.

    "The pact closes the book on a contentious period in US-Libyan relations, which began in the 1980s with a series of attacks involving the two countries, including the bombings of Pan Am Flight 103, a German disco and US airstrikes over Libya.

    "US business executives hope the new relationship will lead to billions of dollars of new investment in Libya, a country rich in petroleum reserves but lacking a developed infrastructure.

    "This summer, the United States and Libya signed a deal for the State Department to create a $1.8 billion compensation fund to finalise the claims for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, and the 1986 bombing of La Belle disco in Berlin, Germany. It also compensates Libyan victims of US airstrikes in the 1980s.

    "Congress unanimously adopted the Libyan Claims Resolution Act, sponsored by Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, D-New Jersey, which cleared the way to end the feud and created the victim compensation fund.

    "Under the agreement, Libya pays more than $500 million to settle remaining claims from the Lockerbie case and more than $280 million for victims of the disco bombing. It will also set aside funds to compensate victims of several other incidents blamed on Libya, although Libya has not accepted responsibility.

    "In exchange, Libya will now be exempt from legislation passed this year enabling terrorism victims to be compensated using frozen assets of governments blamed for attacks. Tripoli sought the protection to encourage US companies to invest in Libya without fear of being sued by terrorism victims or their families."