Terrorist’s release sets bad precedent

The sight of it makes me sick to my stomach.

I can’t bear to watch this so-called “hero’s welcome” unfold in front of my eyes. I can’t look at the photos of Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, a Libyan agent convicted of aiding in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988, slowly climb down the steps from his airplane with a smirk on his face. I can’t listen to the hundreds of Libyans cheering while this murderer of 270 civilians makes his way toward the crowd.

Perhaps al-Megrahi escaped from his life sentence in jail in Scotland? Maybe he apologized to the families of the victims and thus was set free by the government?

The truth is, he was set free for no reason.

Sure, Scottish ministers claim this release was based on “compassion” because of the pancreatic cancer that will probably kill him within three months — but since when do cold-blooded murderers like al-Megrahi deserve compassion?

This “compassion” has given almost a second (although very brief) life to al-Megrahi. Instead of dying alone in a cold cell, al-Megrahi witnessed an entire nation giving him honor and respect for his horrible deed. Rather than spending the last three months of his life thinking about the horror he committed by killing those 270 passengers, al-Megrahi will peacefully accept his death surrounded by individuals telling him he did the right thing.

The families of the bombing victims, along with the US government, have sent strong signals condemning Scotland for its decision. They don’t seem to understand the “compassion” that some Scottish ministers have in letting a terrorist go free to enjoy the end of his life in happiness.

Simply put, justice was not served.

Al-Megrahi’s release sends dangerous signals to other terrorists who now see that one of their own was let free after being convicted of his crime. Al-Megrahi’s release is a victory for terrorists everywhere.

Libya will also experience diplomatic tension with the West, especially the United States. The United Kingdom, despite heavy diplomatic pressure from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, agreed to release al-Megrahi on the condition that he would not receive a hero’s welcome upon his arrival. Moammar Gadhafi, the country’s dictator, agreed to the deal and al-Megrahi came home. Gadhafi ignored his promise and gave the terrorist a hero’s welcome, defying the West and its request.

What’s even more sickening is evidence that the United Kingdom released al-Megrahi in order to increase trade and economic relations with Libya.

According to the Telegraph, Gadhafi’s son, Saif al-Islam, and Lord Trefgarne (president of the Libyan-British Business Council), have “essentially confirmed” the release was to promote mutual financial benefits between the two nations. Gadhafi himself said the release “will be positively reflected for sure in all areas of cooperation between the two countries.”

The idea of releasing a convicted murderer in exchange for the promise of profit is immoral and points to the governmental greed when it comes to increasing their nation’s wealth.

This episode will do much to erase some of the progress Gadhafi has made in normalizing diplomatic relations with the West. Already barely able to touch the surface as a well-received nation in the international community, Libya risks sinking deep into isolation because of Western sanctions and trade restrictions.

President Barack Obama gets ready to lead a United Nations Security Council non-proliferation meeting next month in New York, where Gadhafi will be present.

We can only hope that ramifications will be vast.

Angad Singh is a sophomore majoring in international relations.