The Return of the Lockerbie Bomber: Lessons for the Golan

By Melchett Mike
August 25, 2009

The shameful release of the Libyan convicted of murdering 270 innocent people over, and in, Lockerbie in 1988 disgraces Scotland, its criminal justice system, and its people.

The freeing, on "compassionate grounds", of Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi by Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill – seemingly more intent on making a name for himself than living up to his title – shows no "compassion" whatsoever for the families and friends of the victims of Pan Am Flight 103, never mind consideration for the rule of law.

Watching "breaking news" of the Lockerbie mass murder, the biggest in British history, was one of those never-forget-where-you-were experiences – I was sitting on a friend's couch in Finchley – and, as it transpired, a boy I knew, Marc Tager, was on the flight.

MacAskill's expressed motivation for releasing Megrahi – Scottish values to show mercy – smacks of the empty cliché: "In Scotland, we are a people who pride ourselves on our humanity. It is viewed as a defining characteristic of Scotland and the Scottish people."

To the Scots' other, less attractive, mythical traits – misery, meanness, and drunkenness – can now be added gross stupidity and insensitivity.

The argument that Megrahi, who is said to have terminal prostate cancer, should never have been convicted in the first place is a "red herring" and does not excuse MacAskill's horrible lack of judgment. If this is the logic of the Scottish Justice Secretary no less, and a member of the Scottish National Party, the Scots are clearly no more ready to govern themselves than their Celtic cousins down in the Valleys.

Some see more than coincidence in Megrahi's dropping, less than a week before his release, of his second appeal against conviction – at which embarrassing evidence may have come to light exposing a miscarriage of justice and/or a cover-up – whilst the even more cynical link the decision to the increasing interest of Western (including British) energy companies in Libya's vast oil and gas resources.

More shameless than the decision to free Megrahi, however, was the hero's welcome put on for his return. Even if Libya disputes his conviction, the sickening scenes of jubilation on the runway in Tripoli were a further slap in the face for the the Lockerbie victims' families. And, viewing those scenes on TV, I perceived a real warning for Israel . . .

I spent the weekend before last in the Golan Heights, where I talked to Syrian Druze displaced by Israel's occupation – and, in 1981, formal annexation – of the Heights following the 1967 Six Day War.

My discussions did not confirm the oft-heard view – from those whose veins flow even bluer-and-whiter than mine – that these Druze do not really want the Golan to be returned to Syria, because life is better for them in Israel. True, they currently live in a genuine democracy and enjoy greater economic prosperity, but – unlike too many of us Israelis and Jews, who (sadly) attach so much import to the merely material – the Druze lead simple lives, wanting nothing more than to be reunited with their families on the other side of the fence.

I have little doubt that, within the next decade or so, the Golan Heights will be returned to Syria. But to what end?

Will Syria's President Bashar al-Assad do his part to guarantee peace along the countries' (adjusted) common border?

Will he cease providing refuge, in Damascus, for Jew-killers?

And will he withdraw Syria from its dastardly axis with Iran and Hizbollah?

Will he f*ck!

His continual anti-Israel pronouncements aside, just one look at Assad's eyes are enough to know that (if I may be forgiven for quoting a previous post) "for Israel to deliver the strategic Golan Heights to the Ass' Man would be akin to putting a serial paedophile in charge of a kiddies’ paddling pool."

Assad and the Syrians are no more trustworthy than Colonel Gaddafi and their Libyan "brothers", who – by granting a convicted mass murderer a hero's welcome, instead of receiving him in an appropriately low-key manner – exposed themselves to the world as the heartless, amoral lowlifes that they are (indeed, if Megrahi – a former intelligence officer – wasn't dying, I have no doubt that Gaddafi would be putting him straight back on active duty).

If, or more realistically when, the Golan Heights is returned to Syria, the state-sponsored jubilation will make Megrahi's welcome, in comparison, seem more like a birthday bash for Bernie Madoff attended by satisfied former clients.

Dictators' PR stunts, however, are nothing new, being all they have to offer their long-suffering subjects.

The real question is whether Assad will "be putting" the Golan Heights "back on active duty", and utilising them for the same purposes as pre-1967 . . . to attack Israeli villages below. With the greatest respect to the memory of the victims of Lockerbie and to the feelings of their families, Israel has far more to lose than 'merely' insult and hurt.


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