December 21, 2008, - 3:02 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
Today marks the 20th anniversary of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 by Islamic terrorists. Although Libya gets the credit, the fact is that this operation was begun by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC), and the Libyan intelligence took over and helped carry it out.
270 people–most of them Americans–were murdered. The plane was chosen because terrorists knew many Americans would be on board, a good number of them American Jews, with surnames like Cohen and Bernstein. A group of 35 students from Syracuse University were on the flight. Some federal officials apparently knew about the likelihood the plane would be attacked, as they canceled their own reservations on that flight. Yet, not a word of it was breathed to innocent civilians who were sacrificed in jihad and in the U.S. government’s silence about it.
The attack has a Michigan connection, which betrays the claim that Muslim-Americans haven’t attacked Americans in terrorist attacks. A Muslim drug dealer, Khalid Nazir Jaafar, of Dearbornistan, at the last minute, changed his flight to get on Pan Am 103. It’s believed a bomb inside his Walkman in his gym bag blew up the plane. Jaafar was a Shi’ite whose family came from Hezbollah-stronghold Ba’albek in the Bekaa Valley. That story, however, was covered up and swept under the rug in succeeding years and the trial of Abdel Basset Al-Megrahi, the Libyan intelligence officer also in on the plan.
Also significant is that the last minute booking and ticket change for Jaafar was done by a travel agency owned by Mahmoud “Mike” Younis, whose wife, Dr. Jouhaineh Maleh, is at the center of a Muslim illegal alien Medicaid fraud and birthright citizenship scam in Dearborn. Mr. Younis was, not long ago, convicted of defrauding the Department of Education’s job training program, using the same travel agency and a computer school. Mr. Younis and his businesses have been on the radar of federal counterterrorism agents for years.
Sadly, Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi was able to buy his way out of the mess, and we’ve normalized relations with the country that deliberately murdered Americans and hasn’t moderated its extremism one iota.
More on this tragedy:
After years of struggle to bring the bombers to justice, one was convicted in a Scottish court and the Libyan government agreed to pay millions to each victim’s family. Laws on everything from lawsuits against terrorists to airport security were changed. Airlines and governments adopted more humane practices for dealing with families of air disaster victims.
All of these came about at least in part because of the pressure brought by an intense band of family members who lobbied governments around the world and redefined the role of victims’ groups.
Yet it will be small comfort as they gather around a rock cairn at Arlington National Cemetery to recall the 270 who died — 259 aboard the jet and 11 more when it plunged in a ball of fire onto Lockerbie, Scotland.
“For those who’ve lost their kids, you don’t get closure,” says Daniel Cohen, whose daughter Theodora, 20, died in the bombing. “And these anniversaries are very, very difficult. It doesn’t go away.”
“The toll is enormous,” says Stephanie Bernstein, of Bethesda, Md., whose husband Michael, a Justice Department lawyer, was aboard the flight. “These families have tremendous holes in them.”
In interviews with families of the victims this week, several also criticized the Bush administration for being too quick to normalize relations with Libya, the North African country whose intelligence agent was convicted of planting the bomb on the Boeing 747.
“It was an act of war,” says Jack Flynn of Montville, N.J., whose son John Patrick was killed.
Though the death toll was less than the thousands who died on 9/11, the attack on Pan Am 103 was one of the most significant against U.S. civilians in history.
Among the dead were 35 students at Syracuse University who were studying abroad in a program that the school ran in London. They were returning home to be with their families during the holidays. Each year, at precisely the same moment as the bomb went off, the university holds a remembrance on campus to mark the anniversary. . . .
Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, a former Libyan intelligence officer who was head of security for Libyan Arab Airlines, is serving a life sentence in Scotland’s Greenock prison. But al-Megrahi, his family and his lawyers have declared his innocence and say he is a political prisoner, set up as a fall guy amid the ongoing tension between U.S. and Libya. A handful of victims’ families in Europe agree that he should be set free.
A key piece of evidence against al-Megrahi were fragments of a unique bomb detonation timer found in the plane’s wreckage. The timer was traced to a Swiss company that did extensive business with Libya. Al-Megrahi at one point rented an office at the company’s Zurich headquarters, according to the court’s ruling.
Prosecutors at al-Megrahi’s trial said the bomb, made with plastic explosive, was hidden in a portable radio in a suitcase packed with clothes that came from a shop in Malta. One of the shop’s proprietors testified that al-Megrahi bought the clothes. . . .
The reverberations of the case go far beyond the Byzantine world of espionage and Mideast politics. Pan Am families rewrote the book on everything from fighting terrorism to who deserves a memorial in the nation’s most famous military cemetery. . . .
When evidence emerged against Libya, families were initially blocked from suing because federal law gave foreign nations immunity. Families successfully lobbied to carve out an exemption in the law for terrorism. . . .
Kara Weipz, who was only 15 when the bombers struck, now heads the group Victims of Pan Am Flight 103. Her brother Richard Monetti, 20, was on the flight. The families created an ambitious agenda to find the bomber, improve aviation security and provide emotional support.
What was 20 years ago, seems like yesterday. Sadly, to so many, it’s a long forgotten blip on the ever-growing trend of political correctness by our government officials to the commonality of all of those who’ve blown up these planes: Islam.
You know–the “Religion of Peace.” Some of those pieces landed over Lockerbie, Scottland, from a plane from London that should have arrived in New York. And never did.
Pan Am 103 Victims Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery
Check out the official website of Victims of Pan Am Flight 103.
Pan Am 103 Victims Memorial, Lockerbie, Scotland
Previous Entries on Libya and Pan Am 103:
* Play With Terrorists, Get Burned: Qaddafi Reneges on Pay-Off to Lockerbie Victim Families
* 18 Years Ago Today: Remembering the Victims of Pan Am Flight 103
* Shame: What’s Behind Restoring Ties with Libya
* The Resurrection of Billy Carter