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Thu, Jul 21, 2011

Gaddafi's Forces Ordered Bombing Of French Airliner

Libyan Defector Confirms Dictator's Role In 1989 Bombing of UTA Flight 772

A former top Libyan official who defected from the government in March says Muammar Gaddafi ordered a deadly attack on a French airliner in 1989 because he thought a political rival was on board.

In an interview published Monday, Abdel Rahman Shalgam, (pictured above,) who defected in March while serving as Libya's representative to the United Nations, told the Al-Hayat newspaper Libyan security forces detonated explosives based on their belief that opposition leader Mohammed al-Megrief was on board. They later discovered the intel was erroneous, but 170 passengers and crewmembers died when UTA Flight 772, a DC-10, crashed in Niger on September 19, 1989 while on a flight to Paris from Brazzaville in the Republic of the Congo. The victims included 54 French citizens and seven Americans, including Bonnie Pugh, wife of the American ambassador to Chad, Robert Pugh.

Two years ago, a French court sentenced six Libyan agents, who did not appear for their trial, to life in prison. Gaddafi (pictured above) has never admitted involvement, but agreed to pay $170 million in reparations to the families of the victims.

Shalgam also said Libya was involved in the infamous bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988, (crash site pictured below,) but that it was not a "purely Libyan operation." That bombing killed 243 passengers, 16 crewmembers, and 11 people on the ground. Libya eventually admitted "responsibility for the actions of its officials" in that case, and compensated families of the victims $8 million per fatality.

The French news service AFP reports the radical Palestinian group Abu Nidal has admitted the attacks against the Pan Am and UTA planes were conducted "in conjunction" with Libya, and that the explosives were fabricated in Libya.

FMI: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UTA_Flight_772

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