Abdel Basset al-Magrahi, a Libyan convicted of masterminding the 1988 Pan Am Lockerbie bombing that killed 259 travelers and 11 people on the ground, is reportedly still living in Tripoli after returning to a hero's welcome in 2009. Released on compassionate grounds by blinkered Scottish authorities because he was supposedly on the verge of death from cancer, Magrahi was giving self-serving interviews to the international media as recently as Oct. 3 of this year.
Magrahi maintains he didn't do it and that the facts about the Lockerbie bombing will soon emerge. A Dutch court disagreed with his profession of innocence, which is how he came to be imprisoned in the first place.
As for the convicted mass-murderer's decrepitude, it should be noted he has been dying any day now for more than two years. A Reuters report published in the British press this month reported that while Magrahi held forth for the media, "An oxygen tank stood nearby, but he did not use an oxygen mask during the interview.''
The Dec. 21, 1988 bombing, one of the bloodiest terrorist attacks on travelers in modern history, numbered among its victims 189 Americans - including 36 students at Syracuse University, my alma mater, who were returning from studies in Britain for their end of the year holidays.
The United States opposed Magrahi's release by Scotland and his return to Libya and is seeking his extradition.
"He does seem to have made a miraculous recovery ... he never should have been let out of jail,'' the Reuters dispatch quotes U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland as saying. "We continue to believe that the right place for Mugrahi is behind bars and we will continue to make that case to the Libyans.''
Good luck with that. The present, hopefully transitionary leaders of Libya demonstrated their commitment to justice and compassion on Thursday in videos showing the beating of the deposed dictator Moammar Khadafy. In an earlier announcement, the victorious rebels - who beat Khadafy on the battlefield thanks to military help from the West, including the U.S. - have said Magrahi will not be extradicted from Libya.
Khadafy's ghost will continue to haunt long-suffering, good-hearted Libyan people in many ways for many years. It will continue to haunt the West, too, especially so long as Abdel Basset al-Megrahi remains at liberty.