Foreign Affairs

Who Bought Al Megrahi’s Freedom?

Have to admit, I’m partial to a good conspiracy theory and I generally assume power and money corrupts most politicians. Here are some additional background facts regarding the compassionate release of the convicted Pan Am 103 bomber.  Unless you have a head cold, the fishy parts will be obvious.

First question:  Was Al Megrahi guilty as charged? Many think Al Megrahi took the fall for the bombing in a public relations move designed to rehabilitate Libya’s image on the world stage.  Al Megrahi had asked for another public inquiry, but his request for an appeal was withdrawn just before his release. His sentence was to end in April 2026.   He was writing a tell-all book in his Scottish prison cell. This is a man who knew of lots of secrets and now that manuscript is back in Libya with him. It is unlikely ever to see the light of day.

Photographs and news footage of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi have surfaced since his return to Libya.  In one picture he is seen reclining on a couch at home, dressed in a flowing white robe and traditional cap, surrounded by his loving family who said he was getting better every day. All smiles.   A few days later, a British TV news report showed Al Megrahi in a hospital bed with an IV drip and oxygen mask.  Reporter Jonathan Miller was allowed into the hospital room, but did not get the man to make any statement. Later Miller said he watched as plates full of food were delivered to the room. 

The Scottish Justice Minister, Kenny MacAskill, repeatedly stated he alone had made the decision to send Al Megrahi back to Libya, but he had some notable support from no less than Nelson Mandela.  Mandela had visited Megrahi in Glasgow’s Barlinnie Prison some years ago. The Nobel Peace Prize winner played a role in having Al Megrahi and his (acquitted) codefendant handed over to the United Nations. Mandela’s blessing was passed along to the press as if it was a religious document.

To those who contend this prisoner transfer was done in furtherance of British business interests in Libya, there is proof.  Two letters were leaked last week which clearly show British Justice Secretary Jack Straw had had a change of heart about Al Megrahi’s release in 2007.  Six weeks later, a crucial British Petroleum deal with Libya was closed.  It is worth an estimated £15 billion. 

There is a quaint practice here in the UK. When the Prime Minister is on vacation members of his (or her) cabinet take turns running the government.  The man in charge of things at Number Ten Downing Street last week was Lord Peter Mandelson, a career politician who specializes in getting appointments to posts which seem to have loads of fringe benefits.  
During his days as an EU Commissioner, Mandelson was involved in negotiations with Libya.  He is now the very powerful British Business Secretary.  Two weeks ago, Lord Mandy was on “vacation” in Corfu at an estate owned by the Rothchilds.  There he ran into Colonel Gaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam. Small world!   Coincidently, one of Mandy’s friends just opened a public relations firm in Tripoli.   Peter Brown, who was once the Beatles manager, is known now as a “social and charity fixer.” He has advised both Prince Charles and his brother Edward.

And lest we forget, Col. Gaddafi himself was hobnobbing with Prime Minster Gordon Brown – and the rest of the G-8 leadership — back in July in Italy.  Although Brown had nary a word to say last week when Al Megrahi was set free, sources say he personally wrote a letter to the Colonel pleading for a low key reception at the airport.  But since five Belgian nurses whom Gaddafi had released (after accusing them of infecting Libyan children with HIV) were given a rousing reception by the EU, Gaddafi probably figured a tumultuous reception in Tripoli would be tit for tat. 

Our Attorney General, Eric Holder, had sent a warning to Kenny MacAskill two months ago to warn him a big reception was being planned for Al Megrahi.  The airport bash was no surprise.

Speaking of big parties and the G-8, many of them will be attending this coming week’s 40th anniversary of Muammar Gaddafi’s rule over Libya.   Look for Silvio Berlusconi, Vladimir Putin, Nicholas Sarkozy, and the King and Queen of Spain to join the festivities. Military contingents from 18 countries will be on hand for the big parade. Not a bad turn-out for a former supplier of weapons to various terrorist organizations.

Senior Members of the British Parliament have asked for a full Parliamentary inquiry to be held on this entire affair.   Surely this would require testimony from Tony Blair.  

Although it seems like ancient history now, Britain under Margaret Thatcher ended the country’s relationship with Libya in 1986 after someone fired a gun, from inside the Libyan embassy in London at a group protesting outside that building. A British police woman was among the dead. Lockerbie came two years later.  

As a part of helping Libya to restore its reputation among civilized nations, Tony Blair met Muammar Gaddafi in a tent in the Libyan desert, south of Tripoli, in 2007.   He was urged on by Nelson Mandela who wanted Libya to participate in the organization of African nations.  Immediately after that visit, British Petroleum was back on Libyan soil, sinking 17 exploration wells quick as you please.

Sir Richard Dalton, a former British ambassador to Libya and a board member of the Libyan British Business Council, has been quoted as saying: “Nobody doubted Libya wanted BP and BP was confident its commitment would go through. But the timing of the final authority to spend real money was dependent on politics.”

And what of Scotland?  What did they get out of this in the end?  For bearing up under public scorn, the Scottish people have been told they can hold their long sought referendum on independence next year.  Another case of proffered freedom in exchange for political favors?  You be the judge.