WASHINGTON – US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday backed calls for a probe into the possible role of Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi and others in the 1988 plane bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland.
Clinton told Congress she would “follow up” on a lawmaker’s query as to how Washington “could gather evidence and put together a case against Kadhafi and all those with whom he might have conspired” in launching the attack.
The chief US diplomat told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that the committee’s chairwoman, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, raised the issue in a letter.
Clinton said law enforcement agencies would have to do much of the work requested in the letter but she would immediately ask FBI Director Robert Mueller, Attorney General Eric Holder and others to “see how we can move on that.”
The issue is pressing “because there have been statements made in the last days by what are now former members of the Libyan government fingering Kadhafi, making it clear that the order came from the very top,” Clinton said.
“I think we do need to move expeditiously,” she told the House Foreign Affairs Committee when asked about how to obtain justice for those who died in the bombing.
Swedish daily Expressen reported that Libya’s former justice minister Mustapha Abdeljalil, after defecting to the opposition, told the newspaper that he has “proof that Kadhafi gave the order on Lockerbie.”
Libyan national Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi was in 2001 convicted of the bombing of Pan AM Flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie on December 21, 1988 that killed 270 people, most of them Americans.
But Scottish authorities, who have power over their own judicial affairs, released Megrahi, 58, on compassionate grounds in August 2009 after doctors said he was suffering from terminal cancer and had three months to live.
His release and subsequent hero’s return to Tripoli drew a furious response from many, and outrage in the United States has been stoked by the fact that he remains alive almost a year and a half after his release.
According to Abdeljalil, Kadhafi “ordered Megrahi to do it (the bombing),” and had worked hard to secure his release to ensure that his role in the plot remained secret.
“To hide it, he did everything in his power to get Megrahi back from Scotland,” the former minister said.
Libya is in turmoil as Kadhafi’s regime uses deadly force to hold onto power amid a popular uprising.