Despite 189 American lives lost in the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing, the U.S. settled all lawsuits against Libya for terrorist killings and restored diplomatic relations with the country today – with reparations to be paid to Libya.
President Ronald Reagan ordered air strikes on Tripoli and Benghazi on April 15, 1986, after Libyan terrorists planted 6 pounds of plastic explosives packed with shrapnel on the dance floor of La Belle discotheque in Berlin, killing three people – including two U.S. soldiers – and maiming 200 others.
Libyan President Col. Moammar Gadhafi (Courtesy:
Two years later, Pan Am Flight 103 exploded in a terrorist attack by a Libyan intelligence agent. The blast killed 268 people from 21 countries, including 189 Americans. U.S. families filed 26 lawsuits against Libya for the 1988 bombing of the plane en route to New York from London.
The Bush administration began to consider restoring a relationship with the country in 2003 after Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi promised to end production of weapons of mass destruction, halt terrorist activities and reimburse U.S. families of victims of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 and other terrorist bombings. Following its pledge, U.N., U.S. and European sanctions were lifted, Libya was taken off the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism and the country was granted membership in the U.N. Security Council.
An agreement required Libya to complete $2.7 billion in payments it had said it would provide to the families of victims. According to Associated Press reports, a senior Libyan government official claims there were also three lawsuits filed on behalf of Libyan citizens in response to Reagan’s air strikes – attacks that Libya says killed 41 of its people and Gadhafi’s adopted daughter.
Susan Cohen, mother of a 20-year-old woman killed in the Pan Am Flight 103, expressed outrage upon hearing news of the U.S.-Libya settlement.
“Gadhafi is an absolute horror,” Cohen told WND. “He has done many, many terrible things. He blew up the French plane, and he blew up the American plane. And what does the Bush administration do? The Bush administration is far more on the side of the Libyans than it is as far as the victims of terrorism go, though it talks a good line about caring about terrorism. If they can make friends with Moammar Gadhafi because they want his oil, then that tells you where they stand.”
Cohen said she cannot understand why the U.S. would reimburse Libyans for Reagan’s air strikes – attacks that were a result of Gadhafi’s bombing of the disco. She believes the U.S. pushed for diplomatic relations because the agreement could result in more contracts for American oil companies.
“I think this is absolutely horrible,” she said. “It’s really sickening, and it’s really dirty. They are being very private and secretive about it.”
While Libya has given $8 million of the $10 million it owed to many of the 268 families involved in the Pan Am explosion, it had refused to pay $2 million because of a disagreement with the U.S. about reciprocal obligations.
Nicole Thompson, a State Department spokeswoman, told WND, “The settlement goes to both sides. The settlement is for outstanding claims on the part of Libya as well as the United States.”
When asked whether the U.S. will make payments to Libya, Thompson responded, “Yes.”
An Associated Press report reveals that foreign companies conducting business in Libya – including U.S. companies – will begin paying into a fund to award damages to both Libyan and American claimants.
Pan Am Flight 103 (courtesy: The Sun, UK)
When WND asked the State Department spokeswoman if oil companies would have any part in paying reparations, she said, “I don’t have any information on that, but it has been established. I have no information on what the financial agreement will be or the financial compensation that will be paid.”
While Thompson said Libyans will receive a settlement as part of the agreement, she declined to reveal the source of the money.
“None of this will be U.S. government funding,” she said.
The State Department has provided little information about the agreement. It issued a short press release stating only the following:
The United States and Libya concluded a comprehensive claims settlement agreement on August 14 in Tripoli. Both parties welcomed the establishment of a process to provide fair compensation for their respective nationals, and thereby turn their focus to the future of their bilateral relationship. They also underscored the benefits an expansion of ties would provide for both countries as well as for the American and Libyan peoples.
The U.S now plans to open an embassy in Tripoli, confirm a U.S. ambassador to Libya and grant Gadhafi’s government immunity from more terror-related lawsuits, according to the Associated Press. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice plans to visit Libya before the year’s end.
“Condoleezza Rice is going to Libya to kiss Gadhafi’s feet,” Cohen said. “So this is what has come? He blew up an American plane. And I am supposed to have faith in the government of this country?”
U.S. diplomat David Welch delivered a personal letter from President George Bush to Gadhafi and signed the new agreement with Ahmed al-Fatouri, head of America affairs in Libya’s Foreign Ministry.
“We went through a long path of negotiations until we reached this agreement,” al-Fatouri said. “It opens new horizons for relations based on mutual respect. … The agreement turns the page on the negative past forever.”
However, Cohen doesn’t share his sentiment.
“This is done after the murder of my innocent daughter and 270 people killed,” she said. “Gadhafi was the one who was behind the attack on that disco, and Reagan responded. Does that mean the Republican administration is saying that Ronald Reagan and Gadhafi are equivalent terrorists?”