By Brigitte L. Nacos
In my mind, the intentional detonation of a bomb aboard Pan Am Flight 103 in December 1988 and the killing of 270 persons aboard and on the ground in Lockerbie, Scotland, marked the beginning of the age of catastrophic terrorism.
Now, Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahithe only person convicted for mass murder was released by Scottish authorities on "compassionate" grounds so that he can die at home in Libya surrounded by his family.
No wonder, that the families of the victims are outraged. They did not even have a chance to say good-bye to their loved ones beforeFlight 103 was blown out of the sky and disintegrated into billions of pieces.
Terrorists are not in the business of compassion. They hate and kill indiscriminately.
But even more troubling than the decision to free al-Megrahithe's release are the incredible images of the hero's welcome that was staged in Tripoli for the Lockerbie terrorist. There is no doubt that Gadhafi arranged for his son Saif al-Islam el-Qaddafi to bring the former agent home aboard a government plane and orchestrated the glorious homecoming.
If Gadhafi intends to tell the world that the festive reception was for a man wrongly blamed for the downing of Flight 103, he will not convince those governments and peoples that matter. The released Libyan was not used as a scapegoat by the United States and other western countries to highlight Libya's state sponsorship of terrorism, but was actually a victim of Gadhafi without whom no Libyan agent would have plotted the horrific terrorist strike.
The fact that Gadhafi staged the homecoming celebration for al-Megrahithe in defiance of contrary advice by Scottish and other Western authorities raises new doubts about his sincerety, when it comes to his swearing off support for terrorism and the abondonment of WMD-programs.
Signaling different behavior in the post-9/11 years, Gadhafi was rewarded in that Libya returned into the family of nations and was taken off the U.S. State Department's lists of state sponsors of terrorism that results in a host of sanctions.
Now, Gadhafi, acted once again like the leader of a rogue state.