Release of terrorist is awful sign

Monday, August 31, 2009

The release of the animal who killed 270 people when he blew up Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988 is another reason the terrorists think the West is weak. Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, who is dying of prostate cancer, got a hero's welcome in Libya from Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. The Scottish justice secretary who released Megrahi did so, he says, on compassionate grounds. I'm all about showing compassion where compassion is due but this terrorist deserved none.

What's even more disturbing than his release is the widespread help Gaddafi got in securing it. The Libyan leader thanked a whole host of British VIPs including Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Prince Andrew and the Queen, herself. Why would such notables involve themselves in the matter of releasing a terrorist? As information begins to drip out it appears the premature release of Mr. Megrahi had less to do with compassion and more to do with oil.

It turns out that Gordon Brown set the stage for the release during a G8 summit in Italy just six weeks prior to what is tantamount to a pardon. Brown denies any such deal over gas and oil but Gaddafi's son says that's exactly what this whole affair was about. Libya is emerging from years of sanctions and British oil interests, including BP and Shell, stand to make huge amounts of money from a Libyan oil and gas deal. Rationalizing that a dying terrorist's release would be well worth the financial gain, if that's, indeed, what happened, fails to take into consideration the downside consequences of showing terrorists your soft underbelly. They already know too many in the West can be bought but to have the highest levels of the British government involved simply invites more terrorist acts because terrorism apparently pays.

But allow me to dwell on the compassionate aspect of this affair for a moment. Those of us who are Christians are taught that we are to love our enemies and are to forgive and show compassion. I doubt very seriously that Jesus had cold-blooded terrorists in mind nor do I believe we were meant to refrain from punishing the guilty. Were that the case we'd have no use for prisons.

Loving your enemies is one thing. Allowing them to get away with murder is quite another. I don't care if the guy was hours away from dying, which he's not. A life sentence means just that. You spend the rest of your life in prison. Did they not think he would die of something someday? Besides, he's only been in prison for about nine years for a mass murder that took place over 20 years ago. He used up any compassion coming to him on the front end.

Now, Megrahi has always claimed he's innocent. Even upon his release he promised that before he died his lawyers in Scotland would exonerate him. That remains to be seen. We certainly shouldn't take the word of a convicted mass murderer when meting out justice nor should such pleas have come into play when the Scottish justice secretary was making his decision on Megrahi's fate.

It strikes me as a bit odd that the Scots would find it necessary to extend an olive branch to Libya if there were not some more nefarious ulterior motive at play. If that turns out to be the case then the British government has just spat on the graves of those who so senselessly lost their lives in 1988. What is justice if it's not fully served? And what are we to make of people who would sell justice for oil?