How the Release of the Lockerbie Bomber Happened

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," August 20, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: He is a cold-blooded mass murderer. He murdered 270 people, 270 people who had never done a thing to him. This happened to be on board of a trans-Atlantic flight. They were all blown to pieces at 35,000 feet for no reason but the evil of this man and those with whom he worked.

Tonight, this man is free. He is home with his family. He is the only person convicted for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103.

Here's what happened. On December 21, 1988, Pan Am flight 103, a 747, left Heathrow in London bound for JFK airport in New York. As the plane reached a cruising altitude over Lockerbie, Scotland, and as the passengers no doubt were reading, eating, sleeping, talking, doing what you do on a plane, it happened. A bomb blew up the plane.

The terrorist was arrested and convicted some time later. He was sent to prison for life. After serving a mere eight years for blowing up 270 unsuspecting people, passengers, the Scottish government today released him. A jet then took him home to Libya. He was welcomed in Libya as a hero.

Here is the Scottish excuse for releasing this killer of 270.


KENNY MACASKILL, SCOTTISH JUSTICE MINISTER: Compassion and mercy are about upholding the beliefs that we seek to live by, remaining true to our values as a people no matter the severity of the provocation or the atrocity perpetrated.

It is my decision that Mr. Abdel Basset Ali Mohamed Al-Megrahi, convicted in 2001 for the Lockerbie bombing, now terminally ill with prostate cancer, be released on compassionate grounds and allowed to return to Libya to die.


VAN SUSTEREN: Is there anything the United States could have done or could do to keep this man behind bars? Joining us live is Richard Marquise, the FBI's special agent in charge of the Pan Am bombing investigation for the United States.

Compassion, that just unglues all of his, that this is a guy that gets out for compassion. It's unbelievable?

RICHARD MARQUISE, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: It is depressing. That is the only way that I can say to all of us involved in the investigation.

VAN SUSTEREN: And we looked at the tape, he got cheered when he came home. I'm speechless at Scotland.

Tell me, what was this man's role in this crime?

MARQUISE: We believed according to the indictment and according to the conviction, he is the person that bought some of the clothing that was actually in a suitcase that was onboard that airplane.

We believe smuggled the bomb into Malta on the night of December 20th, put it on the plane or arranged to have it on the plane with stolen luggage tags in conjunction with one of his associates from Libyan airlines on the morning of December 21st. And then he watched it take off.

He also had connections to the company that built the timer that actually set off the bomb on the plane.

VAN SUSTEREN: Oftentimes, when these events happen like something so extraordinary -- I've never seen anything like this where a person kills 270. I mean, you do armed robbery, and are going to do 15 years, for God sakes. But this guy kills 270.

Did anyone consult the FBI who had worked this case a console you or give you the heads up that this was happening?

MARQUISE: We have known for a long time that it was possible there would be a prisoner transfer because of an agreement reached in 2007 between Qaddafi and Tony Blair, that that was a possibility. He would be transferred back to Libya to serve time in prison.

This compassionate release came because he was diagnosed a year or so ago with prostate cancer.

VAN SUSTEREN: We have a lot people in our own system with cancer.

MARQUISE: I know, and they die in prison all the time. They die in prison all the time.

And we believe -- most of us in this country, and I saw some e-mails tonight from people from Scotland who send e-mails to some of the family members who said we totally disagree with what the government has done. We support you and the victims, and we think this man should have spent the rest of his natural life in prison.

VAN SUSTEREN: So what is the reason? Is there a real reason why this guy was released more than just the compassion business?

MARQUISE: I would imagine oil, politics. I can't imagine another reason. Qaddafi made a comment two weeks ago in the media that unless the United States and Britain said Al-Megrahi home there would be not be any business dealings for them.

VAN SUSTEREN: So, money? Money for 270 people?

MARQUISE: Money and oil. It's a very sad situation.

VAN SUSTEREN: This is one of those situations, and I'm an old criminal defense lawyer, it is stunning to hear me say some of these things, but it's like -- it is stunning to that a guys participates in killing 270, and eight years.

MARQUISE: And he has never apologized.

VAN SUSTEREN: And you know what, I madder at Scotland tonight.

MARQUISE: I think we all are.

VAN SUSTEREN: What did our government do? Did we just like write a letter? Couldn't we be more aggressive about it?

MARQUISE: I think even though we suspected it was a possibility that was going to happen -- I know that Hillary Clinton made a telephone call to the justice minister. I know that Eric Holder made a telephone call to the justice minister. My counterpart in Scotland and I are letter to the justice minister.

And I know that many of the families consulted with him via a video conference from the British embassy several weeks ago.

VAN SUSTEREN: Was there any deal that we made that we didn't prosecute him? Because one of the options, of course, would have been to charge him here in the United States and put a detainer on him, Scotland would have then had to turn him over to us at the end of the eight years if they wanted to release him.

MARQUISE: I talked to the prosecutors as recently as tonight to ask that question, because we always wondered that, because in this case was investigated to conform to Scottish criminal procedures, because we said this is probably where the trial is going to take place.

We investigated the case, the Scots decided to prosecute, and we let them do it. Once there was a trial, we recognized there was probably never going to be in the United States.

And when his colleague was acquitted in 2001, he went home to Libya based on an agreement that if he is acquitted, he gets to go home. If he's convicted, he has to go to jail and spend the rest of his sentence in a Scottish prison.

VAN SUSTEREN: Yes, but we could raise to a grand jury today, we could have, when he was in Scottish custody, get an indictment, and then notify pursuant treaties with Scotland and if you're going to release the sky, releasing him because we have this treaty and essentially an international detainer.

But we did not -- it does not sound like we try to do anything creative.

MARQUISE: Well, there is an indictment still pending in the United States. There is still under arrest warrant for both of them.

VAN SUSTEREN: So why don't we lodge a detainer and have Scotland send them to us?

MARQUISE: I can't answer that question. I don't know.

VAN SUSTEREN: We have treaties to do things like that. Countries just don't release people, we have treaties.

MARQUISE: It is the reality of politics, unfortunately. It is a sad state of affairs, but that is the way this is going to end, unfortunately.

VAN SUSTEREN: There are treaties that prevent people from just being released when there are outstanding indictments and other countries.

MARQUISE: Certainly the Libyans are never going to turn him back over to us.

VAN SUSTEREN: But my point is that Scotland --

MARQUISE: The Scots wouldn't have done it either, because when they let him go, it was not a prisoner transfer, it was not pursuant to something else. It was based solely on compassion.

VAN SUSTEREN: The last thing they want to do is violate the treaty. If we have a treaty with him on this, and we have a treaty with many countries on this, that's the last thing. So I cannot help but think how aggressively we pursued these two people.

MARQUISE: We probably could have done much more.

VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you.

MARQUISE: You're welcome, thank you.

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