Thursday, 19 January 2012

Libya claims Megrahi had role in Lockerbie bombing

[This is the headline over a report in today's edition of The Herald.  It reads in part:]

The new Libyan Government has admitted for the first time that Abdelbasset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi was involved in the Lockerbie bombing, which claimed the lives of 270 people.

Ashour Shamis, adviser to the country's Prime Minister Abdurrahim al Keib, scotched the theory the only man convicted of the atrocity was the victim of a miscarriage of justice.

Mr Shamis claimed that, as a security adviser to Colonel Gaddafi, Megrahi would have had a part to play.

While the new Government in Libya has maintained Gaddafi executed the terror attack, it has never before pinpointed the involvement of Megrahi.

Mr Shamis made the admission to Dr Jim Swire during a trip to Tripoli which was filmed for a documentary to be screened tonight on STV.
Dr Swire, 75 – whose daughter Flora died in the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 in 1988 – has long believed in the convicted bomber's innocence and he told filmmakers of the guilt he feels for pressing Libya to hand Megrahi over to stand trial.
He went to Libya to continue his search for the full truth behind Lockerbie and to say goodbye to Megrahi, who is suffering from terminal prostate cancer.
As his fact-finding mission unfolded in Tripoli, he met Mr Shamis after being granted an interview with the Government.
Mr Shamis said: "As far as the Libyans are concerned, the Gaddafi regime, Gaddafi personally, are involved in planning and executing this atrocity.
"There is no doubt about it They are involved. The regime are involved."
He said Gaddafi's payment of compensation to victims was proof the despot, who was killed in the rebel uprising in October, was behind the terror attack.
Backers of Gaddafi have always maintained the money was paid to force the lifting of UN sanctions against Libya.
Crucially, Mr Shamis added that Megrahi was involved in the bombing even if "he was only a small player". He said: "Megrahi is an employee of Libyan security, there is no doubt about it – of external security. And if he was told to do something he would have done it." (...)
In the documentary, Dr Swire elaborated on the guilt he feels over Megrahi's time in prison, describing him as a "decent guy". Dr Swire said: "I feel a sense of guilt about Megrahi ever being found guilty because maybe, just maybe, if I hadn't tried as far as I did, maybe Gaddafi wouldn't have handed him over because it was Gaddafi that I addressed my pleas to – to allow him to be handed over.
"So I feel guilt towards Megrahi, he is a decent guy and many other people who have met him said the same sort of thing.
"I doubt now, that he was a member of Libyan intelligence at all and I don't think he knows who in the Libyan regime knew what was going on.
"That of course brings us to the question of how much did the Libyan regime know and what can we find out."
Dr Swire visited Megrahi during his recent trip but camera crews were banned during the meeting. He was described as "distraught" following the pair's hour-long encounter.
Dr Swire said: "I think that what happened - in the sick room of a dying man and his doctor has to remain private.
"He is a very sick man and I thought it was a privilege to have been allowed essentially to say goodbye to him."
Dr Swire, who had met Megrahi previously, added: "This is a different and deeper level than we have been at before ... this was a parting discussion between two people who know each other, one of whom is going to die in the very near future."
Tonight: Did Gaddafi Kill My Daughter? STV at 7.30pm.
[Megrahi "would have had a part to play"; "he was only a small player"; "if he was told to do something he would have done it".  This does not amount to an admission by Mr Shamis that Megrahi was the person who placed, or arranged for the placing of, a bomb on Pan Am 103 (which is what he was accused and convicted of), far less evidence of such involvement.  It sounds like a brazen attempt by the NTC to incriminate (i) the regime which they supplanted and (ii) an official of that regime (Megrahi was head of security for Libyan Arab Airlines and later director of the Centre for Strategic Studies in Tripoli).

A useful commentary can be found here on bensix's blog Back Towards The Locus.]


  1. Boring. Officials worldwide say what they are supposed to say - UK, Scotland and Libya. The press reports it all, without asking impertinent questions.

    "he was only a small player"

    Or a big, medium or none at all. In a case where all that is claimed is that "somebody somehow got the bomb on board", and "Megrahi somehow must be involved", anyone can say what he feels like.

    The journalist could have asked something like
    "What evidence has the new government discovered that supports your belief, Sir?"

    But the journalist, NTC and you and I know what incredibly boring answer we could expect.

  2. I guess some people won't believe in gravity, the Earth revolves around the Sun, the Earth is not flat, the US did not commit 9/11, or that Al-Megrahi is guilty.

    You got duped. It happens.

    You just got thrown under the bus by the NTC.

    There's a difference between hopeful in the absence of truth and ignorant to the truth. SM, you now run the risk of moving from the former to the latter.

  3. I didn't like this programme or the message it sent out: that Gaddafi and Libya did it. I'm not sure how Jim can present as "proof" the word of an "adviser" on that and one involved in the NTC, now in power because Gaddafi is dead. Has Jim forgotten that Libya wasn't even in the frame until the US President and the UK Prime Minister decided to switch the investigation away from other countries who couldn't be accused because we couldn't afford to upset them in the political climate at the time?

    And not a word about the flawed trial or the findings of the SCCRC or the payment of millions of dollars by the US to bought witnesses.

    I think tonight's programme will have done great damage to the quest to get justice over Lockerbie and I am sorry to say that as I admire Jim Swire enormously.

  4. It's a shame. Even the current Libyan government seems to have decided to join the choir singing from the "Megrahi is guilty" hymn book. I expected that - it's been obvious from day 1 that the Libyan rebels had had it made perfectly clear to them that the West wanted confirmation that Megrahi was guilty, and giving the West what it wanted was a smart political move.

    Prof. Black's comment at the end says it all. This is no admission at all. The speaker is only speculating. No evidence has been shown that what Megrahi was convicted of doing was done at all, by anyone! And in no way can this be said to have scotched the theory that Megrahi is a victim of a miscarriage of justice.

    What a terrible burden to lay on Megrahi in his final days.

  5. "It sounds like a brazen attempt by the NTC to incriminate (i) the regime which they supplanted and (ii) an official of that regime (Megrahi was head of security for Libyan Arab Airlines and later director of the Centre for Strategic Studies in Tripoli)"

    Whatever it is Robert the Herald, with others, will now be happy to proclaim that Megrahi and Libya were guilty. I think this sets us all back years to be honest.

  6. Well, hopefully the grovelling Council won't be in power for long.

  7. Hi Michael!

    Maybe we can find some government official who says that the Earth does not revolve around the Sun, that the Earth is flat, the US did commit 9/11, and that Al-Megrahi is not guilty.

    You'd be living in a world of irresolvable conflict, then, since you believe that statements, however loose, from such people, that must be the final truth.

    Not me. Instead I'd take a look at the evidence and form my own opinion.

    You should try it one day!

  8. The programme was made to give the public an impression of Libyan guilt.

    Not with evidence, but by putting the words Libyan, Megrahi and bomb in the same spoof news format.

    And then having 'a government adviser' telling Jim Swire (and the world) that Gaddafi and Megrahi was guilty.

    This has led some to despair, but ironcially the programme has strenghten the Justice for Megrahi campaign.

    This is because, for those who follow the case, the lack of new evidence is telling, and because the powerful message, coming from Jim Swire, that Megrahi is innocent, was broadcast on prime time TV.

    Who are the public more likely to believe. Jim Swire or a 'government adviser' who would blame Gaddafi and Megrahi for everything?

  9. * Jo G

    I too was surprised by the commentary that said Jim Swire accepted the 'government adviser's' words as proof.

    However I think this is another example of editorial licence, otherwise known as making things up, because the articles make clear, this is not his view.

  10. For goodness'sake, Michael!

    What did Mr Shamis say? "I've seen the records of the Gaddafi regime and it's all there in black and white"? Or even
    "We hit one of Gaddafi's men with a big knobbly stick until he admitted everything"?

    No, Gaddafi "must have" been responsible because he paid all that compensation. That doesn't look like inside knowledge to me, it looks like a man who's getting his opinions from the Western media.

    Abdul Rahman al-Shalgham, who was ambassador to the UN under the old regime, said "[Gaddafi] used to say, 'We had no role in Lockerbie, so why should we have to pay compensation?'" And Saif al-Islam admitted to the BBC that the compensation was paid only to escape from crippling sanctions.

    Mr Shamis also asserted that Megrahi "must have" been involved as he was employed by the JSO: this is exemplifies the well-known logical fallacy of undistributed middle.

  11. Notice that, presumably in the interest of 'balance', we get "The Scottish Government stresses that Megrahi was unanimously convicted by three judges and that the evidence was rigorously tested. They also point out that the conviction was unanimously upheld in an appeal." The voice-over then continues, over footage of Megrahi's return home, "But two and a half years ago, suffering from terminal cancer, al-Megrahi was allowed to return to his family home in Tripoli."

    As usual, no mention of the SCCRC or the second appeal.

    Oh well, as they say, there's no such thing as bad publicity.

  12. Dave, the trouble is Jim sent out a double edged message which ultimately is contradictory. He was seen talking to people who said Megrahi would have done what he was told. He was seen with NTC (unelected) people who, nevertheless, are seen as "the Libyan government" "admitting" Gaddafi did it. I do not know what possessed him to be associated with it. The damage done is deep. All the West ever wanted was for Libya to say it did it. Now thanks to this programme they have that even tho', for many of us, the people who claimed this are not to be trusted. I am very, very sad that Jim got involved with this. He has allowed himself to be manipulated. I feel devastated personally so I shudder to think how those who have worked on this issue for many years more than I have will feel today.

  13. * Jo G

    Jim Swire’s presence did give the programme an authenticity it didn’t deserve, but the pros outweigh the cons.

    Having ‘a government adviser’ admit Libyan guilt, may impress the public, but then again, this has always been the official explanation!

    Whereas having Jim Swire say, “Megrahi is innocent” on prime time TV is a coup for the JfM campaign and for those who follow the case, the absence of new evidence is telling.

    Also the programme and ‘admission of guilt’ is too late!

    The American’s had hoped for an admission of guilt from a new Libyan government, in return for assassinating Gaddafi, in early March 2011.

    They wanted to use it to quash PE1370 in the Scottish Parliament.

    Except the failure to achieve a quick decapitation led to the desperate and indiscriminate bombing of Libya, which finally succeeded in assassinating Gaddafi in October.

    Too late, because on June 28th PE1370 was referred to the Justice Committee and is now a legal matter for the Scottish Parliament.

    Whereas an ‘admission of guilt from a government adviser’, carries no legal weight!

    PS. The American’s had hoped for an admission of guilt from a new Government Minister, but after the destruction of Libya, ‘a government adviser’ was the best they could get.

  14. And guess who appears on the comments of the Herald article. Frank Duggan: saying how Jim Swire went off the track years ago and still can't see that. Thankfully a few other Comments soon sort him out!