Panel Urges Possible Military Action Against Nations Supporting Terrorism

The United States should prepare for pre-emptive or retaliatory strikes against targets “in countries well known to have engaged in state-sponsored terrorism,” a U.S. commission set up after the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 has concluded.

The report, issued by the President’s Commission on Aviation Security and Terrorism, does not blame any particular group or country for the Dec. 21, 1988, bombing of the flight, which exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland.

Palestinian groups linked to Iran and Syria are suspected of bombing the flight, which killed 270 people, in retaliation for the U.S. downing of an Iranian passenger plane, which the U.S. government maintains was an accident.

Ann McLaughlin, the commission chairwoman, told reporters at the National Press Club on Tuesday that the commission’s mandate did not allow it to conclude who was responsible for the Pan Am bombing.

The report rejected suggestions that U.S. airlines try to emulate security procedures used by Israel’s E1 A1 Airlines, such as detailed luggage inspections and thorough questioning of each passenger.

Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.), one of seven members of the commission, said. “The total system that E1 A1 uses is one unique to that carrier, to its nation-state and to the state of national readiness that applies in Israel.”

The United States has “many more carriers carrying many times more people — very different circumstances,” said Oberstar, who chairs the House Public Works and Transportation subcommittee on aviation.

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