- The Washington Times - Friday, November 9, 2001

In late September a State Department official called a number of relatives of those killed in the 1988 terrorist bombing of Pan Am 103 to tell us that Assistant Secretary of State William Burns and his British counterpart would be meeting in London with Mohammed Azwai, the Libyan ambassador to the United Kingdom.
We asked if there was anything special about this meeting. We were told that the call was just part of the administration's ongoing effort to keep families informed of any developments. All the United States and United Kingdom were going to do, so we were told, was to reaffirm the oft-stated position that Libya would be required to accept responsibility for the bombing, pay appropriate compensation and refrain from any future terrorist activity.
The answer was surprising since the administration had never shown any desire to keep us informed about anything. There had already been at least two of these trilateral meetings at the United Nations, and we had to find out about them in the newspapers.
What the administration failed to tell us was that one of the participants at the London meeting was to be a Libyan named Musa Kusa, head of Libya's external security organization for the last 20 years. Mr. Kusa, who has been branded "the master of terror" had orchestrated the killing of Libyan dissidents abroad, aided such high-profile terrorists as Abu Nidal, and was the moving force behind the bombing of a French UTA airliner in 1989 and the bombing of Pan Am 103. Even in a regime loaded with thugs and killers Mr. Kusa stands out. He has a lot of American blood on his hands. He has our daughter's blood on his hands.
When the news of Mr. Kusa's participation in the meeting first appeared in the British press, we immediately called the State Department to demand an explanation. We were told that the United States had no idea that Mr. Kusa was going to be at the meeting. He just showed up. The United States was too polite to ask him to leave or simply walk out.
If you buy that explanation we have a bridge to Brooklyn we would like to sell you.
The Libyan ambassador was ebullient. He said Mr. Kusa had come to Britain to meet with his intelligence counterparts in MI6 and the CIA. U.S. officials have hinted delicately that Mommar Gadhafi's regime might be useful in the broad coalition against Osama bin Laden.
Libya's U.N. representative told CNN's Paula Zahn that Libya could be very helpful in the fight against terrorism because Libya had suffered "more than anyone else" from terrorism. He suggested that all the countries of the world get together to examine the evidence in the September 11 attacks. He also said that Mr. Gadhafi himself had proposed a big international conference on terrorism where everybody could present their ideas.
A few days earlier Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak told Larry King that Mr. Gadhafi was a "real antiterrorist" who should be part of any coalition. Mr. Mubarak also wanted an international conference on terrorism that would include just about everybody. Both Paula and Larry failed to ask their guests about Pan Am 103. Perhaps, like the State Department, they were just too polite.
You don't have to be a Washington insider to figure out that a deal is being cooked up. And it's springtime for Mr. Gadhafi. He will be forgiven for a lifetime of terrorism and the worst terrorist attack on American civilians before September 11.
Even before September 11, the Bush administration, under pressure from American oil interests, had been pushing for Mr. Gadhafi's rehabilitation. The line was that Mr. Gadhafi had "mellowed" translation, he hasn't blown up any American planes recently.
Mr. Gadhafi is an erratic and unstable character with a lifelong history of treachery and violence. While he now turns a smiling face toward the United States, back home and in the rest of the Muslim world, he regularly denounces the West, America in particular, as the source of all evil in the world. Most recently he has accused the United States of plotting to infect Libyan children with the AIDS virus. He also has a large stock of powerful weapons, including biological weapons. What kind of a message does this send to terrorists if, in the end, even this guy can be forgiven?
U.S. officials like to quote what they say is an old Middle Eastern proverb: "The enemy of my enemy is my friend." At one time Osama bin Laden was our friend because he was the enemy of our enemy the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.
When will we learn that sometimes the enemy of our enemy is just another enemy?

Susan and Daniel Cohen are the authors of "Pan Am 103: The Bombing, The Betrayals and a Bereaved Family's Search for Justice."


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