- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy
Former Libyan Justice Minister Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, who resigned last week and is currently in an undisclosed location inside Libya, has reportedly told the Swedish tabloid Expressen that Muammar al-Qaddafi personally ordered the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, which killed 270:
Expressen on Wednesday quoted Mustafa Abdel-Jalil as telling their correspondent in Libya that "I have proof that Gadhafi gave the order about Lockerbie." He didn’t describe the proof.[…]
He told Expressen Gadhafi gave the order to Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the only man convicted in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed all 259 people on board and 11 on the ground.
"To hide it, he (Gadhafi) did everything in his power to get al-Megrahi back from Scotland," Abdel-Jalil was quoted as saying.
Megrahi was given a hero’s welcome on his return from Scotland in 2009 after he was released due to his — supposedly — terminal cancer. He is still alive. Qaddafi has paid compensation to the victims of the attack, but has never admitted to personally authorizing it.
Lockerbie is still what Qaddafi is probably best known for in the United States. It was hardly the only terrorist attack Libya sponsored, but without Lockerbie, it’s not hard to imagine a scenario under which Washington and Tripoli could have normalized relations years earlier.