The former foreign minister of Libya, who defected in February during the initial outbreak of civil war, admitted that his country was involved in a widespread conspiracy to bomb Pan-Am Flight 103 which exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988.

The disaster killed 270 people on board and on the ground.

Abdul Rahman al-Shalgham told Al-Hayat, an Arabic newspaper: The Lockerbie bombing was a complex and tangled operation. There was talk at the time of the roles played by states and organizations. Libyan security played a part but I believe it was not a strictly Libyan operation.

Only two members of the Libyan regime were tried in court for the Pan-Am bombing. One of them, Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, was convicted in The Hague and sentenced to life in prison. However, he was released on medical grounds two years ago.

Other theories persist that the bombing was the work of Iranian intelligence or Palestinian terrorists.

However, another top Libyan who has defected, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, the former minister of justice and now chairman of the rebel Transitional National Council, alleged earlier that Gaddafi himself ordered the bombing of the Pan-Am jet.

Al-Shalgham also said that Libya’s leader was angered by the plan for Tripoli to pay restitution to the families of the victims (a compensation that Al-Shalgham helped to negotiate)

[Gaddafi] used to say, 'We had no role in Lockerbie, so why should we have to pay compensation', Shalgham said.

Al-Shalgham further claimed that Libyan security services were responsible for the terrorist attack in a Berlin, Germany nightclub popular with U.S. troops in 1986 – an act which led to President Ronald Reagan’s bombing of Tripoli that year.

In addition, Al-Shalgham alleged that the Libyan regime ordered the bombing of a French airliner over Niger in West Africa 1989, which killed 171 people. That decision was apparently based on the wrong assumption that a Libyan dissident, Mohammed al-Megrief, was on board.