See also: Religious Terrorism.
After the overthrow of the pro-Western King, Idris, in 1969, Muammar al-Khaddafi (more commonly known as Gadaffi), a Muslim Nasserite and socialist began to expel Western military personnel and impose restrictions on the country's oil industry dealings with the West. He concentrated on economic and social reform and in 1977 Libya became a socialist people's republic. Gadaffi opposed moderate Arab nations and any repprochement with Israel. He supported the Polisario Front and Algeria in their struggle with Morocco and participated in the civil war in Chad.
President Reagan maintained that Libya was linked to world terrorism and the USA shot down Libyan fighter planes over the Gulf of Sirte in 1981. In 1986 the Americans imposed an economic embargo on Libya and in April of that year an unsuccessful attempt was made by the USA to kill Gadaffi by bombing Tripoli and Benghazi. Gadaffi initially denied involvement of his country in the Lockerbie bombing, and the United Nations intensified their trade embargo, which was not fully lifted until after the eventual handing over of the suspects and the trial in 2001.
In the eyes of Al Qaeda he made serious errors - having no Islamic credentials; un-Islamic female guards and refusing to back Iraq in the Gulf War, and handing over the Lockerbie suspects. There is no doubt that Gadaffi's diplomacy has moderated in recent years.
See also: Lockerbie.
In December 1988 a Pan Am jet was destroyed over the town of Lockerbie in Scotland resulting in the deaths of 249 people in the plane and eleven on the ground. Basically the object was to kill the passengers and crew. Initially, there was speculation that the atrocity was an act of revenge for the shooting down by the USS Vincennes of an Iranian airliner during the Iran-Iraq conflict. Attention, however, soon switched to Libya - two Libyan nationals were charged. It was intended as an act of revenge for the bombing of Libya by the USA in April 1986. Lockerbie remains the worst terrorist attack in Europe in terms of loss of life. Iran and Syria might have been involved in the atrocity, but in the end only Libyan involvement could eventually be proved with reasonable certainty. After months of ground searching following the disaster, a fragment of a circuit-board the size of a fingernail from a bomb placed in a radio cassette was found and matched to an identical board found in the timing mechanism of early bombs (i.e. one seized in Togo in 1986). The Swiss electronics firm that made the bomb admitted they had sold twenty to Libya and two Libyans were eventually charged. A few months before these indictments, a French judge formally accused Libya of directing the bombing of an airliner over Niger in 1989 which killed 171 people (Wilkinson, 2002).
The Lockerbie disaster still causes controversy above all about the number and nature of the warnings received by the intelligence services
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: Dictionary of Terrorism. Edition: 2nd. Contributors: John Richard Thackrah - Author. Publisher: Routledge. Place of publication: London. Publication year: 2004. Page number: 161.
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