Among those whose visits have angered Americans in recent years are Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and former .The possibility that oil-rich , may pitch his large Bedouin tent in the town of Englewood, New Jersey, while attending the next month had local officials in an uproar on Monday. And, why shouldn't Englewood be upset after recent events?
Englewood Mayor Michael Wildes said it would be offensive for Gaddafi even to be allowed a U.S. visa. Gaddafi was warned by U.S. President Obama and British Prime Minister Brown not to give Lockerbie bomber Abdel Basset al-Megrahi a "hero's welcome" on his return to Libya last week, but, naturally the defiant Qaddafi did just that.
"As a Jew, I'm embarrassed and mortified to host him," Englewood Mayor Michael Wildes told FOXNews.com. "I'm really upset that a financier of terrorism is coming to our shores. This is not acceptable and we need to make sure he does not come. This man embraced a convicted terrorist and is, at his core, a financier of terrorism himself." Wildes added, "People are infuriated that a financier of terrorism, who in recent days gave a hero's welcome to a convicted terrorist, would be welcomed to our shores, let alone reside in our city" New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg, forefront amongst those lawmakers who have condemned the release of the bomber, said, "Qaddafi can be assured that he is not welcome here." Many of the American victims of the terrorist attack of Pan Am 103 hailed from New Jersey, as well as New York. "This is an affront to the 33 families who live in New Jersey and lost their relatives because of him when they blew up Pan Am 103," Wildes continued. "You can't buy that back. You can't give them their lives and memories back." Mayor Wildes estimates that police costs to provide security for Qaddafi at a Libyan-owned estate on Palisade Avenue would total at least $20,000 per day. And the Libyans "haven't paid a nickel in property taxes in over 30 years," Wildes said. Libya owns a 4.5-acre property in Englewood next door to a Jewish school and a rabbi. The Libyan government has been claiming immunity from local taxation, even though reports say the same claim has been made on a property in New York and an exemption is provided for only one residence. U.S. Rep Steve Rothman, whose district includes Englewood, said city officials learned 26 years ago that the Libyan Mission to the United Nations had purchased the estate. Rothman said local officials hammered out a deal with the U.S. State Department limiting its use to recreational activities by the ambassador and his family. "Qaddafi was expressly forbidden to live there," Rothman said. Rothman sees no reason to relax the policy. “I’ve told the White House I won’t take no for an answer,” he said, and as one of the first congressmen to endorse President Barack Obama during the primary campaign, he has enough juice to make it stick. “I don’t want this murderous thug of a dictator, this psychopath, in my district where he might cause some security problems,” said Rothman. Qaddafi has made his peace with the outside world by renouncing his quest for weapons of mass destruction and opening his oil fields to foreign companies. But, domestically he continues to operate a brutal regime. According to the U.S. Department of State, at least 10% of the population is engaged in surveillance of the other 90%. Libyan law provides for collective punishment in which the relatives, friends and even neighbors of someone found guilty of a crime can also be punished. Criticizing Qaddafi is considered a crime punishable by death. (David Wallechinsky, "Meet the Contenders: Dictators 11-20," Parade, Jan. 22 2006) The following quotes were taken from an interview with Qaddifi in Time magazine on June 8, 1981: "I oppose localized incidents such as aircraft hijacking and hostage taking. But they are nothing compared with the terrorism America is practicing. We believe America is practicing all kinds of terrorism against Libya. Even the accusation that we are involved in terrorism is in itself an act of terrorism." "First, the American Government is not entitled to talk about terrorism, since it practices the highest degree of terrorism in the world. Furthermore, the American Government is not a policeman. It ought to correct its own behavior before it talks about the behavior of others."