The Mystery of Pan Am 103
"I am very concerned if the FBI have significant
evidence relevant to the prosecution and defence teams which they are not
prepared to supply. If that is the case, it can only undermine the
faith that the court could place on the FBI's connection to the trial and
the significant part played by the FBI in the assembly of the prosecution
Jim Swire, who lost his daughter Flora in the Lockerbie bombing
In a separate article (The Mystery of Swissair 111) I argued that the Swissair Flight 111 crash may have been an attempt to down an aircraft in exactly the same spot as TWA 800 had been downed two years earlier and I also noted that the crash of Swissair Flight 111 occured on the tenth anniversary in the Islamic calendar of the bombing of PA 103 ....
September 2, 1998
11 Jumaada al-awal 1419 A.H.
Swissair jet from JFK crashes off Nova Scotia.
December 21, 1988 11 Jumaada
al-awal 1409 A.H.
Pan Am 103 bombed over Lockerbie.
Strange as it may seem the following year on the 11th anniversary of the bombing of PA 103 in the Gregorian calendar .....
December 23, 1999 The Times of London
David Murtagh told how the burning wreckage of the Korean Air 747 flashed past his window as he watched television in Great Hallingbury. "I saw the aircraft and it was on fire. I saw it blazing in flames and it was so close that I ducked. I thought, 'Oh my God it's going to hit me'. I'm still shaking." The crash came just hours after the 11th anniversary of the Lockerbie disaster when PanAm flight 103 was blown up with the loss of 270 lives. That was the last occasion that a jumbo jet crashed in Britain.
In this website I have provided evidence that the downing of TWA 800 was the work of Middle-Eastern terrorists directed by Osama bin Laden and funded by Iran. A war with Iran in 1996 was not in the long term interests of the United States given that in the Iranian elections a government more inclined to open a dialog with the West was moving into power under Present Khatami. Thus in my opinion the United States government decided to declare that the center fuel tank of the TWA 800 aircraft exploded from an ignition source which is unknown and leave matters at that.
The same policy appears to have been followed in another terrorist attack funded by Iran.
July 3, 2000 NewsMax.com U.S. Sides With Iran
Over Terrorist Victim
The Clinton-Gore administration admits destroying 900 subpoenaed records needed to force Iran to compensate an American family whose daughter died in a terrorist attack. The victim's father is alleging the Justice Department got rid of its own files deliberately to avoid having to seize Iranian frozen assets to pay a $24 million judgment against Iran that the New Jersey family won in 1998. The administration is making an effort to placate the new government of Iran, which is on the State Department's list of terrorist states. The issue of Iranian financial assets frozen in the United States is key to Washington's hopes of resolving amicably its differences with Tehran. According to the World Tribune: Stephen Flatow's daughter, Alisa, was killed in 1995 in Gaza during an attack on an Israeli bus by the Islamic Jihad terrorist group under orders of Iran. He said his family had requested the 800 to 900 documents, related to licensing of U.S. transactions with Iran, as part of the family's effort to seize part of the Iranian frozen assets as compensation to satisfy the judgment. Flatow said a Justice Department attorney, Andrea Cohen, wrote to him that those files were destroyed due to lack of storage space. "We are beyond shock," Flatow said. "We are disgusted. And, if it turns out that the destruction was purposeful, I am going to see to it that heads roll at Treasury."
Perhaps this was the correct policy to follow as events later revealed.
February 21, 2000 NY Times
In unusually bold language, the Clinton Administration welcomed the election results in Iran today and said it interpreted them as an unequivocal demand for greater freedom within the country and for improved relations abroad. "By all indications this is an event of historic proportions," the State Department spokesman, James P. Rubin, said this evening, referring to the partial results available so far. The vote showed, he said in a statement, that the Iranian people want "engagement with the rest of the world" and "made clear their preference for greater freedoms within Iran." The parliamentary election, the most open since the fall of the Shah, has been long awaited by the Clinton administration as a test of whether it could turn around the hostile relations of the last 20 years before Mr. Clinton leaves office. A series of American inducements for opening a dialogue over the last several years, including a secret message from President Clinton last August, have all been spurned by the Iranian leadership. With the strengthening of President Mohammad Khatami's moderate forces in Iran, the Clinton administration clearly hopes that the stonewalling will at least be reduced and that Mr. Khatami will be able to make inroads into the power preserves of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who controls the military, intelligence services and the judiciary. In tonight's statement, the State Department cautioned that it remained to be seen whether the "clear hopes of the Iranian people can be translated to reality." "Obviously we hope that the trends of the elections will be reflected by a different approach to the outside world," Mr. Rubin said. In that regard, he said, the United States was most concerned to see whether Iran would change its opposition to the Middle East peace negotiations and whether it would cease its support of terrorist groups seeking to derail the current rounds of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and between Israel and Syria. The United States has recently stepped up its accusations against Iran for supporting such terrorist groups. For the United States to take real advantage of the election results, it must first find someone authoritative to talk to. The first move by the administration will most likely be to search for a way to open substantive talks, a senior administration official said today. The official pointed out, that even North Korea -- which has hostile relations with the United States and which, like Iran, is on the State Department's list of countries that sponsor state terrorism -- has official talks with the United States. Ever since Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright offered in June 1998 to draw up a "road map" to re-establish relations with Iran, the Iranian government has rebuffed the administration. Last year, the administration was rebuffed again when President Clinton sent a message that the United States had information concerning the involvement of "Iranian government officials and others" in the bombing of an American military building in Saudi Arabia, which killed 19 American servicemen. In the letter, Mr. Clinton attempted to gain Iranian cooperation in the case and at the same time to test the willingness of the moderates in Tehran to engage the United States. The United States, in addition to trying to start a dialogue with Iran, has some leverage with the wide range of sanctions that have been imposed on its government. Many of these were imposed by executive order and can be lifted without the approval of Congress, where there has been criticism of Mr. Clinton's efforts to reach out to Iran. In 1995, President Clinton cited Iranian support for terrorist groups as the reason for banning all American trade with country. Some of these sanctions were relaxed to allow the sale of grain and medicine. And last December, the administration allowed Boeing to sell parts to Iran's national airline so as to ensure the safety of its Boeing 747 passenger aircraft.
Due to these political considerations the FBI dropped its criminal investigation into the downing of TWA 800. Which leads one to inquire into the FBI's role in the investigation of PA 103 and to ask if there were any 'political considerations' in that terrorist incident which might explain why the United States has pursued two Libyan suspects despite evidence pointing again to Middle Eastern terrorists financed by Iran.
Elsewhere on this website I have pointed out the links between Osama bin Laden, the bombing of the World Trade Center, the bombing of the U.S. military complex in Dhahran and TWA 800. So let us begin our examination of the facts surrounding PA 103 with an article in The Jerusalem Post which connects the PA 103 bombing with the bombings of the World Trade Center, Usama bin Ladun (sic) and the bombing of the U.S. military complex in Dhahran.
July 24, 1996 The Jerusalem Post
The suspicions surrounding the crash of TWA Flight 800 in New York have led to debates on the nature of terrorism. They focus mainly on terrorism linked to Islamic fundamentalism because, unlike the IRA, the Basque ETA, or the US militia fringe, Moslem fundamentalists aspire to a global reach. They blew up an American airliner at Lockerbie, bombed the World Trade Center and, a couple of weeks ago, hit the US military complex in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. So is there really a coherent terrorist plan against American interests around the world? And who could organize the master plan? Last week, the London-based Arabic daily, A-Sharq Al-Awsat, published an interview with the leader of Egypt's Moslem Brotherhood movement, Mustafa Mashur. He said that the brotherhood has no international leadership controlling all its activities. At most, he said, local leaders convene from time to time to exchange views and to preserve relationships. Mashur went on to say that, after the Moslem Brotherhood leadership was expelled from Egypt, its birthplace, during Nasser's regime in the 1950s, it became scattered across the Arab world and beyond. It set about accommodating itself to native circumstances, operating in each country according to local possibilities. He said many intelligence services had tried to pinpoint a world leadership, but to no avail. Yet Cairo remains one of the brotherhood's most important centers. Palestinian Authority head Yasser Arafat maintains contact with this movement through its Cairo center. (But a highly placed PA source said the brotherhood's real headquarters is in Germany). Mashur's statement that the brotherhood has no worldwide super-command is probably true. At the same time it cannot be ignored that those who carried out the Dhahran attack do not lean on Iran, as often stated, but look within Saudi Arabia, to the Mujahideen, the former American-backed fighters of the Afghanistan war. They were originally recruited by the heads of the "Afghan Arabs" who viewed the war in Afghanistan as merely the opening of a general war against the Christian world (Russian or Western), or the "Crusaders" as the Moslem fundamentalists prefer to call them, to demonstrate the historical continuity of their struggle. Chief among them was the fundamentalist terrorist Usama Bin Ladun. Bin Ladun was last reported somewhere in Pakistan after being expelled from Sudan, where he found shelter after the Afghan war. A sure sign that the Dhahran attack points to these formerly Saudi-funded Mujahideen can be deduced from the tensions that quickly developed between the FBI investigators sent in to Dhahran and the Saudi authorities. The Americans got a clear message that the Saudis were concealing key information from them. The Mujahideen believe they toppled the Soviet Union and that they can do the same to the equally "Crusader" US. Bin Ladun was most probably connected with the World Trade Center attack in 1993 those convicted by the American courts were his colleagues from the time of the Afghan war. One of those Mujahideen, the notorious Ramzi Yousef, a Pakistani with Palestinian roots, revealed after his capture in Pakistan that his motives were mostly Palestinian nationalist. He wanted the US to pay for the support it extends to Israel. Whatever the motives, or declared excuses, there is now a new kind of global terrorism, which ironically the US and Saudis helped fund, train and motivate in Afghanistan, and which is now coming back to haunt its former paymasters. Today it is privately financed by shadowy millionaires much like the villains in the James Bond stories.
The United States decided to accuse Colonel Gaddafi through two of his intelligence operatives ...
December 6, 1998 Electronic Telegraph Issue 1290
It is now more than seven years since a Grand Jury in the United States issued the indictment which alleged that two Libyans, Abdel Basset al-Megrahi and Lamen Fhimah, "did maliciously cause the deaths of 270 persons" by "wilfully and unlawfully causing to be placed a destructive device and substance in and aboard Pan Am Flight 103". This week may offer the last realistic opportunity for their trial to become a reality. Yesterday, Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary General, was scheduled to meet Colonel Gaddafi, Libya's dictatorial ruler, in a final attempt to try to persuade him to release Basset and Fhimah. If a trial goes ahead, and Fhimah and Basset are found guilty as charged, what will be the consequences for Gaddafi? The indictment specifically identifies them as officers in the "Jamahirya Security Organisation", the Libyan Intelligence Service "through which Libya conducted acts of terrorism against other nations". It is inconceivable that Libyan Intelligence would organise an operation of the magnitude of the Lockerbie explosion without the direct knowledge and supervision, indeed the direct orders, of Gaddafi himself. And one of the fundamental principles of international law - it has just been upheld in the House of Lords in the Pinochet case - is that he who orders terrorism, torture, or other "crimes against humanity", is as guilty as the the man who plugs in the electrodes or plants the bomb. If anything, he is more culpable. The indictment diplomatically speaks of Basset and Fhimah planting the bomb "together with persons unknown to the Grand Jury". In fact, of course, at least one of the "persons" with whom Basset and Fhimah conspired is known only too well: Colonel Gaddafi.
Moreover, Gaddafi is not the only politician implicated in the planning and execution of the mass murder. Ali-Akbar Mohteshemi, then Iran's interior minister, publicly promised revenge for the destruction of an Iranian Airbus by a rocket from the USS Vincennes. The rocket, fired by the warship by mistake on July 4 1988, killed everyone on the Iranian flight. Mohteshemi said the outrage would be avenged in the "blood splattered skies". According to a report by US Air Force Intelligence, he paid $10 million to Ahmed Jibril, head of a notoriously violent Palestinian terrorist group, to blow up an American airliner. Members of Jibril's group were initially the main suspects. The bomb that blew up Pan Am Flight 103 was concealed in a Toshiba taperecorder. On October 26, two months before the Lockerbie explosion, German police arrested 15 terrorists suspects in Frankfurt and Dusseldorf. Among them were Hafez Dalkamoni, Abdulah Gandafar, and Marwan Khreesat. Three Toshiba "Bombeat" tape recorders, with a bomb concealed in each them, were discovered in the boot of Dalkamoni's car. Khreesat's associates later confessed that he had made five bombs, all of them containing 1lb of semtex explosive. So did the Lockerbie bomb. Many investigators are certain that one of Khreesat's bombs found its way onto Pan Am Flight 103. It is not a theory which has ever been tested, because astonishingly, the German police released Khreesat three days after his arrest. Dalkamoni and Gandafar were found guilty of conspiracy to cause acts of terrorism, but not the Lockerbie explosion. They were both released from prison early. Investigations by the Scottish Police also revealed that another member of Jibril's group, Abu Talb, may have helped to ensure the bomb exploded on Flight 103. Forensic examination of clothes in the case which contained the bomb revealed that they had been purchased from a shop in Malta. Tony Gauci, who worked in the shop, initially identified Abu Talb as the man who bought the clothes. Abu Talb is now not suspected of involvement in the bombing. Mr Gauci now identifies the purchaser as Basset. Nevertheless, involvement by members Jibril's group in a plan to destroy an American airliner seems extremely plausible. It was not, however, pursued. One reason seems to be that at the time of the Lockerbie explosion, Ahmed Jibril was headquartered in Damascus, Syria. Implicating Jibril would mean implicating Syrian President Hafez Assad. But President Assad supported the West in the Gulf War. George Bush explicitly, if inelegantly, stated that Assad had taken "a bum rap" for Lockerbie. Since Assad's decision to line up with America and Britain against Iraq, investigations into the Syrian connection have come to an abrupt halt. That is despite the fact that Assad has a record of attempting to blow up civilian jets. In 1986, for instance, Nazir Hindawi tried to persuade Ann Murphy, an innocent dupe, into taking a bomb on an El Al 747. The plot was foiled. But intercepted communications traffic proved that the Syrian Embassy in London had known about it and ordered it. The strange vacillations in the official investigation have generated various conspiracy theories, the most popular and least plausible of which is that the explosion was the result of a American Drug Enforcement Agency operation which somehow went dreadfully wrong. Gaddafi has spent thousands of pounds supporting journalists who are willing to propound elaborate versions of that theory. He is still doing so. The truth is almost certainly that his agents, Fimah and Basset, were responsible for placing the bomb on the Air Malta Flight from Luqa to Frankfurt, with a baggage tag which instructed the bag's transfer to Pan Am Flight 103. But if Fimah and Basset put the bomb on the plane, and Gaddafi ordered them to do it, they did not act alone. Iran's Mohteshemi provided the money, and Syria's Ahmed Jibril the bomb. Along with Fimah and Basset, these are the men who should be awaiting trial. Gaddafi, Jibril, Mohteshemi, even Assad, have most to answer. But there is no chance they will ever be called to account. Even if Fimah and Basset end up in the dock, the men responsible for ordering the deaths of 270 people are going to get away with it. That is the depressing reality of the 10th anniversary of the Lockerbie explosion.
But soon the rumors were surfacing that the U.S. had accused not only the wrong suspects but also the wrong country ......
December 22, 1998 Electronic Telegraph Issue 1306
Seven years ago, James McDougall, the procurator fiscal at Dumfries, issued the indictment charging Abdel Basset al-Megrahi and Lamen Fhimah, two alleged Libyan intelligence agents, for planting the bomb that brought down Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie. Today, a special court-room is being readied at a disused American airbase outside the Hague, remand cells are ready near Utrecht. Libya refuses to hand the men over, and the latest reported statements from Col Gaddafi are discouraging. But Britain still hopes that they will be surrendered in the New Year. Only then will the case against the men, laboriously assembled after a three-year investigation costing more than £8 million, be tested before a panel of three of Scotland's notoriously independent-minded judges. Unique in the Western world, Scottish law, which will be employed, allows them the option of returning a verdict of "not proven". And this may indeed be what happens.
The case against the two men looks less than watertight and dark suspicions remain that the investigators may have fingered not just the wrong men but the wrong country. It was only well into the investigation that they abandoned a theory that the bomb was the work of a pro-Syrian group, probably financed by Iran in revenge for the mistaken destruction by a US warship of an Iranian jumbo jet five months earlier. Libya replaced Syria as the prime suspect at the time of the Gulf War only when Syria's support against Saddam became crucial. Conspiracy theorists have read much into this, though the investigators deny in the strongest possible terms that they were leant on. But the case against Megrahi and Fhimah, built up by the most painstaking of detective work, rests on a sequence of clues, the significance of each of which will be vigorously attacked by the defence, who will seek to cast "reasonable doubt" into the minds of the judges. The investigators reached the suspects indirectly, being led first to Malta, where they lived and worked as employees of Libyan Arab Airways, and only later to explore a Libyan connection. After sifting through four million pieces of wreckage, scattered over 845 square miles of countryside, the sleuths concluded that the bomb had been placed inside a Toshiba radio-cassette recorder, itself concealed inside a brown Samsonite suitcase. By carefully matching 400 bags with their murdered owners, the investigators discovered that there was only one bag unaccounted for among the luggage that was loaded on to Pan Am 103A at Frankfurt for Heathrow, where they were transferred into the jumbo designated as Pan Am 103 for the flight to New York. The investigators also discovered that the bag in question was put into the Frankfurt baggage system at the same point, and at about the same time, as baggage was coming off Air Malta's incoming flight 180 from Luqa. But, as the defence will no doubt show, this does not conclusively prove that the bag actually came from Malta, since there appears to be no direct computer record of its origin.
There is, however, a second large clue pointing towards the island where the two suspects lived and worked. Analysis of charred clothes that seem (but again, this can be contested) to have been inside the Samsonite case at the time of the blast revealed several of the items as having come from manufacturers in Malta. They were traced to a single shop, owned by a man named Tony Gauci. Mr Gauci recalled one man buying the lot - an odd assortment, including an imitation Harris tweed jacket, a Babygro and an umbrella - without much concern for quality or price. He later identified the man who bought the clothes as the suspect Megrahi. But even if the prosecution can clearly show that the case did join the feeder flight at Malta, rather than being put on in Frankfurt, the evidence that connects the two suspects to the case is itself open to attack. As employees of Libyan Arab Airlines, whose check-in desk at Malta's airport is next to that of Air Malta, they would certainly have had the means to steal an Air Malta baggage tag, ticket it to be "interlined" on to the Pan Am flights at Frankfurt and Heathrow and slip it into the system. But that does not show that they did.
This is why the prosecution case will in large part depend on a "star witness", a defector from Libya's intelligence services who has been living in America under its witness protection programme for the last seven years. I dentified only as "Jianchi", he will tell the court that the two men were indeed intelligence operatives, who learned to build bombs in the Libyan desert and were tasked with doing so by a country still reeling from America's assault on Tripoli in 1985. But "Jianchi" may be discredited as having been "leaned on" by the Americans during his years in their care. His claims are, of course, disputed by Libya. If "Jianchi's" evidence is discounted, the remaining evidence connecting the two suspects to the bomb is mainly circumstantial. The only other evidence that directly connects to Megrahi is Mr Gauci's identification, which can also be attacked. He described the buyer as 50, while Megrahi was 36 at the time, and overestimated his height. The other main clue - which the prosecution will say strongly establishes a Libyan connection, and the defence will say does not connect to their clients - came with the discovery by Lockerbie investigators in the Cumbrian forest of a tiny piece of circuit-board, the size of a fingernail. J Thomas Thurman, an FBI examiner, identified it as part of a timing device which looked identical to one seized in the Middle East from Libyans and built by a Zurich firm, MEBO. MEBO's owner has testified that he did indeed sell a consignment of 20 timers to the Libyans, believing that they were for legitimate military use. But Edwin Bollier, a former nightclub boss, is a potentially unreliable witness who some say is lucky not to be indicted himself. And since the indictment, Thurman has been suspended from the FBI after his laboratory was suspected of falsifying evidence.
To complicate matters, there is an alternative theory, which was the main working hypothesis until the possible Malta connection emerged. Two months before the Lockerbie bomb, German police in Dusseldorf had rounded up 15 terrorist suspects, all connected with the pro-Syrian splinter group the Patriotic Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Council, run by Ahmad Jibril. Among them was Marwan Khreesat, a bomb-maker well-known to the police, and in a car belonging to an associate were three Toshiba radio-cassette recorders containing Semtex bombs. Incredibly, all these men have since been released. Could Khreesat have been the bomb-maker, and could a fourth Toshiba bomb have been placed into the luggage system at Frankfurt? Or might the bomb first have been taken to Malta in normal luggage by the PFLP-GC? Intriguingly, another PFLP-GC man, Abu Talb, is known to have visited Malta. Even more intriguingly, Talb was initially identified as the man who bought the "unusual selection" of clothes from Mr Gauci. Dr Jim Swire, who leads the main group representing the families of the Lockerbie dead, has questioned the strength of the case against the Libyans, but still wants to see them tried in order to get as much evidence as possible into the open. But the verdict may not be welcome in Britain or America.
Soon after the trial of the two Libyans began the case against them began to crumble. The FBI witness statements could not be supported and the CIA had a different suspect ....
February 20, 2000 Glasgow Sunday Herald
Andrew Hardie, the Lord Advocate, resigned from his cabinet post as Scotland's leading law officer because he realised the Lockerbie case was a shambles which would probably end in acquittal for the two Libyan defendants. According to prosecution team insiders, Hardie - who has dismissed as 'outrageous' claims that he resigned over fears that the Lockerbie prosecution was a mess - quit solely because of Lockerbie. The case against Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah, which opens in May, is plagued with problems including witnesses changing statements, allegations that original FBI witness statements no longer tally with witnesses current account of events and new witnesses coming forward who will throw the whole concept of a Libyan plot into disarray. Hardie realised there were a series of almost fatal blows waiting to strike the prosecution, including three new witnesses - a British customs official and two former Pan-Am employees - who will give evidence pointing towards an Iran-Syria conspiracy behind the bombing. Lord Fraser of Carmyllie, who was Lord Advocate at the time Pan-Am 103 exploded over Lockerbie, said Hardie must have known he would cause uproar over his resignation. He claims the credibility of the Scottish legal system has now been damaged.
Other threats to the prosecution case come from former CIA chief, Vincent Cannistraro, who headed the agency's Lockerbie investigation team. Originally on the prosecution's witness list, he was dropped and is now refusing to be called for the defence. The Camp Zeist court will have no power to sub poena him. From the beginning of the case, he said Mohammed Abu Talb, a terrorist now in a Swedish jail for bombing offences, was behind Lockerbie. Talb is connected to Iranian-Syrian group thought to have carried out the Pan-Am bombing. The prosecution also face their own star witness, Abu Maged Jiacha, being destroyed in the dock. His evidence will place one of the accused at the centre of a Libyan conspiracy. It has always been said that Jiacha only contacted the CIA in 1992. In fact a secret cable between the CIA bureau in Malta and the agency's HQ in Langley reveals that he was in fact known to the CIA four months before the December 1988 bombing. Apart from this revelation allowing the defence to question his credibility, they will also make an issue of the fact that he is set to make millions of dollars in reward money.
Defence are also now looking for Abol Hassan Mesbahi, an Iranian secret service defector who also claims the bomb plot was Iranian inspired. Scottish prosecutors preparing the case by interviewing key witnesses have also found that original statements given to the FBI do not tally with the witnesses current version of events. The defence will also focus on FBI examiner J Thomas Thurman who identified a piece of the alleged bomb's circuit board as being exclusively used by Libyan intelligence. However, he was removed from his job when it came to light that his forensics lab was fabricating evidence to suit FBI inquiries in the World Trades Centre bombing and the Oklahoma bomb. He also does not have formal forensic qualifications. Edwin Bollier, who manufactured the bomb circuit board, is also expected to claim that he supplied the same instruments to East German intelligence. One of his claims will be that the fragment of the circuit board could not have caused the explosion as it had never been used. Tony Gauci, who owned the Maltese shop which sold the clothes wrapped around the bomb, will also be attacked by defence over his identification evidence.
Questions will also be raised over why military and political figures, including South African foreign minister, Pik Botha, switched planes avoiding flying on the doomed Pan-Am flight. The defence are further expected to make play of the role of the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad. It will be alleged that Mossad sent a fake radio communication from Tripoli to Lybian agents in Berlin claiming 'mission accomplished' the day after the explosion. Hardie has been severely criticised by the families of the Lockerbie victims for his resignation. New Jersey family member Susan Cohen said: "We were told we could rely on him. It is totally unacceptable that he has walked away without an explanation." She says his resignation has re-opened questions of Iranian-Syrian involvement. Jim Swire, who speaks for the UK families and has always claimed he was never entirely convinced that Libya was behind the plot, added: "I can't see why Lord Hardie should want to evade this trial unless he was seriously worried about this trial." One source close to the trial added: "If the Libyans are freed there will be outrage in the USA. They will think that a Mickey Mouse court fouled up, and if they'd been in a US court they'd have seen justice done." Another source said: "One quiet day, after the case has been underway for weeks, the prosecution will admit that none of the evidence can be linked to the two men in the dock." Hardie had never been in favour of a trial in a neutral country under Scots law without jury - as he wrote in January 1998 in an article for the Scots Law Times.
If its witness statements could not support its case against the Libyans, why should the FBI not withold its secret files that would completely undermine its case?
February 27, 2000 Glasgow Sunday Herald
The FBI is refusing to release secret intelligence reports revealing details of the Middle Eastern terrorist suspected of making the Lockerbie bomb. The files - marked top secret and held at the FBI headquarters in Washington DC - would destroy the theory that Libya was behind the attack on PanAm flight 103, which killed 270 people in December 1988. Top-level intelligence sources say the files comprise debriefing notes taken by FBI agents from Marwan Khreesat, a Jordanian bomb-maker. The files detail how Khreesat was behind a Palestinian terrorist cell operating in West Germany just months before the PanAm attack. He was caught with bombs identical to the one that exploded over Lockerbie. Khreesat's devices comprised Toshiba Bombeat radios wired with Semtex and fitted inside brown suitcases - an exact replica of the PanAm bomb. He admitted making five bombs, but only four were ever recovered. Intelligence sources believe that the fifth device was the Lockerbie bomb. Sunday Herald investigations have revealed that the FBI debriefed Khreesat at the Jordan intelligence service HQ in November 1989 after his release from Germany and the Lockerbie bombing. He gave details and sketches of the bombs he had been making and revealed information about other members of his terrorist cell.
The FBI has not released any of Khreesat's confession to either the defence or prosecution teams in the Lockerbie case or to any of the law-enforcement agencies, including the Scottish police, who are involved in investigating the case. Two Libyans - Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah - are to go on trial for the bombing, this May, in Camp Zeist in Holland. Jim Swire, spokesman for the British families of the Lockerbie victims, said that the trial would be thrown into complete disarray if claims of an FBI cover-up were true. Khreesat was arrested in Germany in 1988 during a German intelligence operation known as Autumn Leaves, carried out by the German equivalent of the FBI - the BKA (Bundeskriminalmt or Federal Crime Office). Khreesat was linked to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine- General Command, a terrorist cell that, in the early stages of the Lockerbie inquiry, was suspected of carrying out the PanAm attack. It has long been suspected that the PFLP-GC, based in Syria but backed by Iran, carried out the Lockerbie attack in revenge for America shooting down an Iranian airbus.
From October 1988, the BKA began monitoring the homes of suspected Palestinian terrorists. The main surveillance target was Hafez Dalkamoni, a senior member of the PFLP-GC. BKA agents spotted a Volvo with Swedish plates arriving at a flat where Dalkamoni was staying. Three Arabs were in the vehicle and unloaded a number of packages. The car was driven by the brother-in-law of Mohammed Abu Talb. From the beginning of the case, American intelligence suspected Talb of being behind Lockerbie. Talb is linked to the PFLP-GC and is now in a Swedish jail for bombing offences. Khreesat - one of the top bomb- makers of the PFLP-GC - was also seen at the flat. One of the items taken out of the car was a dark Samsonite case, the same as the bag used to hold the Lockerbie bomb. Khreesat and Dalkamoni were also seen buying alarm clocks, switches and batteries. BKA telephone wire taps overheard Khreesat call a Damascus telephone number and say he had "made the medicine stronger". The BKA took this as a reference to a bomb. Dalkamoni and Khreesat were subsequently arrested. In their car, there was a Toshiba Bombeat radio-cassette player, containing a bomb identical to the Lockerbie device. In their flat, German agents discovered fuses, detonators and soldering irons. During detention, Khreesat admitted knowing about explosives but, within days, he was released and left Germany. Khreesat worked as a double agent for the Jordanian secret service. According to intelligence sources, he admitted to his handlers in Amman that he had made five bombs. The Jordanians told Britain and the United States of this development. German intelligence officers made a further search of the Arabs' flat and found three more Toshiba bombs and seven kilos of Semtex. Sources close to the Lockerbie case said: "Khreesat admitted making five bombs. One was found in the car and three in the flat. That's a total of four. Where is the fifth? These bombs were identical to the PanAm device. This all seems to point in only one direction, and that is that Khreesat's fifth bomb went on board the PanAm flight." The former West German government did admit that it was "theoretically possible" that the bomb that blew up PanAm flight 103 could have been one of Khreesat's bombs. Khreesat is currently in protective custody in Jordan and is known to have given an interview to a number of FBI agents, including Tom Thurman, the FBI examiner who identified a piece of the Lockerbie bomb's circuit board as being used exclusively by Libyan intelligence. Thurman was later sacked when it came to light that his forensics lab was fabricating evidence to suit FBI inquiries in the World Trade Centre bombing and the Oklahoma bombing. He also has no formal forensic qualifications.
The Jordanian government, which is heavily funded by America, refuses to answer inquiries on whether or not it would allow Khreesat to attend the Lockerbie trial if he was to be called. A spokesman for the Jordanian ambassador's office in Washington DC said: "We are not interested in the PanAm case." The FBI refused to confirm or deny that it was secretly withholding Khreesat's debriefing notes from the Lockerbie defence and prosecution teams. An FBI spokesman said: "We cannot comment on this issue as this matter is before the courts." Jim Swire, who lost his daughter Flora in the Lockerbie bombing, said: "I am very concerned if the FBI have significant evidence relevant to the prosecution and defence teams which they are not prepared to supply. If that is the case, it can only undermine the faith that the court could place on the FBI's connection to the trial and the significant part played by the FBI in the assembly of the prosecution case."
Remember this Iranian defector? He was all over TV for a week and then he completely disappeared from the News Media ....
June 4, 2000 CBS Sixty Minutes
An Iranian defector claiming to have run Iran's terrorism program told CBS News 60 Minutes that Iran planned and financed the 1988 bombing of Pan Am 103, in which 270 people died. The CIA began debriefing the man, who claims to be Ahmad Behbahani, the coordinator of Iran's overseas acts of terrorism for at least the past decade, after 60 Minutes interviewed him and checked his story with administration officials in Washington. He is now in protective custody in Turkey. Intelligence officers who have debriefed the man tell 60 Minutes he is "in intelligence," but say nothing more. Stahl told CBS Radio News that Behbahani claims to have orchestrated all Iran's overseas assassinations and major acts of terrorism over the past ten years, until about four months ago. "He told us about several different acts of terrorism that he says the Government of Iran was not only involved in but directed, planned, financed," Stahl said. One of those acts was the bombing of Flight 103.
"Obviously, it's an interesting report," Secretary of State Albright said Sunday on CNN's Late Edition. "We'll have to see it. "The Pan Am 103 trial is going on now. I think it's inappropriate to comment on the specifics of it," she said, adding that "I'm sure that [the prosecutors] will consider all the facts." Behbahani claims he has documents that can prove Iran orchestrated the bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland, for which Libyan agents Abdel Basset al-Megrahi and Al-Amin Khalifa Fahima are being tried by Scottish judges in a Netherlands courtroom. "He says that Iran hired the Libyans, brought them to Libya, trained them, the bomb was built in Libya and then they were sent off to perpetrate the crime," Stahl said. Defense lawyers for the two Libyans have made clear they intend to cast suspicion on a Palestinian group as the party responsible for the bombing, which killed 259 passengers an 11 people on the ground. Under questioning by the defense, Scottish detective Gordon Ferrie confirmed in court that a Syrian-backed Palestinian terrorist group was initially suspected in the bombing, but was later dropped as a suspect, for lack of evidence. A spokesman for that group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, is denying any involvement. Israel's Ha'aretz newspaper has reported that a British public relations firm working for the Libyan government is looking for Israeli intelligence officers to testify for the defense, and place the blame on Palestinian terror groups.
In recent testimony experts said that the bomb that brought down Flight 103 took only a millionth of a second to blow a fatal hole in the fuselage of the jumbo jet. The bomb was inside a luggage container on the left side of the front of the plane, researcher Christopher Peel said. His testimony bolstered the prosecution case that a powerful plastic explosive hidden in a suitcase downed the jet. The defense has raised questions about the exact placement of the bomb in the aircraft. Peel, a chief researcher at the British government's Defense Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA), said the bomb was in the lower part of a luggage container and very close to the wall of the container, supporting testimony from other witnesses. Al-Megrahi and Fahima are charged with murder, conspiracy to murder and contravention of the 1982 Aviation Security Act, but can be convicted of only one charge. If found guilty of murder, a life sentence is mandatory. Sentencing on the other charges is at the discretion of the court.
The FBI and CIA said he was an imposter! CBS was not surprised - Sixty Minutes expected the CIA and FBI to do this ......
June 11, 2000 CBSNews.com
An Iranian defector who said he could prove Iran was responsible for the 1988 Lockerbie airliner bombing has been exposed by the CIA and FBI as an impostor, The Washington Post reported on Sunday. CBS News 60 Minutes executive producer Don Hewitt said the allegations were not unexpected. "We expected the CIA and FBI to do this." The man, who had given his name as Ahmad Behbahani and said he was a former Iranian intelligence officer, had told 60 Minutes associate producer Roya Hakakian that he had documents showing Tehran was behind the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. But following debriefing sessions in Turkey, where the man is in protective custody, the CIA and FBI have concluded the 32-year-old defector is not Behbahani, the Post quoted a senior U.S. official as saying. The man "lacks basic knowledge of Iran's intelligence apparatus" and "has been lying about lots of stuff," said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
However, a British Iran expert said after the 60 Minutes broadcast but before the newspaper report that it was possible Iran rather than Libya planned the 1988 Lockerbie airliner bombing, saying Behbahani had been involved in international terrorism. The man's real identity had not been established, the newspaper said. "He knows a few things, but nothing very much stuff that could have possibly come from somebody else," the official was quoted as saying. "But when it comes to serious stuff that he should know, he comes up empty. He still has not provided anything that has led CIA and FBI folks to believe his story." The defector told producer Hakakian that he had documents to prove Iran trained a group of Libyans to carry out the Lockerbie bombing. Lord Avebury said in a telephone interview that a parliamentary report he wrote in 1996 named Behbahani as an Iranian official responsible for international terrorism. "He was at that time an official in (Akbar Hashemi) Rafsanjani's office, when Rafsanjani was president, who was responsible for links with the Ministry of Intelligence in planning and carrying out (attacks)," he said. Asked how he knew that, Avebury said: "The information came from Behbahani's brother, who left Iran and spilled the beans." He said Iran had not actually denied employing Behbahani. "I thought they'd been very careful in the phraseology of the denial. In fact he worked in Rafsanjani's office and not in the Ministry of Intelligence, so what they are saying is not technically a lie," he said. Iran suggests Behbahani made false claims to gain asylum abroad. "Those Iranians who wish to be granted asylum in Western countries are usually trying to achieve their aims through libellous statements against the Islamic Republic of Iran," Intelligence Minister Ali Yunesi said last week. Avebury said fear of Iranian retribution may well have motivated Behbehani to flee, but that his claims seemed valid and might affect the Lockerbie trial. "What he is (reported as) saying now tallies with what we said in the report," he said. "I'm sure what he's saying can be corroborated and that the CIA will be checking what he is saying against their records. "It would be very interesting to have the complete transcript. The obvious thing is for the Scottish police to go (to Turkey) and conduct their own inquiries."
Another Iranian claimed to be a simple taxi driver or was he too an "imposter"? Perhaps being on the doomed flight was just a coincidence? Perhaps having a Frankfurt address, written in a notebook in his belongings, where police had found stores of explosives and weapons during an earlier raid was also just a coincidence. Does any of this "ring a bell"?
October 6, 2000 CNN
Prosecutors at the Lockerbie trial sought Friday to dismiss alternative theories raised by lawyers of the two Libyan defendants about who was behind the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. In an apparent bid to pre-empt the defense, the prosecution called a former Iranian taxi driver who boarded the doomed flight in Frankfurt, Germany, but disembarked in London before it exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, on December 21, 1988. The defense had listed the Iranian, Parviz Taheri, as one of its witnesses to support its theory that Palestinian terrorists blew up the aircraft, killing all 259 people on board and 11 people on the ground. Two alleged Libyan intelligence agents, Lamen Khalifa Fhimah and Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, are on trial before the special Scottish court hearing the case in the Netherlands. They are accused of putting a suitcase of explosives on an Air Malta flight that was tagged for transfer to Pan Am Flight 103.
Under prosecution questioning, Taheri testified that his apparent link to the Lockerbie bombing was pure coincidence, saying he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Taheri, who had came to Europe on a false passport in the early 1980s, denied any link to the Palestinian organizations that the defense have blamed in the bombing. The Iranian had come under suspicion at Frankfurt airport, where he looked "restless and worried" and was sweating when he checked in, Pan Am employee Irene Reijheus testified in a statement. But Taheri said the airline employee was "lying," and that he had been "happy and pleased" to be on his way to meet his future wife's family. He said he spent "three or four days" in London, though he didn't have a change of clothes in his luggage. "I heard that (the plane had crashed) in London and I was amazed," he said. Germany police interviewed him four days after the bombing when he returned home. They found a Frankfurt address written in a notebook in his belongings where police had found stores of explosives and weapons during an earlier raid. Taheri at first said the address "doesn't ring a bell". The only thing I remember in Frankfurt is my old address." When pressed further by defense lawyers, he said the address was a potential location to set up a shop or restaurant with friends. The telephone number also was jotted into his notebook so they could arrange to visit the site. When defense lawyer Bill Taylor asked if he had ever been associated with a Palestinian group, he said he has "never known an Arab in all my life." Taheri, 42, immigrated to Germany in 1983 and later helped his family and friends to do the same. He said he knows where to get fake travel documents in Turkey. He was trained in arms and explosives during two years of military service with the Iranian army.
And then the trial stopped - the alarm bells were ringing .........
October 10, 2000 NY Times
An unexpected delay was granted in the Lockerbie bombing trial today when prosecutors surprised the court by announcing that they had new evidence "of some complexity and considerable sensitivity" that they needed time to consider. The chief prosecutor, Colin Boyd, would not describe the evidence, but said it came from a foreign country, not the United States, that it bore on the defense's likely cross-examination of his witnesses and that it would probably have to be disclosed to the defense. Scottish law requires that prosecutors tell defense lawyers about any evidence exculpatory of their client, and the Lockerbie prosecutors have already been sharply criticized on that score. His request for a delay until Oct. 17 was granted. The only prominent witness the prosecution is still expected to call is a Palestinian terrorist named Muhammad Abu Talb, who is now imprisoned in Sweden for bombing American and Jewish targets in Europe. Defense lawyers are trying to blame him and other Palestinians, not the two Libyans on trial, for the destruction of Pan Am flight 103, which crashed in Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988, killing 270 people. Whatever the new evidence is, said Robert Black, a University of Edinburgh law professor who closely follows the trial, the way Mr. Boyd phrased his request implies that it will tend to exonerate the Libyans and support the defense's theory that Mr. Talb and other Palestinians based in Germany and Sweden bombed the plane. Mr. Talb was an early suspect before the investigation shifted to the Libyans. Mr. Boyd said he received the mysterious new evidence on Oct. 4.
October 31, 2000 Reuters
Defence lawyers in the Lockerbie case said on Tuesday they were investigating possible links between the 1988 bombing, a Palestinian group and the Balkans. A brief outline of key information that the defence said could affect the trial was revealed for the first time about three weeks after prosecutors received a mysterious letter and documents. Defence lawyers have already interviewed several people in an unidentified European country, but for which a Serbo-Croatian translator was needed, defence counsel William Taylor said. Judges granted another week's adjournment so the defence could continue to track down witnesses in the United States and Germany and seek the help of an unidentified Middle Eastern country to provide evidence. The new information concerns the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC), which the defence has accused of being responsible for the December 1988 explosion on Pan Am Flight 103 over Scotland that killed 270 people. The information concerns how a bomb might have been manufactured and placed on the jumbo jet, Taylor said.
December 31, 2000 UPI
The head of the Church of Scotland plans to visit the two Libyans held in the Netherlands on charges of blowing up a Pan Am flight 103 over the Scottish village of Lockerbie, with the loss of 270 lives, church officials said Sunday. After months of prosecution evidence, lawyers for Al Megrahi began presenting his defense in December, but the court was adjourned to Jan. 8 to allow more time for a document related to new evidence requested from the Syrian government. Defense lawyers argued that additional time was needed to get a full account of new evidence contained in a memorandum written by Mobdi Goben, a trained chemical engineer and senior member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Command. He said the memorandum would give an "alternative explanation" for the bombing of the Boeing 747. Requesting the evidence from Syrian officials, the Scottish judges asked for a full copy of Goben's memorandum. They said the presentation of the memo at the court was crucial "in order that justice may be done in the proceedings."
Because of the bombs found associated with a Palestinian terrorist, singed clothing from Malta, and a possible confession from Syria ...
November 11, 2000
The prosecution in the Lockerbie trial today tried to establish an alibi for a Palestinian bomber whom the defense plans to blame for the destruction of Pan Am Flight 103. The bomber, Mohamed Abo Talb, testified today after more than a month's delay caused by still secret new evidence concerning him. In his 90 minutes on the stand, Mr. Talb, a stocky 46-year-old in a goatee and dark suit, described himself as a longtime soldier in the Palestinian cause. He joined the People's Palestinian Struggle Front as a young man in Egypt, he said, traveled on false passports and lived in Jordan and Lebanon, working in the front's military wing and its security wing and as a bodyguard for its secretary general. In 1983, he said, he left the front and moved with his wife and children to Sweden to seek asylum. However, he was later accused of bombing Jewish and American targets in Europe, and since 1989 has been serving a life sentence for the fatal bombing of an airline office in Copenhagen. The police have linked him to a cell of Palestinian terrorists arrested by the German police in October 1988, three months before the Lockerbie bombing. In those raids, the police found bombs hidden inside Toshiba Bombeat radio-cassette recorders just like the bomb that brought down Pan Am 103. One Scottish newspaper, quoting anonymous sources, has said "some form of confession" was handed over by Syria, whose new president, Bashar al-Assad, is trying to win favor with the West or with Libya. A later article in the same paper, Scotland on Sunday, said it describes the bomb's route from Syria to Germany on a Lufthansa flight.
November 15, 2000 NY Times
A portrait of a Palestinian terrorist was slowly drawn today from the terrorist himself, a reluctant witness at the Lockerbie trial. Finally, the day ended with his angry refusal to say what the Soviet military trained him to do 30 years ago. The terrorist, Mohamed Abo Talb, who is serving a life sentence in Sweden in connection with a 1980's bombing campaign against American and Jewish targets in Europe, was cross-examined by the defense for the first time today. They seek to show that he, and not their Libyan clients, planted the bomb that blew Pan Am 103 out of the sky on Dec. 21, 1988. For much of the day, Mr. Talb answered diffidently. He said he was wrongfully convicted of the fatal bombing of a Copenhagen airline office in 1985. He admitted knowing some of the men who were arrested in a German police raid in October 1988, three months before the Lockerbie bombing, at which several bombs concealed in Toshiba Bombeat radio-cassette recorders were found. (A bomb in a Toshiba Bombeat brought down Pan Am 103.) He said he knew them innocently: one had repaired his car, another he met through a brother. He also admitted visiting a bakery in Malta that police have said was a terrorist cell's meeting place, but he said he merely helped the owner with bread deliveries while he himself was recovering from a stab wound. Clothes made in Malta were found in his Swedish home, he said, because he had brought back samples from the garment factory of the baker's brother. (Singed Maltese clothing was found in the Lockerbie debris and was presumably wrapped around the bomb.) Mr. Talb evaded the attempts of a defense lawyer, William Taylor, to trick him into admitting he knew a suspected Palestinian terrorist who was, according to currency records, in Malta the same week carrying $11,000. Mr. Talb flatly refused to say anything about what training he received in the Soviet Union in the 1970's, though he has told Swedish investigators that he learned the use of surface-to-air missiles.
January 6, 2001 Ha'aretz Service
Oslo police have provided safe houses to six former members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine after their lives were threatened by the organization, Israel Radio reported. The men defected from the Front and provided information to Norwegian and Scottish investigators about the group's involvement in the 1988 Pan-Am plane crash over the city of Lockerbie in Scotland. An Oslo newspaper said that according to the defectors, Libyan President Moammar Ghadafi provided the explosive materials that were transferred onto the plane during a stopover in Malta.
But the Syrians balked .....
January 9, 2001 The London Times
The two Libyans accused of the Lockerbie bombing will not give evidence at their trial after the Syrian Government refused to hand over important documents relating to the case. The surprise decision not to call the men accused of blowing up Pan Am Flight 103 was announced by their lawyers yesterday. It came after the court at Camp Zeist in The Netherlands had heard that the Syrians had declined to co-operate with British officials when they had been asked to pass on evidence that is understood to be crucial to the defence. Yesterday, however, Colin Boyd, QC, the Lord Advocate, told the court that a series of meetings between the Syrians and British officials in Damascus had failed to persuade them to co-operate. Mr Boyd said that the Syrians had not only declined to help but also made clear that they resented being asked. The defence claimed that this evidence would implicate a Palestinian terrorist group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Command (PFLP-GC), in the 1988 bombing. The Syrian-based organisation is one of two Palestinian groups defence counsel plan to blame for causing Britains worst peacetime atrocity. Mr Boyd said: I understand that the message that the Syrian authorities wish to convey to the court is that they consider they should not have been asked the question in the first place and would prefer not to have to send a formal response. The Syrians are keen to emphasise that the Syrian Government is not the PFLP-GC. Nothing gives rise to any expectation that this court will ever see the sight of this document, if it still exists. The document was thought to include information about police raids on an alleged secret PFLP-GC base in Neuss, Germany, where officers are said to have found an explosive device similiar to the one that triggered the bomb on Pan Am Flight 103.
And Libya was left holding the bag .....
January 31, 2001 CNN Web posted at: 12:19 PM EST (1719 GMT)
A Libyan intelligence agent has been sentenced to life imprisonment after being found guilty of the mass murder of 270 people in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing. The trial judges recommended Abdel Baset Ali Mohmed Al-Megrahi, who is expected to appeal, should serve at least 20 years before he is eligible for parole. Megrahi was one of two Libyans accused of planting a device on Pan Am Flight 103 which blew up over the Scottish town on December 21, 1988, killing all 259 passengers and crew, and 11 people on the ground. His co-defendant, Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, 44, was found not guilty of murder. The verdicts, on Wednesday, were the culmination of a 12-year investigation that involved an international manhunt led by Scottish police and CIA investigators. Libya has said that Megrahi, 48, who could serve his sentence in the tough Barlinnie prison in Glasgow, will appeal against the ruling -- a process that could take a year. The three judges said the sentence recognised "the horrendous nature of this crime." However, presiding judge Lord Sutherland said the 20 year period was "substantially less" than the court would have recommended were it not for Megrahi's age, and the fact that he will be serving his sentence in a foreign country. Following the end of the £60 million ($90m) trial, U.S. Acting Deputy Attorney General Bob Mueller told CNN that investigations would continue. "The investigation continues to determine who else may have been involved in this act of terrorism and to bring that individual or those individuals to justice," he said. "This case is not closed. The investigation continues, it has continued since the plane went down and it will continue until every individual who we can identify who played a role in this tragedy is brought to justice."
(Articles from news sources have been placed
within for educational, research, and discussion purposes only, in compliance
with "Fair Use" criteria established in Section 107 of the Copyright Act