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Lockerbie: 'Experts,' Mysterious Timer
[Analysis] Investigation clouded by accusations of planted evidence
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Charles Norrie, 2007/07/11 02:01
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A tale of two atrocities ? Mr. Megrahi is not guilty ? Charles Norrie ? 20June 2007

If you can do nothing else, please read this first sheet.

Mr. Megrahi is not guilty of the destruction of Pan Am 103 at Lockerbie. In the first section below (p 2) it is demonstrated that he is not guilty; in the second section (p 11) it is shown how the Lockerbie bombing was carried out, the country involved, but exactly who did it is not.

Since 19 September 1989 (the date of the destruction of UT-772) I have had a passionate interest in both Lockerbie and UTA ? which was destroyed by a bomb (the phrase improvised explosive device ? ied is a detestable circumlocution) over the Tenere desert, in which my brother died.

Lockerbie, the destruction of Pan Am 103, had happened some nine months earlier.

Through the last 17 years I have closely followed the events in both Lockerbie and UTA.

Through the years, I have come to the conclusion that the conviction of Mr. Megrahi is wrong, and that Iran is entirely guilty, but with assistance of elements of the US government.

New evidence, the case papers from the French trial of six Libyans for the UT-772 bombing, now being used to pursue a civil case in the US federal courts against Libya have been analysed.

I have presented these results to the SCCRC, and for some 17 months They refused to consider them. Then I received a letter saying that would look at those I had submitted in December 2005, and also May 2007

Mr. Megrahi, painfully as it may be, must be acquitted of any responsibility for the bombing of Pan Am.

The relatives and friends of the victims of Pan Am 103 deserve to learn the truth of the cruel destruction of those they cherished.

Charles Norrie, 15 Canonbury Grove, London, N1 2HR, 020-7359-9310

Proving the innocence of Mr. Abdelbasset al Megrahi

In this section it will be demonstrated that Mr. Abdelbasset al Megrahi is not guilty of the bombing of Pan-am 103 over Lockerbie on 21 December 1988.

If you have read this section, you may wish to read the next, which identifies how the bombing of the plane took place, which country was responsible, but not exactly who did it.

All the information in this document is based on the analysis of materials that are derived from court processes or are uncontentious statements (such as the dates of newspaper articles).

The sources for the claim

All the court process information comes from the following sources

The Fatal Accident Inquiry into Pan Am 103
The Lockerbie trial at Zeist
The Lockerbie Appeal at Zeist
The trial in absentia against 6 Libyans accused of the bombing of Flight UT-772 brought in the Tribunal de Grande Instance, Paris in 1999
A case brought by relatives of 7 US citizens against the Libyan State in the US Federal Courts, called for brevity Pugh et al v. Libya, brought in the autumn of 2005 and not yet decided.

The last two cases will be unfamiliar to those solely knowledgeable of Lockerbie. Although they relate to the circumstances of the bombing of UT-772, the case documents, which were made fully public in the second of these cases, mention Lockerbie only in passing, but when they do, the information is almost always significant to a proper understanding of that tragedy.

The trial papers in Pugh et al v. Libya can be found at http://www.crowell.com/PracticeAreas/Page.aspx?id=60&cid=310

The last case only came about because in the 1990s the possibility of bringing cases against sovereign states became available to US plaintiffs and the relatives of the 7 US citizens on the UTA flight decided to sue the state of Libya, over their deaths.

To pursue this case the plaintiffs obtained, translated and read into court the full (or almost the full) case documents in the 1999 trial as part of their testimony.

The conclusion that must be drawn from this analysis is that Lockerbie is not a Libyan crime and far from the destruction of UT-772 being a copy of it ? the so-called 쏛frican Lockerbie thesis - Lockerbie has been served up as 쐒echauffe of a genuine Libyan atrocity against UT-772.

A submission to the SCCRC

This analysis (available on request) was written up at greater length and sent to the SCCRC, which is reviewing Mr. Megrahi's conviction and sentence. The material in Pugh et al. v. Libya was first published on the net on 19 September 2005, and before Christmas, a submission had been made to the SCCRC .

In January 2006 the SCCRC replied that they considered that the submission was made too late for their review. That would have been acceptable, if publication of their report had been promptly made. In the last few weeks they have written to say they are considering both this information and a copy of the information in this document of May 2007

Consequently, I have no doubt that their conclusions will be in line with mine, though they may not wish to go as far, for example over the inferences I have drawn about Iran.

I wrote that sentence in advance of the SCCRC report. Although Mr Megrahi got his reference back to the court of appeal, the SCCRC report was a poor piece of work, still trying to shore up the collapsing structure of Lockerbie. To take just one example Ms Boylen, the PC who found CIA badges at the crash site and was not allowed to log them (clearly in breach of judges' rules), a patently honest woman with no reason to fabricate evidence, is still not believed.

Though I was put on notice by Mr Beadsdale by email of the report, no reference to my material appears in the executive summary. One hopes that the full 800 page job is a better effort.

The SCCRC later suggested that if the material contained anything of interest Mr. Megrahi's lawyers would hasten to use it. Mr. Tony Kelly has replaced Mr. Ed McKechnie, and he had to be instructed on what the UTA crash was about. Ms. Maggie Scott QC, Megrahi's advocate has never bothered to reply.

It would seem that the Scottish legal system would prefer to do things with great difficulty using the established 'evidence' that has served Mr. Megrahi so badly than try a new route that would so quickly exculpate him.

I believe Mr. Megrahi has been served appallingly by the Scottish judicial system, that his conviction was a nonsense and his appeal a travesty. Had Colonel Gaddafi been less suspicious of the Scottish judicial system and its reliance on juries, I am sure that 15 good Scottish citizens on a Glasgow or Edinburgh jury would have thrown out the charges. The leader of the Libyan State of the Peoples, as the Jamaharihya is, it seems just could not trust ? well ? people.

The UT-772 connection

My interest in Lockerbie stems from the death of my brother in UT-772 in 1989. Living in the UK, it has been possible to follow Lockerbie closely. If UTA is ever recalled it is only to treat it in the same breath as Lockerbie, as if it were a clone of that act of terrorism.

Mostly UTA is forgotten about. Even in France, Lockerbie has a higher profile.

But the two bombings were entirely different in what the explosives were used, the system of detonation, the method of putting the bombs on board as the table in Appendix I shows

One particularly important point is that doctored suitcases of the sort used in the UTA bombing had been obtained from the PLO by the Libyan security services which had been forced into exile in Libya in the 1980s. Thus Libya had the makings of a UTA-type bomb before the date of Lockerbie. If this were so, and they were prepared to use a PLO-style bomb for UTA, why did the Libyans not use such a bomb for Lockerbie.

This conundrum matches in importance a fact raised by Dr. Jim Swire. If the Lockerbie bomb was a timer bomb on the third stage of a long series of flights to New York, why did it explode at a height and a time after departure from Heathrow that was the signature of a PFLPGC device, that was a timer-controlled pressure device.

These are both questions that must be urgently and intelligently addressed.

In conclusion, it must be said that if the Libyans did Lockerbie, they carried out an exemplary bombing (from a perpetrator's point of view, which leaves behind no useful trace, with the exception of the curiously incautious decision of the perpetrator to stuff the primed suitcase with clothes obtained on a previous visit to Malta (where he was a frequent visitor), and the unlucky survival of a piece of computer chip. By comparison, no computer chip survived UT-772, but to be fair that was a bomb five times as large.

However, the detonator did survive UT-772, so why was one not found in Lockerbie? Is it possible that, because detonators are very general pieces of mechanism, the Lockerbie detonator would have been insufficiently distinguishing?

This points to a 'kludge' a plot-device designed to produce evidence that can be pinned on someone ? in this case the Libyans ? that was never found as material evidence.

By contrast the UTA bombing contains elements of incompetence and buffoonery that, if it were not for the sad fact that the bombing succeeded, would amount to a Franco-Libyan farce.

The French case against Libya ? a singular case in the US courts

These are important in permitting one independently to analyse the French case against Libya. Simply there is so much evidence in the public domain that points to Libya, that it is impossible to see UTA other than a Libyan crime. For example, if Mr. Elazragh had not been involved in the plot, he could simply have refuted charges that he was complicit, and he has never even done that.

And numerous rumours of the bombing that originate in the Libyan diaspora ? many of them from exiles ? have to be answered, and haven't been.

It's time to turn in some detail to the documents in Pugh et al. v. Libya. These consist of three sorts. There are the case papers of the 1999 trial against the 6 Libyans, (a few appear to have been redacted), done into English and forming a substantive part of the case.

Of the rest, most are part of an annual series of US State Department Papers entitled Patterns of Global Terrorism. One paper stands out on its own. It is a submission by a retired State Department official Ambassador Thomas McNamara who was in charge of the State Department's desk in the early 1990s for both the Lockerbie and the UTA bombings. He has been a very senior US career diplomat, and we can assume that it was with the full authority of the State Department that he made his submission to the Pugh et al. v. Libya trial. Mr. McNamara was in a position to learn and influence policy on these two terrorist incidents, more than anyone else. The reason Mr. McNamara may have contributed to the case is that one of those killed on UT-772 was Ms. Bonnie Pugh, wife of the US ambassador to the Congo.

Ambassador Thomas McNamara

Start with Mr. McNamara's submission. One of the most important points is Mr. Mcnamara's centrality to the whole process: he says:
쐔he SCG (Senior Co-ordinating Group) met frequently under my chairmanship to discuss both the Pan Am 103 and UTA 772 cases. Pan Am 103 and UTA were the most important cases the SCG focused on.
By the Autumn of 1989, when the UTA bombing took place, Mr. McNamara says the Americans had reached no conclusion on who was responsible for the Lockerbie bombing, and this is confirmed in the relevant issue of Patterns : 쏲addafi's clandestine operation that destroyed Pan Am 103 in December 1988 was still successfully hidden.
However by 1991, which one can reasonably take to mean the beginning of 1991
쏝y 1991, the investigation had shown clearly the Government of Libya, its intelligence agencies and its agents were responsible for the planning of the bombing, the assembly of the explosive device and the carrying out of the operation to place the explosive device in the baggage system of Air Malta Airlines which would carry the device...
So what had happened between these two dates. Essentially very little other than a curious briefing by the French on their conclusions on the UTA investigation.
Mr. McNamara refers in his submission to the court to a undated meeting between the American Lockerbie managers and investigators and the French UTA inquiry. This happened at the end of 1990. The date of the meeting is not given is not given, but I suggest that it is not before 1 November 1990.
A singular briefing of extreme importance
This meeting was not either part of the Lockerbie investigation or part of the UTA inquiry. I have constructed a combined and detailed time-line for both investigations (and the crashes), which is available upon request.
So what was it? It seems that the French examining magistrate brought the Americans up to speed on the results of his UTA enquiry. It is necessary to spend a short time recounting the events of UTA.
A history of UTA
When it was established on 23 September 1989 that UTA had been downed by a bomb, France's leading terrorist examining magistrate, Juge Bruguiere, was appointed to lead the case. In an extraordinary move on the first anniversary of the bombing he invited all the relatives of the victims of UT-772 (technically, the partie civiles which includes representatives of the airlines, the trade unions and SOS-Attentats, the French victims of terror support group) to meet him at the Palais de Justice in Paris, where he gave us his provisional conclusions on who did the UTA bombing and how it had been done. The story he told us was that Libyan intelligence officers and operatives had assisted disaffected Congolese nationals to bomb the aircraft. Why Congolese nationals would want to bomb a French aircraft was not answered.
Prior to this meeting in the early summer Le Point, a right-wing Parisian paper, published an article that said there was a Libyan link (though with Congolese assistance) to UTA. The information in this article had come from a briefing the juge had given to the partie civile lawyers.
These dramatic disclosures naturally received much attention in the French press, although journalists had not been invited to the meeting. The victims' relatives' lawyers had been, and the press were largely briefed by them.
What Juge Bruguiere did not tell us at this first 1990 meeting was that his conclusions had by mid-September 1990 moved on. In the summer of 1990 he had interviewed an informer who maintained (provably) that there was no Congolese organisational participation in the bombing of UTA, and that a Congolese national had been used as a 'mule' to carry a bomb onto the UT-772 plane, which then exploded.
So much must be said for Colonel Gadaffi's support for any revolutionary group ? Libyan priorities come first.
Within ten days of Juge Bruguiere's briefing of the relatives, an article appeared in the French press which said that the Libyans were responsible for Lockerbie also. It referred to the finding of MST timers in Dakar, Senegal. If you study the Lockerbie time line, there is no event that suggests an specific indication of Libya (apart from those that had been ongoing for a long time. The Libyans were one amongst a number of suspects).
A singular briefing (continued)
But the Americans did not change the direction of their inquiry until after the putative date at which Juge Bruguiere briefed them, though it is reasonable to suppose that elements of the US Government were actively promoting the Libyan thesis in first the French, then the American and finally the UK press.
We can also be certain of what Juge Bruguiere told the Americans at their joint meeting. It was that UTA was a 쐏iste Libyenne alone, and contained no culpable Congolese elements. This can be deduced by looking at the relevant copy of Patterns of Global Terrorism, where the Congolese are described as witnesses, and not as perpetrators, which they would have been if they had not been used by the Libyans, but co-operated with them.
Hence the Americans had been told of the juge's final conclusions on UTA.
It is tempting to suggest that this meeting took place before 22 November 1990, the date of Mr. Xavier Raufer's article describing Lockerbie as a Libyan attribution, and after 1 November.
We can summarise this process in the table shown in Appendix II.
What one can certainly say is that before the briefing by the Juge, Libya was just one amongst many theories being advanced for Lockerbie. For example, Mr. Abu Talb, who became a witness at the Lockerbie trial had his picture shown to Mr. Gauci, the Maltese shopkeeper, who signed an affadavit saying he had not identified anyone so far, in August 1990. After the briefing, Libya was the only show in town as far as Lockerbie was concerned, and virtually all the material 'evidence' was collected in the first 7 months of 1991.
Now it is just possible that the Americans had a blinding flash of insight as a result of their meeting with the French. A much more likely explanation is that the Americans saw Libya as a convenient Aunt Sally, which would draw interest away from the real Lockerbie criminals, the Iranians who destroyed the aircraft with the connivance and some assistance from elements in the US Government.
Clearly, it was felt that it would be much cleaner to pin the bombing on the Libyans, who had no distracting connections with the Iranians ? unlike Mr. Talb (See the section below).
A tiny contribution by your author
My own tiny part in these events is that as a partie civile I attended both the 1990 and the 1991 meetings called by Juge Bruguiere. At the first I raised the question of whether Lockerbie was connected to UTA in the bombing. It was possible said the juge. The following year, when I repeated the question, the Juge had no time for any Lockerbie connection. I did not understand this change at the time, and it was only with the release of the UTA trial papers from 1999 in Pugh et al. v. Libya, in 2005, 14 years after his 1991 pronouncement, that I fully understood what the juge had been saying.
It is an interesting question as to why Juge Bruguiere did not tell the UTA families in 1990 about his full findings. As we have seen he publicly announced that UTA was a Conglese-Libyan plot, at a time when he privately knew it to be solely Libyan. I think this was done to force co-operation with the Americans.
By the start of 1990 it can be demonstrated from the UTA trial papers that relations between the Lockerbie investigation and that of UTA had broken down. At one meeting, the French are told that the only co-operation they will get is with the 'investigating authorities' - that is low level co-operation with the Dumfries and Galloway police. Although Mr. Bruguiere never says it openly, he regards the local police as no more than bumbling country plods, unfitted to be carrying out investigations into international terror. It is as much national style or amour propre as anything.
The character of Mr. Bruguiere
The juge heads a national counter-terrorism unit in Paris and can command the police (he is not a policeman, he is an examining magistrate, a far grander being), the DGSE (French MI5), DST (French MI6), and the Bureau Enquete (French AAIB) to carry out his investigatory requests. He has frequently made disparaging remarks about British counter-terrorism comparing it unfavourably with the French approach and either he or his department was to call at a later date what they saw as the laid back approach across the Channel - 'Londonistan' .
So any approach that disobliged the British and the Americans over Lockerbie was fair game, and lying to the UTA relatives in 1990 was allowable. There has been no complaint from the French relatives over this matter and, as a group, they tend to be uncomplaining of this sort of treatment.
Thus holding the Americans to ransom in this way and requiring them to request a briefing meeting with the French over their results in UTA was an important step in clarifying the validity of the two inquiries. If the Americans chose as a result to misdirect the Lockerbie inquiry, it was nothing to with the French.
Once the point had been made, the French and the Americans began to work together again, as many issues important to the French needed to be followed up in the US. The French specifically reject the evidence of Mr. Awad, a Libyan exile in the US, who claimed that Libya was responsible for both UTA and Lockerbie. However, the French did give the Americans assistance over MEBO timers found in West Africa. If the Americans wanted evidence to prove the Libyan attribution for Lockerbie, and the French possessed something of use to this end, the French would not deny them, but they would not allow any interference with their own investigations into UTA. It is arguable that the Americans had an interest in the UTA flight, because the UTA aircraft was owned by an American leasing company ? but operated by UTA, a financial stratagem forced upon the company owing to the difficult circumstances into which it had fallen.
Juge Bruguiere's inquiries revealed two previous attempts on the Brazzaville-Paris flight, orchestrated or organised by the Libyans within the previous ten years of UT-772, one of which had led to the bomb exploding while the plane was on the tarmac, the other where the bomb had failed to detonate, and it is possible that the financial difficulties of the company had led to inadequate security. Certainly, the juge was to describe the situation at Maya-maya airport, Brazzaville, as 'chaotic', and there were problems with the UTA security operation.
A Libyan rationale
Why did the Libyans bomb UT-772? The accepted reason, surely correct, is that the Libyans has lost a war to the Chadeans, backed by the French over the control of the Aouzou Strip, which makes up the northern third of Chad and the Libyans decided to take their revenge in this unmilitary way.
Mr. Bruguiere at his 1991 meeting with the UTA families, when specifically asked about this point, simply suggested that these were 'African reasons' in his own words. In contrast Mr. McNamara writing some 14 years later has no doubt that the humiliating peace imposed on Libya by the French on behalf of their Chadean allies was the motive for the attack. Despite M. Bruguiere's reticence, there are strong reasons to believe this. The attack was ordered by Mr. Senoussi, who is of the Senoussi tribe it is generally believed, and this tribe controlled the various trans-Saharan trade routes in the nineteenth century ? Libyan tribal trade routes go deep down into Central and West Africa, routes that in the past were used primarily for slavery. Thus the Libyans came to regard the Sahara as their own backyard and the Aozou strip as a piece of Libya that had got away.
A specifically American problem
This revelation of the part played by the French in aiding Lockerbie efforts towards an unsustainable Libyan conclusion, is of course, but a sidelight in a case that is primarily directed at showing a Libyan State culpability for UT-772.
Here the US plaintiffs face an immense problem. France is one of the strongest upholders of the doctrine of the immunity of states and their heads from criminal prosecution. The six Libyans who stood trial in 1999 stood alone as individuals accused. No Libyan State or Libyan State institution was prosecuted at the trial. So strict is this doctrine that it proved impossible to bring a case against Colonel Gadaffi in Paris, as some of the UTA relatives wished.
However, the plaintiffs in the US courts were faced with a different problem. Although they could bring a case against the Libyan 6 severally and collectively, in relation to the size of the claim they would be 'men of straw', and only the Libyan State itself would have the resources to meet the size of the claim (estimated to be $140M in total). So Mr. McNamara spends a lot of space in his submission to make a case against Libya, based primarily on the State Department's own Patterns of Global Terrorism, the fact that sanctions were introduced against Libya in the United Nations (and no country demurred) and that Lockerbie was provable case of terrorism by the Libyan State.
Now this is surely wrong. Mr. Fhimah and Mr. Megrahi were prosecuted in their private capacity, and not as agents for the Libyan regime. Whilst the British courts are not as strong on the doctrine of sovereignty as the French courts, Libya was not prosecuted, and a civil action against Libya brought in the British courts would undoubtedly have failed.
So in Pugh et al. v. Libya Mr. McNamara is using a case which can be shown provably not to be a Libyan responsibility to show that state's responsibility, for a case, the plaintiffs claim, it provably is, but could not be brought as such in the French courts.
Two very curious cases
Lockerbie and UTA are shot through with problems like these. The trial of the Libyan 6 is in absentia but nevertheless reaches the right verdict, that of the Libyan 2 with the judges in charge of the trial acting as judges of fact as well as of law, reaches the wrong one.
It is certain that if Mr. McNamara had not decided to support the plaintiffs in Pugh et al. v. Libya in this way, the Lockerbie conundrum would have remained unsolved. Many, when they first learned of the indictment of the two Libyans, found great difficulty with the prosecution's assertions. These go as far back as 1991. The situation was no clearer after the trial of the 6 over UTA. Yet with the confidence only judges can show, their lordships went on to convict Mr. Megrahi of a crime he has certainly not done.
Two 'cover-ups'
I dislike the phrase cover-up, as it is sloppy. Cover-ups are almost always processes by which difficult stories can be presented in a more attractive manner by the author, making unacceptable conclusions more media and recipient friendly.
Lockerbie has two such processes. The first begins after the US-Iranian agreement, and is a way in which attention is drawn away from any Iranian connection to Lockerbie. Its major factor is the disappearing padlock. The US didn't want Lockerbie to appear as Iranian. Unfortunately for them, by making the padlock disappear they drew strong attention to their role in bombing Pan Am 103.
The second happens two years later, although there is evidence of a strong wish to go in that direction before. It is the process of re-attributing Lockerbie to Iran, and the best bit of evidence is the meeting between Juge Bruguiere and the American Lockerbie investigators.
With this conclusion, it is best to turn to the second part of this story to find out 'who did Lockerbie, then'.

Who did Lockerbie ? the claim

These are the conclusions on the Lockerbie bombing that work ? the destruction of Pan Am 103 was solely carried out by an Iranian agent, probably a member of the Revolutionary Guards, but with the tacit agreement (which might be called a licence) from parts of the US government, almost certainly elements of the State Department.

A naval stupidity

The story begins with the US Navy appointing a 'fighting captain' rather than a 'convoy captain' as the commander of the USN Vincennes. Captain Rogers saw the Iranians as a active enemy and his job to fight them, and not the intended role of his ship being the supervision and protection of legitimate shipping through the Straits of Hormuz. Thus he and his crew came to identify Iran Air 655 Airbus as an incoming attack on the Vincennes and carelessly and callously allowed it to be destroyed.

The Iranians regarded the destruction as deliberate. The Americans sought lamely to exculpate the Vincennes, but clearly could not. It really is not acceptable that the world hyperpower could not distinguish between a civilian airliner and a fighter.

The situation was further exacerbated from the Iranian point of view when on his retirement Captain Rogers was awarded a medal, and not put on trial. Attempts to extradite him to Iran to face trial also failed.

The Iranians blew hot and threatened the destruction of up to a dozen US airliners. The US, probably the State Department, realised that this was more than talk.

Autumn Leaves

One possibility is that they realised the Iranians meant business as a result of the BKA's (BundesKriminalAmt - the FRG's FBI) destruction of Autumn Leaves. This was an ill thought out attempt by some Iranians to destroy a number of US aircraft, and a Palestinian group had been hired to carry it out. It might have well succeeded and with the Iranians still bent on revenge, the Americans realised that they'd have to negotiate. The BKA were entirely successful in this case, and there is no suggestion that one bomb got away to become the Lockerbie device.

The agreement reached in the days after Autumn Leaves was that the Iranians would be permitted to destroy just one US capital aircraft in commercial flight. The US side of the contract did not require them to nominate such an aircraft, but simply to allow the destruction to happen. However they engaged to hamper the investigation of any such destruction when it took place.

A strange agreement

The US President-elect was keen to ensure that the destruction took place before the beginning of his Presidency and to this the Iranians were happy to agree. If the destruction were carried out in the days leading up to Christmas, the passengers on the chosen flight could be pictured as the equivalent of those on the Iranian Airbus going on Hajj to Mecca. This form of justice deriving from the Hammurabi code (eye for an eye...) was a concept familiar to the Iranians as qesas, and sanctioned by the Koran. That a large number of the victims would not be American, and some not Christians on a pilgrimage seemed to worry the Iranians not at all.

The Iranians preferred on balance this approach, as it would be an Iranian who would directly deliver the destructive blow to the Americans. And again, it would be cheaper than hiring an outside group of contractors to deliver the coup.

Claims that Palestinians were paid $10M to carry out the bombing remain that ? unsupported claims.

The Iranians then looked around for a suitable location to deliver their blow. They quickly determined that the Iran Air facility in London was adjacent to that of Pan Am. Tacitly it was agreed that Pan Am as the premier US airline in a state that lacked a national carrier would be the target. So the target became a Pan Am flight out of London, clearly heading to the US in time for Christmas.

The Little Satan

Over this matter the Iranians had no particular bone to pick with London, but given the interference of the UK in Iran's past affairs and the strong backing this country had given to the Shah it would not matter if the country were embarrassed and used in this way. It was to the Iranians the 'Little Satan' the USA being the 'Great Satan'.


It is an interesting question whether the Americans became aware of the flight that was eventually chosen. An oddity was that the Helsinki warning expired the day before the Lockerbie bombing took place. If the warning were originated by the US (as a way of instructing State Department personnel off Pan Am 103 of the 21 December) that would clearly be foreknowledge by the Americans. It is difficult to see any reason why the Iranians should deliver such a message, as they would prefer Pan Am 103 to be as full as possible.

It is known that State was warning its officials off Pan Am flights in December (but having set up the arrangement they would warn its employees off all flights by US carriers), but why the CIA would not have picked up on this and protected its own proteges (see below) is one of the great Lockerbie mysteries.

If US personnel returned in numbers to Pan Am after December 21 1988, that might indicate that this line of inquiry is true.

The Sting

However, the Iranians had one more gambit up their sleeves. They decided to mount a sting against the CIA. They were very annoyed by the behaviour of a an agent called Tiny McKee in the Lebanon. Mr. McKee was trying to arrange the release of hostages held in the Bekaa Valley. His actions were extremely amateur, leaving a sizeable evidential trail (often in the form of money), and the Syrians, the masters of the Lebanon knew well in advance what his actions were likely to be. The Syrians gained the knowledge that McKee and his team would return to the US on the 21st December by Pan Am 103, a complex trip, via Cyprus, Frankfurt and London. And the closeness of the Iranians and Syrian intelligence meant that what Damascus learned, Tehran would be told.

Two who didn't do Lockerbie, and others

Two theories to account for Lockerbie at this point can be disposed of, South Africa and Syria. In the first theory South African security interests caused the bombing. Mr. Pik Botha was diverted onto another flight and the UN Commissioner to Namibia onto Pan Am 103 itself. If the South Africans controlled the bombing, why didn't they just arrange for the bombing of the morning flight on which Mr. Carlssen would have been and Mr. Botha not? Perhaps it is possible that Mr. Botha was warned off after a tip-off to the South Africans, but by who? And making use of the knowledge of the bombing doesn't make you guilty of it.

The Syrian drug-running operation is different. The Syrians tell the Iranians Mr. McKee is to be on Pan Am 103, so in principle the drug courier could have been warned off. Perhaps the answer is that the drug-running operation was unknown to those in Syrian intelligence who liaised with the Iranians, and the Syrians did not know of he plan to blow up Pan Am 103, and the Iranians were ignorant of the Syrian drug-running.

One school of thought wishes to claim that the CIA had some hand in this operation. Mr. McKee was thought to have had disagreements with his bosses in Washington and the CIA bombed or permitted others to bomb Pan Am 103 to prevent his return. Even if the CIA would sanction the killing of a senior team of investigators, however aggravating their behaviour or intended behaviour might be, the killing of innocent lives (especially American), would be of such an insult that, if it became known, the survival of the Agency would have been put at risk. That the CIA knew little of what as planned is therefore proved by McKee's death, and other parts of the US government were involved in the plot.

The most likely suspects were the State Department, which needed to normalise relations with Iran and that shadowy group of Republicans known as Iran/Contra which had benefited so much from its relations with the Iranians before the start of the Reagan presidency by the continuing detention of the US diplomats until Reagan had been elected and President Carter safely banished from office.

A Mr. Thomas McNamara was referred to above. There is absolutely no evidence that Mr. McNamara knew anything about the bombing of Pan Am 103 at this time, though he was a senior State Department employee.

Previous to the night of 21 December 1988

So the plot was made ready for the night of the 21st by the Iranians, and entirely unknowingly to the Americans.

Meanwhile preparations were made in Iran. Firstly, the bomb. A small attempt at a disguise of the origin of the bomb was attempted. It was designed to be as similar as a PFLPGC bomb in signature, such as was found in the Autumn Leaves bust as possible.

It is generally considered that a putative aeroplane bomber will try to destroy his target well over an ocean, relatively late into a flight, but before the aircraft has reached (or can reach) the coast or shallow coastal waters. The Air India bombing is a classic example.

This was the form the Americans claimed the bomb to be many years later in the UTA compensation trial - a long-timer.

By modelling a PFLPGC bomb the Iranians would have a device that was triggered by a short time delay after a pressure drop (on take off) had started a timer. That way, if there were a delay in take off, as can happen at busy period, such as Christmas, there would be no danger in the explosion taking place on the ground.

Interestingly in one of the attempts on the Brazzaville-Paris run, which happened some eighteen months before UT-772, a device had exploded on the ground. But the Libyans never got beyond timer technology.

Anyone who looks at UTA and Lockerbie closely can be astonished only by how different the two approaches are.

Disguising the device

By using a PFLPGC format, the Iranians would signal to casual investigators that the device was indeed a PFLPGC one. This would to some extent protect them, if the US reneged on its deal to permit the Iranian bombing and allowed investigators to research the true story.

Modelling a PFLPGC device was not difficult. It was within the competence of any first year university or even senior high school student doing physics or electronics, even in Iran. It was well within the competence of the resources available to the Iranians. All that was needed was a simple pressure transducer, and an ice-cube timer and battery connected to a detonator, in contact with the explosive, and appropriately wired.

At the same time, it was important that the explosion did not leave behind any tell-tale information of its origin. No suitcase ? no misleading fragments of cloth and no tell-tale circuit fragments.

The information of the explosive and the contents of the suitcase retrieved from the Lockerbie detritus trail are nothing but red herrings. The evidence was considerably mauled during the Lockerbie trial, and surely cannot survive the extensive SCCRC scrutiny it has been subject to.

In other words there is no information to be derived from the site of the explosion that is of any evidential use.

In particular, there is no evidence of a suitcase at all. If an item of clothing and a microchip fragment can be retrieved, then why not a provable piece of suitcase? Why not the detonator? It was in UTA, a much larger bomb.

The clean canvas

It can be said that it was the very 'cleanliness' of the Lockerbie bombing that the Iranians created simply to prevent themselves being linked to the tragedy that produced a 'clean canvas' on which the Americans could write a cover-up story.

Conclusion, there was not suitcase in the Lockerbie device. By contrast the UTA device recovered parts of a suitcase, but not contents.

Which do you think is more likely to survive a bombing?

Was a Lockerbie bombing intentional

Of course, but in this sense. It has been argued to that that far from not caring where the bomb came down, the Iranians were eager to see that a very messy crash took place over land. That way there could be no doubt that it was a bombing. They thus proved their revenge to the Americans and,more importantly, to their own people. If it had crashed at sea, no debris would have survived and the US by saying that material recovery would be too hard, could present Pan Am 13 as an unfortunate mechanical failure. The Iranians didn't want that.

Perhaps then Pan Am 103 was meant to crash over a bigger centre of population. In fact only 11 citizens of Lockerbie died. Had the crash happened over Glasgow, which Pan Am 10 was due to cross and the Iranians had got their timings right (they expected the aircraft to fly faster), the outcome would have been far far worse.

It has been put to me that there were two possible routes out of Britain. Which one is taken depends upon the wind. Strong winds imply a more northerly route. Lighter ones mean a route over Bristol and the Celtic Sea. But on the southerly route the sea is reached in about half the time. On a Lockerbie timing of 38 minutes a more southerly route places the plane somewhere south of Waterford. Over the sea.

As we have seen the Iranians want a destruction over land for publicity reasons. So, they would need a second setting of about 19 minutes, which would have brought the aircraft down over Bristol.

If the Pan Am 103 bomb is like a PFLPGC bomb, then the detonator is armed at 8000 feet. Now the maximum rate of climb for a loaded 747 is 1000 feet/minute, so the bomb is armed after 8 minutes. Setting a 19 minute delay for a southern route is more than 8 minutes, so the bomb goes off according to the PFLPGC timetable.

So it is quite possible the bomb had two settings, one for the southerly route, one for the northerly. And they guessed right that the northerly would be taken.

Had they guessed a southerly route and a northerly was taken, Pan Am 103 would have come down near Nottingham.

An Iranian tourist goes to London

Meanwhile, our Iranian agent has been put on notice for his mission, learning that Pan Am 103 of 21 December is the flight McKee has chosen to return to the US, he receives a final briefing of his task.

He (the agent) boards an Iran Air flight designed to arrive in London as late as possible on the 20 December 1988.

It has been difficult to research this point. Official records (?BAA) will not be helpful, or are so old as to be useless. The Iran Air timetable of 1988 is no longer available. The theory put forward is crucially dependent on their being a flight that arrives in London from Tehran, at a particular time on the 20 December, or just possibly before. That, in one way, makes it a good theory, as it is falsifiable. It has been impossible to test this. If there is no Iranian aircraft that arrives in Heathrow on 20 December, or possibly slightly before from Tehran, this theory is dead.

I have approached both BAA and NATS on an informal basis to find out what inbound Iranian flights they handled at this time, and now that they have declined to reply satisfactorily, they have been served with Freedom of Information Act (2000) requests.

The ignorance of Iran Air

It is essential to understand that Iran Air had no knowledge of the agent's purpose. It would be incredibly foolish for them to have any knowledge of what was being attempted. Airlines work in an international system of mutual trust, and if it became publicly known that Iran Air had had any involvement with aircraft bombing, it would have had an entirely negative impact on the company ? which has not happened.

On the other hand, airline security is not gate security (and access security is usually devolved to the airport's operators or their agents), and a bomb laden operative could presumably have gained access to Tehran Airport without security checking and therefore to an Iran Air flight to London.

In other words in the late 1980s security at Heathrow was no better than that of all other airports in airline communication with Heathrow, as arriving and departing passengers were freely mixed.

The Iranian agent flies to London, with a deactivated bomb. Arriving in London, he does an incredible thing. He leaves the Iran Air plane in the usual manner, but instead of walking to immigration or international transfer in the normal manner, he turns into a corridor leading down to the adjacent Pan Am facility.

At the end of the access corridor he was confronted by a pair of rubber doors secured by a padlocked bar, which had to be accessed from airside (i.e. The side he was on - not the apron, where the baggage facilities were).

A broken padlock

This is the most crucial relevant item of evidence in the whole of the Lockerbie conundrum. The importance is this. This door is secured from air-side not apron-side and the lock can be broken only from air-side. The padlock and bar were neatly left beside the door, when found by the BAA security officer, Mr. Manly. The padlock was found by him to be 쐁ut like butter.

Our agent was equipped with a sturdy pair of boltcutters (possibly of American manufacture ? high quality). He had a powerful grip, and quickly destroyed the padlock. He placed the broken padlock and bar neatly by the door, making no attempt to conceal his action.

At this point it is reasonable to ask, if carrying out the perfect bombing, why leave behind even one clue, with its specific Iranian implication. It is suggested that this simply couldn't be done. In 1988, Heathrow was an airport it was virtually impossible to arrange a bombing from. The security issues simply couldn't be magicked away by the Iranians. One possibility was denied to them by Iran Air's inflexible rule on complicity.

The perpetrator had to behave as a normal passenger. He couldn't therefore secrete himself aboard the Iranian plane after it had landed waited until the coast was clear, disboarded, and then crossed the apron to the Interline Shed. That way it would have been unnecessary to break the padlock at all.

An alternative account has the padlock deliberately left so that the American authorities would necessarily know it was an Iranian attack.

So essentially, the Iranians relied on part of their bargain with the US, that the Americans would clear up after them and wouldn't use any evidence they left behind in an enquiry. The Americans complied. Had they not done so, the Iranian story would have come out sooner.

That the particular scenario has not been made public until now, is proof that both their method and the belief they had in the Americans.

It would be possible two further levels of removal of the evidence, before it is necessary to be doubtful of an Iranian attribution.

If the perpetrator had carried the padlock and bar away, possibly by breaking it into small pieces and secreting them about his person, the absence of the padlock and bar would still indicate that there had been a break in. If Iran Air had been more co-operative and allowed the perpetrator to hide on the aircraft, so he could leave it to the apron without breaking the padlock, the most reasonable conclusion would be an Iranian attack, if only because of the adjacency of the Pan Am and Iran Air gates.

Only if the gates were not adjacent, but, say, in different terminals or spines would it be possible to come to the conclusion that it was not an Iranian attack.

In other words the Iranians meant to advertise the fact of their operation. The adjacency issue will be discussed further below.

Having carried out this act, the Iranian agent proceeded through the newly broken door across the apron to the Interline Shed. Beyond the security of the padlocked bar, there were no further barriers or any locked doors. There didn't need to be.

In the Interline Shed

He entered the Interline Shed. Baggage containers were carefully arranged according to flight and schedule, and it was not difficult to find the container that would carry the interline baggage going out the evening of the 21st. December on Pan Am 103.

It is proposed (for several reasons) the bomb did not reside in a suitcase but resembled a more old fashioned 쐏lastique a bomb that could be stuck on the side of baggage container.

There are several reasons for this conclusion. The first is that no suitcase fragments provably from the bomb suitcase were found in the Lockerbie investigation ? so no suitcase was involved. Fragments of a Sansomite suitcase were found in the much bigger explosion of UTA ? (2.2kg pentrite compared with 453g of Semtex), so why was no suitcase found at Lockerbie.

Secondly a persistent line of inquiry at the original trial led the AAIB to admit that the centre of the explosion could have been very much nearer the surface of the baggage container than it originally claimed. It would have been the case, if the bomb had been affixed to the side of the container, as Dr. Curtis conceded at the trial.

Thirdly, the Iranian operative would have wanted to defuse the possibility of being connected with a bomb, if intercepted. Carrying a suitcase even (especially) in a baggage shed would cause reason for examining the suitcase. A smaller device hidden in a pocket or under a overcoat might escape notice.

Fourthly, the size of the bomb, which has never been publicly acknowledged.

(That points to an Iranian plot. All the Iranian builders needed to do was phone up Tehran University's aero-engineering department get a number of views on the minimum size for a bomb needed to destroy a Boeing 747, average them, add a 'safety' margin of say 30% and come up with 453g of Semtex).

The size of the Lockerbie bomb is no more than A4 size and if so, no thicker than 5mm ? The battery, detonator, ice-cube timer and pressure transducer are of negligible size and volume.

It was arranged so that it could be stuck to the internal surface of the baggage container, and activated, where it would silently wait until called by the act of take-off and ascent to do its nasty work.

So, the Iranian operative having penetrated the shed ? it wasn't locked, and having located the correct container, simply vaulted inside it (he was athletic as well as having a powerful grip), took out the device, which looked like a grey aluminium plate, peeled the back cover from it revealing an A4 sticky surface and located it on the side of the container. At this point the bomb was activated, a simple switch which would allow the parts of the detonating circuit to activate. No doubt it would appear on first inspection to be a repair - baggage containers have a very hard life ? no club class for them!

Someone would have to look very hard at the container itself (and from the inside) to see what had been done. Once the operative had left the container, and if he were arrested and Pan Am had deduced he had planted a bomb, they would be left with a very difficult process of checking that none of baggage containers had been interfered with - a process that could have held up the company's London outbound flights for days.

Fortunately for the Iranians there was no-one in the baggage shed, and as the operative quickly but not hurriedly made his retreat, no-one to watch him go.

No-one saw the Iranian tourist

Personnel who worked in the shed appeared at the Fatal Accident Inquiry, the trial and the appeal. The was evidence presented by the Crown relating to two suitcases either placed in the container either by Mr. Bedford or Mr. Kamboj. On the quite spurious grounds that Mr. Bedford sounded the more confident, the trial bench preferred to believe his account. It is possible that either of the suitcases could have contained the bomb; I have argued not. The most important point from Mr. Bedford's evidence is the inference that the shed was not permanently staffed. At one point he went off to seek Mr. Walker during his tea-break. Careful observation of the shed before the bomb was planted would have established which times would have suited the Iranians best.

And a final point. Mr. Bedford was responsible for labelling the baggage container for the Pan Am 103 flight.

This may not have been unforeseen. It is possible that the perpetrators studied the daily movements of baggage personnel and BAA security officers, and gained the common knowledge of those in Iran Air, London. Iran Air staff would be as keen as any Iranians to avenge the loss of their Airbus. Their problem was that Iran Air could not be seen to be the means of delivering that destruction or it would become a pariah airline whose flights would be rejected by many countries or even be proscribed the ICAO. So, if its personnel share any blame it is their covert operations of support and assistance and not overt of commission that were used.

As our Iranian operative passes back through the door with the broken padlock, let's summarise what has been achieved. At some point he also disposed of the boltcutters, which were never apparently recovered.

A summary of what's been done

A bomb has been placed in a position to be put aboard a US capital aircraft in commercial flight (on a container due to be loaded). There is no knowledge of what the bomb is, where it is, or even that it's a bomb. Even permitted by the US to place a bomb on an American airliner, the Iranians were determined not to be the hostage of evidence that could be tracked back to them. No wonder the Lockerbie investigators had such a frustrating time.

It is difficult to say what the position would have been regarding the operative if he had been arrested at Heathrow and found to be in possession of the bomb. No doubt some agreement existed between the US elements involved and Iran to meet this eventuality. The point is the Iranians were cautious and competent, and had worked out how to make their attack without interference.

Furthermore the bomb was attached to a baggage container that would go on an aircraft, and it would never be subject to any security check whatsoever.

The uselessness of the baggage checking in use, and therefore
of much of the evidence in the Zeist trials.

None of the various checks in force so carefully reviewed at the FAI and the Zeist trials would have succeeded. Neither baggage X-ray screening nor check-baggage reconciliation, the two methods in use at the date of Lockerbie (and indeed today), would have been of any use whatsoever.

It must have been to the investigators as if a bomb had simply materialised on Pan Am 103.

There is the small possibility that the Americans bombed their own aircraft. This is most unlikely. The first reason is that the revenge had to be delivered by an Iranian hand, the second that the Americans wouldn't on principle, and the third that as Americans they could have chosen any airport with capital US aircraft and would have had no need for the adjacency of an Iran Air facility. In fact, that's the last thing the Americans would have wanted to do. The adjacency of an adjacent Iran Air facility would draw attention to the Iran link.

The Crown at the Appeal used traditional techniques to belittle Mr. Radley and Mr. Manly, (who in particular was considered to have created a poor impression as a witness), when they gave their evidence in favour of Mr. Megrahi. Wasn't it possible that the padlock had been broken from the apron-side, and it was simply the work of lazy baggage loaders who wanted a quick route to avoid the long route past security. (i) Couldn't it have been independently broken. (ii)

But it wasn't. (i) Yes, but it's an unreasonable conclusion (ii) which I'll come to below.

Sticking just to Heathrow, examine the other alternatives for getting a bomb on Pan Am 103, via the baggage container route and directly off an Iran Air flight.

Every other route (save flying in the bomb by Iran Air at an earlier date, storing it in the Iran Air facilities and then placing it in the baggage container before flight must involve passage through or into a security zone by a barrier.

If the bomb is stored in Iranian Air facilities, it falls foul of the 'no involvement of Iran Air' rule.

The unlikelihood of the other stories

Mr. Taylor's superb analysis of the baggage system at Frankfurt disposes of a Frankfurt origin.

If you believe that a PFLPGC group in Germany is involved, then there's the question of bringing in the bomb to the UK and then into the apron-side area of Heathrow (and you have to account for the broken padlock). That's a lot of foreknowledge especially on the security position at Heathrow of PFLPGC personnel based in Germany, and you need to account for how the bomb evaded security. It would have had to come through the ordinary route through the security scanners or have been smuggled into the airport avoiding security, and if smuggled, why the need to break the lock.

Mr Talb enters the witness-box

Mr. Talb gave every appearance of being an effective witness at the Zeist trial. As a Crown witness, by his appearance, he would avoid the possibility of charges being brought against himself on the same Lockerbie matters at a later date ? (thank you, David Benario, for that insight into Scottish criminal procedure). As we have seen, Mr. Talb was probably the suspect that the prosecution would have put in the dock had the Libyan story not so fortuitously turned up, and the investigators had been forced to charge somebody.

Certainly, he had a tale to tell of air-trips round the Mediterranean area that appeared to be funded by casual and anonymous benefactors. Mr Taylor, Mr Megrahi's defence counsel, using his usual scatter-gun approach to his client's defence, made much of Mr. Talb's travels, practically accusing him of being the Lockerbie bomber.

If Mr Talb has been the bomber, the circumstances of his appearance in court would have been much more serious for the prosecution, if they had had the slightest inkling of his guilt, and would lead to accusations of perjury by the Crown.

But Mr.Talb was only one of the lies of the 'bodyguard of lies' used by the Lockerbie prosecution to prevent the real Iranian story from being revealed.

Local agents at Heathrow?

And if local agents at Heathrow had been paid and well paid to carry out the act, would not some evidential trail have been left ? like a baggage loader who had suddenly received a large windfall ? lottery win, inheritance or proceeds of betting.

If you still believe that Heathrow is simply involved as an accident of being the place that the bomb was transferred to Pan Am 103, then the hypothesis is wrong. At this point one is tempted to apply Occam's razor. In point of fact parts of Heathrow airport are in Surrey, where Occam, today's Ockham is located, and Roger, who invented the razor,came from.

The Iranian explanation is the one that requires least manipulation of the evidence and is the simplest to understand.

An Iranian tourist returns home.

Ignoring the broken padlock and bar, the operative left the Pan Am gate, and headed for the interline desk. The bar, especially, was too big to carry around the airport without prompting suspicion. Here, he produced a ticket for an onward flight from London, dumping the boltcutters in a convenient waste bin (not then absent from airports) , which were recovered and the evidence suppressed - probably to a West European destination, where he transferred to a Tehran-bound Iran Air flight. He was most likely back in the Iranian capital before Pan Am 103 ever left the ground. Thus Pan Am 103 proceeded on its way inexorably to destruction.

A claim for responsibility

After the bombing there were the usual claims for responsibility. It is usual to discount all of these. One was for an Iranian attribution, mentioning the Revolutionary Guards. This may have been a way the Iranians tacitly informed their own people that the Airbus tragedy had been avenged, knowing that it would necessarily be ignored by the investigators.

Nevertheless, it is undeniable that Iranian demands for retribution died down after Lockerbie, and (excluding the 9/11 actions) no US commercial airliner was destroyed subsequent to that disaster. In the destruction of Pan Am 103 the Iranians satiated their desire for revenge.

What Mr. Radley, Mr. Manley and BAA did

Mr. Radley and Mr. Manly's duties ceased when they made a report in the BAA log book of the breaking of the padlock, and the police were informed. A Metropolitan PC came and retrieved the broken padlock and bar, which were never seen again. However, the report remained in BAA's log book and was presented to the Appeal court, twelve years later.

Now, BAA might have been said to have had an interest in suppressing information of a security breach at Heathrow, as it would reflect on the quality of security at the airport. But, the padlock and bar went missing in police custody, not BAA's. Secondly, at any time during the subsequent dozen years BAA could have caused the log book to disappear (it was in their custody), but it was produced in court at the appeal. BAA could argue that its security had not failed and Mr. Manly and Mr. Radley had properly acted to the limits of their duties and competences in reporting the broken padlock. Any further action to search for a bomb in the baggage shed was well beyond their responsibility, and in the first instance it would be up to the police to decide what to do next.

BAA is therefore acquitted of any claim of incompetence, or worse deliberately hiding the matter of the broken padlock. However, if you look closely a number of security measures have been adopted from the early 1990s onwards that reflect the Lockerbie breach.

A retrofit

Passengers from arriving international aircraft and those leaving are now typically but not universally handled in separate parallel walkways. This has been a difficult retrofit to existing terminals. Arriving passengers cannot usually now turn into a gate to be used by departing passengers but must proceed to baggage reclaim, immigration and onward international flights, where they and their baggage will be re-screened. New airport terminals have this separation of passenger traffic streams built in from the start. Few foreign airports reach Heathrow's level of security and conflicting streams are still common. This change in practice has never been referred to by BAA in public, and references by BAA to security are rare and laconic, revealing little information.

BAA frequently is challenged for the cost of its operation and as far as security goes it is demonstrably effective, though expensive. BAA security staff are paid at the high end of the payscale for workers of this type, reducing the incentive for illegal behaviour. Challenge, for reasons of cost, this level of expense, and British airports might be more vulnerable than they hitherto have been.

If there is ever a claim that BAA's virtual monopoly should be broken, this aspect of their thoroughgoing security policy must be remembered.

The only material evidence that might relate to the bombing, the broken padlock, disappeared in police custody ? that of the Metropolitan Police's Heathrow Station ? one of the most important in the country, a suppression requested by certain US authorities.

Let's look at the British point of view.

A British interest

It is difficult to see what British angle there might be in this. Pan Am 103 was a US airliner not British and Heathrow's involvement was inadvertently as a suitable way of producing the bombing of such an aircraft.

It might be possible to argue that BAA, which is not the same as the British national interest, asked the Met to suppress the evidence of the broken padlock but they left the evidence of its break-in in the log book. That would have been an incompetent cover-up.

But perhaps in pursuit of the agreement that parts of the US government had pursued with Iran, US officials could warn the British police off the investigation of the broken padlock at Heathrow. That limited action would fit in with the retention by BAA of a log book in which the breach of security was clearly indicated.

It is part of the ongoing feeling one has about Lockerbie that a trial was never intended to come to court and would not have done unless the options for US relatives that became available to them by law made it almost inevitable. During the 1990s three acts of Congress improved the position of American plaintiffs out of all recognition with respect to foreign state violence.

But why should a broken padlock be associated with the destruction of an aircraft? In other words is it more or less reasonable to believe that the broken padlock and the destruction of Pan Am 103 are connected.

A little step into probability and statistics

One approach to this, unliked by the courts, is probability. This history of the courts in the understanding of probability is deplorable and it took all of the mathematical skills of the Royal Statistical Society to persuade the courts of their abysmal failure in the matter of Sally Clark's conviction. Briefly what happened was that Professor Sir Roy Meadow took the average death rate from cot deaths and cubed it to prove that Ms. Clarke had murdered her three children. He had no knowledge of Ms. Clarke's individual genotype and her propensity to produce children who would die from cot death. Multiple (triple) cot death happen roughly once a year in a country were very roughly 1000000 children are born a year. Take the cube root of 1000000 and you come nearer to finding the true rate of child loss (or 1%) for mothers who unfortunately inflict their children with cot death syndrome. It is a condition that is rare and sad but you cannot use the average statistics to prove criminality.

Now applying statistics to Lockerbie is far from straightforward. One reason is that the rate of terrorist incidents is so very, very rare. About the time of Lockerbie there had been only one other recent and thwarted attempt ? that of Mr. Hindawi, who induced his Irish girlfriend to fly to Israel by El Al with a bomb in her luggage. That was a successful attempt, as it defeated BAA security and only El Al's more stringent precautions stopped an atrocity from happening.

If Lockerbie and Hindawi are included in our equation, there is a terrorist incident rate of 1 in 600,000 flights. (At the time of Lockerbie BAA was handling around 400,000 flights a year and the Hindawi incident happened about 18 months prior to Lockerbie. (If Hindawi is excluded the rate is nearer to 1:2000000 flights going back to the terrorist incidents of the early 1970s) So this is a 'common sense' high figure.

How secure is Heathrow, statistically?

The other issue is the rate of serious security incidents at Heathrow. BAA does not publish its security failure statistics and it will be necessary to construct a figure by roundabout means. Start from the fact that Mr. Manly said it was the most serious incident he had encountered in his 17 years with BAA. And the number of people on duty at any time can be worked out (and therefore the amount of 'securing' they do by knowing the number of people employed by BAA, the proportion of them involved in security work (it's 40% - leading to the claim that BAA is a security company with airports and shopping malls attached), the need to provide about 5 people to cover 1 post (figures used by the police) ? eight hour day, weekends, holidays and sickness ? and that Heathrow had about 40% of BAA's traffic, and you come up with a figure of about 13 incidents a year at Heathrow (that are as serious as that which Mr. Manly considered to be the most serious of his career. There around 140 BAA security staff on duty at any time). The incident rate is thus 1 in 40,000 flights. In other words there's a 600,000/40,000 chance against (15:1) any particular security incident being linked with a disaster such as Lockerbie.

The estimate of incidents/year is reasonable and is within an order of magnitude of being correct.

Calculated another way using different statistics, I calculated a figure within 30% of the one above,quite accurate enough for the sort of analysis we are doing.

But at this level of odds, could the police ignore a link as they appeared to do?

It gets worse. The broken padlock happened within 24 hours of Lockerbie. In that time Heathrow would not have handled 40,000 but just 440 flights. So our figure of 15:1 against there being a connection becomes a 6:1 chance in favour.

In other words the police had no right to discount the evidence of the broken padlock , and indeed should have made it their chiefest clue ? and the only element in the whole of the sad Lockerbie business worthy of the name.

If you still do not like probability just ask yourself whether the breaking of a padlock on the same that an aircraft is destroyed 18 hours later is likely to be connected or not. And if you say unlikely, and what time separation does it become likely ? (6 hours,1hour,5 minutes)?

The Lockerbie inquiry languishes

In other words the suppression of the broken padlock was a cover-up and the most likely instigators of it were elements of the US government.

Hampered by the disappearance of the evidence of the padlock the inquiry languished from the start. So complete was the Iranian coup that when UTA happened some nine months later, little progress had been made in the investigation of Lockerbie.

Libyan buffoonery versus Iranian expertise

It is possible that the Libyans were encouraged by the lack of progress of the Lockerbie investigation to try their luck against the French. But the Libyans were not the Iranians ? the one an incompetent bunch of buffoons who were even blackmailed by the Congolese friends of the 'mule' - and the other an efficient and secretive group of highly effective operators.

Some evidence has independently come to light to support these conclusions. Ms. Roya Hakkakian, the jewish-Iranian-American journalist was smuggled into a Turkish refugee camp where she met a Mr. Behbhani, who claimed to be an exiled Iranian intelligence chief. He said he had been in charge at some time of Iranian external activities of an illegal nature, and he knew about Lockerbie, which had Palestinian, Syrian and Iranian aspects.
From the point of view of an Iranian, it might seem like that. Prominently excluded from his list was any mention of Libyans. It is a weak confirmation, if confirmation it can be called, but it is a claim which fits in with the verifiable facts. The claim was hotly denied in the US and by Iran, and Mr. Behbhani slipped from sight into his Turkish omerta.

So what can be said are the conclusions of this argument.

A short conclusion

Mr. Megrahi is the victim of the most egregious miscarriage of justice ever to happen in Scotland, and the Scottish criminal justice system has inflicted on itself wounds that will take decades to heal.

Most importantly, the relatives of the Lockerbie bombing victims deserve to hear the truth about what happened nearly 19 years ago.

There are many issues that have been avoided in this story, and it has been restricted to looking at the specific Lockerbie circumstances. The UN has rarely been mention and is a huge part of any thorough story covering all the issues. It is a sad fact that UN sanctions were imposed on Libya by the UN in the name of the victims of both Lockerbie and UTA. They were removed only in the name of Lockerbie, as Mr. Jack Straw, the proposer of their removal and the then Foreign Secretary, should be able to recall.

Libya's retreat from terrorism has been slow and hesitant. One telling point is the Libyan plot against Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, who was certainly chosen as a target because he had together with Nelson Mandela persuaded Colonel Gadaffi to release the Lockerbie 2 for trial, and the good Colonel or his associates felt the normalisation of relations with the US in particular were too slow ? and indeed, even today, the final payments by Libya to the Lockerbie relatives have not been made, nor have fully normalised US-Libyan relations. It would have been impossible to proceed against Nelson Mandela, who had presented the Colonel with the Cape of Good Hope medal, South Africa's highest award for his support for the ANC through its years of struggle.

Understanding the Libyans requires a flexibility of mind to follow their very devious purposes.


The most important issue is that Mr. Megrahi must be freed and returned to Libya, and his good name restored to him, and compensated for his wrongful imprisonment. Libya has foolishly linked him to the case of the Bulgarian nurses and the Palestinian doctor for their 'crime' of infecting children with HIV, a crime that was solely caused by poor quality hospital hygiene.

Next there needs to be a number of public inquiries. One must surely be a Congressional inquiry into what went wrong at Lockerbie and a formal inquiry of this sort will have the powers to call witnesses who will otherwise make themselves unavailable.

In this country, there must be a public inquiry. The case will be so ancient by then that no security issues whatsoever can be of significance.


Various individuals may well have acted criminally. Most importantly, there was the decision to permit the bombing of Pan Am 103. The following are suggested as the conspirators:

Elements of the US State Department or Iran/contra
Elements of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

Then there's the carrying out of the crime, and the accused are from

Elements of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

Next there's the cover-up process of the crime.

Responsibility for the cover-up

Identifiable elements are:

The Metropolitan Police, Heathrow Airport.
It seems they will have been acting in conjunction with the Security Services and their US counterparts (roles unknown).

Then there's the process of attributing the bombing to Libya.

Undoubtedly, Ambassador Thomas McNamara, when his story is properly deconstructed and analysed, will have serious issues to respond to.

He may, however, know nothing of the original decision to allow the bombing of a US aircraft, but this will be discovered only when he is subject to investigation.

As the issues turn more to the Lockerbie investigation, it is more difficult. It seems reasonable to suppose that those who seem to be near the top of the investigation knew they were corrupting it. It is difficult to see that the FBI investigator who handed the Scottish Police a photograph of Mr. Megrahi was unaware that that gentleman had nothing to do with the bombing. However, it seems that the Scottish Police may in turn have been misled, and so no blame can be attached to them other than naivety and stupidity.

It is more difficult to understand some of the other evidence. Mr. Thurman seems to have a deeper knowledge than could simply be that of an investigator into the disaster; but the UK forensic scientists who were witnesses at the trial, whose notes appear to have been interfered with may simply have been used by others.

It will be the duty of the inquiry to explore the extent of the culpability of the various investigators and other players in this story.

How high does the responsibility for this appalling miscarriage of justice go? Mr. McNamara is quite damning:

쏤rom my arrival at the NSC in early 1991 until my departure in late 1992, I was in charge of monitoring the work of all U.S. Government agencies involved in various terrorism cases to ensure that policies and decisions of the President were understood and followed by all agencies working on the cases.

That suggests President HW Bush knew that there was a process of re-attributing responsibility for Pan Am 103 taking place, and the conspiracy therefore extends to Presidential level.

The State Department and the NSC have questions to answer. It is interesting to note that in the fallout from Lockerbie, State had to relinquish to the Agency control of counter-terrorism.

The major finding -why the 쐁over-up

The finding of the most overriding importance in this analysis was that elements of the US Government, but not the CIA, permitted Iran to bomb a US capital passenger aircraft in commercial service. Two clues are absolutely damning. Firstly, there is the Helsinki warning, which warned US government officials off any US bound US carrier flight in the days leading up to the Lockerbie tragedy.

It was in no-one else's possible interest to spread this warning. It was not in Iran's, which clearly wanted flights by US carriers to the US to be as full as possible. And no other country or group had any interest whatsoever. And did not know the bombing was planned.

The second issue is the initial clear-up and the subsequent campaign against Libya. The disappearance of the broken padlock and bar is crucial in allowing us to attribute a role in the events after the disaster to the US. There is no conceivable reason why the British should have done it, though technically and actually the evidence was obtained by them. But they would always oblige the Americans if a request were made.

So the Americans hid the padlock evidence, and made it harder for the truth to emerge, and when it did at the appeal, it was brutally rejected.

The subsequent campaign against Libya fulfilled two functions. Firstly, it drew a clear distinction between Iran and Libya, a link that is only made in the US Congress's Iran-Libya sanctions Act. It removed the trace of Iran that purporting a Palestinian attribution still implied. It also allowed the US Government's own foreign policy temporarily to repair relations with Iran, so that the war against the turncoat Iraq could be pursued.

It was also a double whammy. Syrian connections were also removed by the same process. The State Department must have been delighted by the ruse. Suspicions against both Iran and Syria were removed by the Libyan attribution process and permitted the First Gulf War to be prosecuted, with the two countries as suspicious neutrals and not actual enemies.

US foreign policy is as ever a mess in the Middle East. Without a strong, reliable and undemocratic regional henchman, like the Shah, (an inherently unstable solution), US policy leaps from one uncertain stance to the other. If it were not for the fact that the US had tied its use of oil and thus oil policy to its foreign policy, the region would be a fragmented unconsidered backwater, to which it will return, as soon as the US can make other arrangements ? taxing oil use, renewables and biofuels.

Until then, US foreign policy will be the victim of forces it cannot control and has nohope of doing so, and these may result in other Lockerbies.

Limits of deviation allowed in this analysis

There are very few deviations that can be made to this story before it ceases to work. In particular, a number of people have wanted to see Mr Talb (or a close associate) as a part of it. The remarks I've made about him are scattered throughout the text, so I'll bring them together here.

He might have wanted to do the bombing but he didn't and there is no evidence he was paid. In the scenario he brings the bomb into Heathrow either through the security gate (a high risk strategy) or a mysterious route evading security. If he did that, why was the padlock broken at all? It would have been entirely unnecessary. Clues are left either deliberately, or there is no way around them. Not accidentally, or without significance.

If Mr Talb is himself s the passenger carrying the bomb into the Iran Air flight there is no need for the individual to be him. An Iranian would be quite competent enough to do it, and eager. The job required little more skill than that required to stick a poster on a wall. It is a nonsense to say it had to be Mr Talb because he had experience of handling explosives. Explosives aren't difficult unless handled wrongly, or 'the blue touch paper' has been lit. Then they're merciless.

In 1988 Iran was a country in financial difficulties and would have wished to avoid spending $10M, that they could ill afford.

I hope that disposes 0f Mr Talb, and I wish him well, serving out his life sentence in a Swedish jail.

To summarise

In response to the bombing of an Iranian Airbus, the American authorities permitted the Iranians to destroy a US aircraft in reply. This plane was sadly lost over Lockerbie. After nearly two years failing investigation, the Americans falsely pinned the blame on two Libyan citizens, going about their lawful business.

After many years, these two gentlemen were subjected to a cod trial process, a trial that was never meant to take place, and one of them was convicted. He was sentenced life imprisonment.

It was clear to any independent observer that this conviction was not safe, and Mr. Megrahi was not guilty. An appeal failed to acquit him, and the results a review of his conviction are still awaited.

His sentence is still being appealed by the prosecuting authorities as too low!

This (SCCRC) review which until recently has failed to include important new evidence which demonstrates Mr. Megrahi's innocence has now includedit

It is with this conclusion, that I wish to say, Mr. Megrahi is not guilty and must be released, forthwith.

The slogan of UKFF103 ? the UK Families group for the Lockerbie disaster ? is 쏷he truth must be known.

It must be. You can help tell it.

Charles Norrie May 2007

15 Canonbury Grove London N1 2HR CBNorrie@hotmail.com 02073599310

Appendix I

Issue based comparison of the UTA bombing and Lockerbie bombing (as claimed by the Zeist trial)

Issue Lockerbie (claimed at Zeist trial) UT-772 Lockerbie (as argued in this document)
Bomb size 425g (small) 2.2kg (big) 425g (small)
Explosive Semtex Pentrite Semtex
How inserted? In a timer controlled radio-cassette bomb As the lining to a suitcase, timer controlled A pressure controlled device with a short timer
Timer Swiss Taiwanese unknown
How did the bomb get onto the plane? As an accompanied bag introduced by some means never disclosed at Luqa Airport, Malta By inducing a Congolese national in ignorance to carry it as part of his baggage from Maya-maya Airport, Brazzaville, Congo Planted on baggage container to be loaded on Pan Am 103 at Heathrow
When and where did bomb explode? At about 30000' some 40 minutes after leaving Heathrow, following an intermediate change of aircraft at Frankfurt Some 40 minutes after leaving N'djamena, Chad at 12.59 UTC At about 30000' some 40 minutes after leaving Heathrow, following an intermediate change of aircraft at Frankfurt
Are there any common individuals between the two bombings? With the exception of unsupportable references to Mr. Senussi by Mr. Majid, no. Mr. Senoussi played a very important part in commissioning the bombing, and stood trial as one of the 6 accused No
Plot circumstances On one trip Mr. Megrahi obtains clothing in Malta, which appears in the remains of the bomb case. Member of Congolese opposition group cultivated by Libyans and offered a flight to Paris aboard UT-772, if a case (supplied by the Libyans, which exploded) would be carried Iranian agent, flying as passenger to London, breaks padlock to gain access to apron, enters the baggage area and places bomb on baggage container destined to be placed aboard Pan Am 103
Plot mechanics Mr. Fhimah and Mr. Megrahi members of LAA and JSO/ESO respectively.

Mr. Fhimah is accused of using a Maltese-Libyan company as a cover, though no evidential trail suggest any involvement by it. The persons who prepared the suitcase were Libyan military personnel. Their cover was that they were conducting a special audit of a Libyan-Congolese timber company, an audit the company was unaware of.

Presence of records in Libyan intelligence archives and absence of such records in the timber company's records at HQ in Libya, contrary to usual company practice, confirm this theory. The Iran agent flies into Heathrow and on leaving an Iranian aircraft breaks padlock to apron, crosses tarmac to the Interline Shed, enters it, locates the correct baggage container, climbs into it, places bomb, returns the way he came and then continues to the transfer desks where he immediately boards a flight from the UK
Personnel involved Mr. Fhimah and Mr. Megrahi Intelligence Officials
Abdallah Senousi (brother-in-law of Gadaffi)
Abdesslam Issa Shibani
Abdesslam Hamouda

Intelligence Operatives
Ibrahim Naeli
Musbah Arbas

Abdullah Elazragh A sole unknown Iranian agent and others in Tehran
What happened to the personnel Until fingered by the American and British investigation teams, nothing was noted. Mr. Elazragh left his post in Congo in a hurry, leaving his affairs in disarray, before the plot had been uncovered.

Mr. Naeli and Mr. Arbas received rewards and promotions.

Mr. Musbah Arbas was claimed by the Libyans to have been killed in a car crash, but was later found by the French to be alive.
How the plot was broken and the cause revealed Still remains simply based n the claims of the British and American investigators.

No further relevant information has ever been produced. Strong rumours amongst opposition groups in the Congo leading to the blackmail of Libyans at the embassy.

Contacts with opposition groups known to have been warned of UT-772 of 19/9/1989

Eventually a freely given 'confession' was supplied by a Congolese national who revealed the whole plot. It has not been broken until now
Information about the bomb type. Autumn leaves bombs. Copy of bomb seen in unsealed condition by French investigator, in Libyan security HQ, Tripoli. None
Action by the Libyans None, except ongoing denial, until a Saudi representatives, Prince Nasser, Mr. Mandela persuaded the Libyans to co-operate.

Following, the Lockerbie before relations with Libya had been normalised, which the Libyans felt happened far too slowly and incompletely, a Libyan attempt on the prince's life was made.

This is an entirely separate matter to either of the bombings. Conducted a disinformation campaign against the accusations in France, employing lawyers and public relations firms.

Launched their own inquiry into the destruction of UTA designed to divert interest away from Libya which came up with the extraordinary story, proved to be a lie, that an opposition group in Libya was responsible for the bombing.

Invited the French examining magistrate (eventually) to pursue his inquiries in Libya, an invitation he accepted, and which was ultimately undermined the Libyan position of denial. None known
Action since Libya buckled down and decided to accept responsibility on the grounds 'we were forced to'. Have always denied the bombing, but the attitude is much more 'that's all in the past'. Iran has never been called to account, nor the US officials who permitted it to happen

Appendix II

Comparative table of the Lockerbie and UTA bombings and their investigations
Date State of Relations Lockerbie investigation
(mostly according to Mr. McNamara) UTA investigation
From Lockerbie until after UTA bombing Syrian/Iranian responsibility.
After UTA bombing to earlyish 1990 Information being shared (see Caprioli report), but US does not tell the French about Mr. Awad being in their country In late 1989 the investigation was not pointing at Libya
No leads, bomb quickly identified as one used by PFLP
Earlyish 1990 to late 1990 Little co-operation US authorities suggest only the investigating authorities (meaning the Scottish Police) be contacted
Early summer 1990 Libyan involvement identified (Mr. Elazragh)
Later summer 1990 Major aspects of Libyan plot identified, exonerating the Congolese
27 August 1990 Libyan involvement in UTA leaked to Le Point
20 September 1990 (about) UTA relatives told some of the story, which involves Congolese nationals; reported widely in French press.
28 September 1990 First report of Libyan attribution for Lockerbie in L'Express, Parisian newspaper
10 October 1990 First report in US paper of Libyan attribution, for Lockerbie, New York Times
1 November 1990 This is the earliest possible date at which the French juge briefs the Americans ? the SCG and Mr. McNamara on their conclusions in the UTA case, which is that the Libyans did UTA alone without the knowing assistance of the Congolese
15 November 1990 Mr. Megrahi first mentioned in interview with Mr. Bollier
End 1990 By the end of the year the investigation was pointed directly at the Government of Libya as responsible
22 November 1990 M. Xavier Raufer writes an article in L'Express attributing Lockerbie to Libya
12 December 1990 Article in The Independent (London) attributing Lockerbie to Libya.
15 February 1991 Mr. Gauci first shown picture of Mr. Megrahi
April 1991 It is said the Libyan state had helped to carry out the Lockerbie bombing
22 April 1991 Med Tours office raided and Mr. Fhimah's diary seized
21 July 1991 Mr. Majid interviewed by FBI, CIA and Scottish police on a warship ? Libyan plot, similar to UTA revealed, privately
19 September 1991 UTA relatives told about plot with four Libyans, no Congolese operational involvement
15 October 1991 Mr. Thurman tells French inquiry he has identified part of circuit board
21 October 1991 Juge Bruguiere issues rogatory letters to the US
30 October 1991 Four arrest warrants issued
14 November 1991 Two Libyans accused of bombing
12 December 1991 Mr. Awad tells French that both Pan Am 103 and UTA caused by Libyans. No further communication reported. French find point evidentially useless. Virtually no further developments after this point.
1996 Case is developed in Libya, with two further accused added and file sent for trial
1999 Trial of Libyan 6 in absentia in Paris
2000-1 Trial of Libyan 2 at the Zeist

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