Embassy Row: 25 years after Lockerbie, Scots hear outrage over release of bomber

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The United States was outraged over Britain’s decision four years ago to release the Libyan terrorist convicted of planning an airline bombing that killed 189 Americans, U.S. Ambassador Matthew Barzun told a Scottish reporter this week as the 25th anniversary of the 1988 Lockerbie attack approaches.

“I would characterize the feelings as a mixture of surprise, shock and anger — candidly — anger, and, I think, very understandable anger — that justice — in the eyes of the families of the victims — was not served,” Mr. Barzun told BBC Scotland.

The British government blamed Scottish authorities for the August 2009 release of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, who was serving a life sentence in Scotland.

Al-Megrahi, a former Libyan intelligence officer, was convicted of plotting the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. The airliner exploded over the Scottish town of Lockerbie on Dec. 21, 1988.

All 243 passengers and 16 crew members died in the explosion, and 11 Lockerbie residents were killed by falling debris from the aircraft.

Scottish authorities justified releasing al-Megrahi on humanitarian grounds because he was dying of prostate cancer with only months to live. Al-Megrahi returned to Libya to a hero’s welcome and lived for 2 more years. He died in May 2012.

In the BBC interview, Mr. Barzun insisted that U.S.-British ties remain strong. Mr. Barzun, who arrived in London in late August, recalled how colleagues advised him against using the phrase “special relationship,” which they call a cliche.

“They were wrong,” he told the Scottish reporter. “The relationship is special and essential.”

‘MO-MENTUM’

Koalas don’t have mustaches, except during the month of November when Australia’s second most popular icon — after the kangaroo — appears on press releases from the Australian Embassy with a handlebar “mo” drawn under its nose.

The koala is neither a bear nor a marsupial. It is a “MOsupial,” according to the embassy. And Friday is not the first of November. It is the first of “MOvember.”

Expect to hear a lot about the big “MO” this month.

The movement’s motivation is the annual November campaign to mobilize men to grow mustaches and raise money to combat prostate cancer. The 5-year-old fundraising effort follows Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The embassy calls the men with the hairy lips “Mo Bros” and the women who support them (but presumably not growing mustaches voluntarily) the “Mo Sistas.”

Their modus operandi is simple. They challenge the British, Canadian and New Zealand embassies; the State Department; and Capitol Hill to raise MOola (sorry, couldn’t help myself) by recruiting teams to grow mustaches. Sign up at www.movember.com/us/ to register.

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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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