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Clinton Dedicates Lockerbie Memorial

November 04, 1995|ROBIN WRIGHT | TIMES STAFF WRITER

ARLINGTON, Va. — Amid growing demands for the Clinton Administration to try harder to bring the accused terrorists to justice, President Clinton dedicated a memorial Friday to the 270 victims of the 1988 bombing of Pan American Airways Flight 103 and pledged to "never, never relax our efforts" until the bombers are caught.

The United States is "more determined than ever to stand against terrorism, to fight it, to bring terrorists to answer for their crimes," the President said. "Despite the passage of time, nothing has dimmed our recollection . . . or our outrage."

The memorial--a cairn 11 feet high--is made up of 270 rose-colored stones from a quarry near Lockerbie, Scotland, that also provided the base for the Statue of Liberty. The stones and the design were gifts from the Scottish town, where the wreckage from Pan Am Flight 103 plummeted to Earth.

As the seventh anniversary of the bombing approaches, families of the victims expressed anger and frustration at the lack of action four years after two Libyan intelligence agents were indicted by the United States and Scotland for one of the deadliest acts of international terrorism ever carried out against the United States.

George Williams, who lost his only child in the bombing, called on the Administration to initiate a unilateral naval blockade to cut Libya off from the outside world and force its hand.

"The nations of the world must be forced to stop dealing with Libya," Williams, president of the group Victims of Pan Am 103, said in a speech at the dedication.

After Libya refused to turn over the two indicted intelligence agents, the United Nations imposed air, arms and diplomatic sanctions in 1992.

Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi has instead offered to surrender the suspects to the World Court in The Hague for trial by Scottish judges.

The United States also froze all Libyan assets and imposed trade sanctions, but it has been unable to persuade even its European allies to squeeze Tripoli further, mainly because several of those countries import oil from and make exports to Libya. A $4-million reward has also been offered by Washington for credible information that leads to the capture and conviction of those involved.

Despite enhanced security since the bombing, Williams said U.S. airports and airlines remain vulnerable to terrorism. Security procedures should be improved, he said. "The best way to remember the many victims of this tragedy is to prevent it from ever happening again," he said.

With the support of former Deputy Secretary of State Lawrence S. Eagleburger, five victims' families boycotted the dedication and charged the Administration with a cover-up for not revealing any of the evidence about the bombing that might force other nations to cut ties with Libya.

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"We know where the evidence goes," said Peter Lowenstein, who lost his 21-year-old son Alexander on the flight. "It shows without doubt who's guilty. Then see if other governments can still dance around with Libya."

The victims group had to wage a four-year campaign to win approval for the memorial from the White House, Congress and military groups, which opposed a civilian memorial at the national cemetery.

The Bush Administration turned down the group's requests for support. Until an act of Congress opened the way for the memorial, the 270 large stones waited in a warehouse. The families raised funds from 900 private donors to cover costs of the memorial.

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