EITAN BARD... In Memoriam, 35 years Later ...
Today the Scottish government released Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi who was the only one convicted in the bombing of Pan Am 103 over Scotland in December 1988. The bombing killed all 259 passengers and 11 people on the ground. The convicted terrorist served eight years of a lifetime sentence. Ali Megrahi was not an independent agent. In fact, he was a member of the Libyan intelligence, working directly for Libyan President Muammar Qaddafi. This is the same Qaddafi who the US has been reaching out to, and to whom they may soon sell arms. This is the same Muammar Qaddafi who is planning to attend the UN General Assembly Meeting this fall, and is asking to pitch his heated tent in Central Park (No, I am not joking).
What does this have to do with Eitan Bard? Eitan was my best friend in elementary school. The smartest kid I ever knew, both then and now. In 1974 Eitan was about to start his junior year at Harvard. On September 1st, I ran into Eitan's mother and brother on my flight from Tel Aviv back to New York. He and his father were staying in Israel an extra week to go scuba diving. Well, one week later, on September 8th, Eitan and his father set off for New York on TWA flight 841. The flight stopped in Athens, Greece. It seems that at this stop-over, a bomb was placed aboard the plane. A few minutes after take off from Athens, the plane exploded and all 88 passengers aboard the plane were killed. Later that same day the Palestinina Youth Organization took credit for downing the plane. TWA downplayed the chances of a bombing and the story quickly faded from the news. A few months later, it became clear a bomb was responsible for the plane's fate. It turns out the "Arab Nationalist Youth Organization" was a Libyan front. The downing of TWA 841, just like the downing of the PanAm 103 was the work of Muammar Qaddafi.
As I see pictures of Ali al-Megrahi returning to Libya to a hero’s welcome and I think of the possibility of Muammar Qaddafi coming to New York, I think of Eitan, the life he might have had, the scientific accomplishments the world might have benefited from if he had lived. I think of the little boy I remember, in whose house I played endless games of battleship, the brilliant boy who never had a chance to be a man.