Still haunted by Pan Am bombing
More than 20 years later, much of the mystery still lingers.
In 2009, the man convicted of the worst mass murder (270 people) in British history was released from prison after serving just eight years of a 27-year prison sentence.
The decision to release Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, the Libyan security officer charged with the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, was controversial, to say the least. Scottish authorities decided on the early release on the grounds of mercy because al-Megrahi supposedly had only a few week or months to live because he was suffering from terminal cancer. But suspicions grew when al-Megrahi lived considerably longer than was expected. He finally died on May 20.
Perhaps his death will end debate over the early release. But it hasn't ended the debate about or the investigation into who else participated in the conspiracy to down the aircraft, which was headed from London to New York City. The plane blew up in midair over the small Scottish town of Lockerbie.
Although there was speculation that the government of Iran was involved, investigators linked al-Megrahi to a plot by the Libyan government and suggested the bombing was retaliation by now-ousted dictator Moammar Gadhafi against the United States. With Gadhafi now dead, investigators from the FBI and the Scottish government hope that new cooperation from the Libyan government will result in the discovery of new evidence.
Of course, no matter what the result of any future investigation, there will be little comfort for the friends and family of the 259 passengers and 11 crew members who were lost.
The elderly mother of one victim expressed satisfaction with al-Megrahi's death, stating that "if he died in pain and agony, that's fine with me." But she also said that "peace doesn't really exist for parents who lose their children."
The bombing occurred during the Christmas season of 1988. The subsequent investigation took years, resulting in only one arrest. The perpetrators, and those who gave the perpetrators their orders, have never been held accountable for this monstrous crime. Compared to all that, al-Megrahi's passing is an event of only minor importance.