Hillary Clinton thought that former Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi was a “terrorist who could never be trusted” because he was behind the Lockerbie bombing.
Writing in her memoir, which was published yesterday, the former US secretary of state said the Libyan leader was a “criminal” and she did not believe a thing he said.
Mrs Clinton also says that she felt a personal connection to the Lockerbie tragedy because 35 of the victims were from New York, where she was a senator at the time.
The disclosure is in her new book called Hard Choices which was released yesterday after being highly anticipated in Washington. The book’s release is being seen as the first step on a potential run for the presidency in 2016 by Mrs Clinton, 66.
Hard Choices covers the events that dominated her time as secretary of state between 2009 and 2013, including the Arab Spring, the attack on the US embassy in Benghazi and attempts to find peace in the Middle East.
She also addresses the Lockerbie bombing and writes how in 1988 “Libyan agents” planted the bomb that caused Pan Am Flight 103 to explode whilst flying over Scotland. Some 189 Americans died in the terrorist attack, along with 43 Britons.
Libyan Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi was the only man convicted of the atrocity and served eight years of his sentence in Scotland before being freed on compassionate grounds in 2009 because doctors said he had cancer and would be dead within three months. Yet in an embarrassment to the Scottish Government and Kenny MacAskill, the justice secretary, Megrahi went on to live for nearly three more years in Tripoli. The row strained relations between the UK and the US with senior senators and relatives of those who did branding it “outrageous”.
In her memoir, Mrs Clinton makes clear that she was under no illusions about the regime she was dealing with. She writes: “In my eyes Quaddafi (sic) was a criminal and a terrorist who could never be trusted. Many of his Arab neighbours agreed. Most of them had tangled with him over the years. At one point he even plotted to assassinate the king of Saudi Arabia.”
Citing his appalling record of cracking down on dissent, Mrs Clinton describes Gaddafi as “murderous” and notes that former president Ronald Reagan called him the “Mad Dog of the Middle East”.
In the book, Mrs Clinton says that Gaddafi, who was killed during the overthrow of his regime in 2011, was “one of the most eccentric, cruel and unpredictable autocrats in the world”.
She also writes that he “cut a bizarre and sometimes chilling figure on the world stage with his colourful outfits, Amazonian bodyguards and rhetoric”.
Of the victims of Lockerbie, 35 were students from Syracuse University in New York. She writes: “I knew some of their families when I represented them in the US senate.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Mr Al-Megrahi was convicted in a court of law and his conviction was upheld on appeal. The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service have made clear that the Lockerbie case remains a live investigation and that Scotland’s criminal justice authorities will rigorously pursue any new lines of inquiry.”