Monday, October 29, 2007

People & Power - Lockerbie Bombing Probe.

The programme People & Power look into the findings of the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission on the conviction of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi of the Pan Am 103 bombing over Lockerbie.

Part 1 -

Part 2 -

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Taking the Blame by Paul Foot.

First in a series of articles in which I will show distinguished politicians, writers, professors and academics from various backgrounds who have questioned the 'official' version of events into the PanAm 103 disaster, and their facts behind their conclusions.

The late Paul Foot (above) wrote this succinct article published in 'Private Eye' magazine on Lockerbie in 1994. In a section of the article he examines the book "Trail of the Octopus" and it's assertions by it's co-authors Lester Coleman and Donald Goddard.

I have included, at the end of the article, a response to Foot's article by Donald Goddard.

The American investigative columnist Jack Anderson has had some scoops in his time but none more significant than his revelation—in January 1990—that in mid-March 1989, three months after Lockerbie, George Bush rang Margaret Thatcher to warn her to 'cool it' on the subject. On what seems to have been the very same day, perhaps a few hours earlier, Thatcher's Secretary of State for Transport, Paul Channon, was the guest of five prominent political correspondents at a lunch at the Garrick Club. It was agreed that anything said at the lunch was 'on strict lobby terms'—that is, for the journalists only, not their readers. Channon then announced that the Dumfries and Galloway Police—the smallest police force in Britain—had concluded a brilliant criminal investigation into the Lockerbie crash. They had found who was responsible and arrests were expected before long. The Minister could not conceal his delight at the speed and efficiency of the PC McPlods from Dumfries, and was unstinting in his praise of the European intelligence.

So sensational was the revelation that at least one of the five journalists broke ranks; and the news that the Lockerbie villains would soon be behind bars in Scotland was divulged to the public. Channon, still playing the lobby game, promptly denied that he was the source of the story. Denounced by the Daily Mirror's front page as a 'liar', he did not sue or complain. A few months later he was quietly sacked. Thatcher, of course, could not blame her loyal minister for his indiscretion, which coincided so unluckily with her instructions from the White House.

Channon had been right, however, about the confidence of the Dumfries and Galloway Police. They did reckon they knew who had done the bombing. Indeed, they had discovered almost at once that a terrorist bombing of an American airliner, probably owned by PanAm, had been widely signaled and even expected by the authorities in different European countries. The point was, as German police and intelligence rather shamefacedly admitted, that a gang of suspected terrorists had been rumbled in Germany in the months before the bombing. They were members of a faction of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, led by Ahmed Jibril.

The aim of the gang was to bomb an American airliner in revenge for the shooting down by an American warship of an Iranian civil airliner in the Gulf earlier in the year. On 26 October 1988, less than two months before the bombing, two of the suspects—Hafez Dalkomini and Marwan Abdel Khreesat—were arrested in their car outside a flat at Neuss near Frankfurt. In the car was a bomb, moulded into the workings of a black Toshiba cassette recorder. In the ensuing weeks other raids were carried out on alleged terrorist hideaways in Germany, and 16 suspects arrested. One of them was Mohammad Abu Talb, another member of the PFLP, who was almost instantly released. Even more curious was the equally prompt release of Khreesat, who was suspected of making the bomb found in Dalkomini's car.

The finding of the bomb led to a flurry of intelligence activity. It was discovered that the bomb had been specifically made to blow up an aircraft; and that the gang had made at least five bombs, four of which had not been found. At once, a warning went out on the European intelligence network to watch out for bombs masked in radio cassette recorders, especially at airports. There were more specific warnings. On 5 December 1988 the US Embassy in Helsinki got a telephone warning that 'within the next few weeks' an attempt would be made to bomb a Pan-Am flight from Frankfurt to New York. On 8 December, Israeli forces attacked a PFLP base in the Lebanon and found papers about a planned attack on a Pan-Am flight from Frankfurt. This information, too, was passed on. On 18 December the German police got another warning about a bomb plot against a Pan-American flight. This message was passed to American embassies, including the embassy in Moscow, and as a result of it 80 per cent of the Americans in Moscow who had booked to fly home for Christmas on Pan-Am flights canceled their reservations. This was probably why there were relatively few passengers on Pan-Am 103 as it took off from Heathrow half an hour late on the evening of 21 December. No one has explained why a warning thought proper for US citizens in Moscow never reached the 259 people who boarded the plane without the slightest idea that there was any danger

Though the German police dragged their feet and were singularly reluctant to disclose any documents, the facts about the Jibril gang were known to the Scottish police by March 1989. All the ingredients of a solution were in place. The motive was clear: revenge for a similar atrocity. The Lockerbie bomb, forensic experts discovered, had been concealed in a black Toshiba cassette recorder exactly like the one found in Dalkomini's car two months earlier. The German connection was impossible to ignore: the flight had started in Frankfurt. The identity of the bombers seemed certain, and surely it was only a matter of time before they could be charged. But, like Channon, the police were unaware of the telephone conversation between Bush and Thatcher. When Thatcher sacked Channon a few decent months later, she appointed Cecil Parkinson in his place. Shaken by the grief of the Lockerbie victims' families, Parkinson promised them a full public inquiry. Alas, when he put the idea to the Prime Minister she slapped him down at once. There was no judicial or public inquiry with full powers—just a very limited fatal accident inquiry, which found that the disaster could have been prevented by security precautions which are still not in place.

All through the rest of 1989 the Scottish police beavered away. In May they found more clues. A group of Palestinian terrorists were arrested in Sweden, among them Abu Talb. Talb's German flat was raided. It was full of clothing bought in Malta. The forensic evidence showed that the Lockerbie cassette-bomb had been wrapped, inside its suitcase, in clothes with Maltese tags. Talb was known to have visited Malta some weeks before the bombing. Off flew the Scottish police to: Malta, where a boutique-owner remembered selling a suspicious-looking man some clothes—similar to those found in the fatal suitcase. Closely questioned by FBI video-fit (or identikit) experts, the boutique-owner's answers produced a picture which looked very like Abu Talb. When a computer print-out of baggage on the fatal airliner appeared to show an unaccompanied suitcase transferred to PanAm 103 from a flight from Malta, the jigsaw seemed complete. Jibril had agreed to bomb an airliner, probably in exchange for a huge reward from the Iranian Government. The task was taken on by a PFLP team in Germany, led by Dalkomini. It was joined by Khreesat, who made several bombs, only three of which were ever discovered. One of the other two found its way, probably via Talb, to the hold of the airliner. The culprits were obvious. But the authorities still dragged their feet. The initial determination to identify the conspirators and bring them to justice seemed to have waned. The Scottish police were exasperated. They made more and more of the information available. Much of it appeared in the Sunday Times in a series of articles leading up to the first anniversary of the bombing. No one who read them could doubt that the bombers were Syrians and Palestinians. The series, mainly written by David Leppard, who worked closely with the Scottish police team, ended with a scoop: white plastic residue found at Lockerbie was traced back to alarm clocks bought by the Dalkomini gang. There seemed no more room for argument. 'The Sunday Times understands,' Leppard wrote, 'that officers heading the investigation—despite a cautious attitude in public —have told their counterparts abroad that under Scottish law "charges are now possible against certain persons."'

There were no charges, however—not for a long time. The President of the United States ordered a commission of inquiry, which reported (without mentioning Jibril, Palestinians or Syrians) in May 1990. By that time the politics of the Middle East were changing rapidly. In August, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. The supply of cheap oil to the United States was suddenly threatened. War was necessary to clear the invading dictator out of Kuwait and restore to his throne the resident dictator, the Emir, who had always been much more appreciative of the United States' dependence on cheap fuel. No war could be fought against Saddam, however, which might antagonist other Arab rulers. The main problem was Syria. How would the dictator of Damascus, Hafez Assad, react to what he might see as an imperialist war against his fellow Arab dictator in Baghdad?

Very well indeed, as it turned out. Assad became an enthusiastic ally of the US in the Gulf War. He sent front-line troops to fight in the phoney war, and seemed happy to support the most ludicrous claims coming from the White House. In other words, as Donald Goddard puts it, from the moment of Saddam's invasion 'nothing more was heard from official sources on either side of the Atlantic about Syrian complicity in the Flight 103 bombing.' From now on the official view of the disaster was that Syria had, in Bush's typically elegant phrase, 'taken a bum rap on this'; and that the people responsible for Lockerbie came from the one Arab state which had denounced the US role in the Gulf War: Libya. Others have noticed this astonishing somersault, but nowhere else has it been more carefully documented. Goddard shows how the whole finely-woven case against Jibril and the Syrians was half-twisted, half-forgotten until it came to seem 'logical' to accuse quite different suspects. For example, the identikit picture of Abu Talb drawn up by the Maltese boutique owner now apparently identifies a Libyan airline official. And it is this official, together with a colleague, who is now 'wanted' for the bombing. Libya faces international economic sanctions if the two are not delivered to the authorities in Edinburgh. Goddard takes the view that the Jibril gang probably was responsible for the bombing and that the bomb probably was put on the plane at Frankfurt. If this were the only purpose of Goddard's book, it would be a fascinating expose of cover-up and hypocrisy. But it still wouldn't answer the outstanding questions: why did the cover-up start so early? Why, in March 1989, long before the invasion of Kuwait, when both the British and the American Governments regarded Saddam as an ally, and were arming the Iraqi dictator to the hilt, did Bush and Thatcher decide to 'cool it' on Lockerbie? Why for that matter were the warnings of a bomb on a PanAm plane not more widely broadcast? Why was there so much American intelligence activity on the ground at Lockerbie after the crash? Why was the courageous work of Dr. David Fieldhouse, who drove from Bradford to Lockerbie as soon as he heard the news of the crash and spent the whole night inspecting and tagging the remains of bodies, ignored by the authorities, and the tagging done all over again? Why, for that matter, was Dr. Fieldhouse so shamefully accused of being a busybody at the Scottish fatal accident inquiry—an insult for which the police and the Government had eventually to apologise? What happened to the suitcase, almost certainly full of 5 heroin, which was swiped from a farmer's field near Lockerbie and never seen again?

One answer to all these questions is to be found in the story of Lester Coleman, told in detail here for the first time. Coleman claims that he was recruited in 1984 by the Defence Intelligence Agency, the combined intelligence of the US Army, Navy and Air Force, which employs 57,000 people on a budget five times that of the CIA. One of his jobs was to spy on another US government agency, the Drugs Enforcement Administration, which had an important office in Nicosia. Coleman alleges that the DEA tolerated and supervised a regular drugs run from Lebanon to the United States. The drugs money was crucial to the Syrian-controlled part of Lebanon, and to the economy of Syria itself, while supervision of the trade ensured that the American intelligence agencies could keep tight hold of their agents in Beirut. Coleman's story is that he was sent to Nicosia by the DIA, and while pretending to be a journalist and TV producer, at the same time worked for the DEA and 'kept an eye' on it for his real masters. His work in Nicosia brought him into contact with the drug-runners and smugglers who, he says, operated mainly through Frankfurt airport. A group of baggage-handlers there, Turkish-born and sympathetic to Islamic fundamentalism, regularly switched luggage so that the smugglers' baggage was put on flights between Frankfurt and the US in place of bags which had already been checked in. A similar racket was operated at the US airports.

Coleman left the DEA in Cyprus in 1988 and was not engaged by the DIA again until 1990. He was not told what his new assignment was. He was ordered to apply for a passport in a bogus name— a name he had been given as a false identity many years before when working in a minor capacity for the CIA. In May 1990, as he prepared for his unknown job, he was arrested and charged with applying for at false passport. At first he felt there was some mistake which a phone call would clear up. No one would come to his assistance, however. Jailed and baited, he trawled through journalistic contacts to find out why he was being victimised. One of these, Sheila Hershow, had just been fired as an investigator from the sub-committee looking into the Lockerbie disaster. Her sacking followed her demands for more US government information about security at Frankfurt airport. Hershaw sent Coleman a photo of a young man he immediately identified as one of the drug couriers from Nicosia. She told him the young man had died at Lockerbie. This information persuaded Coleman that he was being victimised because he might know too much about the prelude to the disaster. When his lawyers were told that documents from the CIA about his false identity and his instructions to apply for a false passport from the DIA were 'classified' and could not be obtained in any court, he realised that he was on a hiding to nothing.

He decided to come out in the open, and approached Pan-Am, who were fighting a losing battle against having to take full responsibility for the Lockerbie crash. He gave them a long statement in which he alleged that the drugs operation supervised by the DEA had been infiltrated by the terrorist gang who were out to bomb an airliner, and that the existing baggage-switch operation in Frankfurt could well have been used to plant the fatal bomb on Pan-Am 103. After telling his story Coleman went into hiding. A journalist, Danny Casorolo, tracked him down and tried to follow up his story. He sought out the man who recruited Coleman to the DIA. Nine days after his first phone call to Coleman, Casorolo was knifed to death in a hotel room in West Virginia. His body was embalmed before a post-mortem could be carried out.

Reading this story I was reminded of Colin Wallace, a former army information officer in Northern Ireland, who had the guts to stand up to and break with the more ludicrous conspiracies of his intelligence controllers. Wallace was sacked from the Army, and convicted on the slenderest, most contradictory evidence of killing his best friend. Wallace served six years for this crime which he passionately denies. He was then given a low-paid job in airport management, which he carried out perfectly honourably until he was contemptuously sacked by a new, government-supporting British Airports Authority management.

Through all his ordeal, Wallace has had to contend with cynical and servile media which peddle the Government's story about him. Lester Coleman, apparently, has the same problem. His story is powerful enough to be taken extremely seriously. It explains many of the hypocrisies and cover-ups which have confused and infuriated the families of the victims of Pan-Am 103. The sensitive study of the media and the disaster by Joan Deppa and her colleagues from Syracuse University, 35 of whose students died at Lockerbie, shows how many of the families have changed 'from victim to advocate' and have come to expect that journalists will give them answers to the questions which are still ignored by governments. Lester Coleman has something crucial to say to all these families, and they have a right to expect his story to be sympathetically checked and analysed. Yet most of the media continue to dismiss him as a 'Walter Mitty' (a term used again and again about Colin Wallace) and a conman. He has been trashed in particular by the once-prestigious US current affairs TV show, Sixty Minutes, and by New York Magazine, whose reporter Christopher Byron accuses those who take Coleman seriously of 'chipping away at America's faith in her institutions'. David Leppard, who has never explained the contradictions between the articles he published in 1989 and his 1991 book on the subject, wrote recently in the Sunday Times attacking Bloomsbury for daring to publish this book when Coleman faces perjury charges for his sworn affidavit to Pan-Am. Any investigative journalist should consider the perjury charges a reason to publish, not to keep quiet.

There is a lot wrong with Goddard's book. Again and again he launches into assertions before he proves them. He 'reports' conversations verbatim, in direct speech, when neither he nor Coleman nor anyone else can have any proof of what was actually said. He makes far too much use of flashbacks. On balance, however, he wins the argument. And if he and Coleman are telling even half the truth, they have lifted the edge of the veil on one of the nastiest and most deceitful political corruptions of modern times.

Paul Foot
©London Review of Books January 6, 1994.

Reply by Donald Goddard

It was a pity that Paul Foot fell at the final fence in his otherwise impeccable canter over the course of the Lockerbie scandal, as set out in Trail of the Octopus, the book I wrote with Lester Coleman (LRB, 6 January). In the last paragraph of his review, I am accused of making assertions before I prove them, of inventing conversations to which neither Lester Coleman nor I could have been privy (that's the serious one) and of making too much use of flashbacks.

In controversial matters, I usually follow standard advocate's procedure by first stating my position and then supporting it with the available evidence. In a case bedeviled by five years' worth of political manipulation, lies, special pleading and confused media coverage, I felt readers were entitled to know unequivocally where I stood and then to judge for themselves to what extent that position was justified by the facts.

In all 320-odd pages of Trail of the Octopus, there is not one word of manufactured dialogue. The use of direct speech in the way Foot wrongly ascribes to me is, to my mind, as reprehensible a practice as reviewing a book without reading it properly. I report only one verbatim conversation in which Coleman did not actually take part, and that was a brief exchange between his mother and an FBI agent, relayed by her to Coleman in precisely the terms set down. I feel entitled to a retraction on that one. The quite groundless suggestion that I touched up the facts could well taint a reader's response to the rest of the evidence set out in the book. As for the use of flashbacks, for better or worse, to provide the book with a narrative frame, I chose to interleave chapters of Coleman's story, told chronologically, until the one merged with the other; But I have to say my disappointment was offset to some degree by Foot's magisterial put-down of David Leppard who, without declaring a personal interest, recently criticised Bloomsbury in the Sunday Times for daring to publish Trail of the Octopus at all.

Donald Goddard London N1.

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

U.S. Extradition For Arms Dealer

The name of Monzer Al-Kassar (pictured right) is one that has defined the shadowy world of international arms dealing and covert intelligence operations for nearly 3 decades.

Living in the opulence that this lucrative market allows at his luxurious villa in the Spanish sunshine, the US has convinced the Spanish authorities that Al-Kassar should face trial in the US on charges of supplying weapons to the the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia - deemed a terrorist group by the US.

Readers of the Lockerbie disaster will be only too familiar with his name, as will those who remember Oliver North and the Iran/Contra scandal. The Tower Commission which investigated the scandal in the US, heard North admit that the US had paid Al-Kassar $1.5m to supply the Iranians with weapons during the Iran Iraq war.

It has also been rumoured that Al-Kassar was being used by the US as an 'asset' in their negotiations to free the American hostages being held in Beruit during the 1980's.


A Spanish court on Friday agreed to allow the extradition to the United States of a Syrian-born arms dealer charged with conspiring to sell weapons to a Colombian terrorist group and conspiring to kill Americans.

A spokesman for Spain's National Court, which handles terrorism cases, said judges agreed to grant the U.S. extradition request for Monzer al Kassar, who was arrested in Madrid in June.

Kassar, who has been fighting extradition, can appeal to a larger panel of judges at the same court, but the Spanish government will still have the final say.

Police arrested Kassar in June as he arrived at Madrid's airport from the southern Spanish city of Malaga. Two other men were arrested in Romania as part of the same case and were extradited to the United States last week.

The U.S. Embassy in Madrid said Kassar and the men conspired to sell millions of dollars' worth of weapons to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, which the United States has designated a terrorist organization.

The weapons included surface-to-air missile systems, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, thousands of machine guns, and millions of rounds of ammunition, the embassy said.

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York charged Kassar with five counts: conspiracy to provide material aid to a terrorist group, conspiracy to kill American citizens, conspiracy to kill U.S. officials and employees, conspiracy to acquire and use anti-aircraft missiles, and money laundering.

Some of the charges carry a sentence of life in prison.

The alleged plot was discovered through an undercover operation in which two people working for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration posed as FARC representatives, U.S. officials said.

The men were arrested as they tried to finalize payment for the weapons, District Attorney Michael Garcia said.

Kassar has Spanish residency status and was living in the upscale town of Marbella, on Spain's southern Mediterranean coast, when he was arrested.

Kassar had recently told journalists he retired from arms dealing, but the embassy said he had been involved since the 1970s, providing weapons and military equipment to armed factions in Nicaragua, Cyprus, Bosnia, Croatia, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, and elsewhere.

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Lockerbie's Indelible Stain

Here is a letter published in The Scotsman newspaper from Iain McKie, who's daughter an ex-policewoman, was wrongly alleged to have left a fingerprint at the scene of a murder. Miss McKie always vehmently denied they were her prints that had been found, as she had never been to the scene of the crime, and after years of persecution, not to mention facing prosecution through the Scottish courts, it eventually came to light that her fingerprint had been wrongly identified, and that the Scottish Crown office had known about the mis-idefication all along but had proceeded in their accusations against McKie nevertheless.

"As Lockerbie is once again thrust into the public conscience, I challenge everyone who aspires to a true and just Scotland to ensure that this tragedy is constantly at the forefront of his or her mind.

The dissembling dishonesty that cast a shadow over every aspect of the Lockerbie investigation has left an indelible stain on Scottish justice and remains an insult to the memory of the 270 souls who perished over 18 years ago.

It has corrupted a once respected system of jurisprudence forged over the centuries from the Scottish Enlightenment and demeans the worldwide legacy of Scots like David Hume and Robert Burns.

We now live in a culture that favours political expediency, lying and mediocrity, over openness and accountability. As governments at home and abroad pledge to fight terrorism at every turn, their silence on the biggest outrage ever perpetrated in the UK is truly terrifying.

As Burns put it, "There's nane ever fear'd that the truth should be heard, but they whom the truth would indite." As a Scot, I believe it is my duty to fight for the truth about Lockerbie to be heard because that single injustice encapsulates everything that I loathe and despise about our otherwise great country.

IAIN A J McKIE, South Beach Road, Ayr

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Libya Wins Seat on U.N. Security Council

Libya has been granted a seat on the UN Security Council. The US have not revealed how they voted in the proposal.
The article reveals, Susan Cohen, of Cape May Court House, N.J., who lost her 20-year-old daughter, Theodora, in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, said the United States should oppose Libya's candidacy for a seat because Libyan leader Moamar Gadhafi was responsible for the attack.
``I feel that the U.S. has totally lost its moral compass,'' she told The Associated Press. ``Gadhafi blew up an American plane.''
Now, my heart aches for all those who died on 103, none more so that those parents who lost their children, but there was also more that 400 parents who lost their children to the US, and it's destruction of Iran Air 655. (see here - ).
Is the death of one child worth more that the death of another? Surely not. The dead are dead, and whether it be by an improvised explosive device or by guided missile, the perpretrators should face appropriate justice. This has not happened with either tragedy.

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Spain Arrests Arms Dealer on U.S. Charges

Those who have even just scratched the surface of the story behind the Lockerbie disaster, will find this arms dealers name, noted and referred to regularly.
Monzer Al-Kassar, the Syrian born arms dealer, who despite being known to authorities and security agencies for decades, has not only defied apprehension, but indeed has lived the life of a prince in Spain.
Until June that is, when he was arrested arriving at Madrid Airport on an internal Spanish flight, on charges brought by the US government.
New York prosecutors have charged him with conspiracy to provide material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization, money laundering and conspiracy to acquire an anti-aircraft missile and kill US nationals.

They say rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, wanted to use the weapons he supplied to fight US forces aiding Colombia in its battle against drug traffickers.
He is currently still held as the Spanish Court makes a decision on his extradition to the US.

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Lockerbie witness 'given £2m reward'

This is an article by Marcello Mega which appears in today's Scotland on Sunday newspaper.

It reveals that a source close to the SCCRC board that recommended to send Megrahi's case to appeal in June 2007, has told the paper that a key witness at the original trial was paid $4m by the 'US investigators' as 'compensation'.

To reimburse any witness, especially such a key one, could easily be construed as simply a 'reward' for their testimony, lending it far less credibility.

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Saturday, October 13, 2007

Do You Know The Truth About Lockerbie?

In today's UK newspaper The Independent, Robert Fisk provides a compelling article with the sister of one of 103's victims, and begs the question : is there anyone, past or present within the Governments of the UK or US, who know the truth about Lockerbie and have the conscience to put the hurt and trauma of the relatives to rest at last. Surely, after nearly 19 years, they at least deserve that?

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Lockerbie - A Miscarriage Of Justice?

Here is a link to an extensive article in the Jerusalem Post by David Horovitz.
I would support much of the writers assertions and conclusions. However, there are 2 particular areas of this tragic case which were not explored at all, which slightly disappoints me.

First, there is no reference to the alleged vip's who were pulled from that specific flight - and if this suggestion is accepted, by whom were they warned?

Second, reference is made to the US intelligence team inc. Maj. McKee, returning to New York, but none to the young man who's picture appeared in UK newspapers very early into the investigation as the apparent unsuspecting bomber: Kahled Jafaar.

With such a crucial question left by the author at the end of his article ;"Would the British and American governments be prepared to mount so extensive a cover-up for the expediency of keeping Syria onside during the first Gulf War and avoiding irritating Iran? It seems inconceivable", would these two additional theories I have mentioned not have merited further examination?

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Secret Witness Casts Doubt Over Lockerbie Conviction

Here is a link to an article in the Guardian newspaper about the procedural heraing for Megrahi's appeal.,,2189685,00.html

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Fresh Appeal Begins in Lockerbie Trial

The hearing at the High Court of Justiciary in Edinburgh took place this morning and lasted just under one hour. The judges were the Lord Justice General (Lord Hamilton), Lord Kingarth and Lord Eassie. Mr Megrahi was represented by a team headed by Maggie Scott QC and the Crown by a team headed by Ronnie Clancy QC.

The principal subject of debate was Megrahi's application to have disclosed a document relating to timers that is in the possession of the Crown and that was seen by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, and the non-disclosure of which to the defence was one of the Commission's reasons for holding that a miscarriage of justice might have occurred.

The only major surprise in the hearing was the Crowns revelation that the foreign country from which the document in question emanated was not the United States of America.

The general assumption from the media, and specifically The Herald newspaper, had been that the source of the document was the CIA or the FBI.

Herald 03/10/2007 : "The Herald has also seen copies of an agreement with the US government and signed by a senior member of the Crown Office, agreeing not to disclose certain material.

Norman McFadyen, then one of the leading members of the prosecution team and now the Crown Agent, signed the non-disclosure agreement on June 1, 2000."

Mr Clancy indicated that the Crown was seeking the consent of the foreign country in question for the release of the document to the appellant's legal team.

It is thought that the country in question is Switzerland, and the document requested by the Defence team relates to the recent affidavit signed by ex-Mebo (makers of the timer alledged to have triggered the bomb on 103) employee Ulrich Lumpert, who admitted he had lied at the original trial and in fact had under the supervision of the FBI, stolen a timer in order to fabricate the evidence and implicate Libya.

He asked for, and was granted, a six week period to lodge written answers to Megrahi's application for an order for the document to be disclosed. His hope was that within that period the foreign country would agree to its release and that the court would not therefore have to consider whether to make a formal ruling on the matter.

The other issue ventilated at the hearing was the timetable for Megrahi's legal team to lodge his Grounds of Appeal (as distinct from the "outline of proposed grounds of appeal" that had already been provided to the court). Ms Scott indicated that a vast amount of new material had become available to Megrahi's team from the SCCRC and also from the Maltese authorities and that this had to be considered and assessed before grounds of appeal could be finalised. The court ordered that the Grounds of Appeal be lodged before the end of the legal term on 21December 2007, but on the understanding that additions and amendments might be required thereafter.

A separate set of grounds of appeal on the issue of inadequate representation by Megrahi's original legal team was ordered to be lodged in advance, so that the lawyers criticised in them should have the opportunity of commenting on the allegations without further delay to the proceedings as a whole.

The appeal proceedings will be held in Edinburgh, but Ms Scott indicated concerns about arrangements for Mr Megrahi's repatriation to Libya in the event of his release. It is to be expected that satisfactory arrangements will be evolved, perhaps involving the United Nations (as happened in respect of Mr Fhima, the co-accused who was acquitted at the original trial).

The public benches of the courtroom were by no means full, though a number of Lockerbie relatives did attend, along with a substantial contingent of representatives of the media. The most common complaint from those attending was the difficulty in hearing what was being said.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Lester Coleman's Story

Former investigative journalist and Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) Middle East specialist, Lester K. Coleman, "blew the whistle" on Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) operations tied to the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in December 1988.

Washington's Pan Am 103 story is falling apart but it refuses to recognize the validity of Coleman's story which the former DIA agent presented to "Intelligence" in a recent interview. In 1988, a pound of Symtex plastique explosive, cleverly packed inside a Toshiba radio, found its way aboard Pan Am flight 103.
Thirty-eight minutes after the Boeing 747 lifted off from London-Heathrow airport, bound for New York, it exploded, killing all 259 aboard, raining a fireball of terror on the quiet Scottish village of Lockerbie, killing eleven more on the ground.

Among the victims were at least two (and possibly five) American intelligence agents with the DIA, the CIA, and the Assistant Director of the super secret OSI office in the Justice Department. OSI, according to William Hamilton, president of the software company Inslaw and a former U.S. intelligence analyst in Washington, D.C., was once responsible for hunting down Nazi war criminals, but now it is Justice's own in-house intelligence unit.

Also on board was a young Lebanese-American from the Shiite Muslim community in Detroit, Kalid Nazir Jafaar. Jafaar's grandfather recently admitted in an on-camera interview, which appeared in the film "The Maltese Double Cross", that Kalid was cooperating with the DEA and the CIA. The U.S. government has vehemently denied it for years. DEA Country Attache in Cyprus at the time was Special Agent, Michael T. Hurley, who, under oath, said Jafaar was not one of his CI's (Confidential Informant). The FBI went one step further, claiming Jafaar was in the United States at the time -- spring 1988 -- he was spotted in Cyprus, at what is apparently a DEA/ CIA front operation: the Eurame Trading Company.

A former employer of the company that ran the ferry boat between Lebanon and Cyprus has provided a notarized statement confirming Jafaar was aboard the "Suny Boat" ferry that spring. The witness should know: it was his job to collect passenger's passports and assign cabins. He went on to detail how Cypriot Narcotics Police came aboard and escorted Jafaar to shore.

It was normal procedure for the Cypriots to escort DEA CI's off the boat and bring them to the office where Coleman worked, and where he saw Jafaar in the accompany of another DEA CI, Ibrahim El Jorr. El Jorr was first exposed as a DEA informant two years ago in "New York Magazine", when the magazine ran his photo. El Jorr reported to DEA agent, Mike Hurley. A senior Cypriot police officer, now retired, in a recent interview confirmed that Hurley's CI's, carrying heroin, were routinely escorted from the boat, and the Marine Police were told to "look the other way".

He had no kind words for the DEA office in Cyprus or for Special Agent Hurley. DEA officials also told Congress, under oath in 1991 that there were no controlled deliveries of heroin from Lebanon via Frankfurt to the U.S. Agent Hurley in a sworn declaration, filed in the Pan Am case in May 1991, went so far as to say that no controlled deliveries took place during his six years in Cyprus.
Nine months later Hurley was telling a different story. The former California drug cop was deposed in a civil case in Miami in February 1993. A former informant, Steven Donahue, went to Lebanon accompanied by Special Agent Jack Short from the New York DEA field office, and a journalist, Anthony Hayden-Guest who supplied the DEA with press credentials from his employer, "New York Magazine".Donahue claims the DEA abandoned him when his cover was blown by the Rahme Lebanese drug clan. Donahue still has the press passes. During examination by Donahue's attorney, Jesse Jones, Hurley went into detail about controlled deliveries.
Question: Do you request permission from every country where the drugs will touch down?
Hurley: Absolutely. It's not a controlled delivery if you don't -- the key word is "controlled". If it's not controlled, if we don't know what we're putting on that airplane -- if we don't test it, it doesn't go, it's not controlled. And if we do not control it through that country, it's not controlled.
Question: Would you test it at the point of origin?
Hurley: Yes. When they first came into contact with law enforcement.
Question: Now, at the point, say, during your tenure in Cyprus when you had jurisdiction over Lebanon, did you have the ability to check at the point of origin being Lebanon?
Hurley: No.
Question: Where was the first location where you checked?
Hurley: Cyprus.
It is not the first time that agent Hurley has played with the truth under oath. He admitted during the deposition that he had once been labeled "a disgrace to the Justice Department" by a U.S. attorney in a letter of complaint to the U.S. Attorney General. " On that particular occasion he indicated that I had perjured myself", Hurley testified.
All the DEA did in response was to suspend Hurley for three days without pay. When Hurley's sworn declaration filed in the Pan Am case is compared to his sworn testimony in Miami, conflicting statements are apparent. Either Hurley perjured himself in New York or in Miami. Court records in Italy also confirm Hurley ran controlled deliveries-- without the knowledge of the Italian government, bungled it, and caused a flurry of formal protest from the Italian Foreign Ministry to the State Department. Two of Hurley's CI's, Zouher and Nadim Kabbara, upon arrival on a flight from Cyprus, were arrested at Rome airport carrying a half kilo of Lebanese heroin. Nadim Kabbara also had a business card in his pocket from Spiro T. Agnew, the defrocked former vice president of the United States, who, at the time, was a representative of a military supply company in Springfield, Massachusetts.
The Kabbaras readily admitted they were on a mission for the DEA. When the Italian police alerted the DEA in Cyprus, Hurley claimed the two Lebanese were not on the DEA payroll, but just drug smugglers. The Tribunale De Roma ruled in 1986 the Kabbaras were indeed working for the DEA and were attempting to bring DEA heroin into Italy to illegally set up an Italian citizen.The Italian judicial panel said, "the statements made by DEA Agent Michael T. Hurley can simply not be believed."
The next section of the Court ruling sent DEA headquarters and the CIA Station in Rome into a tailspin. "The Kabbaras Italian trading company, Kinex, had listed on its letterhead a telephone number (80 49 88). The number was assigned to the American Embassy in Rome, who also paid the bill. The true function of the Kabbaras was to assist U.S. intelligence in shipping military equipment to Iraq."
Interestingly, the Kabbara's base of operations in Lebanon was Port Mina in the Syrian controlled city of Tripoli. Port Mina was the staging area for the shipment of 500 TOW missiles shipped to Syria's sole Middle East ally, Iran, in November 1986, arranged by Oliver North. As it turned out, the target of the bungled DEA drug sting in Italy was an Italian businessman who had been approached to sell military blankets to Kinex, but refused to go along with the deal. Italian police also established a link between the Kabbaras and Apexco, another DEA front company in Larnaca, Cyprus, after Zouher Kabbara confessed that he could contact Hurley there as necessary by telex.
The bottom line is CIA operatives posed as DEA informants, in a clandestine effort to ship military equipment to the Iraqi regime during the Iraq-Iran war, and were likely involved in the Irangate-Contragate supply network. If Hurley's own description of a controlled delivery is correct, the Kabbara case proves this controlled delivery was out of control. According to a 14-year DEA veteran, who recently retired in Australia, the Kabbara case proved to be such an American diplomatic embarrassment, Hurley was finally recalled to the States, to the Pu Yallup Field Office in Washington State, half a world away from his sphere of "expertise" as a federal narcotics agent.
His only likely contribution being the arrest of a former CIA asset who had blown the whistle on a Justice Department scam to steal a computer software package called PROMIS from Hamilton's company Inslaw. Copies of the software turned up in the Cypriot Police Headquarters in 1987, supplied by the DEA. Hurley's Lebanese informants, turned CIA operatives, were more effective in September, 1987, or so it seemed at the time.
Sami Jafaar, a talkative cousin of Kalid, the young Lebanese killed on Flight 103, and another relative, Jamal Hamadan were on the DEA Paris payroll. When President Ronald Reagan issued his warning, "they can run but they cannot hide", to Middle East terrorists lurking in the back streets of Beirut, the CIA was on notice to locate and capture a wanted terrorist. The principle target initially was Abul Nidal. But, after months of trying, the only wanted terrorist they could locate was Fawaz Younes, a Beirut used car dealer, and former bodyguard for pro-Syrian militia leader, Nabbi Berri.Younes had guarded the hostages taken during the skyjacking of TWA Flight 847 in June 1985, which made him an accomplice in the murder of U.S. Navy diver, Robert Stetham. Jafaar and Hamadan informed the DEA that they knew Younes. Hamadan had known Younes for six years.
They had once shared an apartment in Beirut, and when Hamadan later moved to Warsaw, Poland to run the Jafaar's heroin export business to the Eastern Bloc, Younes had paid him an extended visit. The two were dispatched to Cyprus under the control of Michael Hurley who turned them over to the CIA, which assigned them asset status. Hamadan made contact with Younes, and over the next few months played host to him in Cyprus where he was wined and dined lavishly (with U.S. tax dollars).Younes was finally lured aboard a luxury yacht in international waters off the Cypriot coast on the pretext of meeting a big time drug dealer.
The dealer was actually an FBI agent from a special unit supervised by Buck Revell who later played a key role in the Pan Am bomb investigation. Younes was handcuffed, thrown to the deck, breaking both wrists, transferred to the aircraft carrier, "USS Saratoga", then flown non-stop into the hands of American justice waiting on the tarmac at Andrews Air Force Base, outside Washington, D.C.
It was a triumph for American intelligence and law enforcement, and a political plus for President Reagan. It also may have been the link that set in motion the events leading to the explosion that cold winter night in December 1988, 10,000 meters above the Scottish moors.
The Younes kidnapping on the high seas with the help of the Jafaars was no secret. Syrian intelligence in Lebanon logically started monitoring the Jafaar family's movements closely.
And when, on 3 June 1988 the "USS Vincennes" mistakenly shot down an Iranian Airliner, killing all 290 religious pilgrims on board, Iran turned to her only ally in the Middle East for help, Syria. Armed with the knowledge that the Jafaars were working for the American DEA, Syria logically compromised the DEA's Lebanese rag-tag operation, based in Cyprus, to assist Iran in taking revenge.
The bombing of Pan Am 103 six months later follows the letter of Islamic law regarding the use of "Intekam" (equal and just revenge). 290 died on the Iran airbus on a religious pilgrimage to Mecca, 270 were killed in the Pan Am 103 disaster, four days before Christmas.
If the DEA's years of denials are to be believed, then why did the DEA go so far as to lie under oath about controlled deliveries, and about the role of Kalid Jafaar? And, why have they been allowed to do it?
INTELLIGENCE No. 268, 3 July 1995 (Vol. 16, No. 14)Publishing since 1980

*Olivier Schmidtoschmidt@dialup.francenet.frtel/fax 33 1,
16 rue des Ecoles, 75005

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US National Security Archive

The National Security Archive is a non-profit research and archival institution located within George Washington University in Washington D.C.. Founded in 1985 by Scott Armstrong and Thomas Blanton, it archives and publishes declassified US government files concerning selected topics of American foreign policy.

The Archive collects and analyzes the documents of many various government institutions obtained via the Freedom of Information Act. The Archive then selects documents to be published in the form of manuscripts and microfiche as well as made available through their website.

The Archive operates under an advisory board which is overseen by a board of directors. The Archive's research was awarded in late 2005 by winning an Emmy Award for its work on the documentary, "Declassified: Nixon in China."
Among the Archive's more prominent institutional supporters today, are the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Ford Foundtion, the Freedom Forum and Congressional Quarterly.

On October 1, 2007, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly reversed George Bush on archive secrecy, (38-page) ruling that the U.S. Archivist's reliance on the executive order to delay release of the papers of former presidents is "arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion and not in accordance with law."
National Security Archives alleged that the Bush order severely slowed or prevented the release of historic presidential papers.
The NSA has, since it's formation, obtained the release of hundreds of thousands of documents. Only a very select few, that have been requested by the NSA, have yet to be released.
Taken from the NSA webpage :
" Ten Oldest [outstanding requests] - The CIA responded approximately 38 business days after the request was made, reporting ten FOIA requests ranging from May 29, 1987 to November 22, 1989. Nine out of the ten were from media representatives including the National Security Archive, the Syracuse Post Standard, the Pennsylvania Intelligencer Journal, and American Broadcasting Corporation. The media requests concern topics such as Jonathan Pollard (the Israeli spy arrested in 1985), the Iran-Contra investigations, the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 (in December 1988), James Howard Guerin, and the Cuban Missile Crisis."
Letter and requests made by NSA under the Freedom of Information Act to the CIA office 1989 -

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Lockerbie: Protecting The Victim's Rights.

Following open letter to The Herald was published in accordance with Dr. Jim Swire:

In our democracy, there are two great protectors of the rights of the individual.
1.) the ability of our elected representatives to bring our concerns into the Court of Parliament.
2.) The Criminal Justice system.

1.) Parliament

It appears that MSPs are even now being told that they cannot ask questions about the appalling allegations of concealment and indeed deceit by the Crown Office, past and present.I quote from a recent comment to an MSP re the position at Holyrood re 'Rule 7.5.1:"Rule 7.5.1 of Standing Orders states; "A member may not in the proceedings of the Parliament refer to any matter in relation to which legal proceedings are active except to the extent permitted by the Presiding Officer" and Rule 7.5.2 states "For the purposes of paragraph 1, legal proceedings are active in relation to a matter if they are active for the purposes of section 2 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981".Under Rule 19B.1 of the Criminal Procedure Rules 1996, a referral by the Commission to the High Court is treated as an application for leave to appeal that has been made and granted.

The Contempt of Court Act states in Schedule 1, paragraph 15 that "Appellate proceedings are active from the time when they are commenced -(a) by an application for leave to appeal or apply for review, or by notice of such an application; (b) by notice of appeal or of application for review; (c) by other originating process."Therefore, as legal proceedings are active, under Rule 7.5.1 we are unable to admit questions on the case of Mr al-Megrahi.This looks like a gagging of our elected representatives in Parliament.

2.) Justice

Following Lockerbie, the US decided to issue a promise of major financial rewards to those providing information leading to the identification/arrest of the perpetrators. Amounts up to $4,000,000 were available. Posters similar to what one might see pinned on a tree in a cowboy film were printed and internationally distributed.This occurred long before the Zeist trial was agreed.

Surely the existence of this considerable programme to reward potential witnesses must be held to severely compromise the validity of evidence they eventually gave. It seems to me irrelevant as to whether - as now seems likely - Gauchi did receive perhaps $2,000,000 and live the high life in Australia as is now alleged. What matters is that it can be shown that there was widespread dissemination of the intention to reward, long before the witnesses gave their evidence.

Professor Koechler, appointed observer for the UN at Zeist, has just pointed out that the manufacturer of the timer allegedly used by the Lockerbie bomber, now claims that he was specifically offered 'up to $4,000,000' by the CIA if he would say in court that the famous 'timer fragment' had come from a timer that his firm had sold to the Libyans. At the very least the manufacturer, long before he gave his first tranche of 'evidence' would have had to be severely myopic not to be aware that large rewards were on offer.

Good intelligence services serve their country's perceived interests, not the truth; this combined with the reward offers seems to have been what crippled Scotland's brave attempt to hold a legitimate criminal trial in Zeist.

It may be part of our tragedy that the agreement to set up the Zeist trial came at a time when both Bill Clinton, and the late Robin cook were promoting the International Criminal Court, which America has since castrated.

It also came at a time when Nelson Mandela, speaking re Lockerbie in Edinburgh, said " No one country should be complainant, prosecutor and judge" It is hardly straining the truth to claim that at that time, concerning Lockerbie, the UK and US were indeed acting as 'one country'.I still have high hopes that Scotland will strain every sinew to try to extricate at least herself from the appalling ramifications of this terrible tragedy.

Dr Jim Swire.

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Lockerbie Bomber To Go Free On Appeal

This article by David Horovich from the 'Jerusalem Post' seems confident that Megrahi will be freed on his appeal. There is a first procedural hearing in Megrahi's new appeal at 10am on Thursday, 11 October 2007 in the Justicary Appeal Court (Court 3) in the Court of Session building (Parliament House) in Edinburgh.

The conviction of Libyan intelligence officer Abdelsbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in December 1988 - the deadliest terrorist attack ever mounted in the UK - will be overturned in an appeals process that begins with a procedural hearing on Thursday and gets under way in earnest next year, several leading experts closely connected to the case have told The Jerusalem Post.

Megrahi, who was jailed for murder in 2001, is the only man ever convicted for the Lockerbie bombing, in which 259 passengers and crew, and 11 people on the ground, lost their lives. A second Libyan defendant, Lamin Khalifah Fhimah, was acquitted. Libya, which was held responsible for the attack, has paid compensation to victims' families, but never formally accepted responsibility.

Megrahi, who has always denied involvement, lost an appeal against his conviction in 2002, and was only given leave to mount a second appeal in June. A Scottish legal review commission found six potential grounds for a miscarriage of justice, including flaws in the process by which he was identified and, reportedly, the non-disclosure of a classified report on the timer purportedly used in the bomb. The commission referred the case back to the Scottish courts.

The overturning of Megrahi's conviction could revive the bombing investigators' original theory, widely believed by many of those close to the case, that Lockerbie was not a Libyan plot at all, but was, rather, carried out by Ahmed Jibril's Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, on behalf of Iran.

Among the leading figures who publicly voiced this assertion was then trade minister Ariel Sharon, who told a press conference in Madrid seven weeks after the bombing, "Israel believes it was Ahmed Jibril."

Investigators initially stated that the Pan Am jumbo jet, which was blown up 38 minutes into its journey from London to New York, was destroyed by a device featuring an air pressure switch similar to several devices seized by German police when they arrested a PFLP-GC cell a few weeks before the bombing.
But the subsequent purported linking of Megrahi to items in the suitcase containing the bomb, and the discovery at the crash site of a fragment of a different timing device, purportedly traced to Libya, saw the investigation change course dramatically. The identification of Megrahi - by a Maltese shopkeeper named Tony Gauci, who testified to having sold Megrahi items found in the suitcase - and the provenance of the "Libyan" timer have been consistently disputed by the defense.

In separate telephone interviews in the last few days, the spokesman for the Lockerbie victims' families, the UN's observer on the case and the Scottish law professor who formulated the legal framework under which Megrahi was tried have all told the Post they are convinced the conviction will be overturned. The appeals process begins on Thursday with a procedural hearing, at which a timetable will likely be set for the full appeal next year. Megrahi is not expected to attend Thursday's hearing.

Families' spokesman Dr. Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora was killed in the bombing, said he was certain that the new evidence would see Megrahi released, but that he feared it would be "convenient" for the appeals court to free the Libyan on "some semi-technical" count - "something along the lines of the prosecution having failed to give the defense access to all the evidence" - without the full truth ever coming out.

Swire said he feared this full truth included "the deliberate fabrication of evidence" such as the timer fragment, in order to frame Megrahi and render Libya as the "perfect scapegoat" for Lockerbie.

Hans Koechler, appointed as an "international observer" to the trial by the UN Security Council on the nomination of then secretary-general Kofi Annan, told the Post: "They'll cancel the judgement. The appeal court will decide that a miscarriage of justice has occurred, because of the unreliability of Tony Gauci's evidence."

And Robert Black, the emeritus professor of law at the University of Edinburgh who formulated the complex legal mechanism that facilitated the original trial before Scottish judges in the Netherlands, said the same thing. "Megrahi will go free. He should never have been convicted. The evidence does not show him to have had anything to do with [the Lockerbie bombing]."
Libya's motivation in ordering the attack is said to have included a desire for revenge on the part of Col. Gaddafi for a series of confrontations with the US, including a military strike in 1986 in which his daughter was killed.

Koechler did not posit an alternative theory, but Swire and Black both said they were convinced that the PFLP-GC was to blame, and that it carried out the attack on behalf of Iran.

"The Iranians had told the world that they would seek revenge for the Vincennes attack," said Swire, a reference to the shooting down by the US Navy's guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes of an Iran Air civilian flight in July 1988, in which 290 passengers and crew were killed. Iran said the attack was deliberate; the US said it had mistaken the plane for a fighter jet.

The Iranians "had colluded in the past with the PFLP-GC under Jibril, and now they colluded again," said Swire, adding: "The PFLP-GC was the 'sensible choice' because, as has been established, it maintained a workshop on the outskirts of Damascus that manufactured timing devices" involving an air-pressure switch for bombs to detonate aboard airplanes.

Both Swire and Black said the case had been skewed because of the timing of the Lockerbie investigation, which played out as the first Gulf War was developing. The US-led coalition, gearing up to take on Saddam Hussein, needed Syria to stay out of the conflict, said Swire, and also did not want to face "hordes of Iranian foot soldiers swarming across the border to attack it. So it was not worth irritating Iran and Syria."

Added Black: "The PFLP-GC was funded and protected by Syria... And with the unfolding of Operation 'Desert Storm'.. the coalition needed at least the benevolent neutrality of Syria." Black added: "It was never anticipated that Libya would surrender the two suspects for trial. The thinking was, 'We'll just generally blame the Libyans.'"

Black said he was scandalized by the cover-up. It was terrible that "national governments would get up to this kind of thing," he said. But as a "parochial Scottish lawyer," he went on, he was most pained "that the criminal justice system in my country lent itself to this."

Koechler is calling for a new investigation into the bombing, without the involvement of the US, UK or Libya, but he said he feared "it will not happen."

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Monday, October 08, 2007

FBI Lockerbie Investigator Disputes CFP Story

By Ludwig de Braeckeleer Monday, October 8, 2007.
“Proper judicial procedure is simply impossible if political interests and intelligence services—from whichever side—succeed in interfering in the actual conduct of a court … The purpose of intelligence services—from whichever side—lies in secret action and deception, not in the search for truth. Justice and the rule of law can never be achieved without transparency.” --Hans Koechler, U.N. observer at the Zeist trial
On Sept. 6, OhmyNews International published a story related to a sensational document known as the Lumpert affidavit.

Ulrich Lumpert was a key witness (No. 550) at the Camp Zeist trial, where a three-Judge panel convicted a Libyan citizen of murdering 270 persons who died in the bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie.

“I confirm today on July 18, 2007, that I stole the third hand-manufactured MST-13 Timer PC-board consisting of 8 layers of fiberglass from MeBo Ltd. and gave it without permission on June 22, 1989, to a person officially investigating in the Lockerbie case,” Lumpert wrote.
On Sept. 7, the agent who led the Lockerbie investigation for the FBI wrote to me and criticized the article on several grounds, but most importantly, he alleged that the Lumpert affidavit was a “total fabrication.”

Richard Marquise led the U.S. task force that investigated the Lockerbie bombing. He has authored a book on the subject: Scotbom: Evidence and the Lockerbie Investigation. He wrote to me:
Lumpert’s new statement is a total fabrication. He was interviewed several times, including at a judicial hearing in Switzerland as well as the trial itself and he never wavered in his story. His statement that he gave a “stolen timer” to a Scottish officer in 1989 does not even fit the timeline since we had no idea about the origins of PT-35 at that time. We identified MeBo in the summer of 1990.

With all due respect, I must state very unambiguously that I remain convinced that the document is authentic and that the story is not a hoax. Moreover, I have obtained a document that strongly suggests that the timeline of the events related to the identification of the MST-13 timer has been fabricated.

Since the publication of the article, a well-informed source has told me that Lumpert has signed four affidavits. The documents were certified by notary Walter Wieland under Nr. 2069 to 2072.

I am now in possession of one of these four documents and I have received confirmation from the proper Swiss authority that Wieland indeed certified these documents on July 18 and that he is competent for doing so.

Although I was initially very skeptical of the Lumpert affidavit, I came to the conclusion that I have no reason to doubt its authenticity or the truthfulness of its content.

Indeed, both the timing of Lumpert’s admission of perjury, his motivation for doing so as stated in the affidavit, as well as the content of the document led me to believe that the story is not a fabrication.

Lumpert wrote that he wishes to clear his conscience and that he can no longer “be prosecuted for stealing, delivering and making false statements about the MST-13 Timer PC-board, on grounds of statutory limitation.”

Moreover, as I explained at length in the Sept. 6 article, the Lumpert affidavit, in just seven paragraphs, elucidates all of the longstanding mysteries surrounding the infamous MST-13 timer, which allegedly triggered the bomb that exploded Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie on Dec. 21, 1988.

Conspiracy Theory?
I wish to add that I am obviously not the only one who had reached such a conclusion. The possibility that evidence has been fabricated in order to secure the conviction of the Libyans has gained support among many people who could hardly be described as conspiracy theorists.
Jim Swire, Robert Black and Hans Koechler are among the best-informed people about the extremely complex Zeist trial.

Black QC FRSE (Queen’s Council and Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh) has been Professor of Scots Law in the University of Edinburgh since January 1981, having previously been in practice at the Scottish Bar. He is now professor emeritus.

For various periods he served as head of the Department of Scots Law (later Private Law). He has been an advocate since 1972 and a QC since 1987. From 1987 to 1996 he was general editor of The Laws of Scotland: Stair Memorial Encyclopedia (25 volumes). From 1981 to 1994 he served as a temporary sheriff (judge).

He has taken a close interest in the Lockerbie affair since 1993, not least because he was born and brought up in the town, and has published a substantial number of articles on the topic in the United Kingdom and overseas. He is often referred to as the architect of the Lockerbie trial at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands.

Black’s support for the story is obvious from the fact that he posted my article on his Web site. In a comment posted on OMNI, Black went out of his way to express his agreement with the 18-page analysis of the consequences of the Lumpert affidavit. “A masterly review of the weaknesses in the Lockerbie court’s conviction of [Abdelbaset Al] Megrahi,” Black wrote.
In April 2000, professor Koechler was appointed by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan as international observer at the Lockerbie bombing trial that was held at Camp Zeist, Netherlands.
Koechler has also posted the article on his Web site. He wrote this comment on OMNI:
This is a well-researched analysis which precisely reveals the serious mistakes and omissions by the official Scottish investigators as well as the carelessness and lack of professionalism of the judges in the Lockerbie case. The Scottish judicial authorities are under the obligation to investigate possible criminal misconduct in the investigation and prosecution of the Lockerbie case. On July 4, 2007, Koechler wrote to Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond, reiterating his call for a “full and independent public inquiry of the Lockerbie case.”

Dr. Swire, who lost his daughter in the Lockerbie bombing, is a founder and the spokesperson of the U.K. Families 103, which campaigns to seek the truth about the worst act of terror ever committed in the U.K. In a letter addressed to my editor, he wrote that the article was “one of the best informed and most realistic” he had seen.

I promised Richard Marquise that I would make an effort “to see things from the other side.” And I will. But for now, we must agree to disagree. I leave him with a comment posted by Iain McKie—someone who knows all about the consequences of forensic mistakes.

Another Lockerbie mystery is why, given this latest opportunity [Megrahi’s second appeal] to uncover the truth about this terrorist outrage that claimed the lives of people from 21 countries (including 189 Americans), and given the U.S. and British high profile “war on terror,” is the political silence so deafening?

I find it increasingly difficult to argue with Dr. De Braeckeleer’s conclusion: “Shame on those who committed this horrific act of terror. Shame on those who have ordered the cover-up. Shame on those who provided false testimony, and those who suppressed and fabricated the evidence needed to frame Libya. And shame on the media for their accomplice silence.” The McKie’s know best than most the cost of injustice. Shirley McKie was a successful policewoman until her life was shattered in February 1997 when four experts from the Scottish Criminal Records Office incorrectly identified a thumbprint from a crime scene as hers.

Marquise has made other comments about the article that I will discuss at a later time. However, I wish to point out that Marquise is right to state that the quotes attributed to Michael Scharf, formerly of U.S. State Department’s Office of the Legal Adviser for Law Enforcement and Intelligence, although correct do not represent exactly his opinion, as they have been printed out of context by the British media. (Scharf helped draft the sanctions against Libya.)

Scharf wrote to me,
The text of the quotes is more or less accurate but is out of context, giving the misimpression that I thought that the two Lockerbie defendants were innocent and the U.S. government knew this all along. In fact, I referred to them as “fall guys” because I felt the case should not have focused exclusively on them, but rather should have gone up the chain of command all the way to Khadaffi [Muammar al-Qaddafi], and should also have focused on the possible involvement of third countries.

It is true, as your quote indicates, that I felt the evidentiary case presented at Camp Zeist was not as strong as the Department of Justice had led the Department of State to believe it would be at the time we were pushing for sanctions against Libya in the U.N., but that is not to say that I thought the defendants were actually innocent of wrong doing, which is the impression left by the quotes. If there is one thing we can all agree on, it is the fact that no one except the judges is satisfied with the Lockerbie trial.

Meanwhile, new extraordinary revelations have surfaced that support my view that the Lockerbie trial was engineered by Western intelligence services to frame Libya.
‘Secret’ Lockerbie Report Claim Crucial information in the possession of the CIA that is related to the timer issue was withheld from the defense. The Heraldof Glasgow revealed on Oct. 2 that “a top secret [CIA] document vital to unearthing the truth about the Lockerbie bombing was obtained by the Crown Office but never shown to the defense team.”

“The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) has uncovered there is a document which was in the possession of the crown and was not disclosed to the defense, which concerns the supply of MST-13 timers. Moreover, the commission has determined the decision to keep the document from the defense may have constituted a miscarriage of justice,” the paper reported a source as saying.

The prosecutors have refused to make public the ultra secret document on the basis of national security. Many have been wondering what national security has to do with the Lockerbie bombing. “It is shocking to me that after 19 years of trying to get to the truth about who murdered my daughter national security is being used as an excuse,” said Swire.

After having seen the CIA document, the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission team that investigated the conviction of Abdelbaset Al Megrahi decided to grant him a second appeal. The document has not yet been seen by the defense. The document is thought to dispute the pivotal fact that the bomb was triggered by the MST-13 timer that linked the case to Libya.

The non-disclosure agreement was signed by Norman McFadyen, then one of the leading members of the prosecution, on June 1, 2000.

In an exclusive interview earlier this week, Koechler told Gordon Brewer of the BCC’s “Newsnight Scotland,”
The withholding of evidence by the investigators and the prosecution from the defense at the Lockerbie court is a serious breach of the fundamental norms of a fair trial. If such action occurs on the basis of a written commitment given to a foreign intelligence service, as has now been revealed concerning crucial evidence related to the timer that allegedly triggered the explosion of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, the judicial nature of the entire proceedings is to be put into question.

If a foreign intelligence service is allowed to determine what evidence may be disclosed in court and what not, judicial proceedings before a court of law are perverted into a kind of intelligence operation the purpose of which is not the search for the truth, but the obfuscation of reality.
Black has said,
If a foreign intelligence agency says they would be prepared to give the crown access only if they promise to keep the information secret, then it is the responsibility of the crown to say we cannot do that. They have an ethical responsibility not to sign such agreements.
This tends to indicate that the crown has not changed its fundamental stance that says they will decide what the public interest is and what information should or should not be disclosed. That is fundamentally wrong. The source in the Herald’s report agrees: “The commission was unable to obtain authority for its disclosure. Without access to this document, the defense is disabled from putting before the court full and comprehensive grounds of appeal as to why the conviction should be quashed.”

CIA Offered $2m to Lockerbie Witnesses
It now appears that huge amounts of money were offered by U.S. officials to at least three key witnesses. The defense was never told that the CIA had offered millions of dollars to their star witnesses.

“We understand the commission found new documents which refer to discussions between the U.S. intelligence agency and the Gaucis [Tony and his brother Paul] and that the sum involved was as much as $2m,” a source close to the case told The Herald, according to an Oct. 3 report. “Even if they did not receive the money, the fact these discussions took place should have been divulged to the defense.” Tony Gauci was an instrumental witness in the case.

On Oct. 5, Edwin Bollier, head of the Zurich-based company MeBo, told Koechler that during a visit to the headquarters of the FBI in Washington, D.C., at the beginning of 1991, he was offered an amount of up to $4 million plus a new identity in the U.S. if he would testify in court that the timer fragment that was allegedly found on the crash site around Lockerbie stemmed from a MST-13 timer that his company had delivered to Libya.

Media Silence
Will the media finally cover this extraordinary affair? Perhaps. In France, Le Figaro has published a couple of stories, one of which was entitled: “And if Libya Was Innocent …” Television channel France 3 reported the story of the Lumpert affidavit.
In the U.K., The Herald has picked up the latest developments in the story. The BBC has published a few lines about it. The London journal Private Eye is rumored to be running the story in its next edition. U.S. media remain amazingly silent.

Quo Vadis?
“In view of all these revelations and serious allegations, Koechler renewed his call for an independent international investigation of the handling of the Lockerbie case by the Scottish and British authorities,” wrote Gordon Brewer of the BCC’s “Newsnight Scotland.”

“It remains to be seen whether the Scottish judicial and political system will live up to the challenge and whether the authorities will allow a full and objective inquiry,” Brewer said. I have very little hope that the Scottish judicial and political system will allow an independent international investigation.

For now, I encourage my readers to reflect upon a Persian saying. “Shame on those who committed the deed. Shame on those who allowed the deed to be committed.”


Father of Lockerbie Victim Offers Help To Bomber

The man convicted at Court Zeist in 2000 of the Lockerbie bombing in 1988, was offered financial assistance in his appeal by Jim Swire who's daughter Flora died on Pan Am 103.

This incredible act of philanthropy by Mr Swire, merely reinforces his conviction of Megrahi's innocence in the bombing of 103, and essentially the murder of his daughter. Mr Swire has been an active member in the British Lockerbie Families, and offered the Megrahi's defense team $500,000 when the lawyers had made it known that the fund for it's defense of their client was drying up. Determined to not allow what Mr Swire describes as an 'innocent man' languish in a Scottish Jail, he had decided to offer some of the settlement that Libya had made to the 103 families in it's admission of responsibility of the bombing.
There are those on hearing this news have wasted little time in taking this opportunity to have a swipe at Mr. Swire with all kinds of personal insults such as 'hypocrite' and 'paranoid'. These very same people, some of who are other family members to have lost a loved one on 103, have been conspicuous by their silence in respect to much of the other revelations that have been reported recently. It is sad they appear to wish to concentrate their energy and indignation towards someone who wishes nothing other than the truth, and whatever that may take, rather than make comment on the conflicting, fabrication and suppression of evidence which has become clear in the time since the trial at Zeist. All these recent revelations give clear indication that a miscarriage of justice may have taken place, and these individuals in their silence is testimony to their tacit approval of any injustice as long as it meets and agrees with their long held prejudices.
As Dr. Ludwig De Braeckeleer who has conducted his own investigation in the Lockerbie tragedy recently stated: "Shame on those who committed this horrific act of terror. Shame on those who have ordered the cover-up. Shame on those who provided false testimony, and those who suppressed and fabricated the evidence needed to frame Libya. And shame on the media for their accomplice silence."


Thursday, October 04, 2007

Lockerbie - Where Is The Outrage?

Pressure. Claims. Explanation. Alleged. Disclosure.

Why oh why are we still tip-toeing around, carefully choosing our words, awaiting explanations?

Somehow, still, after all that has transpired, we are again putting faith in those entrusted with upholding the Law of the land to resolve the discrepancies that have come to light, when it is they themselves have clearly conspired with agencies, individuals and foreign governments who wish to divert the us from the truth in the investigation of the murder of 270 people?

It would appear that there are, in what we term our 'democratic' and 'free' society, groups and individuals who are accountable to no-one. We are surrounded by liars, hypocrites and those who say they follow the rule of law, while doing whatever they damn well like if the desired result is the conclusion they would seek.

It is absolutely clear, to even the most docile, that we have an innocent man languishing in a Scottish Prison, put there by individuals who have performed every deceitful, illegal manoeuvre available. They have manipulated the due course of Law. They have suppressed vital and legitimate evidence. And they have capitulated to the subterfuge of international Politics and Governments - all paid for by the UK taxpayer.

The apparent indifference and lack of column inches in the Western media devoted to this monumental injustice, which stretches the length and depths of the national judiciary, the investigating Police forces, those publicly voted into political office, those involved in intelligence and others in positions of power and authority, is simply staggering. Those we assume are in their positions of power and knowledge in order to uphold our security, our protection and our convictions of basic rights in law and truth, have failed us inordinately. Not only in the deaths of 270 innocent people, but then to additionally confound the resulting investigation into discovering their insufficiency, while hoping to discover the true perpetrators for nearly two decades.

It is bewildering and tragic. An almost bigger tragedy than those poor souls who lost their lives on 21 December 1988, is all those who have employed duplicity and conspired in their intentions to keep appropriate justice due to those very people who died on 103, and on the ground in Lockerbie.

The US and UK government have created a ‘National Security’ which only serves to prohibit ordinary people from the truth under the pretence that it is in the publics benefit not to know, and provides those with power, authority and those attuned sympathetically such as judges and lawyers ‘on the inside’ with the cloak of protection to carry out the very injustices and hidden agenda’s we have witnessed.

Where is the outcry from the media and politicians? Where are the demands to explain? Where are the steps to bring to account those who have lied on matters involving our ‘national security’? Instead we slowly trudge along with almost tacit acception that those same people who have brought shame on Britain and the US by their deceit, will somehow have the fortitude and conscience to act honestly and admit their complicity in this injustice.

We in the UK and US present ourselves as the moral, political and legal policemen of the world, but we have no moral, legal or political right to behave as such when our own countries and governments are built on corruption, mass murder and exploitation. It is shameful state of affairs and a rude awakening to all of us in our purported principles of democracy, and taken as granted, social equality and justice.


CIA offered $2m to Lockerbie witness and brother

The CIA offered $2m (£1m) to the Crown's key witness in the Lockerbie trial and his brother, sources close to the case have told The Herald.

Recently discovered papers show Scottish police officers investigating the 1988 bombing were aware the US intelligence service had discussed financial terms and witness protection schemes with Tony Gauci and his brother, Paul.

They documented the talks and it would have been standard practice for such information to have been relayed to the prosecution team before the trial of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, the Libyan serving 27 years for the bombing.

However, his defence team was never told of the CIA offer, in what critics say is another example of non-disclosure that undermines the credibility of Mr Gauci and, in turn, the Crown's case against Megrahi.

It has not been confirmed that the brothers accepted any money, but the fact that an offer was made is directly relevant to the credibility of Tony Gauci, who became the lynchpin of the case. Paul was never called as a witness.

The latest remarkable twist comes a day after The Herald revealed a top-secret document vital to the truth about Lockerbie was obtained by the Crown but never disclosed to the defence.
The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission found that document during its three-year investigation, which concluded earlier this year that Megrahi should have a fresh appeal.
The document, thought to be from the CIA, contains highly classified information about the MST13 timer which allegedly detonated the bomb. The Crown, for national security reasons, is still refusing to hand the material over to the defence.

An offer of remuneration by the US agency could be explained by the political imperative then for the US and Britain to secure a conviction for Lockerbie. At the time, Libya was very much a hostile nation, unlike the more relaxed links between Tripoli and the West which now prevail.
Yesterday in Edinburgh, the defence lodged its case with the appeal court and a preliminary hearing has been set for a week tomorrow.

The defence team also lodged a specification of documents order, demanding the Crown release the classified document. Prosecutors are expected to challenge the appeal, despite the weight of new evidence.

A source close to the case said: "We understand the commission found new documents which refer to discussions between the US intelligence agency and the Gaucis and that the sum involved was as much as $2m.

"Even if they did not receive the money, the fact these discussions took place should have been divulged to the defence."

The Herald has also seen copies of an agreement with the US government and signed by a senior member of the Crown Office, agreeing not to disclose certain material. Norman McFadyen, then one of the leading members of the prosecution team and now the Crown Agent, signed the non-disclosure agreement on June 1, 2000.

James Chalmers, a senior lecturer in law at Edinburgh University, said if a member of the Crown agreed not to disclose material shown by a foreign government, it called its worth into question.

"This would raise questions about whether the right to a fair trial has been breached. And if a witness were offered money before giving evidence, this could undermine their credibility.
"It would certainly need to be put to the witness under cross-examination. If such information was not disclosed to the defence, that could give rise to a miscarriage of justice. It is an issue of credibility."

Dr Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora died in the tragedy, said: "It is shocking to me that if after 19 years of trying to get to the truth about who murdered my daughter, national security is being used as an excuse."

A spokesman for the Crown Office has previously declined to comment on the case saying it would be "wholly inappropriate" while it is before the appeal court.

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Top secret Lockerbie report not disclosed by Crown

If the US govt., the UK investigators, the Scottish Polce and the Crowns hands are clean, then why do they hide them behind their back? All in the interest and under the cloak of 'National Security' of course.

The more lies they tell, the harder it is to keep the story of this pathetic cover-up straight. There appears a host of people, on Megrahi's release, who should be charged with complicity in the cover-up and in the suppression and fabrication of vital evidence indicating the real perpetrators of the tragedy in 1988.

We are surrounded by handwringers, hypocrites and corrupt officials who are entrusted in upholding the very society's basic fabric of law and truth. The sooner Megarhi is released, the sooner those who have lied and corrupted the investigation will be brought to account. Then, maybe the victims of this tragedy will finally get their justice.

October 02 2007 -Lucy Adams, Chief Reporter.

A top secret document vital to unearthing the truth about the Lockerbie bombing was obtained by the Crown Office but never shown to the defence team, The Herald can reveal today.

Prosecutors have refused to make public the report, which is classified as confidential under national security guidelines and could apparently fatally undermine the case against Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi.

The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) team that investigated Megrahi's conviction is understood to have discovered the existence of a document about the MST13 timer which allegedly detonated the bomb over Lockerbie in 1988, killing 270 people.

Continued here -

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Lockerbie Needles

An interesting article has been published which adds another twist to the sordid tale of the explosion of PanAm 103 over Lockerbie in 1988.

During the court case in 2000, a Scottish Police Officer assigned to gather the debris from the crash site, gave testimony that a million needles were scattered around an area he was searching that resulted in a one or two of the searching Police pricking their fingers, and so the area was covered with a tarpaulin and took longer to search.
Article here -
The lockerbie bombing case has fascinated the world since Pan AM Flight 103 exploded and fell back to earth. But in light of the SCCRC recommeding a second appeal for the man convicted of the atrocity The Firm’s reporter Steven Raeburn has uncovered potential evidence that could further see the finger of blame point much closer to home.
On the 28 June, Robbie the Pict, who spearheaded the campaign leading to the reversal of the tolling regime on the Skye Bridge, sent a letter to new First Minister Alex Salmond, which he copied to Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill, Lord Advocate Elish Angiolini, and Solicitor General Frank Mulholland. It contained an extract, reproduced below, from the Zeist transcript of the trial of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, whose conviction for the Lockerbie atrocity has been referred back to the High Court for review, on the basis that a miscarriage of justice may have occurred.
Robbie has looked at the trial transcript and proceedings, and followed the case closely, together with his neighbour and fellow campaigner Dr Jim Swire, representing UK Families 103. Swire believes Megrahi to be innocent and Robbie has concluded there is sufficient evidence to warrant a fresh investigation, focusing not on a terrorist bombing but on an accident on board the ill-fated airliner. This thesis, if correct, has far reaching implications for the actions of the US, UK and Scottish Governments, and officials within the Crown Office. It requires the open-minded reader to step through the looking glass into the potentially murky world of government intelligence, covert operations and geo-politics, and consider the events of 21 December 1988 from an entirely fresh, disturbing perspective.
Robbie's letter begins by looking at a portion of the trial transcript. Extract from evidence given by DC Alexander McLean, working in Sector B. (P 339)
McLean: We encountered one or two difficulties, sir. And one of the major ones was that on the aircraft there was a million sewing machine needles being conveyed and they landed with the fuselage in the sector – B Sector. And unknown to us at the time, one or two officers got pricked with the needles. And so eventually we had to spread a very large tarpaulin right along the site and move forward sort of by inch by inch.
Q: The sewing machine needles were being carried as cargo on the aircraft?

McLean: That's correct, sir.

Q: I understand. And they were distributed around the site as a consequence?

McLean: Yes. They caused a bit of a hazard, and that was the reason that the recovery of the bodies just took a wee bit longer than it would have done if we hadn't encountered such a hazard.
The above evidence seems to have been missed by all concerned but is worthy of further examination. A million sewing machine needles weigh up to three-quarters of a ton. Who would pay airfreight charges to fly needles to America, when sea freight is so obviously cheaper? Who was the sender? Who was the end-user? Where is the bill of lading, invoice and the delivery note? Is there an insurance claim by the sender? Why did the Police put a ‘needles warning’ in the Daily Record on 27 December 1988, claiming that these were potentially contaminated hypodermics which should not be picked up? Who sends almost a ton of contaminated hypodermics to New York by air just prior to Christmas?

Alternatively, it is remarkable how similar an electric sewing machine needle is to a flechette.

This weapon of terror is also less than two inches long, has a flattened portion in the centre instead of a thread hole and has small flights to ensure stability. Known as a ‘terrain denial weapon of terror’ it is dispersed in packs of thousands in an omni-directional scything motion. Witnesses have described victims as both “flayed alive” and “cut to burger-size pieces”.
Royal Ordnance, at that time state-owned, were specialist packers of such warheads. There is apparently an art in lacing the layers of needles with the explosive to achieve the correct effect. The missile known as the Lockheed Hydra 70 is equipped to use such warheads. However, in the development period from the early 1980s up until at least 1992 such missiles were having serious problems with ‘RadHaz’: their electrical components, although very sophisticated, were also very sensitive to extraneous electrical influence, commonly called ‘radiation hazard’. In layman’s terms it was equivalent to a neighbour’s garage door remote switching off your TV every time he used it, an unwanted side effect.
It is perhaps highly significant that the Maid of the Seas exploded during exchanges with Prestwick, when her navigator would be involved in relatively lengthy broadcasts confirming the flight path to be used across the North towards JFK Airport. No attention at all appears to have been given to this most obvious starting point in any investigation. Instead, we have a rush to judgment in favour of a fantastic conspiracy theory with huge flaws in the technical evidence. Looked at rationally the actual evidence instead suggests an accident.
The accident is terrible in its cause, its nature, its consequences and its implications but it is nonetheless an accident. It is of course illegal to carry munitions of war in a civil aircraft, especially if secretly. There would be serious questions concerning liability and culpability. The testimony of one eyewitness at the crash site strengthens Robbie’s claim that Pan Am 103 may not have been brought down by a bomb at all, but by accidental misfiring of mainstream weaponry components carried illicitly on the plane.
John Parkes is a former soldier, MOD contractor, and consultant and designer of bomb blast mitigation techniques. He travelled to the scene that night from Edinburgh and returned to assist in the rescue and clear up operations that followed. He has nearly 40 years’ experience of explosives engineering. Parkes was asked to examine the bodies of three victims in the improvised mortuary at Lockerbie Ice Rink prior to post mortem. The first victim Parkes examined was a child, perhaps nine years of age. The rear of her body showed fragmentation strikes, pieces of metal penetrating her skin. Their distribution, the blast shadowing caused by her seat, and in particular, minute holing in her socks which revealed a chemical propellant, all confirmed a specific blast signature. It revealed the type of explosive and where it was situated in relation to the girl. The holing and fragmentation in particular are not characteristic of Semtex or similar explosives, he says, and rule out a Semtex blast as the cause of the wounding. Nor did he believe the wounds were caused by the disintegration of the plane on its descent.
The fragments were propelled at high velocity; explosively driven. Pathologist Anthony Busutil, who examined the same body, concluded that what Parkes witnessed was caused by “scraping” as the body impacted the gravel of Dumfriesshire after her five-mile freefall. Flight 103 was a modified Boeing 747 built in 1970 but refitted in 1987 to become part of the Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF), which according to the Air Accident Investigation Board (AAIB) "enabled the aircraft to be quickly converted for carriage of military freight containers on the main deck during times of national emergency”.
This requires reinforcement of the floor and structure, and the planes are then used to ferry troops, munitions and military equipment. Such modified CRAF planes were used for the mass deployment of troops in the run up to the Gulf War. The possibility that a CRAF modified US jumbo such as PA103 was ferrying pallets of weapons – in 1988 during the Iran-Contra era – is supported by unbroadcast news footage of the iconic nosecone section of the plane, which shows that the structure appears to have been peppered by high impact shrapnel strikes penetrating the crossbeam struts.
Sophisticated military weaponry relies on electronic triggering and jamming to function as designed. Many surface-to-air missiles are sensitive to long VHF frequency transmissions, which can cause weaponry to function and detonate. If the US was ferrying weaponry on a civilian aircraft, resulting in 270 deaths on UK soil, it becomes apparent why the two governments would try to conceal this information. The AAIB report, the official investigation into the cause of the crash, is imprecise about the most crucial time index of the entire flight, the moment when the explosion took place. As Pan Am 103 crossed into the Shannon/Prestwick air traffic control zone it was required to switch to VHF2 transmission, for which there is a specific procedure.
The report is inconsistent about who is talking to whom, contradictory about when communication started, vague about whether communication was one or two way between the plane and control, and contradictory about timing and transmission details. Despite the obfuscation, it is clear that the explosives event on the plane took place during the time index when Pan Am 103 was in contact with Shanwick, having switched to using VHF2. It is unclear from the report whether or not the crew had made the long return call to Shanwick; the transmission from the aircraft itself that could have triggered any electronically sensitive munitions that were being carried.
Parkes made extensive efforts to pass his findings to the Crown Office, to MSPs, MPs, the defence teams and to news agencies. MP Phil Gallie raised the matter with Lord Advocate Colin Boyd. The Scotsman reported Parkes’s claims in August 2006, and they also received coverage from The Herald following Megrahi’s conviction, but before the appeal. The Lord Advocate’s response to Phil Gallie pointed out that the defence team did not lead evidence during the trial to contradict the findings of the AAIB report. What he did not do was explain why his department didn’t act upon Parkes’s findings once they had been passed them. That was March 2001.
Jim Swire repeated his call for an independent inquiry on 28 June, the day the SCCRC referred the case back to the High Court. An inquiry that Labour promised in opposition, and which has, after over ten years in office in Westminster, not materialised. Given the possibility of taint within the Scottish judiciary, the UK and US Governments, the Crown Office, and at senior political level if the Parkes scenario is borne out, one can only hope such an inquiry can be convened at all. The conclusions of the UN-appointed special observer to the trial were not widely reported after the conviction, but they are resonant with both the hypothesis that Pan Am 103 was the victim of a mid-air accident and the SCCRC’s decision to refer the case back to the High Court for a second appeal.
Dr Hans Kochler published his findings at the conclusion of the trial, saying that the presence of US and Libyan government representatives "gave the trial a highly political aura that should have been avoided by all means". To him it appeared that an "incomprehensible" verdict of convenience had been reached, to yield a politically motivated solution. "The air of international power politics is present in the whole verdict. There is not one single piece of material evidence linking the two accused to the crime," Kochler concluded. The presence of US Department of Justice representatives sitting with the prosecution, and Libyan government representatives sitting with the defence, "leads to the suspicion that political considerations may have been overriding a strictly judicial evaluation of the case".
He described witnessing openly exercised influence from the part of "actors outside the judicial framework", concluding that "the trial, seen in its entirety, was not fair, and was not conducted in an objective manner." On 14 October 2005, Kochler called for a full public inquiry. The falsification of evidence he witnessed, selective presentation, manipulation and interference were "criminal offences in any country, and the possible criminal responsibility of people involved in the Lockerbie trial should be carefully studied by prosecution authorities." Nothing less than a crime, he says, took place in Camp Zeist.
Before the Scottish, UK or US governments start looking for another group of suspects, the crucial question to be asked is why was the case allowed to be brought in the first place when the supporting evidence was so manifestly inadequate? It is clear that the Scottish Crown Office proceeded with the indictment of Megrahi and Fhimah on the basis of assurances from the CIA, given well in advance of the trial, that they possessed a star witness, Abdul Majid Giaka, who claimed to be able to positively identify them both and link them to the atrocity.
Scottish authorities believed the witness would be credible. He was not. Almost his entire testimony was dismissed and it was discovered that his cooperation had been conditional upon receiving payment from the US authorities, who knew from the outset he was a fantasist. This information was only given to the prosecution very late during the trial. Perhaps in hindsight the trial should have been halted at that stage.
But after Scotland’s largest ever criminal investigation, the lengthy diplomatic debate over the release of the suspects, a 19-month trial under international scrutiny, the pressure to conclude and convict was on. Jim Swire received a remarkable insight while at a meeting with UK Families 103 at the US embassy in London. “One of our number was told by an official on the US Commission of Inquiry, in an aside that "your government and mine know exactly what happened, but they're never going to tell".
This admission to the families group reinforces the doubts raised by the UN observer, that the trial was politically, not judicially motivated. And if the flight was downed by the accidental detonation of munitions, the motives of the UK, the US and latterly Libyan governments become clearer, in the light of Kochler’s analysis. Dr Kochler observed Libyan Governmental collusion in the trial, and half-hearted if not feeble efforts by the defence team, who firstly dropped their special defence, which incriminated the Iranian/Syrian terror group the PFLP, then compounded this by only calling three defence witnesses, including the accused themselves, who offered no testimony. "It puts into question the credibility of the defence’s actions and motives," he said. While clearing the way for Megrahi to appeal, the SCCRC reiterate not only selected grounds for his conviction, but they also go to some lengths to ensure that central planks of the prosecution case, that had become subject to considerable doubt, are reinforced.
The SCCRC specifically stress their faith in the testimony of discredited forensic witness Allan Feraday. The verdicts have been overturned in three separate cases in which he gave evidence, yet the SCCRC state they are satisfied that the evidence he supplied in the Lockerbie trial, was "different in nature" from evidence he gave in cases that were later overturned. The English courts no longer consider him credible, but the SCCRC affirm that the Scottish High Court should. The acquittal of co-accused Fhimah, and the conviction of Megrahi on the same indictment that contended they had to have acted in concert, rendered the verdict incomprehensible to Kochler and Robert Black, among other legal observers.
Tam Dalyell once said that one has to almost be a “Professor of Lockerbie Studies” to comprehend the detail of this complex story, which has arguably become impenetrable to the public at large. Kochler and Swire’s repeated calls for a public inquiry have yet to be answered, but such an inquiry may allow the circumstances of the event to be fully examined in a way that was not achieved by the trial process. That a miscarriage of justice may have taken place has now been accepted by the Commission. Logically, if Megrahi did not bring the plane down, the question remains: how did it happen?
It is also now appropriate to ask what forces operated to allow the conviction to occur on the basis of what is now acknowledged to have been a flawed case. Claims of a cover up at Lockerbie, well supported from the Parliamentary and public record, have fuelled various alternative explanations for the cause of the event. They are based on documented reports that evidence was planted at Lockerbie, that Police notebooks were destroyed, and evidence removed from the scene without examination. The Observer’s Paul Foot reported that Dr David Fieldhouse certified and labelled 59 dead bodies under police supervision. His labels were replaced with 58 ‘official’ labels, and the 59th body disappeared.
Allan Faraday, who led evidence about a recovered bomb fragment, is no longer considered accredited. And other material gathered from test explosions was erroneously presented to the trial as actual recovered evidence from the site. These reports raise questions rather than support conclusions. However, the key question that is not being asked is why was Megrahi scapegoated, and who in Scotland permitted it?
Kochler overtly claimed US and Libyan officials in the courtroom influenced the trial to yield a politically motivated outcome. Robert Black disagrees but does conclude that more subtle pressures may have been felt by the presiding judges. "It has been suggested to me, very often by Libyans, that political pressure was placed upon the judges," he said. "I don’t think for a minute that political pressure of that nature was placed on the judges. What happened, I think, was that it was internal politics in Scotland. Prosecutions in Scotland are brought by the Lord Advocate. Until just a few years ago, one of the other functions of the Lord Advocate in Scotland was that he appointed all Scottish judges. I think what influenced these judges was that they thought that if both of the Libyans accused are found not guilty, this will be the most fiendish embarrassment to the Lord Advocate."
In other words, after 12 years, an 18-month trial, extensive political wrangling, and seismic shifts in international relations even to accommodate the trial, somebody had better swing. With devolution bedding in, an SNP administration at Holyrood and the introduction of the Judicial Appointments Board breaking the link between the Government and the Judiciary, it is now debatable whether those same pressures exist.
The outcome of the second appeal, and the emergence or otherwise of a full independent inquiry, will be the test of the integrity of Scottish justice.

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