In light of the recent visit of four U.S. State Department officials to Libya to examine lifting the U.S. ban on American travel to Libya, it was reported that Libya has requested normalization of relations with the United States. The Orthodox Union today expressed its opposition to any lifting of any American bans and sanctions against Libya given Libya’s role in international state-sponsored terrorism.
The world reacted with shock as jumbo jet Pan Am 103 was downed at Lockerbie, Scotland on December 21, 1988, killing 259 passengers and crew and eleven people on the ground. Among the dead were 189 Americans, including Joseph K. Miller, an officer of the Orthodox Union. According to the State Department, the bombing was a “Libyan government operation from start to finish.” As a result of that horrific act of terrorism, international sanctions were imposed by the U.N. against Libya.
Two Libyans faced with the charges of the bombing of the jetliner were delivered to the Netherlands in 1999 to face trial in a Scottish court, which signified only the very beginning of the attempt to get at the truth. The OU opposed the U.N.’s suspension of sanctions against Libya at that time and the efforts of European countries to seek trade with the oil-rich state.
Betty Ehrenberg, OU Director of International and Communal Affairs said, “As Libya has a long record of having financed and committed dozens of acts of terrorism against the West, including the bombing of Pan Am 103, we oppose the lifting of any American bans or sanctions against Libya. In addition to the two suspects handed over to the Netherlands, all those who are ultimately responsible for the pain and tragedy of Pan Am 103 must be brought to justice. Libya has a long way to go to achieve a permanent lifting of sanctions and to earn a place among the family of civilized nations. We deplore the fact that other nations, among them American allies, have suspended their own sanctions against Libya and restored diplomatic and economic ties. We urge our own government to resist lifting any sanctions.”