Why the name "Victims of Pan Am Flight 103"?
In 1989, when we organized, relatives of murder victims had no status. But since all the passengers and crew were dead, we, relatives and friends, needed to speak for them. The people on the plane and on the ground in Lockerbie were the direct victims of the terrorists, Pan Am and the FAA. Since the bombing, we have been directly victimized by our emotions, the media, lawyers, insurance companies, judges, the State Department and others. The name "Victims of Pan Am Flight 103" has come to symbolize those persistent, pushy people who will not go away.
Can you tell us something more about your organization and the work it has carried out since its inception?
The group is named "Victims of Pan Am Flight 103, Inc." and was formed shortly after the bombing in December 1988. There has never been a more formidable group of its kind and has been incredibly effective. We have lobbied the US Congress for legislation to enact the recommendations of the Presidential Commission on Aviation Security and Terrorism (upon which I served); changed the law prohibiting lawsuits against foreign sovereigns (which permitted the suits again Libya, and this was passed over the initial objections of the US government); supported the sanctions against Libya in both the US Congress and the United Nations; blocked the appointment of an Ambassador to Libya and the construction of a new US Embassy; and numerous other Congressional Resolutions and statements of support from the US Senate and House of Representatives. Libya was told repeatedly that there would be no relief from the sanctions or removal from the List of Terrorist Nations until it made compensation to the families, renounced terrorism and accepted responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing.
What is the immediate reaction of the US family members after the release of Megrahi by Scotland on "compassionate grounds"?
We were surprised that the Scots would release the bomber, outraged that the decision seemed to be motivated by commercial interests, and befuddled with the numerous comments from Col. Gadhafi's son, Saif. We knew there would be a hero's welcome for this murderous, wicked little man, and that is exactly what happened when he returned to Libya. Many victimsâ€™ family members were in tears. Nineteen nations had achieved, after many years of investigation and prosecution, the conviction of only one man, Mr. Megrahi, for the largest crime in the history of the United Kingdom. We know there were more involved and this was an act of state sponsored terrorism, and now this one man was being sent home a hero. It was obscene.
How do you feel about the reception Megrahi received when he landed back in his native Libya?
It was disgusting and insulting.
Did the 2001 conviction against al-Megrahi bring any sense of closure in regards to your own personal loss with the Lockerbie tragedy?
There is no such thing as closure. His conviction did give a small sense of justice.
What do you feel could happen that could bring the most closure for you, the most peace of mind you could attain following the tragic happenings since 1988?
In the words of Kara Weipz, former President of the Victims of Pan Am Flight 103, Inc:
There is no such thing as closure. I feel I, my family, and many other family members have worked very hard for almost 21 years to fight for justice, prevent terrorism, hold those responsible accountable, supported one another, improved airline security and safety, helped other victims of terrorism, and most importantly, kept the memory of our loved ones alive.
How have we paid our expenses to date?
No relative of the people murdered in Lockerbie has ever received any money from the United States government. The Libyan government paid each family as part of an out of court settlement of our Wrongful Death lawsuit (2003-2007) for the bombing. All of the activities, lobbying, newsletters, and achievements have been paid for by the members of the VPAF103 ourselves, with the following four exceptions. The Lockerbie Fund, donations received in Lockerbie immediately after the bombing (1989), paid for emotional support meetings for several years. Bert Ammerman received a Conway Data Corporation "Safe Skies Award" of $25,000 which he donated to VPAF 103 (1990). The cost of the construction of the Memorial Cairn in Arlington National Cemetery was funded by outside contributors (1996). The United States Justice Department, Office of Victims of Crime, provided limited funding to help families attend the trial in the Netherlands (2000-2001).
Who do I contact to get more information?
You can call the president or chairman of the organization or email the web master. Contact information is given in the 'Board of Directors' tab.
How can I help?
To support any or all of our goals you can help by donating either your time, money or both. The goals we are working to achieve will make our nation stronger and commercial aviation safer. Much work remains to be done and extra hands are welcome. VPAF103, Inc. is a tax exempt, 501C (3) non-profit corporation, so contributions are tax deductible. While we are fund raising to continue our activities, amajor portion of the funding will be used to support a larger, more frequent presence in FAA meetings on Aviation Security and Safety. We are very grateful wfor your support. Please contact us as mentioned or make your check payable to Victims of Pan Am Flight 103, Inc. and mail it to:
Victims of Pan Am Flight 103, Inc.
P.O. Box 903
Cherry Hill, NJ 08003-0903