A former Libyan official says Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi blackmailed Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi into engineering Megrahi’s release from a Scottish prison by threatening to reveal that the dictator ordered the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing, according to The Telegraph.
The allegation from Mustapha Abdel-Jalil, Libya’s former justice minister, emerged Saturday night as Libya remained in the grip of violence with Qaddafi supporters continuing a brutal crackdown on anti-government protesters.
Megrahi allegedly threatened revenge on Qaddafi unless he was returned home to his family, forcing Qaddafi to spend about $80,000 (£50,000) a month on legal fees in a campaign to secure the terrorists release, the Telegraph reports.
Megrahi is the only man ever to have been convicted over the bombing, which killed all 259 passengers and crew on board the New York-bound Boeing 747 and 11 people in Lockerbie in December 1998.
Abdel-Jalil’s claims were echoed by Atef Abu Bakr, Libya’s former terror chief, who claimed last night in a separate interview that Megrahi was ordered by Qaddafi to help plan the attack.
The allegation will cause further embarrassment for the British government, after declassified documents disclosed this month that Gordon Brown’s government worked behind the scenes to secure the bomber’s release in exchange for lucrative trade deals with Libya.