Mandela 'lauds al-Megrahi move'
London - Former SA president Nelson Mandela has written to the Scottish
government to express his support for its decision to release the Lockerbie
bomber on compassionate grounds, officials said on Sunday.
The former South African president sent a letter through his Nelson Mandela
Foundation on Friday welcoming Abdel Baset al-Megrahi release from jail
earlier this month, a Scottish government spokesperson said.
"Mr Mandela appreciates the decision to release Mr al-Megrahi on
compassionate grounds," said the letter, written by Professor Jakes Gerwel,
chair of the Mandela Foundation.
"Mr Mandela played a central role in facilitating the handover of Mr
al-Megrahi and his fellow accused to the United Nations in order for them to
stand trial under Scottish Law in the Netherlands.
"His interest and involvement continued after the trial.
"The decision to release him now, and allow him to return to Libya, is one
which is in line with his wishes."
Lockerbie Part of a Bigger Story
By Eric Margolis:
The Toronto Sun/Canada: August 30, 2009
Libya's Moammar Khadaffy, once branded "the mad dog of the Middle East" by
Ronald Reagan, is celebrating 40 years in power in spite of a score of
attempts by western powers and his Arab "brothers" to kill him.
In 1987, I was invited to interview Khadaffy. We spent an evening together
in his Bedouin tent. He led me by the hand through the ruins of his personal
quarters, bombed a year earlier by the U.S. in an attempt to assassinate
him. Khadaffy showed me where his two-year old daughter had been killed by a
"Why are the Americans trying to kill me, Mister Eric?" he asked, genuinely
I told him because Libya was harbouring all sorts of anti-western
revolutionary groups, from Palestinian firebrands to IRA bombers and Nelson
Mandela's ANC. To the naive Libyans, they were all legitimate "freedom
Last week, a furor erupted over the release of a dying Libyan agent, Abdel
Basset al-Megrahi, convicted of the destruction of an American airliner over
Scotland in 1988.
Hypocrisy on all sides abounded. Washington and London blasted Libya and
Scotland's justice minister while denying claims al-Megrahi was released in
exchange new oil deals with Libya.
The Pan Am 103 crime was part of a bigger, even more sordid story. What goes
around comes around.
1986: Libya is accused of bombing a Berlin disco, killing two U.S.
servicemen. A defector from Israel's intelligence agency, Mossad, claims it
framed Libya. Khadaffy demands Arabs increase oil prices.
1987: The U.S. tries to kill Khadaffy but fails. Eighty-eight Libyan
1988: France wages a secret desert war with Libya over mineral-rich Chad.
France's secret service, SDECE, is ordered to kill Khadaffy. A bomb is put
on Khadaffy's private jet but, after Franco-Libyan relations abruptly
improve, the bomb is removed before it explodes.
1988: The U.S. intervenes on Iraq's side in its eight-year war against Iran.
A U.S. navy Aegis cruiser, Vincennes, violates Iranian waters and
"mistakenly" shoots down an Iranian civilian Airbus airliner in Iran's air
space. All 288 civilians aboard die. Then vice-president George H.W. Bush
vows, "I'll never apologize ... I don't care what the facts are."
The Vincennes' trigger-happy captain is decorated with the Legion of Merit
medal for this crime by Bush after he becomes president. Washington quietly
pays Iran $131.8 million US in damages.
Five months later, Pan Am 103 with 270 aboard is destroyed by a bomb over
Lockerbie, Scotland. The U.S. and Britain pressure Scotland to convict
al-Megrahi, who insists he is innocent. Serious questions are raised about
the trial, with claims CIA faked evidence to blame Libya.
Some intelligence experts believe the attack was revenge for the downing of
the Iranian airliner, carried out by Mideast contract killers paid by Iran.
Serious doubts about al-Megrahi's guilt were voiced by Scotland's legal
authorities. An appeal was underway. Libyans believed he was a sacrificial
lamb handed over to save Libya from a crushing U.S. and British-led oil
1989: A French UTA airliner with 180 aboard is blown up over Chad. A
Congolese and a Libyan agent are accused. French investigators indict
Khadaffy's brother-in-law, Abdullah Senoussi, head of Libyan intelligence,
with whom I dined in Tripoli. Libya blames the attack on rogue mid-level
agents but pays French families $170 million US.
I believe al-Megrahi was probably innocent and framed. Scotland was right to
release him. But Libya was guilty as hell of the UTA crime, which likely was
revenge for France's attempt to kill Khadaffy.
Pan Am 103 probably was revenge for America's destruction of the Iranian
Airbus. In 1998, Britain's MI6 spy agency tried to kill Khadaffy with a car
In the end, the West badly wanted Libya's high grade oil. So Libya bought
its way out of sanctions with $2.7 billion US total in damages. The U.S.,
Britain, France and Italy then invested $8 billion US in Libya's oil
industry and proclaimed Khadaffy an ally and new best friend.
Happy birthday, Moammar.
Thoughts on the Middle East, History, and Religion
Juan Cole is President of the Global Americana Institute
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Is Karzai trying to Steal the Afghanistan Election, taking a Leaf from
The BBC is reporting that Obama's special envoy to AfPak, Richard Holbrooke,
has had a shouting match with President Hamid Karzai over the desirability
of a second round in the presidential election. At the moment, with 17% of
ballots counted, Karzai is ahead of his nearest rival, Abdullah Abdullah, by
45% to 35%. That tally would not allow the incumbent to avoid a run-off (he
needs 50% for that outcome).
So I ask myself, why is Holbrooke in Karzai's office insisting that there be
a run-off? Wouldn't whether there is a second round depend on the outcome of
the election? Why try to persuade Karzai?
The only way this scenario makes sense to me is if US/NATO intelligence is
reporting from the field that Karzai is rigging the election returns so as
to ensure he gets to 50%.
The presidential election, which had been intended by Obama and his NATO
allies as a political victory over the Taliban, is swiftly turning into a
Voter turnout fell from some 70 percent in the last presidential election,
likely to only 30-something percent this time (not the 50% initially
estimated, presumably by someone with an interest in hyping the event for
propaganda purposes). In some southern provinces such as Helmand, turnout
was only 10 percent, a datum that demonstrates that the people of Helmand
simply had no voice in this election and it does not meet international
standards of legitimacy. (Voters must be held harmless from threats and
Another presidential candidate, Sarwar Ahmadzai, has called for a do-over of
the election in 12 provinces where there were "irregularities":
' Sarwar Ahmadzai told a press conference in Kabul most of the rigging
took place in Kandahar, Helmand, Uruzgan, Zabul, Nangarhar, Laghman, Kunar,
Nuristan, Logar, Paktia, Paktika and Khost provinces. He accused supporters
of Hamid Karzai and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah of involvement in irregularities.
He said the rigging ranged from ballot box stuffing to voting by minors.'
Abdullah Abdullah has also alleged ballot fraud.
If Karzai is so widely suspected of stealing this election, why is there not
the same global reaction against him as there was against Ahmadinejad in
Iran? Is there an unwritten rule that allies of the West get cut some slack?
Moreover, it is clear that one of Karzai's less savory campaign techniques
was to enlist the old sanguinary warlords on his side. The US has lodged a
complaint with Karzai about his choice of Northern Alliance general Mohammad
Fahim as his vice president. The Afghan Pajhwok News Service remarked dryly,
"Asked why the Obama administration did not want Fahim to be in the
government, the official replied it could be for a number of reasons
narcotics, drug trade and human rights violations."
Many officials from NATO countries with troops in Afghanistan are fed up
with Karzai, who, they say, says all the right things and makes promises but
never delivers on them.
Pepe Escobar is scathing on the failure of the elections as a justification
for NATO's Afghan mission