Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Other Side of the al-Megrahi Story

It's funny the stories you don't hear in the North American media.

Take, for example, the seemingly universal outrage over the release of Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, the 'Lockerbie Bomber'. U.S. and even Canadian television crews interview outraged family members of his American victims. Amrican, British and Canadian governments condemn the release and/or the Libyan reaction. And whenever those scenes of cheering Libyans greeting him at the airport are shown, commentators express their sympathy and solidarity with the victims' family members who are forced to watch such images - while, of course, continuing to air those images over and over.

What has barely been mentioned in either the U.S. or Canadian coverage of this story is that those cheering Libyans aren't celebrating the acts of a mass murderer - they are celebrating the release of someone they believe to be an innocent man. Even more rarely discussed is the fact that many - some say most - of the Scottish and British family members of the Lockerbie victims agree with them.

I must admit, I had never paid too much attention to this case beyond a vague memory of the original incident and the knowledge that, years later, at least one of the people responsible had been convicted. Thankfully, Gwynne Dyer takes us through the whole history of the Pan Am 103 bombing - from the accidental downing of an Iranian passenger jet by U.S. forces which may have instigated it, to the politically-motivated switch in investigative focus from Iran or Syria to Libya, to the humble Maltese merchant who testified against al-Megrahi and then retired to Australia to spend the millions he was reportedly paid by the U.S. government.

Also under-reported in North America is the fact that the Scots had reviewed his case in 2007, concluded that al-Megrahi "may have suffered a miscarriage of justice", and were preparing to refer his case to the Court of Appeals. That appeal was dropped, however, when al-Megrahi became ill enough to justify his release on compassionate grounds.

There are, of course, those who truly believe that Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi really is the mastermind behind the Pan Am 103 bombing. And they may well be right. But even if the media on this side of the Atlantic chose to ignore the well-documented holes in that version of events, the least they could have done - if only for the sake of the families - was to explain the real reason why all those Libyans were so happy to have him home.


  1. Of course they think he's innocent. Jesus, I wouldn't expect any different from these people. North Koreans apparently think Kim Jong is a great guy, too.

  2. Yes, and for Raphael it's always about "these people." And some people in Canada think Stephen Harper's is a great guy too. And what does that say about them? What do the Cons have against facts, or reasonable doubt? And why oh why is it always about REVENGE?

  3. So, Raph, did you miss the part where a significant number of the British victims' family members ALSO have serious doubts about his guilt? 'Cause Dr. Swire doesn't look much like one of "those people" to me.

  4. I've read Mr. Dyer's account of the concerns over the grounds for el-Meghrabi's conviction. I am inclined to admit of the possibility he suggests. It's not entirely impossible, and I await further evidence to either support or debunk Dyer's assessment.