Saif al-Islam Gaddafi and Lockerbie
[The following are excerpts from an article in today's edition of The Sunday Telegraph:]
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi was his father's favourite son. Until the start of the Libyan revolution, he was also feted by the West, as the arch-moderniser who would supposedly guide the oil and gas rich north African country along the path of democracy.
He was influential in his father's decision to give up weapons of mass destruction that brought Libya in from the cold in 2004 and helped to negotiate the release of the Lockerbie bomber from a Scottish jail in 2009.
Saif's extensive contacts included the Duke of York, Tony Blair and Lord Mandelson. (...)
By about 2002, he was becoming a regular visitor to London and within a year is said to have fixed up a meeting between the Libyan regime and MI6 that would lead to Libya's public abandonment of its nuclear and chemical weapons programme, paving the way for Tony Blair to embrace Muammar Gaddafi in his Bedouin tent in March 2004 – the now infamous "deal in the desert". (...)
He was hugely influential in controlling the Libyan Investment Authority, the sovereign wealth fund with billions of pounds to spend in the UK and elsewhere.
The fund was used as leverage to secure the release of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the Libyan intelligence agent convicted of the Lockerbie bombing.
Saif and others let it be known that if al-Megrahi died of cancer in a British jail, then all business deals with the UK would be cancelled. Saif was entrusted with accompanying Megrahi back to Tripoli for a hero's welcome.
[An article written by Saif in The New York Times about this supposed "hero's welcome" can be read here.
A report in The Sunday Times (behind the paywall) contains the following:]
His trial could prove deeply embarrassing if he chooses to reveal details of his once-cosy relations with British politicians including Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson, the former business secretary.
Mohammed al-Alagi, Libya’s interim justice minister, said yesterday that Gadaffi will be placed on trial in Libya and faces the death penalty.
With little to lose, Gadaffi may decide from his desert prison in Zintan to spill the beans on business deals and political promises made to the regime over the past decade.
Blair, who was described by Gadaffi Jr as a close personal friend of the family, may face searching questions if Gadaffi goes ahead and reveals the secrets of their deals including oil contracts and the release of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber.
Gadaffi was his father’s point man on the settlement of the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 in 1988 which killed 270 people. His detailed knowledge of the negotiations that involved British diplomats and Musa Kusa, his father’s chief of intelligence, could prove explosive. The questions of who knew what, and who did what, have never been answered.(...)
Blair, Prince Andrew, Mandelson and the Rothschild banking family are among those who could be cited by Gadaffi in court.
They were among Establishment figures who courted him in the belief that Libya would pursue a reformist agenda while lucrative business contracts were on the agenda. Among the secrets he could unlock are the machinations that may have gone on under the former Labour government ahead of the release of Megrahi.
Gadaffi Jr greeted Megrahi’s flight from Glasgow to Tripoli when he was freed by the Scottish authorities on “humanitarian” grounds in August 2009. [RB: Saif did not greet the flight. He was on board it.] Megrahi is still alive even though doctors claimed he would die within three months from cancer.
The release happened after Blair’s notorious “deal in the desert” with Muammar Gadaffi paving the way for multi- million-pound oil contracts with Shell and BP.
Gadaffi Jr claimed that the former prime minister acted as a consultant to the Libyan Investment Authority, the country’s sovereign wealth fund. Blair vehemently denies this. However, he has visited Libya at least six times since leaving office.
Five meetings with Muammar Gadaffi took place in the 14-month period prior to Megrahi’s release. On at least two occasions Blair flew on a private jet paid for by Gadaffi. But he denies influencing the Scottish government’s decision to free the Lockerbie bomber.
Just a week before Megrahi’s release, Mandelson discussed his case with Gadaffi Jr while on holiday at a villa in Corfu owned by the Rothschilds. Mandelson later met Gadaffi at a shooting party at Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire, the Rothschild family seat.
[The following is an excerpt from Wikipedia's entry on Saif al-Islam Gaddafi (footnotes omitted):]
He was also negotiating with the United States in order to conclude a comprehensive agreement making any further payments for American victims of terror attacks that have been blamed on Libya – such as the 1986 Berlin discotheque bombing, the 1988 Lockerbie bombing and the 1989 UTA Flight 772 bombing – conditional upon U.S. payment of compensation for the 40 Libyans killed and 220 injured in the 1986 United States bombing of Tripoli and Benghazi. On 14 August 2008, the U.S.-Libya Comprehensive Claims Settlement Agreement was signed in Tripoli. Former British Ambassador to Libya Oliver Miles described the agreement as "a bold step, with political cost for both parties" and wrote an article in the online edition of The Guardianquerying whether the agreement is likely to work.
In an August 2008 BBC TV interview, Saif Gaddafi said that Libya had admitted responsibility (but not "guilt") for the Lockerbie bombing simply to get trade sanctions removed. He further admitted that Libya was being "hypocritical" and was "playing on words", but Libya had no other choice on the matter. According to Saif, a letter admitting "responsibility" was the only way to end the economic sanctions imposed on Libya. When asked about the compensation that Libya was paying to the victims' families, he again repeated that Libya was doing so because it had no other choice. He went on to describe the families of the Lockerbie victims as "trading with the blood of their sons and daughters" and being very "greedy": "They were asking for more money and more money and more money".
Interviewed by French newspaper Le Figaro on 7 December 2007, Saif said that the seven Libyans convicted for the Pan Am Flight 103 and the UTA Flight 772 bombings "are innocent". When asked if Libya would therefore seek reimbursement of the compensation paid to the families of the victims (US$2.33 billion), Saif replied: "I don't know." Saif led negotiations with Britain for the release of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the convicted Pan Am 103 conspirator.