Eleven years ago, on December 21st 1988, the world was shocked at the downing of jumbo jet Pan Am 103 at Lockerbie, Scotland. All 259 passengers and crew and eleven people on the ground were killed, including 189 Americans, among them our beloved treasurer, Joseph K. Miller. The State Department had issued a statement saying that the bombing was a “Libyan government operation from start to finish.” Following that terrorist attack, international sanctions were imposed by the United Nations against Libya since Libya failed to deliver the two suspected in the bombing for trial.
On April 5th 1999 Libya finally handed over the two suspects charged with planting the bomb that blew up flight 103. The United States and Britain formulated a compromise of holding a trial in the neutral site of the Netherlands under Scottish law in an arrangement that protects the Libyan regime from any further blame.
Richard B. Stone, chairman of the OU’s Institute for Public Affairs, said “The handover of Libya of the two suspects being charged with conspiracy, murder and contravention of the Aviation Security Act is only a first step. The trial of the two suspects, Fhima and al-Negrahi, cannot be considered the ultimate goal as this heinous crime is the responsibility of the Libyan government and its leader Muammar Quaddafi. Although the United Nations has suspended the sanctions that were put in place against Libya in 1992, we believe that surrendering these two suspects to trial is only the first step in what Libya needs to do and that the United Nations must closely scrutinize and monitor Libyan actions.”
Betty Ehrenberg, Director of International Affairs and Community Relations said, “The OU/IPA supported the measure passed by the United States Senate urging President Clinton to block the lifting of UN sanctions against Libya and to use the American veto in the UN Security Council if necessary against Libya until it fulfills all the conditions set forth by the UN. We also support the maintenance of the United States’ own sanctions against Libya which were imposed in 1986 since Libya has a record of having financed and committed dozens of other attacks on terrorism against the West. We deplore the fact that other nations, among them American allies, have suspended their own sanctions against Libya and restored diplomatic and economic ties. Libya has a long way to go to achieve a permanent lifting of sanctions and earning its place among the family of civilized nations. Libya must renounce all forms of terrorism, pay appropriate compensation to families of the Pan Am 103 victims and acknowledge responsibility for the actions of its officials as well as cooperate fully with the investigation and trial.”
As we mark the eleventh anniversary of this horrific tragedy, we remind world leaders that they must send the message that terrorists and terrorist states cannot continue to act with impunity.