Monday, 18 November 2013

Lockerbie has "disappeared from the radar screen" in US

[What follows is taken from a report published yesterday evening on the website of the Rochester, New York, newspaper the Democrat & Chronicle:]

Before 9/11, there was Pan Am Flight 103.

The bombing of the flight, which crashed in Scotland in December 1988 while en route to New York, was to that point the deadliest act of terror against the United States in the country’s history. Of the 270 people killed in the attack, 189 were Americans. And two of them were students enrolled at the University of Rochester, who were returning home from a study abroad program.

“It had a particular impact on those of us who had come back the semester before,” said Mark Zaid, who was a student at UR at the time of the crash and had spent the previous semester overseas. “We looked at it like: We left and we came back. But they left and they didn’t come back. And how arbitrary that could have been.”

For Zaid, the deaths of Eric Coker and Katharine Hollister — both of whom were in the UR class of 1990 — were a launching point to what would become more than two decades of work.

Upon graduating law school, Zaid began pushing for legislation that would allow for a civil lawsuit against any countries that promoted state-sponsored terrorism. The legislation was signed into law by Bill Clinton in 1996, and Zaid went on to represent about 30 of the Flight 103 families in a lawsuit against Libya, the home country of the national who was eventually convicted of the bombings.

Eventually, Muammar Gaddafi eventually accepted responsibility for the attack — though he claimed he did not order it — and settled with the affected families for $2.7 billion, or $10 million per family. [RB: Gaddafi and Libya did not accept responsibility for the attack. Libya accepted responsibility for the actions of its officials. The full text of the relevant document can be read here.] 

On Monday, Zaid will speak about his experiences in the Hawkins-Carlson Reading Room in UR’s Rush Rhees Library.

“The $2.7 billion settlement was largest state settlement for terrorism ever. I thought it should have been more, but it was not insignificant,” said Zaid. “But coupled with that was your usual civil settlement, meaning no admission of (guilt).”

So in recent years, Zaid has been working to get the government to pursue more information about the attacks. After Gaddafi’s reign came to a violent end in Libya in August 2011, many of his senior leadership began fleeing the country, said Zaid. Those intelligence chiefs would know more about who was may truly have been behind the attack; many think the man who was convicted of the attacks, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, was taking orders from higher up.

“We have an open criminal case still, here in the United States, so what’s being done?” he said. “Maybe something’s being done — I don’t know — but publicly, we don’t know anything.” (...)

Matthew Lenoe, chair of the UR history department, said that his department was hosting the lecture in part because of the local connections, but also because the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 is clearly still relevant.

However, since it happened 13 years before 9/11, it isn’t viewed in quite the same way. “It’s clearly part of a history that’s still topical,” said Lenoe. “But there have been so many other terrorist attacks since then that it has sort of disappeared from the radar screen.” [RB: If it has disappeared from the radar screen in the United States, this is because American media have resolutely and perversely ignored the devastating challenges to the officially-sanctified version of events provided by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, John Ashton, Morag Kerr, James Robertson and others.]


  1. "Zaid began pushing for legislation that would allow for a civil lawsuit against any countries that promoted state-sponsored terrorism."

    Upon reading such, a song by late MJ starts playing in my head "I'm starting with the man in the mirror...".

    But of course that song did not become a hit with everybody.

  2. I think that might be a wee bit subtle for our transatlantic cousins.