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An Unusual Crown Witness
[Diary of a Vengeance Foretold] Part 65 - Sept. 5, 1988
Ludwig De Braeckeleer (ludwig)     Email Article  Print Article 
Published 2008-09-06 05:54 (KST)   

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Sunday, Sept. 5, 1988

"Mohammed Abu Talb has provided testimony tying the radical faction, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, General Command, to the Pan Am bombing."
--The New York Times, Oct. 31, 1989

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On Sept. 5, 1988, Jehab Chabaan, Ziad Chabaan and Samir Ourfali entered Germany on a flight from Damascus. Jehab and Ziad are brothers of Imad Chabaan while Samir is a cousin.

Imad Chabaan, who changed his name to Martin Imandi a few years earlier, resides in Uppsala, Sweden. Martin Imandi is a close associate of Abu Talb.

Imandi met the three men at Munich airport and attempted to drive them illegally to Sweden. Danish police arrested them at the border city of Rodbyhavn on a charge of carrying false documentation.

The Talb-Chabaan-Mograbi PPSF Cell

In November 1983, Talb and his wife, born Jamilla Mograbi, entered Sweden. Talb used a false Moroccan passport. They asked for political asylum and received it quickly.

Jamilla's sisters were members of the Palestinian Popular Struggle Front (PPSF). Dalal died in Tel Aviv when a number of Palestinians attacked and killed people on a bus and were then in turn killed by Israeli security forces. Rashidi was jailed in Britain after throwing a grenade at the Iraqi ambassador in London.

Her three brothers, Mahmud, Mustafa and Mohamed Mograbi, were also members of the PPSF, and so was her husband.

Abu Talb was born in Port Said, Egypt, in 1954. He participated in the first stages of the civil war in Lebanon. Shot at in 1976, Talb never fully recovered from his wound. Semi-crippled, he will go on with a funny way of walking.

By 1988, Talb was running an Arabic video business. The owner of the cafe where he was selling the videos was a Palestinian man named Hamid Al Wani. According to Swedish Security Police (SAPO), Al Wani was the leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) for the central part of Sweden. His brother, Sadi Al Wani, founded the organization with Ahmed Jibril.

Abu Talb, Chabaan and two of his brothers-in-law -- Mahmoud and Mustafa Mograbi -- were using Uppsala as a base for their terrorism operations. In 1985 and 1986, they bombed the offices of Northwest Airlines in Copenhagen and Stockholm, an Amsterdam office of Israel's airline, El Al, and a synagogue in Copenhagen.

On Dec. 24, 1989, an Uppsala court found Talb, Chabaan, Mahmoud and Mustafa Mograbi guilty of staging the Northwest and El Al bombings. Talb was sentenced to life in prison.

Nevertheless, Talb will collaborate with the Lockerbie investigators and even appear as a Crown witness. Many observers have wondered why a convicted murderer, sentenced to life, would collaborate with US investigators in spite of his deep hatred for the Americans.

In his book, R. Marquise, the former FBI agent who led the investigation, tells an interesting anecdote. "Keen and Taylor each tried to cross him up, first by asking him to corroborate things which had not occurred. Talb denied having spit in the face of the American agent Hal Hendershot, something Hendershot did not recall either," Marquise wrote. "Talb said it was not in his character to do that," Marquise adds.

The transcript of the Lockerbie trial at Camp Zeist indicates otherwise. Under cross-examination by Beckett, former police officer George Brown testified that Talb did spit on the face of Hendershot.

Q: All right, then. Can I ask you about something rather different, Mr. Brown? Are you the George Brown who became involved in investigations in Sweden?

A: I was, yes.

Q: And was one of the people whom you wished to interview named Mohamed Abu Talb?

A: That's correct.

Q: Did you, along with your colleague Patrick Ferguson attempt to interview Mr. Talb on the19th of December 1989?

A: I'm not certain on the date, but it would be about that time I certainly went to Sweden to interview them.

Q: Towards the end of 1989?

A: It would be, yes.

Q: Did Mr. Talb come to an interview room along with his solicitor and Swedish police officers and start to swear at Mr. Ferguson and at you?

A: That's correct.

Q: Was he extremely excited, aggressive and bitter about your presence there?

A: He was more bitter to our American colleague than ourselves.

Q: Was that Mr. Hendershot?

A: Yes.

Q: Did he spit in his face?

A: He did.
Former CIA official Bob Baer told me that, at the time of his arrest, Abu Talb was about to be rewarded for his services to Iran, including the greatest strike ever against the West.

"I still do not have any idea why an Iranian operative was a witness for the prosecution," Baer added.
References

"Portrait of Pan Am Suspect: Affable Exile, Fiery Avenger," Dec. 24, 1989.

--

Ludwig De Braeckeleer has a Ph.D. in nuclear sciences. Ludwig teaches physics and international humanitarian law. He blogs on "The GaiaPost."
©2008 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Ludwig De Braeckeleer

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