An oily deal for terrorism
According to a report in the The Daily Telegraph, UK Justice Secretary Jack Straw admitted that "trade and oil" were involved in the government's negotiations as far back as 2007 around a Prisoner Transfer Agreement (PTA) for convicted Pan Am 103 bomber Abdel al-Meghari.
Documents published this week showed Mr Straw originally promised that a PTA would only be reached with Libya if Megrahi was excluded. But he later caved in to Libyan demands to include Megrahi. It followed a warning from BP that a failure to include the bomber could hurt the oil giant’s business interests.
When asked in the interview if trade and BP were factors, Mr Straw admits: “Yes, [it was] a very big part of that. I’m unapologetic about that... Libya was a rogue state.
— Daily Telegraph
Last month, al-Meghari was granted compassionate release from a Scottish prison with months to live and received an official — and by some accounts "hero's" — welcome in Libya, which in 2003 formally admitted responsibility for the terrorist attack.
According to the BBC, Straw's office has blasted the press about the "innuendo over this issue," and a Scottish official called it "academic," since al-Mehrahi was eventually granted release on compassionate grounds, rather than as part of a PTA.
I do not have a nuanced position on this. While I can understand the impulse to show mercy to a prisoner dying of cancer, there are plenty of murderers who serve their term and die in custody. And the country that gave him a warm welcome admitted responsibility for bringing down an American plane and killing 270 people. America has gone to war over far less.
Let me be clear about my bias: As an undergraduate, I attended Syracuse University, and have several times visited the memorial on campus honoring the 35 students who were killed returning from a semester abroad. I was at JFK the day before the bombing, picking up a friend, a student from a different school returning on the very same flight number, something which continues to chill me every time I think about it.
I am deeply, deeply disappointed in the actions of the UK government.