And in that select group, the Lockerbie bomber stands out as one of the most contemptible. That crime against humanity was an early trendsetter in the decades-long war on civilization by Muslim terrorists and the loathsome governments that give them flight. He no doubt inspired and empowered malignant lunatics who followed him.
The infamous killer slaughtered 270 innocent people – 259 on Pan Am flight 103 above the Scottish burg, and 11 on the ground below.
The Libyan convicted of the crime, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi, died Sunday at 60 of cancer in the comfort of home – nearly three years after Scottish authorities spat on the victims’ graves by releasing him on the grounds of compassion. At the time, he was given only months to live. In the end, he was given much more than the victims of Flight 103.
He and his family professed his innocence to the end – and, indeed, a post-Gadhafi Libya may unearth new evidence of the crime. There can be little doubt that Madman Gadhafi’s bloody fingerprints were all over that plane. But there is no disputing that Megrahi was a Gadhafi henchman, and was duly convicted in a court of law, and to this day must be considered a chief perpetrator.
Aviation history, sad to say, is littered with bombings of commercial aircraft. But the Lockerbie bombing, again, stands apart for its stunning loss of life, for its obscene callousness and for its siren song of nihilism.
Those of us with no connection whatsoever to the grisly attack are nonetheless haunted by its sheer horror and seeming randomness. Can you imagine how the families and friends feel?
The tragedy of even one interrupted life is unspeakable. The stabbing thought of 270 arrested life stories – the holes they leave in their loved ones’ lives, the happiness they might have created, the good works they might have left the world – is simply incomprehensible.
You have to think the timing of the attack – Dec. 21 – coincided nicely with Christmas, a good way to kill a princely sum of Christians traveling to be with friends and family for the holy day. Thirty-five of the dead on Flight 103 were Syracuse students returning for Christmas after a semester studying abroad. Several U.S. government officials on the flight also might have been chief targets. The rest of the carnage might have been a bonus, in these maniacs’ minds.
Many of us threw up a little in our mouths when Megrahi received a disgusting hero’s welcome in Gadhafi’s Libya.
One has to suspect the welcome was a bit less festive this week.