Libya: Our Friend Muammar

Just a month after the United States removed Libya from its list of terror-supporting states, the United States and Britain are helping Muammar Kaddafi crack down on some of his enemies. Police in Manchester and several other cities detained eight people suspected of links to an alleged Islamic radical network known as the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group. An official familiar with the views of M.I.6--Britain's foreign-intel agency--who spoke under Brit rules requiring anonymity told NEWSWEEK that while Kaddafi did not request the crackdown, London knew it would warm relations with the former pariah. The U.K. official, as well as a U.S. counterterror official who requested anonymity because of the sensitive subject, said the crackdown was to stop the Libyan militants from plotting attacks against Kaddafi as well as possible attacks against Coalition forces in Iraq and targets in Western Europe.

A problem remains: part of the deal ending Kaddafi's isolation involved Libya's conceding its role in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, and the payment, in three installments, of $10 million in damages to the victims' families. The families, who have each received two installments worth $8 million, are enraged that Libya was removed from the terrorist list without their being notified in advance, said Steve Pounian, a lawyer for the families. Pounian said members of Congress might block the normalization of U.S.-Libyan relations unless the families get their promised compensation.