Security experts backed a claim by Khaled al-Megrahi that cities like Tripoli are a fertile breeding ground for Islamic State assassins who are desperate to carry out terrorist attacks on British soil.
Yesterday’s warning came six days after British-Libyan suicide bomber Salman Abedi killed 22 people at Manchester Arena.
It contradicts conventional security thinking that the main IS threat comes from jihadis returning to Britain from the Syrian warzone.
Fears of a Libyan-fuelled wave of terror were sparked yesterday by the son of the Lockerbie bomber Manchester bombing: Investigation so far Wed, May 24, 2017
The investigation so far into the Manchester bomb attack that killed at least 22 people, with more than 60 injured after Salman Abedi detonated a bomb in the Manchester Arena, at 10:30pm Monday, 22 May 2017
PA 1 of 15
Handout photo courtesy of Alex Finnie, of men wearing body armour during a raid of a block of flats in Blackley, north Manchester, following the attack on Manchester Arena
Libyan-born Mr al-Megrahi, 32 – whose father Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was convicted of killing 270 people in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 – said his country was a hotbed of terrorists.
The militants will kill each other here and then come to each city in the west – it is only a sea between us
He warned that militant gangs have taken over since international forces pulled out following the removal of Colonel Gaddafi.
“Today it was Manchester, but tomorrow it will be some other place,” he said.
“You make Libya like this. You will see a lot of terrorists in the UK and everywhere. The militants will kill each other here and then come to each city in the west – it is only a sea between us.”
Britain was part of an international force which intervened in Libya six years ago to stop Gaddafi persecuting his political opponents.
Get Quotes on Home Insurance
Militant gangs have taken over since removal of Colonel Gaddafi
British-Libyan suicide bomber Salman Abedi killed 22 people at Manchester Arena
RAF jets carried out bombing raids and strategic targets were pounded by cruise missiles fired by the Royal Navy.
But Mr al-Megrahi, who spent much of his youth in Scotland after his father was imprisoned there, claimed that after the offensive, the Allies abandoned Libya.
Islamic State expanded into Libya following its rise in Iraq and Syria and its trademark atrocities – such as public beheadings – have been carried out in cities like Sirte.
Mr al-Megrahi said: “A lot of Libyans are hungry, have no money and no justice. If the West continues its stance you will see a lot of militants coming to the UK.
"The West knows what’s happening in Libya but only wants to watch and see.”
Mr al-Megrahi, whose father died of cancer in Libya after being released from prison on humanitarian grounds, urged the West to intervene again to prevent more deaths.
Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was convicted of killing 270 people in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103
Wreckage of Pan Am Flight 103
His theory was backed by Professor Anthony Glees, Director of the Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies at The University of Buckingham.
“This is entirely credible,” he said. “We didn’t realise that in place of Colonel Gaddafi a vacuum would be created that Islamists would seize. Anyone travelling from there – and other countries – should be viewed with suspicion.”
Prof Paul Rogers, a Middle East expert at the University of Bradford, said: “It’s a terrifying mess. It’s made it very easy for a brutal group like Isis to have a presence there.”
A former senior diplomat said: “We were complacent. MI5 and MI6 have focused on jihadis returning from Syria.
"They never thought to look at Libya. That will have to change.”