Libya's Gadhafi isn't welcome in New Jersey

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In this image from TV, Lockerbie, Scotland, bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi (right) is greeted on Friday by Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi in Tripoli. (Associated Press)

 

The State Department shouldn’t allow Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi to set foot in New Jersey during his United Nations visit to New York.
 
The U.S. government took Libya off its list of terrorism-sponsoring countries in 2006, but many families in New Jersey haven’t taken Gadhafi off their list. Libya was responsible for the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 in 1988, which killed 270 people, including 38 New Jerseyans.
 
The Libyan government owns a mansion in Englewood, N.J., and Gadhafi may want to stay there when he addresses the U.N. General Assembly next month. It will be his first visit to America.
 
Gadhafi’s government accepted responsibility, sort of, for the Pan Am bombing six years ago. And Libya did pay $1.5 billion to the victims’ families. But Gadhafi has always portrayed the compensation simply as the price he had to pay to lift U.N. sanctions against his country, not as a statement of remorse for mass murder.
 
The United States restored full diplomatic relations with Libya last year after the payments.
 
The victims’ families deserved to be compensated. But they do not owe Gadhafi the courtesy of having their state play host to him, or helping to provide security for him as he comes and goes. Why should New Jersey taxpayers help to protect a man whose regime executed 38 of their fellow citizens en masse?
 
Libya under Gadhafi also was responsible for killing two U.S. soldiers and wounding 79 other Americans in the bombing of a nightclub in Berlin in 1986. That incident prompted President Reagan to order the bombing of Libya, raids that killed dozens of people, including an adopted daughter of Gadhafi.
 
Gadhafi is scheduled to arrive in New Jersey only weeks after he gave a hero’s welcome home to the only person ever convicted in the bombing.
 
Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, 57, a former Libyan intelligence officer, was released from prison in Scotland after serving only eight years behind bars. He is said to be suffering from terminal cancer. Thus he was set free, into the arms of Col. Gadhafi on Libyan soil.
 
The mayor of Englewood said it will cost his town at least $20,000 a day to provide police patrols while Gadhafi is in town. Paying that would be an affront to New Jerseyans, but not nearly as offensive as his mere presence would be for those who lost so much at the hands of Gadhafi’s regime.
 
The U.S. State Department can, and should, restrict Gadhafi’s movements during his trip. Keep this “reformed” international thug out of New Jersey.