[In this fallow period for Lockerbie-related news, here is the text of a letter from Dr Jim Swire published in The Herald and posted on this blog three years ago today:]
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 [ie two years after the bombing raid] 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.