Two full years have passed since Abdulbaset Ali al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber, was reprieved from prison in Scotland and allowed to return to his native Libya. The Scottish authorities released him allegedly on compassionate grounds. The man had cancer, it was said, and would supposedly be dead within three months at most. Statements from the cancer specialists who pronounced this opinion are fishy, and it has long been clear that the Scottish and indeed British authorities were played for suckers — or possibly had reached some underhand deal with Qaddafi concerning profitable oil contracts. Megrahi has been received as a national hero in Libya, and has been supervising the building at the expense of the state of a splendid villa for his old age.
The rebels in Libya are poised to close in on Muammar Qaddafi in Tripoli and bring his regime to an end. Hitherto hardly more than a mob untrained in the use of weaponry, the rebels are showing signs of greater professionalism, deploying captured tanks and artillery. The presumption is that officers from NATO countries must be responsible for these improvements. In any case, earlier NATO intervention alone saved the rebels from certain extermination by Qaddafi’s loyalists.
Should the rebels take Tripoli, an immediate test of their character and purposes will be their handling of Megrahi. He should be returned to Britain, and the proposed tribunal should be held to determine his guilt or otherwise — lawyers say there is new evidence. Yet a spokesman for Prime Minister Cameron bleats, “I don’t think there is any mechanism by which he can be brought back.” If that is so, the British in NATO will have been simple mercenaries acting on behalf of the rebels, happy to accept the standards of the Third World as their own.