Compensate Qaddafis Terrorism Victims Before Funding Unknown Rebels

A bipartisan group of Senators have proposed S. 1180, the “Libyan Assets for Humanitarian Relief Act of 2011,” which would authorize the use of assets seized from Muammar Qaddafi for humanitarian relief to and for the benefit of the people of Libya. Over $30 billion in his assets were seized on February 28 by the Treasury Department and our European allies (the latest estimate is $36 billion). The bill has yet to be debated in the Senate, and no companion bill has been introduced in the House as of today.

But there’s no guarantee that any of the Qaddafi assets could be safeguarded all the way into the hands of the Libyan people. We have no firm information on the identity of all of the tribal leaders lined up against Qaddafi, and one of the rebel leaders has already admitted that his group includes Al Qaeda fighters who killed American soldiers in Iraq. We’ve already seen billions of dollars in Iraq aid disappear into thin aid, and probably used to kill our own troops – why would we do that again in Libya?

Instead of unlocking those billions for potential use by our terrorist enemies, let’s unlock the frozen assets for use by those Americans, British, Irish, and others who suffered for years at the hands of Qaddafi’s international terrorism. Americans who secured a judgment worth billions against Qaddafi in U.S.court saw their legal action cut short by the Libyan Claims Resolution Act of 2008. The bill forced them to accept a sharply reduced amount in compensation for the bombings that Qaddafi funded and encouraged. Scores of British and Irish victims who filed suit with Americans in U.S. court saw their legal actions completely dismissed by the same law, a deal between Qaddafi and the U.S. that enabled him to escape liability.

Qaddafi’s terrorism victims, including those citizens of our allies overseas, deserve full compensation for Qaddafi’s crimes before we even consider shipping one dollar to an unknown group of rebels with terrorist backgrounds.