December the 21st 1998 marks the tenth anniversary of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, and in 1998 in February was the ninth anniversary of the founding of Victims of Pan Am Flight 103. Finding strength through activism on antiterrorism and airline-security issues, this group of families of the 189 Americans who died became a role model for groups that emerged after the T.W.A. Flight 800 and Valujet 592 crashes and the Oklahoma City bombing. But the groups have also been vivid examples of how quests for truth can lead to frustration and infighting -- there are now four 103 outfits, and they don't always get along. ''The fights can be vicious,'' says a partisan. Leaders in all the camps say they want the same thing: justice. They just have wildly different opinions on how to achieve it. Here's a factional guide.
Victims of Pan Am Flight 103: Still the largest group, claiming ties to 160 victim families, Victims supports Government efforts to punish Libya rather than challenging them as too soft, as other groups do. It rejects Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi's recent effort to send the two Libyan suspects indicted by the United States Justice Department -- Abdel Basset Ali Al-Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah -- to trial at the International Court at The Hague. The group's critics think it's too apolitical. ''Most are there for 'tea and grief,' '' says a member of a rival group. Jack Schultz, Victims' former chairman , dismisses the carping. ''Some people are terribly upset,'' he says, ''because we haven't bombed Tripoli.'' President of VOPAF103 is at present George Williams.
Families of Pan Am 103, Lockerbie: Founded in 1989 by breakaway board members from Victims, this group claims 70 members. It supports a controversial multibillion-dollar wrongful-death lawsuit filed against the Government of Libya (and others) by more than 100 family members. Some rival victims groups call this a quest for ''blood money'' and charge that it could interfere with a successful criminal prosecution. But Families sees it as the only certain way to make Qaddafi pay. The group's most visible member is Victoria Cummock, whose on-camera presence at many disasters has earned her the nickname Grief Junky from critics. Head of group at present is Paul Hudson.
Justice for Pan Am 103: Founded in 1995 by Families group defectors who opposed the civil suit, this one claims only 25 members. It wants to reopen investigations into old theories that Iran and Syria were involved in the disaster. Present head for this group is Rosemary Wolfe.
Terrorism Watch: Pan Am 103: Created in 1995 by Bert Ammerman
(a former president of Families) and others, Terrorism Watch is hard line:
it would like to see an American naval blockade of Libya and a trial at
The Hague, the option Qaddafi favors. Other groups insist that the trial
be held in the United States or Scotland. ''If you allow the indicted
to choose their jurisdiction, that's like Terry Nichols' saying,
'I want to be tried in Canada with Congo law,' '' says Victoria Cummock.
''I understand Terrorism Watch's frustration, but you can't be
so desperate.'' Present head of group is Aphrodite Tsairis.