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Helsinki Warning Dismissed as Hoax
[Diary of a Vengeance Foretold] Part 163 -- Dec. 12, 1988
Ludwig De Braeckeleer (ludwig)     Print Article 
Published 2008-12-19 13:47 (KST)   

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"The Helsinki Warning was totally investigated after the bombing and we determined as fact that it was not a credible threat based on who made the threat." -- Richard Marquise, Former FBI agent and head of the Pan Am 103 Bombing Investigation Communication to the author
In the evening of Dec. 8, 1988, following the FAA security bulletin issued to US embassies and airliners, Pan Am contacted his Heathrow based Corporate Security Manager Jim Berwick.

They instructed Berwick to go to Helsinki at once to investigate the warning received by the US embassy on Dec. 5.

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Flash Back

At 10:45 a.m. Dec. 5, 1988, a man speaking with an Arabic accent telephoned the US Embassy in Helsinki, Finland. The anonymous caller asked to speak with the Security Officer.

The informant said that a Pan Am flight from Frankfurt to the United States would be blown up within the next two weeks.

The caller stated that a man living in Frankfurt called Abdullah would passed a bomb to a man named Yassan Garadet who just arrived from Libya and was now residing in Hemeenlinne, a city North-east of Helsinki.In turn, Garadet would plant the bomb on an unidentified Finnish woman.

In the evening of Dec. 8, Berwick left for Finland. There, he was met at the airport by US regional security officer, Kenneth Luzzi who had picked up the warning call.

Warning Dismisses as Hoax

Finnish investigators conclude within days that Samra Mahayoun, a Palestinian living in Finland on a student visa, had accused Garadet because he belonged to a rival drug smuggling organization.

Having been told that the Helsinki warning had been thoroughly checked and could be safely ignored, Berwick returned to Pan Am headquarters in London.

Nevertheless, Berwick, already aware of the Toshiba radio bomb threat, ordered special screening of all woman passengers from Finland.

Post Lockerbie Bombing Investigation

The Helsinki Warning was totally investigated after the bombing and the FBI concluded that it was a hoax running parallel to the tragedy.

"We determined as fact that it [The Helsinki warning] was not a credible threat based on who made the threat. It may well be that by the time the FBI saw the threat, the assessment of the Finnish police had already been made and it was discounted. I cannot tell you how many 'threats' the government receives daily -- even back then. To investigate them all would not be practical," Marquise told me.

US intelligence officials have confirmed that, prior to their arrest on Oct. 26, PFLP-GC members had monitored Pan Am facility at Frankfurt airport. Berwick was not informed of this finding.

CIA Director Opposed to New Legislation Reg Covert Ops

Yesterday, in his first interview since President-elect Bush announced that William H. Webster would be retained as the nation's intelligence chief, the CIA director said that the he will oppose legislation that would require the agency to tell Congress about all covert operations within 48 hours.

Such legislation is expected to be reintroduced next year. Under the current rules, senior officials are required to review every 10 days any decision to keep operations from Congress. Webster stated that the rules are enough to prevent repetition of the Iran-contra affair.


NOTES AND REFERENCES

C.I.A. Chief Finds Gorbachev a Mixed Blessing for Agency - NYT, Dec. 11, 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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