The most interesting news story of the morning comes from Libya, where it is claimed that Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber, secured his release by blackmailing Muammar Qadaffi, who in turn bribed England’s Labour government to let him go:
Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi allegedly threatened “revenge” on Col Gaddafi unless he was returned home to his family, prompting the dictator to spend £50,000-a-month on lobbying and legal fees in a campaign to secure the terrorist’s release.
The allegation from Mustapha Abdel-Jalil, Libya’s former justice minister, emerged last night…. It was echoed by the former terror chief Atef Abu Bakr, who claimed last night in a separate interview that Megrahi was ordered by Col Gaddafi to help plan the attack as one of the dictator’s former spies.
The claims will cause further embarrassment for Labour, after declassified documents disclosed earlier this month that Gordon Brown’s government worked behind the scenes to secure the bomber’s release in exchange for lucrative trade deals with Libya.
Mr Abdel-Jalil said the convicted terrorist repeatedly threatened to “spill the beans” over the role of senior regime members in the attack unless he was granted freedom.
The former justice minister, who resigned last week in disgust at the regime’s brutal crackdown on its opponents, told the Sunday Times that the bomber warned Col Gaddafi: “If you do not rescue me I will reveal everything.” …
In a separate interview, Bakr, a former general in the Palestinian Abu Nidal terrorist group, broke his silence over the atrocity as Col Gaddafi’s 42-year regime appeared on the brink of collapse. … He also claimed in an interview with Al Hayat, a respected Arabic newspaper, that the dictator later ordered the assassination of other agents involved in the bombing to cover his tracks.
Bakr said: “I can assure you categorically that the two processes [making the bomb and destroying the plane] were the outcome of a partnership between the Abu Nidal group and the security of the Libyan Jamahiriya.”
Megrahi was released from a Scottish prison on the ground that he had only three months to live. A year and a half later, after being greeted in Libya with a hero’s welcome, he is still alive.