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Two New Jersey senators say extradite Abdel Baset al-Megrahi

August 21, 2011

Libyan man convicted in the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am plane over Lockerbie, Scotland, attended a rally in Tripoli in support of Muammar Qaddafi, according to Libya's state TV — another sign of defiance by the Qaddafi regime.

Two New Jersey senators are demanding that any new Libyan government agree to extradite to the United States the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing two years after he was released from prison to die of cancer.

Abdel Baset al-Megrahi was convicted in 2001 of murdering 270 people, most of them Americans from the tri-state area, by blowing up a Pan Am plane over the Scottish town of Lockerbie on Dec. 21, 1988.

He was freed on Aug. 20, 2009, after prison doctors said he had prostate cancer and estimated he had only three months to live. He is still alive, and last month he appeared at a televised rally in Tripoli alongside Muammar Qaddafi.

“As my investigation showed, and as time has proven, al-Megrahi’s prognosis was a sham amounting to nothing more than an effort help UK business interests curry favor with the former Libyan government,” said Sen. Robert Menendez, a Democratic member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“At the time we all understood it to be a massive diplomatic blunder and an insult to the families of the victims of the Lockerbie bomber,” he said. “The fact that the Qaddafi regime is in shambles and has turned on its own people shows that undermining humanitarian principles in order to serve short term business interests is never sound policy.”

Sen. Frank Lautenberg, also a Democrat, said: “No stone should be left unturned in bringing Megrahi and everyone responsible for this heinous act—including Qaddafi—to justice. The family members of the victims who have had to suffer through watching this terrorist be set free deserve no less.”

Al-Megrahi, a former Libyan intelligence officer, is the only person convicted over the Lockerbie bombing, Britain’s worst terrorist attack.

His release infuriated the families of many Lockerbie victims, who suspected Britain’s ulterior motive was to improve relations with oil-rich Libya. Some relatives, however, believe al-Megrahi was wrongly convicted and that evidence points to Iranian-backed Palestinian militants as the perpetrators.

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