Anger, Boycott Talk Persist After Bomber’s Release

The controversy over Scotland’s decision to release the Lockerbie bomber is not dying down, The New York Times reports. Calls for a boycott of Scottish tourism and goods continue.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen boycotts like this one succeed in the short run, as it’s very difficult to measure their impact. But I do believe this incident will harm Scotland’s and Britain’s image — and therefore tourism as well — in the long run.

Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, released to Libya on the grounds that he is terminally ill, served only eight years for the deaths of 270 people, including 189 U.S. citizens, in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. The families of the victims are outraged, and the motives for his release are being questioned vigorously, in Britain and the United States.

What an ordinary traveler from the United States might well wonder is this: if I am harmed or killed in Britain, how seriously will that crime be addressed? And if such crimes aren’t severely punished, how much more likely is it that those who want to harm U.S. citizens will do it again?

These a reasonable questions.

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