- The Washington Times - Monday, June 3, 2002

Money may not buy love, but Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi is convinced it can buy redemption for his government's role in mass murder. He has therefore floated a compensation deal in an effort to buy off families who lost loved ones in the December 21, 1988 terrorist bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in which 270 people were killed. Mr. Gadhafi is trying to reinvent himself as a beneficent humanitarian, which sure sounds nicer than being known as the terrorist paymaster he actually is. He has brokered the release of hostages (albeit in return for ransom payments to his terrorist friends) and condemned the September 11 attacks. He seems to have partially won over Secretary of State Colin Powell and the rest of the folks at Foggy Bottom, who now assert that the Libyan boss has "curtailed" his support for international terrorism.
By any standard, however, Mr. Gadhafi, who has ruled Libya with an iron fist for more than 30 years, still has plenty of blood on his hands when it comes to perpetrating terror. Last year, a Scottish court ruled that a Libyan intelligence agent planted the explosive that ripped through Pan Am 103 and found him guilty of murder. That decision was upheld this year on appeal. (A second suspect was found not guilty.) By surrendering the two for trial, Mr. Gadhafi won a suspension of United Nations sanctions against his regime.
Now, he is trying to purchase a wholesale lifting of U.N. and United States sanctions. Libya has offered to pay $2.7 billion to the families of the victims of the Lockerbie bombing but, unsurprisingly, this money has quite a few strings attached. Under this proposal, each family would get about $10 million, but would receive the first 40 percent only after U.N. sanctions are lifted, another 40 percent after bilateral U.S. sanctions on Libya are lifted and the final 20 percent if Libya is taken off the U.S. list of terrorism sponsors. And, while Secretary of State Colin Powell said the offer was a step in the right direction, he added, "I don't think it resolves all the outstanding issues that have to be dealt with with respect to Pan Am 103."
Quite right. The United Nations had already set very reasonable conditions for the removal of sanctions, of which the payment of reparations was just one. Libya must also divulge everything it knows about the Lockerbie bombing and admit responsibility for the crime. But Mr. Gadhafi is trying to skip over the most humbling steps of atonement and get the families involved to cash out their grief. "You might say it's an indecent proposal," said Susan Cohen, who lost her daughter on Pan Am flight 103. "It's kind of like an odious business deal," she said, calling her lawyer, who is trying to sell the idea to the families, a scoundrel.
U.N. members shouldn't link the dropping of sanctions to a big-dollar payout, which would be the making of quite a racket. Similarly, America can't let countries buy their way off the terror list. The international community has outlined a series of steps Mr. Gadhafi needs to take to end his pariah status. Considering the barbarous crime that the Libyan dictator and his regime are responsible for in bombing Pan Am 103, those steps are quite lenient. The United States and the United Nations must ensure that Mr. Gadhafi complies rigorously with each one before any softening of the sanctions occurs.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide