Thatcher had warned Reagan two years before Lockerbie bombing that US raids on Libya risked acts of revenge

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Newly released secret documents placed in the National Archives in Kew, in the United Kingdom show that British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was deeply troubled by US plans to attack Libya, and outlined her concerns in a series of frank letters to then US President Ronald Reagan.

Libya represented a high priority for President Ronald Reagan. Libyan leader Muammar Ghaddafi was firmly anti-Israel and had supported violent organizations in the Palestinian territories and Syria.

There were reports that Libya was attempting to become a nuclear power and Ghaddafi’s occupation of Chad, which was rich in uranium, was of major concern to the United States. Ghaddafi’s ambitions to set up a federation of Arab and Muslim states in North Africa was also alarming to U.S. interests.

Thatcher privately begged President Reagan two years before the Lockerbie bombing not to attack Libya, warning it would unleash a bloody “cycle of revenge and counter-revenge”.

In 1986 Britain took the controversial decision to allow the US to use RAF bases to launch a raid on Muammar Ghaddafi’s regime.

On April 15, 1986 the US launched Operation El Dorado Canyon against Libya. The US air strikes were in retaliation for the 1986 West Berlin discotheque bombing. On 5 April 1986, Libyan agents bombed “La Belle” nightclub in West Berlin, killing three people, one being a U.S. serviceman, and injuring 229 people.

West Germany and the United States obtained cable transcripts from Libyan agents in East Germany who were involved in the attack.

In the US raids on Libya in 1986, there were 40 reported Libyan casualties, and one U.S. plane was shot down. One of the claimed Libyan deaths was of a baby girl, reported to be Muammar Ghaddafi’s daughter, Hana Gaddafi.

It was feared that the UK overseas territory, on the tip of the Iberian peninsula, could be targeted in revenge for Margaret Thatcher’s support for US bombing raids in Tripoli and Benghazi in 1986.

Amongst other things the UK feared that Colonel Gaddafi would launch an air attack on Gibraltar, the previously classified files have revealed. The documents show that the Ministry of Defence drew up plans to prepare for the threat of raids on the Gibraltar by Libyan fighter planes.

The threat was taken so seriously that fighter planes and surface-to-air missiles were moved to Gibraltar. Permission was granted for approaching Libyan aircraft to be engaged and shot down, amongst concern that Spanish planes could be downed by mistake.

Pan Am Flight 103 was blown up over Lockerbie in 1988 and Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi, a Libyan national, was convicted for the atrocity in 2001.

This week it was revealed that prosecutors from Scotland had interviewed five retired Stasi agents in connection with ongoing investigations into the Lockerbie bombing.

Via The Times


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