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August 20, 2009
Scotland frees terminally ill Lockerbie bomber

Scottish authorities confirmed that they had freed the Libyan man convicted in one of the worst terror acts of modern times, the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103.

The incident over Lockerbie, Scotland, shortly before Christmas 1988 killed all 259 people on board and another 11 on the ground. Authorities said they freed the man because he is dying of cancer. The U.S. government has condemned the release.

Did the Scottish authorities make the right decision? Please tell us what you think in the comments section below.

In the following video released by the Scottish government, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill explains his decision to release Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al-Megrahi and answers questions about how the move will impact relations with the U.S.

Families of the victims decried the release, as seen in this video from the Associated Press:

British blogger Iain Dale condemns the release:

Ministers are appointed to make decisions, and today Kenny MacAskill made the wrong one. […]

Showing compassion is a laudable character trait. […] This may sound hard and heartless, but I the only emotions I feel towards al-Megrahi are contempt and anger. His failure to comprehend the magnitude of his crimes and say sorry to those affected by them should have meant that he died in the place he belongs. Prison.

Scottish politician Calum Cashley defends MacAskill and takes offense at criticisms of the justice system:

This was no easy decision to make but the decency and humanity of Kenny MacAskill shone through today when lesser politicians were taking cheap shots in the hope of getting their names in the papers and were talking the Scottish justice system down in the process. Our Justice Secretary raised Scotland today. Judge our society by the way we treat the weakest members of it, by the way we welcome those in need, and by the way we treat those who have wronged us. Judge us by the way we act as a society and, now, know that compassion has a place at the heart of justice in Scotland, that justice here is tempered with mercy. Release on compassionate grounds is not unknown in Scottish justice – it’s part of the standard practice – but when the man who has been found guilty of committing such a terrible crime in our land can find mercy at the hands of our justice system we can think the system worthy of the name.

Steve Holmes, a minister in Scotland, explores varying reactions in the U.S. and U.K.:

The news reports I have heard suggest that the notion that he might be freed is being greeted with simple incredulity in the USA. The breadth of condemnation from across the Atlantic is striking: it is not confined to (families of) victims, or to social conservatives, but seems to be almost universal (Democratic senators have intervened publicly, and Hilary Clinton has been reported to have been involved).

Is Britain – specifically in this case Scotland – just more liberal than the USA? Actually, probably it is, but I don’t think that this is the reason for the divide in this case. Rather, our understandings of what words like ‘guilt’ and ‘justice’ mean are culturally-determined, and somewhat different. To us, dying in prison seems a cruel and unusual punishment, and so essentially unjust; it seems that the default assumption in the USA is that sentences should be served, and so that any relaxation is unjust.

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In their book “Trail of the Octopus,” co-authors Donald Goddard and Lester K. Coleman claim that the CIA was involved in the bombing of flight 103. It makes you wonder, could one Libyan agent pull off something like this all by himself?


Disgraceful is the only word for the action of the Scottish “Justice” Secretary. Our government should have spoken out immediately and loudly to prevent this. Now……?????


I too was surprised by the release of this terrible man, but maybe for different reasons than most. I was actually surprised that someone… anyone in this day and age would exhibit true human dignity. That said, I think an appropriate accommodation for this man’s illness would have been to sequester him in a less “prison-like” environment rather than release him to the bosom of his family… He, of his own accord, relinquished that right & privilege when he murdered so many in cold blood. But what is really bothering me is why do we not hear more of an explanation by the Libyans (either the “man on the street” or the government) as to how… HOW they could possibly justify the reception for this convicted, admitted killer!! He should have been quietly slipped into the country & everyone there should be shamed at having a monster returned to their midst at all… but a hero’s welcome!! What kind of justification… what kind of explanation could any Libyan give for this!!??!!?? I’m shocked and dismayed by their reactions more than I am by the release itself…. it was in a word… DISGUSTING!!


Absolutely ditto to #68, Roberta. If Charles Manson were dying of cancer he would be sent to the prison hospital, exactly where this murderer belongs. I’m disappointed in the Scots.


Where are the Christians? Don’t they believe that their God will judge us all? Then, don’t make human justice another idol! Apply it as far as possible without interfering with divine justice!


Evidently, many Scottish lawyers seem to believe the verdict was badly tainted. He was acting on orders obviously and compassion was used. If my child was on the plane, emotion would carry me to vengence.


Compassion? What compassion did this man have for the 270 people who died under the most terrible circumstances? Did they have the luxury of having family with them when they were murdered? I don’t believe in capital punishment, except for terrorists, because they can be freed, either by fiat or by the rest of the cabal holding someone for his ransom, or even using violence to obtain his release. A bird for the Scots and their misplaced compassion.


It is reprehensible to let him go.The families must feel their lovedones lives were not worth anything to the Scotish people. The felons die in American prisons. There is no excuse for lessening his stay. The paid crowd in Libya probably doesn’t even know this animal


Personally, I never thought he was guilty. He was the patsy whom Khadafy set up to take the blame in order to get on better terms with the US.
There had to be more than one culprit involved in the actual plot.


Compassion? Absurd. More likely motivated by commerce anfd politics. What are the trade relations between Scotland and Libya? open and covert? let the guy die in a comfortable hospital bed in a Scotish prison…isn’t that what would happen to a national of Scotland?
This time, I am afraid , there is something rotten in Scotland.


There is no doubt this was the wrong thing to do.
Compassion for what??? We know one of the families who lost a young son in that horrible act. I’ve seen that mother’s face and she will never get over it. What do they do if this creep doesn’t die in the next three months…go to Libya and get him? Believe me, I’m not an advocate of the death penalty, but this man did not deserve any leniency or compassion. He should have stayed in jail until he died, then they should have charged the Libyan government and his family for the return of his body. What did the Scottish Government get in return for this release????? An oil deal, maybe???? Somebody got something.


If he does not die within 3 months he should be returned to a scottish prison or shot.

the texan


The release of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds was egregious. He murdered 259 people in cold blood and has shown no sign of remorse or compassion for the victims. So much of terrorism is reliant on symbolism; the release of this terrorist, where he was greeted as a hero in Libya, only feeds into the power of radical groups. What were the Scottish authorities thinking? He should have been allowed to die comfortably in prison. Terrorists are known for their viciousness and cold-blooded taking of life. Al-Megrahi’s release was sheer stupidity.


WorldFocus must have had to search far and long for one its world affiliates that didn’t provide a balanced reporting. I don’t see any other reports that did not highlight that he was framed in this sham of a trail.

Maybe World Focus needs its own reporter so that it could emulate the American news propaganda about the release of this pawn of international domination vs national self determination.


I am a Scot, and usually support independent action by the Scottish government. In this case, however, even if there was an unassailable humanitarian case for Al-Megrahi’s release from prison, why could it not have been to in-house arrest — or in-hospital arrest — in Scotland? Why return him to Libya?


No justice for the victims, those that died and those that lived . A travesty of the Scottish political system. It should be left in jail to die. This is disgraceful.


I’d like to add these observations to the comments by #50 emile rihani. In the US it seems from around 1870 to 1917, anyone who opposed the Establishment was labeled an anarchist. Then, from 1917 to 1991, anyone who opposed the Establishment was labeled a communist. After 2001 if not before, anyone who opposed the Establishment was labeled a terrorist. It’s a system that sure beats thinking! Like the new US Security Agreement with Paraguay which coincidentally sits next door to Bolivia and whose Socialist government says the lithium deposits (est. 50% of world supply) is going to the “use and benefit of Bolivians!” Who in the Holy Hell threatens Paraguay? DW


It is known that Former President Ronald Reagan is no longer living? (b.1911-d.2004)

However, if it is still wished that his body be dug up and “jailed”*
(…as if being dead in a cemetery is not enough…)
by all means:
find Nancy and see if she
will agree with this
new idea of…”Justice.”
Disrespect to the dead by no means intended.


A big mistake. This only encourages those who would wreck havoc on this world.


What kind of sham reportin is this, along with framing of the question that only allows the responders to respond to a lie? America pretty much forced Libya to hand over this man for the sham of a trial. And then the US extorts Libya for multiple billions of dollars so the country can’t be starved to death (like the way Clinton did to Iraq).

Shouldn’t Ronald Reagan and his whole staff be jailed for their initial illegal attack on Libya and their attempt at assassinating a ruler of a country?

I don’t remember anyone going to jail when the US shot down the Iranian Flight 655, instead they received the Legion of Merit.


The reception that this man received upon his arrival in Libya shows how wrong this decision was!!
Having lost someone dear to myself and my family by this horrendous act, I felt he should have been helicoptered to the airport and halfway there tossed out of the aircraft at 10,000 FT to experience what he caused 270 people to undergo!! FA


My answer is simple. No.
The horrific act this man committed does not allow for an “act of compassion” on his behalf. It’s absurd and nonsensical.


Mr. MacAskill recent action in the release of Abdelbeset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, convicted of murdering 270 people by blowing up Pan Am flight 103 is a travesty of justice.
Mr. MacAskill actions shows ignores the innocent who suffered the inhumane terroist action of Abdelbeset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi. Their pain and suffering is as real as any thing that Abdelbeset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi is suffering and is ignored in the adacious action of releaseing this terroist. Where is the compassion that the Scttish justice system has for the suffering innocent?
Mr. MacAskill action in releaseing this terroist will forever bind himself and Scottsland ‘s Justice system as a co-conspiritors in this act of terror perpetrated on the the passengers, their families and those who lost their life on the ground.
John B


Where is it written it is sane to release unrepented terrist prisoners who now (without fear of punishment) have even more incentive to live out their life of terrism.
All this aside from the fact that the GROSS
error was commited in the first place when this
murdering soul was not returned to God for
judgment and punishment as the Bible demands.


I am saddened and sickened by this release. I know I have no power over any official. but I feel that the world was slighted by this decision. I can only hope the world justly judges the actions of the official and proper decisions are made for the future. end thought… learn from your mistakes!


The Scottish government has shown it is better than the person and culture that perpetrated the enormous crime. We do not become better people by emulating our enemies, but by acting according to higher principles than revenge and punishment. This act of humanity does in a small way offset the inhumanity that marked the bombing. It is one of the few bright moments of an otherwise terrifying time of life on planet Earth.


Just remember Tall One to surrender in the name of Goooooober and at the very least you will share a cell with Berny Madoff. Healthcare, Cable, Internet


In 2001,we accepted twisted judgement, we convicted Al Magrahi, who was guilty.
We accepted to ignore that he just executed the oredrs of Ghadafi. If we had any doubt?
The reception in Tripoli today, should clearly explain who is behind events.
Future business relation blind us to human right abuses, we thoght we have reformed Ghadafi, it’s starting to look like he reformed us.
Our leaders are capable of raising the threat level for political gains,just like many dictators do everyday.
Bin Laden contributes to the threat level by his statement.
Bin Laden made his money in Saudi Arabia, as a result of the oil boom, which we bought.
President Bush was elected…………..
Did we finace Bin Laden ?
The government of the US employed Gadafi for years .
In Afghanistan.
Why are we so not surprised?
Because we all decided to ignore it.
We seem to be so tolerant of dictators, we ignore that dicators rule people, we ignore people.
Dictators rule billions of people, can’t we see that ?


As #37 & #33 point out, the trial was –to re-word– “contrived”. I followed it and found it hard to imagine a jury would convict, so that is why they used a panel of judges. I do agree with one interviewee that the trail was a “sham in the Netherlands”, but I also saw on BBC this 20 August ’09 that the Swiss shirt sales man said he saw al-Magehi’s photo in a magazine –something left out at the trial. How many places can you buy the same brand of shirt? And DNA evidence was available then, why not “match” that found on the shirts to alMagehi? If you go back and start review from Dec’88, you’ll find that the US and the airline were threatened by a disenchanted group in Eastern Europe where the plane’s flight plan to the US originated. Without seeing anything conclusive, I always thought alMegrehi is like his co-defendent: “not guilty”. I also think some of those interviewed condeming the “compasstionate release” are only people expressing their own “blood lust”/”we’ve got to punish someone” frustrations. If the US had not forcibly politicised the case to attack Libya, then the real murders might have been found. Politics and Justice never mix.


A mass murderer & terrorist arrived home to a hero’s welcome. This world is upside down. Compassion for his cancer—–did he show compassion for his victims? Many who died didn’t even have a chance to live a full life. They were students from the U. of Syracuse.
The killer is home just in time to celebrate Ramadan. God help all of us. The terrorists are winning.
The terrorists are winning.


Wrong! He should die in jail alone or maybe in a jet plane with a bomb. They are releasing the perfect suicide bomber. Let’s hope he is too sick to strap a bomb to himself .


it is beyond cruel for the loved ones who lost their family – I can’t even imagine their agony upon the release of this vicious animal.


With more acts of this kind of compassion, love and understanding, there will be reduced violence and harmonious relations in the world.


Although I admire the quality of mercy, in this instance I believe mercy was extended to the wrong person. All feelings of compassion and mercy should remain with the families of the victims. For anyone to take an action that renewed or increased their pain one iota is a gross offense against all that is decent. I’m deeply disappointed in the Scottish government.


Unbelievable!!! He had no consideration or compassion for the 270 people that he murdered on flight 103. He gets 8 years in jail for mass murder…he deserves to rot in prison. I am very saddened by this gross miscarriage of justice, my heart goes out to all the families of the victims. Such a tragedy.


An addendum:
To those who lost loved ones I call your attention to Desmond Tutu’s book: “No Future Without Forgiveness” published in 1999


Although some people may say that the decision to release a dying man, responsible for the killing of two hundred sixty innocent people, from prison, to go home to die for humanitarian reasons, I disagree. I think the fact that this prisoner was not executed was humanitarian. The message that was given to the people in support of terrorism, was simply how weak and dumb the Western people are –if the roles had been reversed, the people that support terrorist, would have publicly executed a Westerner –because they would feel that they are Strong, Just and not Dumb.


How did the British & Scottish government allow this to happen?? The entire civilized world should boycott (not)Great Britain & Scotlands tourism industry in protest for this atrocity…


The “squaring of the circle” idea
(mentioned in the video) sums up
what is the basis and essence of the Issue.

Who can determine which Shape
should be measured first?
Who, in the nature of the matters evolving:
can say whether the circle is to be better
measured than the square of the situation?

The Justice Secretary did show that he
was–and is–aware of the complex Geometry involved in his Decision…
knowing fully
that obtaining Agreement
among others
with his Choice
would be just as impossible
as “squaring the circle.”

In that description, he was utterly


This was a sign of compassion and I applaud the Scottish government. I firml believe if more people and governments showed more compassion there would be less conflict. Many of us pride ourselves on being “Christian”. Under the circumstances what Jesus have voted for? Continued imprisonment or release?


Another blogger, #33 gayle brown, brings up a very important issue, whether the original trial could pass legal muster on review by the appellate court. High profile crimes bring so much publicity and put great pressure on the lawenforcement community, that it seems you have to go to Mars to find a jury that has not already made up its mind on guilt or innocence. Another all too frequent problem we do not become aware of until the appellate court’s review, is the failure of the prosecutors to deliver up exculpatory evidence. Finally, juries are simply overwhelmed by the evidence presented by the prosecutor. Scores of witnesses, a dozen experts offerings their opinions and sometimes the families of the victims are in court.

If the High Court of Scotland had found it legally impossible to affirm the trial court’s verdict, then freeing a sick man may have seemed the best way out of a bad situation. Don White


If Cashley speaks for all Scottish politicians and the Scottish “justice” system, then the entire Scottish government is not only peccant but either feckless or more evil than their soon-to-be-late prisoner. This is not justice in any sense.


He will die soon of cancer, so he does not have anything to lose, HE COULD DO MORE HARM NOW!!!!
Scotland is given Terrorist a victory…
Compassion should be given to the families of the ones that died at terrorist atacks.


The U.S. is to blame by pressuring Libya until they confessed and a scapegoat was offered. Al Megrahi was offered to the U.S. The real culprits are from India who live in Canada, having been investigated by incompetent police and released. They were also behind the explosion at the airport in Japan. It may be time for those from India living in Canada, and who know who the real culprits are, to take action themselves before they too become accused of being accomplices in this act of savagery.


today on the bbc or npr I heard that the heads of many upper level officials in the
scottish system would have rolled if the true circumstances of evidence and manipu;ation were revealed regarding this trial. There is at least one relative of a victim in Scotland who agrees with the minister’s decision to release this man. He will die soon in any case. Why are we som vengeful in circumstances that are unclear? What happened to the
christian ethic that this country so proudly promotes?


He went home to a Hero’s welcome for killing 260 plus people who had no chance. That should tells us volumes of what his countrymen think.

Scotland rewarded a man who deserved no compassion.


Scottish government, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill should now be eligible to be appointed as the Scottish Ambassodor to Tripoli.


I smelled the foul odor of money and oil. Claiming moral high ground of compassion and mercy sound hypocritical. The bomber had not apologized to the victims’ families all these years. The release is an insult to the dead who had no voice, and sends a message to future terrorists that you can do the crime without doing the time. Why are the Scots so timid? I do not see them protesting assertively outside the office of Justice Secretary MacAskill.


He was able to do a heinous crime once. He must have had connections. He may still. How do we know he won’t attack again? Do prisons have hospice facilities?


This depends on whether you look
on the matter
from within (internally)
from without (externally)…

if the issue
is seen…
(that, the Libyan man
was wrongly released
and that this action
must, inevitably, cause
renewed pain to those
who can never be
from their pain)
is seen, I say,
from within…
then, Yes:
the man should
not have been

If this issue is,
on the other hand:
looked upon
from without (externally)
based on the facts
details at hand…
then, it may be known:
even if
when this Libyan man
is released:
he remains, still:
quite Mortal…
who can, fully, determine
the “value”
the “true extent” of
another’s “enjoyment”
(with his own family)
when he, surely, knows and remembers:
he was responsible for the taking of
so many lives and, surely, knows, as well:
that, relatively soon:
he, too, shall, very likely,
be joining those many
(no speculation
on placements
in the Afterlife
here intended)
very unnecessarily,
and long ago,
he was the instrument
in murdering the Murdered?


they should let the scottish official serve his sentence instead. its an outrage!!!!!


Al-Megrahi should have continued to serve his sentence for mass murder, even if it meant his dying in prison. Releasing him for any reason was a victory for internationalist terrorists. I’m appalled by the video of him being honored like a hero upon disembarking the plane. This is a sad day for the families of the Lockerbie dead. There is no justice in this perplexing decision by the Scotts.


I think the Scottish authorities acted correctly. The Lockerbie bomber has now received a death sentence by way of an excruciating, terminal disease–cancer. While I do not imagine myself magnanimous enough to have extended the comfort of a homecoming to him had it been in my own power to do so, I would not want to punish his family in the way that he punished the families of the dead for whom his actions are permanently responsible. I do think for him to return home to die may be a comfort to his family members. It is also this humanitarian deed from Scottish authorities, which may cause a second thought from one of his relatives regarding following in the bomber’s footsteps. We may never know for sure, because how does one judge a negative–a non-event? But that may be the only positive thing that comes.


Look behind the headlines and review the history of the investigation. Anyone who Googles: lockerbie syria, can review the ample evidence that Libya was not involved in the bombing but that Syria was. Libya’s admission was made because it needed foreign trade after years of sanctions.


What part of the sentence “till death” is not understood here. This evil man is getting out of prision because he has prostate cancer! He can live for 20 years with that diagnosis. Does it matter if a convicted felon has diabetes or prostate cancer? He killed hundereds of people, when he decided to do that he lost his right to be with his family. He does not deserve to be with his family, as the people he killed can not be with theirs.


How can anyone justify releasing a heartless terrorist because of his illness. His punishment should include a lonely death in his prison cell.

I’m appalled by this show of “mercy” towards someone who clearly had no mercy for anyone unfortunate enough to have been on that flight.


An outrage of justice and compassion! What compassion did he show for his victims? He deserved to be tortured for his crimes until the moment of his death. An eye for an eye! That was his mantra and that is how he should be treated. He does not deserve to be reunited with his family and he is being treated as a hero by his compatriots who support his criminal behavior. Scottish decision was idiotic!


I hope Scotland is proud of the hero’s welcome he was given back in Libya. May he live for years in his home with his family to mock Scotland. The only compassion which needs recognizing is to the families of those killed in the crash. Despite a dream I’ve had for years, I will never set foot in Scotland.


Prayers for the families who lost loved ones.Sadly makes me sorry for my scottish hertiage.


this is an abominable decision; we should definitely boycott Scottland. There is no reason to show this awful man any compassion, when he had not compassion for any of his victims…

Europeans must be careful of siding with the perpetrators in such cases, rather than with victims…

Also, what if he doesn’t die as predicted…


This is an awful decision this is a slap in the face to the families of the victims. I would bet they would give all they have to have had the chance to say goodbye to their loved ones like this mass murderer family will enjoy. This is double jeopardy for the victims families, my heart goes out to them. Shame on Scotland.


A disgracefully bad decision, an unneeded, unwarrented gesture of mercy toward a culture incapable of appreciating it.


Only by showing compassion toward others will we be freed from our own prisons of anger and revenge


So glad to read the comments by V. Luczniowska and Don White.There is a glimmer of hope for mankind.


It is a big mistake since (1) it gives green light to other terrorists (2) the Libyan government recognized publicly its culpability; the action of the Justice Minister approves indirectly the Libyan action and (3) it send a mixed message about the intention of the West: Business (Libyan Oil) or Justice?


Since the Scottish Minister decided to release the terrorist, he should be released at 20,000 feet above Libya


Over 260 killed on the airplane, nearly another dozen on the ground, and it is considered rational to be compassionate to this slug? It devalues the life of every person who died in that terrorist bombing. It devalues our lives too, because when compassion and stupidity become the same thing, you know you weren’t worth much should something bad happen to you or your loved ones, and thereafter your killer gets sick. What a disgrace.


I applaud the judges decision. My nephew was killed in 9/11 in teh World Trade Center. Only by showing such compassion can we live in the world we say we want. Justice must be tempered by compassion, even to those who have committed vile acts.


Hard to believe that this mass murderer will be liberated. Does that mean that all such prisoners w/terminal diseases/illnesses should likewise be released? Give me a break!!!


Compassion is seen as weakness and only leads to further attacks. He should die in prison. The patronizing, moralistic, self-congratulatory smugness of the Scottish spokesman is sickening.


Although I am a believer in second chance, I also believe it is wrong for a terrorist of this magnitude to be freed, When people are punished for their wrongful act, one among a number of reasons is for it to serve as a deterrent. By setting a terrorist free, what does the Scottish government think it will achieve. No matter how you dice it, it is wrong to set a convicted terrorist free.


The humane act by the Government of Scotland was magnanimous. To be magnanimous means to help someone who cannot pay back. I am of Scots-Irish descent. It makes me proud that people of my blood line can do what is right despite severe criticism. Don White, Jacksonville FL


I agree with the Scottish official who made the decision to let a dying man go home to die, and I view it as an admirable quality to be able to rise above the call for REVENGE, and yes, to a large degree our call for ‘justice’ is just that, a call for REVENGE. I am not inexperience in having injustice committed against myself and my family, but nothing would have been undone or improved by justice or revenge. I am not a religious person EITHER, but I leave vengeance to the higher power who said: VENGEANCE IS MINE. Of course, societies and individuals SHOULD have the right to protect themselves, but this situation has nothing to do with self-defense or self protection,


Here is your “out” Tall One. Just tell them Goooooober sent you. Clearly you are too sick to be a real threat


Tell Osama Bin Ladden to surrender to these people in the name of Goooooober, I just want the money


I’m appaled. Humanitarian reasons to liberate somebody that caused the death of hundreds of people? Did he have any humanitarian feelings for those victims.
Scottish minister: I frankly don’t understand where you are coming from. Some “political” benefits, maybe?
I don’t approve this decision my no means. I’m extremely disappointed.


Where is the compassion of the Lockerbie bomber for the 260 dead over Scotland? His freedom seems to be a gross miscarriage of justice. I had always admired the Scotts for prudent, thoughtful decisions but alas, they have lost the grand characteristics of their forefathers ust as ours have. May the bomber receive the justice that he deserves, by whatever means.

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