”What’s a life worth under international law? No one really knows.”
Richard B. Lillich, University of Virginia Law School
According to a recent poll, three out of five Americans oppose compensation. Those sentiments are hardly surprising given Teheran’s behavior, from taking America’s diplomats hostage to its complicity in the murder of 241 U.S. servicemen in Beirut.
In spite of significant public opposition, President Reagan has decided to pay compensation to families of those who died in the Iranian airliner mistakenly shot down by the U.S.S. Vincennes.
His decision, perceived by many former top officials as the correct one, is however raising another issue which is dividing the very same officials. Should compensation be linked to other goals?
Representative Thomas Downey, a New York Democrat, wants the hostages released first. Senator Sam Nunn and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger would tie payment to a cease-fire. Both proposals open the possibility of a dialogue that might further America’s overriding goal of ending the Iran-Iraq war.
Unlike reparations, the idea of compensation does not imply guilt. Moreover, the payments would go directly to the families.
Upon completion, the investigation may reveal that Iran shares some of the blame. Yet, an American ship shot down the plane, and killed 290 civilians, including 66 children. To many observers, their families deserve compensation. No condition should be attached, regardless of nationality.
UN Debate Reported
Today, a Security Council debate on the American downing of an Iranian passenger plane was postponed. According to some diplomats, Iran is having difficulty lining up support for a resolution condemning the United States. A resolution merely condemning the downing may receive sufficient vote. The US, as a permanent member, could of course impose a veto. The debate was rescheduled for Thursday.
Vernon A. Walters, the United States representative at the United Nations, said that Vice President Bush might present the United States case in the Security Council debate.
Jamilla Mograbi , the spouse of terrorist Abu Talb, leaves Warsaw for Algeria. During the trial, Talb was asked to explain his wife travels and whereabouts. Talb, in spite of the evidence presented to him, simply denied her presence in Warsaw.
Q Well, the information which I have, and which will be corrected if I’m wrong, is that your wife exited Cyprus and flew to Arlanda, the airport for Sweden. Does that ring any bells in your mind?
A I don’t think so. I don’t remember at all.
Q Now, apparently, on the day that she arrived back in Sweden, which was the 11th of July, which was also the day she left Cyprus, she flew on from Arlanda to Warsaw using the same Swedish travel document. Can you help me with that?
A Sir, allow me to tell you something. We are Arabs, and my wife cannot leave our home without my — telling me. She simply cannot be anywhere else without my knowing it.
Q I do want to know if you can help me with why someone would undertake a journey from Sweden to Cyprus, Cyprus back to Sweden, the same day travelling from the same airport to Warsaw, to stay there for two days and then to travel from Warsaw to Algeria to visit her sister. Why on earth would your wife undertake such a journey?
Talb never offered a sensible answer. This is not the last time that he will not be able to explain the acting of his wife.
Looking Back in the Mirror
On the 30th October 1989, United States government officials announced that Mohamed Abu Talb, a Palestinian being held on terrorism charges in Sweden, had admitted to investigators that between October and December 1988, he retrieved and passed to another person a bomb that had been hidden in a building in West Germany used by members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Command.
NOTES AND REFERENCES
1) See BRITISH INTEL REPORTS CRITICAL OF US SHOT DOWN[Diary of a Vengeance Foretold] Part 9 – JULY 11 1988