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article imageAmid Mounting Opposition, Qaddafi Cancels Stay In New Jersey

By Johnny Simpson     Aug 28, 2009 in World
Over rising opposition, Libyan leader Muammar el-Qadaffi has canceled his proposed Bedouin tent campout in Englewood, New Jersey. The Libyan leader will instead stay in New York City as he waits to address the UN General Assembly next month.
From the New York Times comes the stunning news that, in the face of fierce and mounting opposition, Libyan leader Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi will cancel his planned stay in Englewood, New Jersey next month while awaiting to address the United Nations General Assembly.
Mr. Qaddafi and Libya generated a lot of ill will in the US and elsewhere, the UK in particular, over the embracing of and boisterous welcome home to Lockerbie terrorist Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, 57, after his release from a Scottish prison on humanitarian grounds due to advanced prostate cancer. Mr. al-Megrahi served only eight years of a minimum life sentence for placing a bomb on Pan Am Flight 103 on December 21, 1988, which blew up over Lockerbie, Scotland. All 259 passengers aboard were killed, including 189 Americans, many flying home for Christmas. 11 people on the ground were also killed. Libyan intelligence is widely believed to be behind the bombing.
Adding to the controversy is word that Mr. al-Megrahi may have much longer to live after all.
Englewood Mayor Michael Wildes promised to go to court to stop renovation work at the mansion owned by the Libyan embassy where Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi planned to stay. Renovations were already in progress to modify the grounds and facilities to accommodate Col. Qaddafi's huge air-conditioned Bedouin tent, from which he planned to welcome guests and well-wishers. Mr. Qaddafi's staff informed the press that the Libyan leader would be staying somewhere in Manhattan. Col. Qaddafi originally wanted to pitch his tent in Central Park, but that request was denied due to logistics and security concerns
Many prominent figures in government and the media, primarily Republicans and conservatives, voiced stern opposition to Col. Qaddafi's visit in light of the welcoming party he threw at the airport in Tripoli for al-Megrahi upon his return. Republicans in Congress are planning to introduce a resolution on September 8th condemning al-Megrahi's release. The conservative blogosphere has also been quite heated on the subject. Michelle Malkin's oped, "Gadhafi’s camping trip is a bloody outrage," has been syndicated and is now the lead story at her blog.
That heated opposition crossed party lines in New Jersey. Democrat Representative John Adler wanted Qaddafi barred from his state. Likewise, Senator Frank Lautenberg issued a press release on August 24th stating, "I am troubled by reports that Colonel Qaddafi may visit New Jersey next month. Colonel Qaddafi can be assured that he is not welcome here." 32 of the Lockerbie victims were from New Jersey.
President Obama gave Col. Qaddafi a warm welcome at the G8 summit in Italy in July. The US government has since condemned the release of al-Megrahi, the warm homecoming in particular. FBI Director Robert Mueller called the release of al-Megrahi "a mockery of justice." No word on whether the US visa issued to Col. Qaddafi is unrestricted, or a "conditional visa" that restricts his movements to New York City only.
UPDATE: NBC New York reports that Col. Qaddafi will be issued a "conditional" visa that restricts his movements to New York city for his visit next month.
More about Gaddafi, New jersey, Lockerbie bombing, Libya, Terrorism
 
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