August 28, 2009

Schumer, Lautenberg, Menendez and Gillibrand Sponsor Senate Resolution Condemning Release and ‘Welcome Home’ Celebration for Libya’s Notorious Lockerbie Terrorist

Senators: Bomber’s Homecoming a Disgusting Display That Blatantly Disregards Families of Terrorist Victims

Washington, D.C. - United States Senators Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) announced today that they will introduce a Senate resolution condemning the release and vile "welcome home" celebration held for Libyan terrorist and convicted Lockerbie bomber, Abdel Baset al-Megrahi.  Al-Megrahi was released by the Scottish Government on August 20 after serving eight years in prison for the 1988 attack on Pan Am Flight 103, which killed all 259 people on board and 11 people on the ground in the town of Lockerbie, Scotland.  The Scottish Government claimed the release was a compassionate gesture given al-Megrahi's failing health.

"The victims' families have had no peace since the day this evil act occurred and now their wounds have been reopened," said Schumer. "The hero's welcome Libya gave to this terrorist truly shocks the conscience and deserves a formal rebuke. It is outrageous that the Libyan Government would so blatantly disregard the suffering the families have endured for more than two decades. We demand an apology for the gross homecoming celebration of al-Megrahi."

"The sick celebration when Mr. al-Megrahi landed in Libya added insult to injury for the American victims of Qaddafi's terrorism," stated Lautenberg.  "Mr. al-Megrahi's release by the Scottish government was painful enough for the victims of Libya's terrorism, but to see such a celebration for a murderer was a shocking insult to decency.  Passage of this resolution will send a powerful message to the Libyan government and express the Senate's condemnation of acts of compassion shown to terrorists-especially those who have killed Americans."

"It was tragically ironic that the man convicted of taking down an airplane and ending 270 lives was able to arrive in a private jet to a hero's welcome in Libya. This charade was an injustice that added insult to injury for the victims' families. The international community should condemn this entire episode," Menendez said.

"The ‘Welcome Home' ceremony sponsored by the Libyan government was a low point for the global community and our efforts to promote peace and combat terror," Gillibrand said. "The families of Pan Am Flight 103 were forced to relive the horrific loss of their loved ones, while the man who was responsible was welcomed home a hero. The government of Libya should apologize to these families."

On December 21, 1988, Pan Am Flight 103, enroute from London's Healthrow Airport to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, exploded over the town of Lockerbie, Scotland, killing all 259 on board and 11 people on the ground.  Many NewYorkers and New Jersey residents were among the 189 Americans killed in the bombing.  In 2001, Abdel Baset al-Megrahi was convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.

On August 20, the Scottish Government released al-Megrahi, who is currently suffering from prostate cancer and is predicted to have three months to live.  Upon his return, thousands of young men, who had been transported by the Libyan government, gathered at the airport in Tripoli to greet the terrorist.  They waved banners and threw flower petals after al-Megrahi was escorted from prison by Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi, the son of the Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.