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Pan Am 103 Explodes Over Lockerbie, 270 Dead
[Diary of a Vengeance Foretold] Part 172 - Dec. 21, 1988
Ludwig De Braeckeleer (ludwig)     Print Article 
Published 2008-12-30 09:41 (KST)   
"When I heard about the Lockerbie bombing, I thought My God, it did happen. The warning was right." -- Rodney Wallis, Director Security for International Air Transport AssociationYesterday night, someone broke in at Heathrow airport. The location of the break-in gives access to both Pan Am and Iran Airline areas.

Today, Dec. 21 1988, Pan Am 103 arrived at Heathrow airport from New York in the early afternoon. PA 103 took off at 6:25 p.m. A few seconds before 7:03 p.m., Pan Am103 exploded over Lockerbie.

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The Fifth Device

At the trial, a German witness named Gobel explained in detail how the PFLP-GC bombs recovered at Frankfurt had been made.

Scientists at the BKA central physics laboratory in Weisbaden found that the pressure switch took about 7 minutes from take off, if in the fuselage of a 747 flying a normal passenger flight profile as 103 did that night, to switch to the 'on' condition.

The pressure inside a 747 fuselage is auto-regulated to about the equivalent of 8,000 ft above sea level. The baggage hold and passenger compartments are always at the same pressure as each other.

Gobel told the court that the range of timings available among the 'ice-cube' timers they had recovered ranged between about 35 and 45 minutes. [Note: It is essential to realise that the user has no means of altering or resetting their running time.]

Over the years, Dr Swire has acquired quite a bit of knowledge regarding the so-called Ice Cube Timer.

"I also know, and this partly from Gobel's evidence and partly from my own knowledge of electronics -- I have constructed several 'ice cube' timers myself since -- that these are crude analogue devices, their performance is much affected by ambient temperature and by time since last use. Furthermore, the main component, an electrolytic capacitor, is usually only accurate to + or - 20 percent," Dr Swire wrote to me last year.

According to two CIA sources, the IED that exploded on Pan Am 103 was brought from Damascus to Berlin on Syrian Airline under diplomatic protection. Former CIA operative in the Middle East Bob Baer told me that the device that exploded on Pan Am 103 is indeed the "fifth bomb."

The fifth IED was brought by Abu Elias to Frankfurt on Oct. 22, wired by Marwan Khreesat on Oct. 23 and taken out of the safe house by Dalkamoni on Oct. 24. [Note: It is not known to whom he gave it. But soon after his arrest, Abu Talb confessed that he had recovered it and passed it to a person whose identity was never revealed to the public.]

The BKA recovered one device on Oct. 26, 1988. Acting on a tip, they found three others on May 1989. The BKA never recovered the fifth IED.

It is also hard to ignore the fact that the bomb exploded after 38 minutes, right in the middle of the range determined by the German Police physicists.

Denial of Evidence Fabrication

On June 28, 2007, the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission referred the case of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi to the High Court of Justiciary.

As a result of the Commission's decision the applicant was entitled to a further appeal against his conviction for the murder of 270 people who died following the bombing of Pam Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland on Dec. 21, 1988.

However, the SCCRC found no evidence that the MST-13 fragment had been fabricated to implicate Libya.

"The additional submissions also sought to cast doubt on the origin of a fragment of circuit board recovered by forensic scientists which the trial court accepted had been part of the MST-13 timer that triggered the bomb. Underlying those submissions was the allegation that evidence of the timer fragment had been fabricated in order to implicate Libya in the bombing. The Commission undertook extensive enquiries in this area but found nothing to support that allegation or to undermine the trial court's conclusions in respect of the fragment."

The -- No Longer -- Mysterious MST-13 Timer

From a study of an enlarged picture of the MST-13 fragment, FBI Thomas Thurman was able to identify its origin, namely a Swiss company called MeBo.

Soon, the investigators established that MeBo had supplied such timers to Libya which became afterward the only focus of the investigation. Baer told me that all leads to Jibril Damascus based organization and his sponsors in Tehran were abandoned at once after Thurman discovery.

I regard the decision as highly illogical. Firstly, why was not the IRA, among other organizations, investigated since it is known that MeBo had also supplied them with that particular kind of timer? [Note: The SCCRC has discovered that the MST13 timers "were all over the place..." IRA, Red Brigades, ETA, STASI... You name it.]

But most importantly, why was the investigation into the prime suspect, namely the PFLP-GC, abandoned when it is established that MeBo had supplied the STASI with the MST-13 timers and that the STASI was collaborating closely with the PFLP-GC? In fact, the collaboration was so close that PFLP-GC members who needed medical care would be attended in East Berlin hospitals.

Former CIA Vince Cannistraro has stated that the STASI link could safely be dismissed, as the PC board of the timers delivered to them was brown while the ones delivered to Libya had a green board. That is false. MeBo engineer U. Lumpert built both set of timers and remembers using green PC boards for both sets.

And as a matter of fact, the fragment of the timer recovered at Lockerbie could not have belonged to one of the devices sold to Libya. Indeed, a close look at the curved edge of the fragment indicates that it has been hand-made, unlike the 20 timers delivered to Libya that had been machine-made.

The Lockerbie Timer IS a Fabrication

On Oct. 29 of this year I wrote: "In the Megrahi's case, Dr Hayes did not even perform the basic test which would have established the presence of explosive residue on the sample."

"During the trial, he maintained that the fragment was too small while it is factually established that his laboratory has performed such test on smaller samples."

"Had he performed such test, no residue would have been found. As noted by MeBo engineer U. Lumpert, the fragment shown at the Zeist trial belongs to a timer that was never connected to a relay. In other words, that timer never triggered a bomb," this writer predicted.

Earlier this week, the Mail on Sunday reported that: "New forensic analysis on a fragment of the timing device alleged to have triggered the bomb that brought down Pan Am jet 103 on Dec. 21, 1988, is said to have found no trace of explosive residue."

Several experts, including a top forensic expert from the US with much experience in conducting such tests, have confirmed to me that it is impossible for such fragment to have been near the center of an explosion and not show trace of explosive residue.

The Truth Surfaces

Soon after the decision of the SCCRC was announced, Richard Marquise, the FBI agent who led the Lockerbie investigation, was quoted as saying that he was very unpleased with the Committee allegation of fabricated evidence. I thus pointed out to him that the report in fact had rejected such accusation.

Marquise told me that he had been quoted correctly but that he "had been led to believe that one of the grounds for the appeal was that evidence had been fabricated."

I can now reveal that U. Lumpert, the engineer who designed and built the MST-13 Timer for MeBo, has told me that he did give a hand-made prototype to a Swiss Police Officer.

"I confirm today on July 18, 2007, that I stole the third hand-manufactured MST-13 timer PC-board consisting of eight layers of fiber-glass from MEBO Ltd. and gave it without permission on June 22, 1989, to a person officially investigating in the Lockerbie case," Lumpert wrote.

I understand that the "person officially investigating in the Lockerbie case" to whom Lumpert gave the prototype is Swiss Commissioner Peter Fluckiger who requested the device at the request of a "friendly intelligence agency."

It seems that neither Fluckiger nor Lumpert knew at the time that the request was linked to the Lockerbie investigation. Lumpert told me that he was neither rewarded nor threatened. Lumpert also told me that he provided inspector Fluckiger with additional material.

Final Thoughts

"People will debate for a long time whether I did the right thing by helping Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein," once said W. Mark Felt -- the man they called "Deep Throat."

"The bottom line is that we did get the whole truth out, and isn't that what the FBI is supposed to do?"

It seems safe to assert that the whole truth about Lockerbie has not been told. In fairness to the Bureau, US officials -- except President George Bush -- never claimed that they had arrested all the culprits.

"This case is not closed. The investigation continues, it has continued since the plane went down and it will continue until every individual who we can identify who played a role in this tragedy is brought to justice," stated US Acting Deputy Attorney General Bob Mueller on Jan. 31, 2001.

"Did Iran contract with the PFLP-GC? Probably - although, it cannot be proven in court... and never will be unless a reliable witness or two comes forward with documentary evidence," Richard Marquise told me earlier this year.

But not only has the truth not been told, one must also realize that contradictions regarding the case also abound. For instance V. Cannistraro -- aka The CIA Man Who Wrote the Script Against Libya -- has said that the Lockerbie link to Libya was found after he left the Agency.

However, the timer is said to have been identified by Thurman on June 25, 1990. According to his short biography attached to a recent letter to Sen. McCain, Cannistraro retired in January 1991.

And then some coincidences are simply beyond belief. "It is striking to witness the similarity of the discoveries, by the FBI, of the scientific proof of the two aircraft that were sabotaged: the Pan Am Boeing 747 and the UTA DC-10.

Among the thousands or rather tens of thousands of pieces of debris collected near the crash sites, just one PCB fragment was found in each case, which carried enough information to allow its identification: "MeBo" for the Boeing 747 and "TY" (from Taiwan) for the DC-10, wrote French investigative journalist Pierre Pean.

And to top it all, both fragments were identified by FBI SSA Thomas Thurman and neither have traces of explosive residue.

In any case, it is very difficult to argue with Pean as experts believe that it is very unlikely in the first place that any part of a PCB could survive the several thousand degree blast.

"In the event someone in the US or UK Government had a smoking gun and did not give it to us, I would support their prosecution--even at this stage, Marquise told me on Nov. 16, 2008." Now, that could be interesting!


Experts Say Bombing Showed Technical Skill and Resources - NYT, December 29, 1988

Ludwig De Braeckeleer has a Ph.D. in nuclear sciences. Ludwig teaches physics and international humanitarian law. He blogs on "The GaiaPost" Ludwig can be reached at: dr.ludwig@hotmail.com
©2008 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Ludwig De Braeckeleer

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