[This is the headline over an article published yesterday by Asharq al-Awsat by Abdulrahman al-Rashed, the newspaper’s former editor and now general manager of Al-Arabiya Television. It reads as follows:]
“Twenty-six years have passed . . . It is a very long time. Many people died and stories were forgotten . . . ”
This is also the view of the parents of the victims who died on the Pan Am plane that exploded over the Scottish town of Lockerbie. This crime represents an important landmark in the history of terrorist acts conducted against international civil aviation. Since all the evidence points to Libya and Col. Muammar Gaddafi’s regime, the reopening of the investigations and trial no longer makes sense: Gaddafi, the prime suspect, was killed by his own people, after they rose up against his regime, in October 2011.
Abdelbaset Al-Megrahi, the only Libyan who was convicted and imprisoned in connection with the bombing, died of cancer at his home in Tripoli after he was released due to his severe illness one year after the Libyan revolution. The question is, was Megrahi really involved in the crime or was he used as a scapegoat to satisfy international investigators? Up until he was on his deathbed, Megrahi was proclaiming his innocence, insisting that he didn’t have anything to hide. Was he, in the end, also a victim?
Tens of thousands have been killed in Libya since the revolution in 2011. However, no one can give a precise number because, unlike Syria, there are no organizations that are able to monitor and document the events in Libya during these last troubled four years of war. Amid the ongoing chaos in the country, no one should seek to reopen this old wound and hold accountable those who participated in the planning and execution of the bombing of the Pan Am flight, which was heading from London to New York in late 1988. The crime was committed by a regime that was headed by one person, Gaddafi, who is fully responsible for a huge number of crimes in Libya and around the world. But Gaddafi and most of his main aides are now dead. Those who are left are either languishing in prisons or hiding behind local tribal organizations in search of protection. Justice has been served, although many innocent Libyans were falsely tried due to the ongoing disorder in the country.
As a result of the massive destruction and the rising death toll since the Libyan revolution, the Libyan people, who suffered decades of persecution under Gaddafi’s regime, no longer want to talk about the injustice of that era. Moreover, they now have to contend with the various militias and terrorist groups that have replaced Gaddafi’s secret police.
If the goal of reopening the investigations into the Pan Am bombing is to find out whether Megrahi was innocent, or whether there were other governments involved in the planning and execution of the attack, then the move is justified.
However, if the aim is to serve a kind of selective justice, while ignoring the ongoing crisis and murder in Libya today, this will turn into an even greater injustice. Searching for suspects in a crime committed 26 years ago, which stems from a country whose people are calling on the world to help end a tragedy that is still haunting them in the post-Gaddafi era, should be condemned.