[This is the headline over a letter from Thomas McLaughlin in today's edition of The Herald. It reads as follows:]
You report that the unfolding debacle in Libya offers hope of further indictments of those involved in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 (“Conflict brings new hope of convicting others involved in Lockerbie attack”, The Herald, March 21).
The Lord Advocate should not hold her breath. Officers of the Dumfries and Galloway police force should not plan a trip to Libya soon, even if that country survives intact.
The source of these (false) hopes is Mustafa Abdel Jalil, Libya’s former justice minister who has claimed, “the orders were given by Gaddafi himself.” As Mandy Rice-Davis once remarked, “he would say that, wouldn’t he?” Jalil, now the Brother Leader’s sworn enemy and head of a provisional government, has courted Western sympathy, in competition with his former boss, using this claim as his trump card. Muammar Gadaffi’s counter-bid, that al Qaeda were trying to topple him (now seemingly in alliance with Crusaders), was deemed to lack credibility.
But truth, as “Blairaq” veterans know only too well, is the first casualty of war. If anyone has evidence of Libyan complicity then surely Libya’s own former justice minister has? It is, though, now a month since he made the claim. Where is the evidence? Has it yet to be manufactured –like so much else that helped convict Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi?
[A letter from Dr Jim Swire in yesterday's edition of The Herald reads as follows:]
In 1986, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher colluded with US President Ronald Reagan in facilitating the bombing of Tripoli and Benghazi – revenge for an alleged Libyan terrorist bomb in Germany.
Inspection of the Gaddafi family residence of the time, preserved as a ruin ever since, and seen on our screens again these days, makes it obvious that the US bomb which partially destroyed the residence had been intended to assassinate Muammar Gaddafi (“New Gaddafi blitz”, The Herald, March 21).
Instead the blast and shrapnel killed Gaddafi’s adopted daughter Hannah, aged 18 months, asleep in her bedroom. Some 30 Libyan civilians died too that night. Their relatives still grieve as we do.
In 1993, nearly two years after the publication of indictments of two Libyan citizens for their alleged part in causing the Lockerbie disaster, Lady Thatcher wrote, in praise of this action, in The Downing Street Years.
She wrote: “First it [the bombing raid] turned out to be a more decisive blow against Libyan-sponsored terrorism than I could ever have imagined … the much-vaunted Libyan counter attack did not and could not take place. Gaddafi had not been destroyed but he had been humbled. There was a marked decline in Libyan-sponsored terrorism in succeeding years.”
Two years later the Lockerbie tragedy occurred.
In 1991, when the indictments were issued, I first visited Gaddafi to beg him to allow his citizens to appear before a Scottish court. I also asked him to put up a picture of Flora on the wall of Hannah’s bedroom, beside one of Hannah. Beneath we put a message in Arabic and English. It was still there in 2010 when I was last in Tripoli.
It reads: “ The consequence of the use of violence is the death of innocent people.”
Even forbidden as we private citizens still are, to see the secret documents from those days, the sentiments of Flora’s message remain secure. I hope the plaque will not be destroyed in a second attempt at assassination. Libyans should decide their own future, as we ours.
[The uniformly bellicose views of a selection of US relatives of victims of the Lockerbie bombing can be found in an article by Brian Bolduc on the National Review website entitled Qaddafi Must Go: Victims of Pan Am Flight 103 demand the dictator’s ouster.]