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Kennedy and the Lockerbie Bombing

Jonathan Schanzer

Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) died last night at his home, succumbing to a battle with brain cancer at the age of 77. A stalwart Democrat, Kennedy was often at odds with conservative foreign policies. Accordingly, his key role in the passage of the 1996 Iran Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA) is often overlooked.

The bill, first forwarded by Senator Alfonse D’Amato (D-NY) in 1995, was originally designed to sanction Iran for its support to terrorist groups. It was poised to pass through both houses of Congress in July 1996. At the last minute, Kennedy forwarded an amendment to also punish Libya for its role in the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 in 1988.

One can only imagine Kennedy’s frustration upon learning the Scottish authorities’ decision to free Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi last week. The ailing Kennedy was reportedly a signatory to a letter of protest to Scotland’s justice minister, Kenny MacAskill.