Field of Science

Libya honors convicted terrorist

Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, the only person convicted in the 1988 Lockerbie jet bombing, has been released from prison in Scotland because he is expected to die soon from prostate cancer. You can think what you want about that (and I think it's crazy), but the thing I really want to object to is the reception he got when he returned to Libya (see picture).

Ignoring American demands that Mr. Megrahi not be celebrated as a hero returning to his homeland, hundreds of young Libyans were bused to the military airport in Tripoli to welcome him home, cheering and waving Libyan and Scottish flags as he sped off in a convoy of white vehicles.
Pissed me off, it did.


  1. I don't know how well informed you are on this, but the problems with the evidence have been documented for years - in fact Megrahi was appealing against the conviction, and probably had a good chance of having it overturned, before this deal was sorted out to let him go back to Libya on compassionate grounds. One of the dodgiest issues was always the Maltese shopkeeper who said he remembered selling clothes to Megrahi more than 18 months beforehand, and who was apparently paid for his evidence. There's a Washington Post write-up from the time of the trial archived here and a more recent summary from the UK perspective here

    I think it's worth noting that a good number of the families of British victims firmly believe that he's innocent, and are upset only because the suspension of the appeal process means that the evidence may not now be re-examined in as much depth. I don't know how this reflects on the reactions of the crowd in Libya, whether they see him a martyr or victim of foreign injustice, but the news report you link to is not representative of the way the issue's seen in the UK.

  2. Charlotte, thanks for that comment.

    I am aware that the question of guilt is still open. Despite this I find it extremely tacky that he is greeted the way he was on his return to Libya. Don't you? I mean, would you ever celebrate the release of someone who was still a suspect of killing of hundreds of people?

    I think it's worth noting that a good number of the families of British victims firmly believe that he's innocent

    I don't think this is worth noting. Being related to a victim changes nothing with respect to the evidence. Why are they so convinced?

  3. What, all we all of a sudden giving out FREE Lunches? Since when??? Under what premise? Did this guy learn his lesson? I doubt he would have changed his actions if he knew he would have gone to jail. These people don’t care, but only to KILL America. They hate us…helllloooooo!!! Wake up people.

  4. Well jasonbradyut,

    what do you mean with wake up? Wake up and kill everybody who hates you? Or wake up and forgive everybody who hates you?
    I guess you mean the first one, and waking up in your sense, means to continue the hate...

    Anyway, besides the legal issues related with this case, greating a convict for his actions of terrorism is beyond my comprehension. And itself is the same continuation of hate. Why not release him so a sanctuary in britain and keep him in country?
    Or actually admit that he was innocent, and remove the propaganda effect. Why hail a terrorist who hasn't done anything?
    This is a typical case of stupid diplomacy... nothing else.

    Cheers Arend

  5. Anon, given his medical condition it was very possible he'd die before the appeal was completed anyway, giving another no-win situation - hence the compassionate release.

    Re the crowds, I know no lives were involved but if you can put yourself in the shoes of a Lebanese person, it's not entirely dissimilar to recent cases where journalists have been arrested for espionage overseas, and returned to their home countries to fairly raucous welcomes. Without judging their guilt or innocence, some of them had been found guilty of serious crimes in other countries, and they'd spent much less time jailed than Megrahi.

    As to why the families are convinced, I don't know the full details but I believe that two of the witnesses have now said that the evidence they saw in court had been tampered with after they gave their initial statements to the investigators. I'm not qualified to judge Megrahi's guilt, but if he's innocent then whoever did plant that bomb got away with it scot-free. Now that pisses me off.

  6. Oh, and to answer your question I wouldn't go to that sort of demonstration myself unless I knew the convicted personally and well enough to be convinced of their innocence. But then I'm British, and not much given to public flag-waving.

  7. But then I'm British, and not much given to public flag-waving.

    Seems like the British waves the flags whenever the queen appears, though. ;)

  8. "Seems like the British waves the flags whenever the queen appears, though. ;)"

    LOL not very many of them :) I certainly wouldn't bother. The queen's a waste of money.


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