[What follows is the text of an editorial headlined Libya and Lockerbie published today in the Daily Times of Pakistan:]
Three decades have passed since the Lockerbie tragedy. And it seems that increased doubt surrounds the Libyan role in the worst terrorist attack on American civilians; the events of 9/11 notwithstanding.
Back in 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 was travelling from London to New York when it was brought down by explosives. The plane crashed in the Scottish town of Lockerbie; killing all 270 aboard. What happened next would be the biggest investigation in British history.
There have long been claims that Iran gave the order to strike and paid a ‘middle-man’ the hefty sum of $10 million to do the needful: the Syria-based Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). [RB: Dr Ludwig de Braeckeleer contends that the document alleged to show a $10m payment from Iran to the PFLP-GC does not in fact do so and has no connection with Lockerbie.] This was reportedly a tit-for-tat move. For a few months earlier, the Americans had, in their own words, mistakenly, downed an Iran Air plane; killing 290. Moreover, the daughter of a former PFLP operative — in the run-up to the thirty-year anniversary of the disaster — repeated allegations of Tehran’s involvement. According to popular theories, London and Washington sought to frame Col Gaddafi of Libya for Lockerbie over his support for Saddam Hussein in Iraq. It has been argued that the UK and US were keen to keep Iran on side during the first Gulf War.
If true, there has been a terrible miscarriage of justice. First and foremost for purported Libyan intelligence officer Abdelbaset el-Megrahi who was convicted in 2001 on all 270 counts of murder and had always professed his innocence. And also for the entire nation. For once Gaddafi publicly carried the can for the terror attack some two years later — an unfortunate sequence of events put the country firmly in the eye of the American storm. El-Megrahi, who was suffering from cancer, was returned to Tripoli on compassionate grounds. And some political pundits believe that this provided the impetus for Barrack Obama to push for NATO intervention in the country. For at the time of the Benghazi offensive there were reports of JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command) being on standby to try and pick up el-Megrahi and fly him to Washington to stand trial before American courts.
To avoid further speculation, therefore, an international tribunal must be set up to re-open the Lockerbie case. After all, spooks working on both sides of the Atlantic have in the past spoken of likely Iranian involvement. The world — particularly the Libyan people — deserve to know the truth. For important questions remain. Namely, why, if at all, would Gaddafi allow himself to be framed in this way? What was the payback he was hoping to secure from the West? This is not to rule out Iranian absolution. The point here is that the record must be set straight once and for all and justice delivered.
If nothing else, a re-investigation may afford a better understanding of the underlying dynamics that are currently fanning Middle Eastern flames. While affording the victims’ families long overdue closure.