The Envoy
  • Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, in white, greets Lockerbie bomber Abdulbaset al-Megrahi upon his return to Libya in Aug. 2009. (AFP/Getty)Sen. Charles Schumer, the influential New York Democrat, is calling on the State Department to suspend aid to Libya's new Western-backed rebel government unless it agrees to re-imprison the Libyan man convicted for his role in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.

    "If the new Libyan government continues to shield this convicted terrorist from justice, then they should not get one more cent of support from the United States," Schumer said in press release Wednesday. The release was timed to accompany a separate letter from Schumer to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spelling out his demands.

    "We put American lives and money on the line to help the Libyan people secure their freedom," Schumer continued. "It's time the Libyan government lives up to its commitment to create a free and accountable society by handing over al-Megrahi so that justice can finally be done."

    Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, a former Libyan intelligence official from a prominent Libyan tribe, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 2001 for his role in the Lockerbie bombing, which killed 259 passengers, many from New York and New Jersey, and 11 people on the ground. But two years ago, a Scottish prison board released Megrahi, having determined he was suffering from terminal cancer and had only three months to live. When Megrahi flew  back to Libya in August 2009, he was given a hero's welcome and greeted personally by Gadhafi's son Seif al-Islam. The incident was, as intended, deeply humiliating to American and British officials.

    And as Megrahi has gone on to long outlive his three-month diagnosis, questions about his suspicious release have caused unusual friction in normally placid American-British relations. Last year, American lawmakers pressed for an investigation into the role that British business interests may have played in Megrahi's release. (One key target of inquiry was troubled oil giant BP, which was negotiating for energy exploration rights in Libya around the time of Megrahi's release.) The British government has strongly denied such insinuations, pointing out the independence of Scotland's judiciary, and the investigations have gone nowhere.

    So far, at least, the fall of Gadhafi's government doesn't promise to clear up any of the confusion surrounding the case.

    Read More »from Schumer: Halt funds to Libya until Lockerbie bomber jailed
  • This split image shows Gadhafi's daughters, Aisha in 2011, left, and Hana in 1996, right. (AP/Pier Paolo/Lino Azzopardi)Ousted Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi remains in hiding and continues to draw massive online interest. Also huge on the Web over the past several weeks: his family.

    According to Algerian diplomats, Gadhafi's wife, three of his children, and several of his grandchildren have fled to Algeria, west of Libya. And while official news is understandably scant regarding the Gadhafi clan's specific movements and activities, some bits of information have found their way to the Web.

    Drawing the most online interest are two of Gadhafi's daughters. Aisha Gadhafi, Moammar's only biological daughter, gave birth to a baby girl on Tuesday, shortly after crossing over to Algeria. According to an article from CNN, Aisha had been expected to deliver in September, making the baby a bit early.

    Unlike some of her siblings, Aisha largely stayed out of the public eye during her father's reign as leader of Libya. A lawyer, she ran a charitable foundation in Libya and assisted in the defense of Saddam Hussein, during his trial in 2004. She also defended the man accused of throwing his shoe at President George W. Bush.

    Read More »from The Gadhafi family in focus
  • United States sanctions Syrian foreign minister

    In the latest escalation of U.S.-Syrian hostilities, the United States took the unusual step Tuesday of issuing sanctions against Syria's top diplomat, Foreign Minister Walid Al-Moallem.

    The announcement came as the brother of a prominent Washington, D.C.-based Syrian opposition activist and scholar, Radwan Ziadeh, was arrested by the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad, and a day after a video appeared on YouTube showing Robert Ford, the American ambassador to Syria, being manhandled while on an Aug. 23 visit to the Syrian city of Jassem by two pro-Assad demonstrators, as first reported Monday by Foreign Policy. (You can see the YouTube video below.)

    The Treasury Department announced Tuesday that it is sanctioning the Damascus regime's foreign minister, as well as Syria's ambassador to Lebanon, Ali Abdul Karim Ali, and Assad's presidential and media adviser, Bouthaina Shaaban.

    Under the sanctions, Americans "are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with any of the designees and any assets they may have subject to U.S. jurisdiction are frozen," the Treasury Department said. The sanctions also restrict the foreign minister's opportunities to travel to the United States outside of United Nations business in New York.

    "Building on our sanctions targeting the entire Government of Syria, we are bringing additional pressure to bear today directly on three senior Asad regime officials who are principal defenders of the regime's activities," the Treasury Department's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, David S. Cohen, said in a press release Tuesday.

    Syrian pro-democracy activist Radwan Ziadeh, a Syrian scholar based at George Washington University, confirmed in an email to the Envoy Tuesday that his brother was taken into custody by Syrian Air Force security personnel Tuesday.

    Read More »from United States sanctions Syrian foreign minister


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