US warned of hero’s welcome for Pan Am 103 bomber

Associated Press / August 29, 2009

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WASHINGTON - Attorney General Eric Holder warned his Scottish counterpart in June that the man convicted of blowing US-bound Pan Am Flight 103 out of the sky could get a hero’s welcome if allowed to return to Libya, according to the head of a group representing the families of victims.

Holder’s warning to Scotland’s justice secretary, Kenny MacAskill, came nearly two months before the bomber, Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, was released from a Scottish prison and greeted by a cheering crowd on his arrival in Libya last week.

Notes prepared ahead of Holder’s June 26 conversation with MacAskill were provided to the Associated Press by Frank Duggan, president of Victims of Pan Am Flight 103 Inc. Duggan said a Justice Department official read him notes that Holder used during the conversation.

Duggan also provided notes of a July 9 teleconference between MacAskill and some victims’ relatives, an emotional exchange in which family members told stories of their loved ones and implored MacAskill not to return Megrahi to Libya.

Scotland has faced unrelenting criticism from both the US government and the families of American victims of the airline bombing since the decision to free Megrahi on compassionate grounds. The Scots said he was dying of prostate cancer.

Libya’s leader, Moammar Khadafy, plans to visit the United States next month when he addresses the UN. US Representative Steve Rothman said yesterday that he’s been assured that Khadafy won’t stay in Englewood, N.J. The Libyan government has been renovating an estate there ahead of Khadafy first US visit. But Khadafy is unwelcome in New Jersey, which lost 38 residents in the 1988 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland. The attack killed 270 people.