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FBI marks 24th anniversary of bombing of Pan Am flight 103


This news story was published on December 23, 2012.
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On December 21, 1988—24 years ago—the world experienced an act of terrorism that will never be forgotten when Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing everyone on board. But those 259 passengers and crew members—including 189 Americans—as well as the 11 Scots who were killed on the ground will not be forgotten, either.

Today, at Arlington National Cemetery’s Lockerbie Cairn—a memorial built of 270 blocks of red Scottish sandstone, each representing a life that was was lost in the disaster—FBI Director Robert Mueller joined other officials and investigators in gathering with the families and friends of the victims to honor and remember those who died.

“Time is a double-edged sword,” said Mueller at the commemoration ceremony. “Your grief, perhaps, is not so raw. But your hearts remain broken over what might have been…what should have been.”

Mueller went on to say that fighting terrorism continues to be the FBI’s top priority. “Yet our work is not merely finding and prosecuting those who would do us harm. It is making sure that other families will not suffer as you have.”

———

Remarks prepared for delivery by Robert S. Mueller, III, Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation

As always, I am humbled to speak before the loved ones of those we lost on that dark night 24 years ago.

Time is a double-edged sword. Your grief, perhaps, is not so raw. But your hearts remain broken over what might have been…what should have been.

No amount of time can put an end to your loss and to your pain. But you know that those who committed this evil act do not have the last word.

I will tell you that I was confident then—and I remain confident to this day—that al Megrahi was one of those responsible for this terrorist attack. And we continue to seek the others responsible. While that may provide some comfort to you, it is not enough.

Fighting terrorism remains the Bureau’s top priority. And yet our work is not merely finding and prosecuting those who would do us harm. It is making sure that other families will not suffer as you have.

Leonardo da Vinci once said, “Every obstacle yields to stern resolve. For he who is fixed to a star does not change his mind.” For 24 years, you have been fixed to the stars—stars that shine the light of those you loved…the light of truth and justice…the light of hope for better days to come.

Standing together, you have created a legacy of light out of the darkness of that night. You have improved aviation security. You have changed the way victims of terrorism and their loved ones are treated by the government and responsible officials. And you have kept this act of terrorism in the public eye.

For 24 years, your resolve has been unending. For you recognize that over the course of time, water is stronger than rock. Courage is stronger than fear. Love is stronger than hatred. And in the end, truth will triumph over terrorism.

As we stand before this cairn, let us remember the 270 individuals we lost, and the joy they brought to so many lives. Let us renew our commitment to justice. Let us remain fixed on the stars that our loved ones left behind.

And as scripture informs us: “Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.”

May God bless you, your families, and your loved ones.

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