Six Months Later, Pan Am Bomber is Still Alive

By Jonathan Dienst
|  Friday, Mar 4, 2011  |  Updated 8:33 PM EDT
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Six Months Later, Pan Am Bomber is Still Alive

AP

Undated Crown Office handout of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, who was convicted of the Lockerbie bombing. Megrahi was convicted in 2001 of murdering 270 people by blowing up Pan-Am flight 103 over Lockerbie 13 years earlier, but has always denied any involvement.

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The terrorist who helped bomb Pan Am flight 103 is still alive - and free - in Libya nearly six months after Scotland released the mass murderer from prison on 'compassionate' grounds.

Scottish officials had said Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi would die within three months from prostate cancer when they announced they would set him free.   But nearly six months later, al-Megrahi is still calling in about twice a month from Libya to authorities in Scotland as part of the terms of his release.

"It has almost become comical," said Bert Ammerman who lost his brother in the bombing.  "I have to laugh that he has to phone in that he is following his probation terms.  This is a complete insult.  Shame on Scotland.  Shame on the White House."

Convicted terrorist Megrahi was set free back on August 21.  He had been sentence to life in prison after being convicted in 2001.  When he landed home in Libya, he was greeted by cheering crowds at the Tripoli airport, some waving Libyan and Scottish flags. 

Some members of the Scottish Parliament have called on Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill to better explain why a second medical opinion was not sought before deciding to release the terrorist.  MacAskill has responded saying the medical report stating Megrahi was dying of terminal cancer is accurate. 

He has claimed the three month window was just an approximation. MacAskill charged critics are "circling like vultures" wondering when Megrahi might die.  "He is going to die.  That is why he was released," MacAskill said to Scottish Parliament back in January.

Pan Am Flight 103 was en route from London to New york when a bomb exploded in the cargo hold of the mighty jetliner.  270 people were killed including 259 passengers and crew, and 11 people on the ground in the village of Lockerbie.  Megrahi was convicted of helping hide the bomb in a cassette recorder in a suitcase.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had said U.S. officials voiced their objections in advance about Scottish authorities plans to release the terrorist.  "It is obviously wrong to release someone who has been in prison based on the evidence about his involvement in such a horrendous crime," Clinton said. 

After he was set free, the FBI Director Robert Mueller blasted MacAskill's decision.  "Your action in releasing Megrahi is as inexplicable as it is detrimental to the cause of justice. Indeed your action makes a mockery of the rule of law," Mueller wrote.

Some victim's families have charged Megrahi's release was tied to future oil deals between British oil companies and the Libyan government.  Those allegations have been vehemently denied by British officials and spokesmen for oil firms like British Petroleum.

Jonathan Dienst WNBC Jonathan DIenst WNBC Jonathan DIenst WNBC
 

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