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Lockerbie Bombing 30 Year Anniversary

Today we acknowledge a very sad anniversary. A story that I covered, and continue to cover, as the longest continuing mass murder investigation in the history of the world…Thirty years ago today, on December 21, 1988, all was quiet in the small Scottish town of Lockerbie. It was four days before Christmas, in a place where no one locked their doors and everyone knew everyone else. The winter sun set around 3:30 p.m. that day, and most folks were at home with their families.  And then, shortly after 7 p.m. Greenwich Mean Time, their world — and our world — changed forever. Flying overhead was the Clipper Maid of the Seas, a Pan Am 747 heading from London’s Heathrow to JFK. At that moment, at 31,000 feet, a terrorist bomb exploded inside the baggage compartment of the jumbo jet, and it quickly fell out of the sky on fire. The explosion and crash killed all 243 passengers and 16 crew, and when the flaming wing hit the town of Lockerbie, and cratered part of it, 11 Lockerbie residents were vaporized.

The ensuing investigation, led by the Scots, was extraordinary police work against incredible odds and global politics that ultimately led investigators to 43 separate countries in search for those responsible. On December 20, 1988, the Constable of Lockerbie, John Boyd, commanded the smallest police force in the United Kingdom. Within 48 hours, he was in charge of the largest multinational police force ever assembled to solve this mass murder. I was there covering this rapidly developing story and continue to report on it today. For those of you who remember the two Libyans who were later indicted (first by the United States), don’t think for a minute the investigation ended there. Soon, the police learned about the bomb maker (Jordanian), the supplier of the Semtex explosives (Czech), the gang that assembled it (German), and a host of other key actors — Syrians, Lebanese and Iranians…And yes, the two Libyans in Malta who worked for Libyan Arab Airlines and then put the bomb in a suitcase and tagged it to Frankfurt, to connect with the Pan Am flight through London.

At the same time, Lockerbie is the incredible story of one American, Victoria Cummock, who lost her husband on Pan Am 103, and her one-woman fight for justice to capture all the other suspects, a mission that continues today. Today, we remember all of those lost on Pan Am 103, including so many Syracuse University students aboard the plane flying home for Christmas. But we should also know that this case is NOT closed, and that the Scottish Lord Advocate has secretly indicted nearly 23 other people in the crime. But none to date has been apprehended or brought to justice. There is no statute of limitations on murder, and the case continues.