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 http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article4462187.ece).
'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 http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080724/wl_nm/libya_italy_compensation_dc).
'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 http://www.libya-watanona.com/news/n21aug2a.htm).
'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 http://www.maltatoday.com.mt/2008/08/03/t8.html).
'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.