Embassy Row: Lockerbie friend

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The killing of U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens on the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks shocked the relatives of the victims of a terrorist attack against Americans more than 20 years ago.

Mr. Stevens, the ambassador to Libya who was killed in an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, was a friend of the families whose loved ones died in a Libyan terrorist attack that brought down an American airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland, on Dec. 21, 1988. A midair explosion killed all 259 passengers and crew. Eleven residents of the Scottish village died when debris from the plane fell on their homes.

“The Lockerbie families had a personal relationship with Chris, who kept us aware of the fragile nature of the new government in Libya,” said Frank Duggan, president of the Victims of Pan Am Flight 103. “He thought the transitional government showed great promise, especially after the last election, where the Muslim Brotherhood had a poor showing.”

The fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, which now rules Egypt, had been expected to win parliamentary elections in Libya in July. However, Libyans voters rejected Brotherhood candidates and elected a moderate coalition government.

Mr. Duggan said he and other members of the organization last spoke to Mr. Stevens before he left for Tripoli in May.

“I recall a phone conversation with him before he left when one of our members was concerned and asked him about his personal safety,” Mr. Duggan said.

Libya has remained unstable since rebels killed dictator Moammar Gadhafi in October and toppled his regime. The new central government has failed to disband heavily armed militias that roam the North African nation.

Mr. Duggan said he had been making plans for Mr. Stevens to address the annual meeting of the Lockerbie families at Syracuse University in October.

He also talked recently with Benjamin Fishman of the National Security Council, who just returned from a visit to Libya where he received a briefing from Mr. Stevens.

“Ben remarked how well Chris got along with everyone there, speaking the language and chatting with shopkeepers and ordinary Libyan citizens on the street,” Mr. Duggan said.

Mr. Stevens had been the U.S. envoy to the rebels during the civil war and was well-respected by many Libyans.

The Lockerbie families on their website also expressed condolences to the relatives of the three other Americans killed in the Benghazi assault: Sean Smith, a 10-year State Department official; and former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, who provided security for the ambassador.

CLOUDED CRYSTAL BALL

The U.S. ambassador to Britain showed he was no psychic when he predicted that the Liberal Democrats would never join a coalition government with the Conservatives — only two months before the strange bedfellows proved the political cliche true.

In a diplomatic communique before Britain’s 2010 parliamentary elections, Ambassador Louis Susman assured Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton that the liberals were philosophically incompatible with the Tories, according to a recent report in London’s Daily Mail newspaper.

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About the Author
James Morrison

James Morrison

James Morrison joined the The Washington Times in 1983 as a local reporter covering Alexandria, Va. A year later, he was assigned to open a Times bureau in Canada. From 1987 to 1989, Mr. Morrison was The Washington Times reporter in London, covering Britain, Western Europe and NATO issues. After returning to Washington, he served as an assistant foreign editor ...

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