Justice News

Acting Attorney General Whitaker Delivers Remarks on the 30th Anniversary of the Pan American Flight 103 Bombing
Washington, DC
United States
Friday, December 21, 2018

Thank you, Kathryn for that kind introduction.  And thank you for your decades of service to crime victims all across America.

Thank you also to:

  • Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein,
  • FBI Director Wray,
  • Former FBI Director, Judge William Webster
  • Assistant Attorney General John Demers,
  • His Principal Deputy David Burns and their staff,
  • U.S. Attorney Jesse Liu and her staff,
  • Executive Assistant FBI Director of the National Security Branch, Jay Tabb,
  • Assistant FBI Director Michael McGarrity of the Counterterrorism Division,
  • Steve Cyrus and his team with the FBI’s Washington Field Office,
  • Solicitor General of Scotland Alison di Rollo,
  • Deputy Chief Constable Johnny Gwynne of Police Scotland,
  • Crown Prosecutors Lindsey Miller and John Logue,
  • FBI special agents Dick Marquise and Mike O’Callaghan, and
  • Victim Advocates from DOJ’s Office of Justice for Victims of Overseas Terrorism.

I think that the big turnout here today tells you just how important this is to the Department of Justice and to the law enforcement community.

Most of all, I want to thank all of the families of the victims who came today.  I’m told that this is the biggest gathering of the Pan Am 103 families in nearly 20 years.

Nearly 150 family members of more than 50 Pan Am 103 victims are here today.

I want each one of you to know that your family members are remembered at the Department of Justice—and they always will be.  Today we dedicate a permanent memorial to ensure that.

December 21, 1988 is seared into your hearts—and in the hearts of all of the families of the victims.  And it is seared into the hearts of the law enforcement community.

Thirty years ago, it was the deadliest terrorist attack on American civilians in our history.  To this day it remains the deadliest terrorist attack in the history of the United Kingdom.

The 270 victims came from all walks of life and from every corner of the planet.  They came from 22 U.S. states from coast to coast.  They came from 21 countries across five continents.

The victims were as young as 2 months old and as old as 82.  Most were traveling home for Christmas.  Thirty-five were Syracuse University students who had been studying abroad.  Sixteen victims were children under the age of 10.  One couple was on their honeymoon.  One was a Department of Justice prosecutor who was on Department business working to deport a former Nazi.

The loss was overwhelming then—and it still is overwhelming to think about today.  Seventy-six people lost their spouses that day.   Seven children became orphans.  Dozens of families lost their only child.

Five families of four died together that day.  So did a family of five and a family of six.

These were innocent people going about their lives—and yet they were targeted by terrorists in an act of cold-blooded murder.

Terrorists target the innocent.  They try to intimidate us into giving up our freedom or surrendering our most cherished principles.

But the American people have never been intimidated—and we never will be.

We are determined to bring terrorists to justice and to ensure that other families don’t have to suffer what all of you have so bravely endured.

We have not given up the search for justice in this case.  Our prosecutors and investigators continue to meet regularly with their Scottish counterparts in order to advance this case.

And even after justice is done, we will still honor the memory of the victims—and the inspiring strength of their families.

This plaque will help us to do that right here in the heart of the FBI and the Department of Justice.

Updated December 21, 2018