A couple that lost a daughter to the terrorists who destroyed Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988 and who refused $5 million of “blood money” from strongman Moammar Gadhafi in connection with the attack are livid at President Bush for restoring full diplomatic relations with Libya.
Daniel and Susan Cohen lost 20-year-old daughter Theodora, their only child, in the attack over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed 270 people.
Though they were part of a lawsuit by families of slain Americans, they dropped out after seeing that Gadhafi’s payments amounted to what they consider “bribes.” He was getting something – namely the lifting of U.N. sanctions, travel restrictions and getting off the list of terrorism sponsors – for the payments rather than giving them as a means to admit guilt in the attack.
“We may be the only living Americans that ever turned down $5 million,” Susan Cohen told WND. “What we really wanted was justice.”
Cohen called it a “rumor” that Gadhafi has taken responsibility for the Flight 103 attack.
“Yes, the Libyan government issued a well-lawyered, very limited statement of ‘civil responsibility’ in order to avoid U.N. sanctions,” wrote Daniel Cohen in the Los Angeles Times this week. “But Col. Gadhafi himself has continued to insist that Libya had nothing to do with the bombing, and, after all, his voice is the only one that really counts in Libya.”
Said Susan Cohen: “The money was pegged to Gadhafi getting what he wanted, which we felt was a bribe. … It has turned the Pan Am 103 families into people whose focus was then on getting the money.”
Cohen explained she and her husband are totally out of the lawsuit: “We do not have the lawyers; we are out of it.”
“We don’t want to be rewarded for his getting what he wants,” said Cohen.
About a year and a half ago the Cohens officially pulled out of the suit.
The Coker family is one of the families that took the money.
“People feel guilty taking the money. It’s like a trade for your child,” Tom Coker told the Syracuse Post-Standard earlier this year. “Blood money is difficult to deal with.”
Saying the re-establishment of relations with Libya, announced by the State Department Monday, is a “horror,” Cohen blasted the Bush administration.
“Everything this administration has put its hands on has been a disaster,” Cohen stated. “It’s almost like the Midas golden touch in reverse. … I absolutely detest George Bush and Dick Cheney. I think they are scoundrels.”
Added Cohen: “Gadhafi has gotten everything he wanted; he has totally triumphed.”
When the offer came in, Cohen says, the couple’s attorneys asked if they wanted to give it to charity.
“We said no, it’s the taking of it that’s evil,” Cohen said.
“That was my only child;, it has destroyed my life; I am a wreck and I miss her every moment. I will be damned if I will be bribed by Moammar Gadhafi.”
Dan Cohen’s opinion piece in the Times opens: “How would you feel if the man who murdered your child was forgiven – and embraced – by your government?”
He goes on to say the Bush administration “has dishonored our country.”
Wrote Cohen: “Nothing can bring back Theo and all the other slain innocents. Col. Gadhafi and his cronies who planned and carried out the bombing are now beyond reach. But at least we should leave a clear record of what happened – and who was responsible. By normalizing relations with Libya and exonerating Col. Gadhafi – and that is clearly what the Bush administration has done – we have even lost that chance.”
The Cohens, who live in Cape May Courthouse, N.J., did accept an initial $5 million as part of a U.N.-approved package deal for the families, 20 percent of which went to attorneys.
“We were willing to take the first payment because it was part of the … U.N. package” of requirements, Dan Cohen told WND. “We had signed on for the U.N. deal from the very beginning.”
Cohen told the New York Post he is considering a protest of Libya’s formal embassy when it opens in Washington, D.C.
“We are considering something, some sort of a protest,” he said. “Maybe I will spit on a few diplomats as they walk in.”
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