Monday, December 29, 2008

Part III Lockerbie -Criminal Justice or "War by Other Means" (1)

What our response will be we do not say – but it will be an appropriate response to the magnitude of the American Crime

 – Spokesman Mohammed Beshti, Press Conference at the Iranian Embassy, London July 1988.

There are two distinct yet intimately related aspects to the Lockerbie case. Firstly there is the bombing itself then the creation of the official “Libyan solution” to the crime for reasons largely (but not entirely) unrelated to the bombing itself.

Many critics of the official version of events allege or imply that the plan to blame Libya was improvised some time after the bombing, for example in order to exonerate nations whose participation or neutrality in the Gulf War coalition was needed. They assume that if Abdel Ali Baset Ali Al-Megrahi (hereafter Al-Megrahi) was falsely accused either by accident or design then the evidence on which he was charged and convicted was created or improvised subsequent to the bombing itself.

The conviction of Al-Megrahi was not a so-called “miscarriage of justice”. One does not get convicted of mass murder by accident or mistake. If there was a plan to “blame” Libya or to incriminate Al-Megrahi and his co-defendant then it must have been conceived and partly implemented before the bombing. The alternative to Al-Megrahi’s guilt is that the authorities set out to incriminate an innocent man (or at least innocent of this crime). Although not explicitly stated in the Camp Zeist Judgement this is a point the Trial Judges grasped. The alternative to Al-Megrahi’s guilt is not simply that he was “fitted-up” but that Western Governments colluded in the bombing itself.

In the official version of events these two distinct aspects do not exist. The solution arises solely from the Crime. Events prior to the 21st December 1988 may be evidence of the preparation for the crime and to some extent cast light on the motive but are otherwise of little relevance.

The Object of the Indictment – A Trial or Sanctions?
It is generally assumed that the object of the announcement of the indictment on the 14th November 1991 was the trial of the two suspects (who were eventually handed over on the 5th April 1999.) However the Western powers pursued the case not under the relevant International Law (the 1971 Montreal Convention) but by political means through the UN Security Council and the imposition of sanctions against Libya.

The Lockerbie incident was exploited in order to impose UN sanction upon Libya for political considerations that largely predated the bombing and a trial was actually unwelcome to the West, their primary objective being regime change in Libya. A study of the historical background is necessary to understanding why Libya was blamed, a background that was largely irrelevant to the criminal proceedings.

In February 1986 the United States had imposed unilateral sanctions on Libya and US plans to topple Gaddafi long predated this. The Europeans, far more dependent on Libyan oil failed to support these sanctions to the chagrin of American business interests. Unilateral sanctions were ineffectual if Libya could trade elsewhere and it was an objective of US policy to transform unilateral sanctions into UN sanctions, achieved through the Lockerbie indictment.

Crucial evidence that the objective of the indictment was sanctions not a trial lies in the movements of Lhamin Fhimah (who was indicted solely to give credence to the “Malta” scenario.) In November 1991 Fhimah was again employed by Libyan Arab Airlines and was living openly in Tunis, capital of pro-Western Tunisia. On the day of the indictment Fhimah had returned to Tripoli for a visit when he saw news\of his indictment on TV. ( 2 )( 3 ).

Did the Western intelligence agencies not know where Fhimah was living and could they not have sought his arrest and extradition by the Tunisian authorities? Or was Fhimah’s residence outside Libya an embarrassment? According to the former Lord Advocate Lord Fraser he had been asked by the Americans to “hold off” on the indictment while new evidence was developed (4) (likely the testimony of Majid Giaka) but if the object of the indictment was a trial why did they wait until Fhimah was in Libya before announcing it? Indeed the public announcement of the indictment at all was bizarre if the objective was a trial not sanctions.

From the announcement of the indictment until the trial the authorities pretended that the case against Libya was cast iron while dismissing any conflicting evidence. The prospect of a trial laid open the prospect of an acquittal. The announcement of an indictment allowed the authorities to claim the case was “solved” and to a great extent mollified the families of the victims and created a constituency to keep the issue (and the sanctions) going.

Of course if Libyan responsibility was undoubted, as the Americans proclaimed, why were they pursuing sanctions at all? The Americans had bombed Tripoli in response to a relatively minor outrage. This was something many US relatives could not grasp. Following a meeting with the FBI Director Dan Cohen commented;

As we were leaving I asked Sessions if indictments would really be of any use, whether Pan Am 103 was something for the judicial system at all. After all, this wasn’t a drive-by shooting, it was really a military attack on America and should properly be answered in political or military terms. He thought for a moment and said, “you may very well be right”. ( 5 ) Cohen had a good point.

Lockerbie and the Vincennes Incident:

All Imperialists are at heart paper tigers” MAO Tse-tung ( 6 )

The bombing of flight PA103 had a proximate cause. As in “Gravity’s Rainbow” ( 7 ) Tundergarth was inextricably linked to the crash site of Iranair flight 655 brought down in Iranian territorial waters on the 3rd July 1988 by two missiles fired from the USS Vincennes. Without the “Vincennes Incident” there would have been no Lockerbie.

However for the authorities, in particular the US Government, it was imperative to deny the link between the “Vincennes Incident” and Lockerbie, to pretend that retaliation had not occurred and to draw a line under the incident for the simple reason that they would be compelled by public opinion to do something about it, to respond in turn. In the unique circumstances of the “Vincennes Incident” their policy options were extremely limited. Short of war there was nothing they could do. Yet having shot down a civilian airliner and decorated those responsible on what moral basis could they “go after Iran”? ( 8 )

Their only practical policy option was to pretend that Iran had not responded to the USA destroying a civilian airliner, blame somebody else (in pursuit of existing policy objectives) and “move on” which is precisely what occurred. Of course the central objective of this policy is to deceive the public. At some level the US and British Governments knew perfectly well what transpired. The Lockerbie story is essentially the story of the authorities denying (very successfully) the tru story. Of course those responsible for the Lockerbie disaster also know the truth from which they have drawn their own conclusions.

In the official version of events the primary suspects in the case, Iran and Syria were not just ignored. President George H.W. Bush went out of his way to exonerate them. In the official version a plan by the PFLP-GC plan to bomb several planes had been thwarted by the prompt action of the German authorities. It is therefore hard to comprehend how the state sponsors of the PFLP-GC had taken “a bum rap”.

At a funeral for some of the victims, thousands of Iranians chanted “death to America” and the president of Iran called for vengeance. “The Iranian nation and officials assert that they reserve the right to take vengeance in any manner and at any place, and God willing, they will exact revenge with force.” A few days later a US State Department computer bulletin board warned that in response to the downing of the Iranian plane “threats to US interests worldwide has increased significantly ….we believe Iran will strike back in a tit-for-tat fashion – mass casualties for mass casualties….targets could include aircraft, airports….we believe Europe is a likely target for a retaliatory attack” ( 9 )

Yet if Lockerbie had nothing to do with Libya why would the authorities go out of their way to exonerate the primary suspects, downplay or ignore completely the “Autumn Leaves” affair and instead incriminate a man and a country that they knew had nothing whatsoever to do with the case? Did they simply get a kick out of it or were there perfectly intelligible reasons for the creation of a false solution?

As Dan Cohen wrote But the Libyan indictments were of a different order. It’s highly unlikely that the government would have fabricated such detailed evidence in order to frame two innocent individuals, and quite possibly an entire country, for a monstrous crime they had nothing to do with.” ( 9 ) Why was it unlikely?

The Historical/Political Background;

Lockerbie arises from a complex relationship between a number of “actors”. These are primarily nation-states notably the United States, the United Kingdom, the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Great Libyan People’s Jamahriya (Libya). In due course as Lockerbie was linked to the UTA772 case the French Republic became a major “actor” particularly as a permanent member of the Security Council.

Libya’s sponsored numerous armed “liberation” movements, characterised by the USA as terrorist groups (who supported similar groups known as freedom fighters) often opposed to allies and clients of the United States who were also “actors” when the Lockerbie case came into the realm of the United Nations.

The relationship between Britain and Libya through the IRA (another “actor”) may be secondary only to the relationship between the US and respectively Iran and Libya in understanding the creation of the “Libyan solution” to Lockerbie. It may even be the primary motivation behind the creation of the “Libyan solution”.

The relationship of other countries to the USA may be of great importance in understanding aspects of the Lockerbie story notably the. timing of the indictment.

Luis Posada Carriles and Cubanair Flight 455

In 1976 Cubanair flight 455 was destroyed by a bomb shortly after take-off from Barbados on route from Venezuela to Cuba killing all 73 on board. Police in Trinidad subsequently arrested two Venezuelan who claimed to be following the orders of a right wing Cuban exile Luis Posada Carriles, who worked for the Venezuelan secret Police, and another Cuban Orando Bosch. Carriles escaped from a Venezuelan Prison in 1985 and went to work for the CIA in Honduras in support of the Nicaraguan Contras.

In 2000 Carriles and three associates was convicted of conspiring in Panama to murder Castro (and his audience) by blowing-up the students’ Hall at the University of Panama during an address by Castro. Carriles was subsequently pardoned by the Panamanian President. Carriles moved to Miami where Orlando Bosch is a folk hero and an associate of the Governor Jeb Bush, whose father was CIA Director at the time of the Cubanair 455 bombing. The US authorities decline to extradite Carriles (now in his eighties) to Venezuela.

On the 1st January 1992 Cuba (and Yemen) lost their seats on the Security Council at which point the Western powers prepared to introduce the motion to impose sanctions on Libya. It is unlikely that Cuba (and Yemen) would have supported sanctions particularly in view of the Cuban experience in relation to Cubanair 455 (and indeed to the totality of US efforts to achieve “regime change” in Cuba and other leftist regimes through sanctions, sabotage and violence).

The timing of the indictment was not determined by the progress of the investigation, or considerations relating to the Gulf War but by the composition of the Security Council.

Iranian-US Relations;
The key relationship was that between the United States of America and the Islamic Republican of Iran. Diplomatic relations were beyond glacial and anti-Americanism was the central principal of Iranian Foreign Policy arising from recent historical experience.

The key event in US-Iranian relationship was the overthrow in 1953 of the conservative parliamentary government of the Iranian Prime Minister Mossadegh in a coup organised by the CIA. Mossadeq had begun the process of nationalising the Iranian oil industry then controlled by the British on terms grossly unfair to the Iranians. The CIA financed coup abolished parliament and put the Shah in absolute power. ( 11 )

In 1979 during the throes of the revolution against the regime of the Shah revolutionaries had captured the US Embassy holding US diplomats hostage. Later that year Saddam Hussein had invaded Iran possibly with tacit US backing.

During the eight year Iran-Iraq War the West was supposedly neutral and purportedly imposed an arms embargo on both sides. However an Iranian victory would not be tolerated. Iraq was supplied with arms but more importantly with credit.

The Iranians saw the West as the de facto allies of Iraq. In particular the US and other naval patrols in the Arabian Seas and Persian Gulf, while supposedly supporting the principal of freedom of navigation were de facto supporting Iraq and it’s Arab allies. Following an Iranian attack on a US registered merchant ship in 1987 the US Navy had done enormous damage to Iran’s offshore oil installations while an Iraqi Excocet attack on the USS Stark, which killed a number of sailors, was ignored as an embarrassment.

In 1988 the collapse of the Soviet Union was three years away. Secretary Gorbachov was seen in the West as a politician whose reforms might strengthen the moribund Soviet Union. In Washington policymakers predicted that the end of the Iran-Iraq War would mean the overthrow of the defeated Government. No regime in history had survived defeat in war. The only predicted alternative to the Islamic Republic was a pro-communist regime.

In an attempt to bring to an end the Beirut Hostage Crisis a handful of US officials associated with the National Security Council and the head of the CIA William Casey ran a “covert” foreign policy attempting to free the hostages by means of a number of increasingly ambitions arms deals with Iran. The rationale for North’s arms dealing was not simply to free the hostages but was intended to support supposed moderate factions in the Iranian regime.

Despite or because of it’s recent history the United States was looking to improve or even normalise relations with it’s “natural ally” Iran. As the Islamic Republic was staunchly anti-communist the authoritarian and Islamic nature of the regime posed no problem. The US enjoyed cordial relations with other authoritarian Islamic regimes and was organising and funding Islamic militants in neighbouring Afghanistan.

From the Iranian point of view the USA remained the “great Satan” the implacable enemy of the Iranian revolution. This applied to both “moderate” and “hard-line” factions within the regime. With the exposure of the “Iran-Contra” affair, possibly by a “hard-line” faction to embarrass pragmatists political and even physical survival in Tehran necessitated an anti-American political line.

Into this potent mix was thrown the “Vincennes Incident” an unpredicted and from the American point of view a quite unwelcome development. The incident arose out of America’s pro-Iraq anti-Iran stance and both sides responded as prisoners of their history. Iran denounced the American Crime and threatened revenge.

The Americans, possibly initially misinformed as to what had transpired blamed the Iranian pilot and decorated the crew. Iranian demands that Captain Rogers and his crew be handed over for trial were instantly dismissed. Even a Court Martial of Captain Rogers would have been seen as an unwarranted concession to the hated Iranians. At the beginning of a Presidential Campaign there were no votes to be gained in attempting to conciliate Iran.

Subsequent to defending the US position in a speech to the UN on the July 1988 Vice-President and Presidential candidate George H.W.Bush responded to questions posed by journalists “I will never apologize for the United States of America. I don’t care what the facts are.” ( 12 )

Libya and the USA;
Was my daughter’s life, and the lives of all the others on Pan Am 103, of no value to our government?” Susan and Dan Cohen - PA103 (13)

It may be that the lives of Theodora Cohen, a vibrant and talented actress, and all the other victims was of great value to the US and British Governments or acquired great value in how their sacrifice was exploited. In order to bring an end to sanctions Libya moderated and changed it’s policies and was forced to renounce support for a number of liberation/terrorist groups. This support was not just financial but involved the supply of weapons and explosives.

From the overthrow of the monarchy in 1969 Colonel Gaddafi sought to spread the Libyan revolution against the evils of Colonialism and Imperialism. Money and weapons were sent to dozens of terrorist groups around the world. Later training camps were established within Libya. The Colonel saw himself as the leader of a world-wide campaign against oppression and claimed the right, as the USA does, to interfere in the internal affairs of any country. Besides his sponsorship of terrorist groups the Libyan regime undertook a campaign of assassination against anti-Gaddafi exiles, the so-called “stray dogs” in Western Europe, Egypt and other countries.

Gaddafi gave support to the Nicaraguan Contras and supported Basque, Breton and Corsican terrorists as well as German terrorist factions such as the Baader Meinhof group and the Italian Red Brigades.

A detailed Israeli intelligence report states that in the mid-1980s Qadhafi was supporting some fifty terror organisations and subversion groups, in addition to more than forty radical governments in Africa, Asia, Europe and America. Here it is noted that for the Middle East alone Gadhafi was then supporting George Habsh’s PFLP, Jibril’s PFLP-GC (General Command) Naif Hawatmeh’s Democratic Front, the Saiqa, the Popular Struggle Front, and Abu Nidal. In addition there was Libyan support for many national movements in other regions (some groups already mentioned) Many countries – among them Egypt, Sudan, Tunisia, Algeria, Senegal, Nigeria, Lebanon, Gambia, Mauritania, Mali, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and the Phillipines – have at one time or another accused Qadhafi of supporting dissident or terrorist groups in their country.

One Israeli report suggested that Libya’s support for international terrorism in the 1980s was less than often supposed. Out of a total of more than 400 terrorist incidents in 1985, Libyan hit squads were judged to be responsible for only eleven, and these involved eight Libyan victims. At the same time, Abu Nidal, supported by Qadhafi was responsible for about two dozen terrorist acts. The Libyan involvement in terrorism was not in doubt: there was debate as to it’s scale.”
( 14 )

A demand made of Libya subsequent to the imposition of UN sanctions further to the demands concerning flight PA103 and UTA772 was that Libya;

Cease all forms of training for “terrorists” in Libyan camps, stop supporting and aiding them; co-operate with Western requests regarding those organisations by handing over any information or even personalities” ( 15 )

Even if Libya had immediately handed over the two suspects in the Lockerbie case sanctions may have continued.

From the start of the Reagan Presidency Gaddafi was represented as being behind numerous terrorist incidents real or imagined. Even prior to the inauguration it was widely publicised that Libya had dispatched hit-teams to the USA to assassinate Reagan. The source of these claims transpired to be an Iranian exile Manucher Ghorbanifar who was later to emerge as a key figure in the Iran-Contra scandal.

A long-term plan to overthrow the regime and eliminate Gaddafi was one of the Reagan administration’s top priorities. ( 16 ) The Libyan “threat” was played-up to support the US Military build-up and the funding of the Contras.

A key official whose brief included coming up with schemes to harass the Libyan regime was Vincent Cannnistraro who later led the CIA purported “investigation” of Lockerbie. Because of disinformation and exaggeration it is difficult to assess whether the US case against Libya was credible or grossly exaggerated. The central point is not whether US policy was justified but that this was US policy. The attempt to decapitate the regime in April 1986 failed. This did not mean the policy was abandoned.

This may not have been the first or the last attempt by Western Governments to assassinate Gaddafi. On the 27th June 1980 an Itavia Air DC9 Flight 870 from Bologna to Palermo plunged into deep waters off Ustica, Sicily with the loss of 81 lives. The investigation continues to this day with no definitive result but with the suspicion that certain Governments and Italian officials and military personnel have been involved in a cover-up. It is likely that the plane was struck by two missiles. Warplanes from the US, France and Italy were on exercise in the area. One theory is that the plane was destroyed in a botched attempt to shoot down another passenger plane carrying Colonel Gaddafi from Libya to a conference in Europe.

In 1998 David Shayler, a former MI5 officer, who claimed or believed himself to be on the “Libya desk” within MI5 claimed that in 1996 British intelligence had colluded with Libyan Islamists to murder Colonel Gaddafi a claim that was ridiculed by the authorities.( 17 )

Libya and Great Britain: The Enemy Within-The Enemy Without:

One aspect of Libyan/UK relations was the real or purported juxtaposition of the “enemy within” the Irish Republican Army (15) and more controversially the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) with the enemy without, “Libya”. Central to this mix was Stella Rimington who was head of Department F2 of MI5 dealing with the 1983-5 Miners Strike which put her on the path to head the service.

The truth of the extent of MI5 involvement in defeating the strike is not within the public domain but allegations involve phone-tapping, the infiltration of agents into the National Union of Mineworkers, co-operation with right-wing extremists, the propagation of false stories and the manipulation of the press. ( 18 )

On the 17th April 1984 24 year old WPC Yvonne Fletcher was murdered while policing an anti-Gaddafi demonstration outside the Libyan People’s Bureau in St.James Square, London. The protestors were demonstrating against the recent public execution of two students in Tripoli. A sub-machine gun was fired at the protesters from the Embassy and Miss Fletcher was mortally wounded. No arrests were made at the time and diplomatic relations with Libya were broken off. The incident caused widespread revulsion.

Several months later the Chief Executive of the NUM Roger Windsor was sent to Libya to meet with Colonel Gaddafi and was photographed warmly embracing the Colonel. According to the NUM Windsor’s mission was to persuade Colonel Gaddafi to halt exports of Libyan oil to Britain as this was weakening the strike. According to Windsor’s comments he was there to seek financial support for the miners strike fund. In the light of the murder of Yvonne Fletcher this caused outrage in Britain. ( 19 )

It is curious that only Libya was approached to support an oil embargo and perhaps Windsor’s gaffe was not seeking funds but talking about it.

Under the cover of parliamentary privilege Windsor was subsequently named in the House of Commons as an MI5 agent. When the allegation was repeated outside the Commons Windsor successfully sued and decamped to France. ( 20 )

The affair was re-ignited in 1990, long after the strike collapsed, but before the Government announced the abolition of the coal industry. In 1990 the left of centre Daily Mirror, then owned by Robert Maxwell ran a number of stories concerning the NUM President Arthur Scargill and funds supposedly supplied by Libya. ( 21 )

The source of the story was Roger Windsor, handsomely compensated by the Mirror, Scargill’s former driver/gofer and a Briton of Pakistani origin with links to the security services. The Sunday Times ran a similar story alleging that a trip to Paris by Scargill to meet his French counterpart was actually a cover for a meeting with a senior member of the Libyan Government. Similar allegations were made by a TV investigative journalist Roger Cook on The Cook Report using the same sources. ( 22 )

The allegation was that Scargill and Peter Heathfield, another senior NUM official had been given £160,000 of the Libyan money in cash which they had used to pay off their mortgages. Curiously Scargill never sued although an enquiry by a prominent QC on behalf of the NUM found that the allegations were completely untrue. Twelve years later the Mirror’s former editor admitted his serious doubts about the story at the time and published a frank apology. Windsor became embroiled in a French Court case involving funds donated to the NUM by the French mining union which concluded that documents submitted by Windsor supposedly bearing Scargill’s signature were forgeries. ( 23 )

In the 1984 Brighton bombing an IRA terrorist Patrick Magee had attempted to assassinate Mrs Thatcher. It is rumoured Magee was trained in Libya as had other prominent IRA volunteers. She survived virtually unscathed but four others died in the bombing, while many suffered serious and permanent injury. Mrs Thatcher’s two closest friends in politics had both been murdered by Republican terrorists.

On the 30thOctober 1987 French customs intercepted the Panamanian trawler the Eksund off coast of Brittany en route from Malta to Ireland. It was crewed by four IRA volunteers. On it’s way it had stopped in Libyan waters and taken on a cargo or arms and explosives destined for the IRA. Investigations revealed that this was the fifth voyage of the Eksund on this route and that Libya had already supplied hundreds of tons of weapons to the IRA in four earlier shipments made between June 1985 and September 1986. The shipments included 2,000 AK-47’s, two million rounds of ammunition, surface to air missiles and 10 tens of Semtex allowing the IRA to carry on it’s “armed struggle” almost indefinitely. ( 24 ) ( 25 )

This was a staggering blow to British strategy against the IRA whose objective had been to starve the IRA of cash and weaponry. This weaponry had been passed to the IRA without the knowledge of the security services and it was believed to be a condition of the Libyans that these arms were not to be used until the shipments were completed.

In April 1986 Mrs Thatcher had supported the US raids on Tripoli and Benghazi. This was a scheme that originated within the US National Security Council by the same officials who were seeking to arm Iran. The pretext for the raid was intelligence linking Libya to the bombing of La Belle discothèque in March 1986, intelligence that the Americans declined to make public. According to President Reagan “our evidence is direct, it is precise, it is irrefutable”. ( 26 ) The American’s case was dubious but they were more concerned with demonstrating American military power than in publicly stating the case against Libya.

The central objective of the US raids was to kill Colonel Gaddafi himself by bombing sites associated with him in particular the Al-Aziz barracks. Indeed there was no other rational objective to dropping 2,000lb. bombs on sleeping civilians and the French Embassy. According to one source North had planned to use Terry Waite to ensure Gaddafi was in position when the bombing began. Waite was to arrange a meeting at Gaddafi’s quarters then leave shortly before the attacks began. ( 27) The assassination of foreign leaders was forbidden by US law but President Reagan was prepared to “take the heat”.

Commenting on the bombing Mrs Thatcher famously wrote that “But the raid on Libya was a far greater success than I could ever have imagined and put a stop to Libyan sponsored terrorism for years to come. Libyan retaliation did not and could not happen”. ( 28 ) Some observers saw this statement as a denial of Libyan responsibility for Lockerbie as indeed it appears to be. Mrs Thatcher’s words make it appear that Libya, having been bombed on a pretext, abandoned support for the IRA and other terrorist groups and ceased to be a threat. But Libya did continue to send arms to the IRA as the Eksund incident undoubtedly demonstrated.

While claiming that the raid was a success it was in fact a failure and had not put a stop to “Libyan sponsored terrorism” at all. Rather than being compelled to claim everything she did worked it would have been better if Mrs Thatcher had admitted that the raid on Libya was a failure. But if the raid had not deterred Gaddafi and it was discovered with the Eksund incident that his support for the IRA had continued how was he to be stopped?

One of the demands made of Libya subsequent to the imposition of UN sanctions was that Libya ;

Cease all support and aid to the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and provide the British authorities with all available information regarding that relation.” ( 29 )

According to newspaper sources the Libyans “named up to 20 leading IRA figures, gave details of their training, listed the weapons supplied, indicated the scale of the funding and how the support had been provided” (30).

By happy coincidence the identification of the two Libyans as the “culprits” in the Lockerbie case gave the British the means to exert economic and political pressure on the Libyan Government.

As noted in the previous article “A Poisoned Pill – the Mysterious Life and Death of Ian Spiro” Dame Stella Rimington boasted on national television that it was MI5 who “identified the two Libyan culprits”. ( 31)

In a recent article Richard Marquise, who headed the FBI’s Lockerbie investigation, summarised the evidence linking Al-Megrahi to Lockerbie, or at least to the official version of events. He laid particular stress on his arrival in Malta on the 20th December 1988 in the false identity of Abdulsamad and his departure on the morning of the 21st December 1988. This is a crucial matter as in reality the primary suitcase was introduced at Heathrow not Malta. Marquise wrote that Al-Megrahi’s visit was discovered by “another American intelligence agency” but does not state which one. (32) How Al-Megrahi was identified as Abdulsamad does not feature in the transcript of the trial.

While Al-Megrahi was in Malta on the 21st December 1988, the bomb wasn’t. Al-Megrahi’s visit to Malta is not evidence of his guilt but evidence of a plan to incriminate Libya and Al-Megrahi in advance of the bombing itself.

The author is a graduate in Modern History and International Relations.
Comments of a reasonable length (i.e.shorter than the original article) are welcome on this blog or at

(1 ) Clausewitz On War “War is merely the continuation of policy
by other means

( 2 ) “The Maltese Double Cross” writer/director Alan Francovich

(3) Interview with Lhamin Fhimah (following his acquittal) featured
in “Cover-up of Convenience” by John Ashton & Ian Ferguson
Mainstream Publishing

( 4 ) Ashton & Ferguson Interview with Lord Fraser

( 5) Cohen, Susan and Daniel Pan Am 103 New American Library
2000 page 139

( 6 ) The Thoughts of Chairman Mao

( 7 ) Thomas Pyncheon “Gravity’s Rainbow” (a novel).

( 8 ) Oliver “Buck” Revell Channel 4 The Lockerbie Debate

( 9 ) Cohen page 32

( 10 ) Cohen page 156

( 11 ) William Blum Killing Hope (US Military & CIA Interventions
Since World War II)
Zed Books London 20004 Chapter 9 Iran
1953 – Making it Safe for the King of Kings
see also Chapter
Libya 1981-1989 Ronald Reagan Meets his Match for a
comprehensive account of US efforts to overthrow or eliminate
Colonel Gaddafi.

( 12 ) Vice-President George H.W.Bush (quoted in Newsweek

( 13 ) Cohen page 45

( 14 ) Geoff Symons Libya and the West from Independence to
2003 The Centre for Libyan Studies 124-5

( 15 ) Matar Khalil I. And Thabit Robert W. Lockerbie and Libya A
Study in International Relations
McFarland & Company
Inc.2004 page 24

( 16 ) Newsweek 3.8.81

( 17) Various sources

( 18) “What Stella Left Out” Seumus Milne Guardian 2.10.2000

( 19 ) Various sources

(20) Hansard 22.7.93

(21) Daily Mirror 1990 (dates untraceable)

(22) Sunday Times 28.10.84

(23) “Sorry Arthur ” by Roy Greenslade Guardian 27.5.2002

(24) Brendan O’Brien The Long War: The IRA and Sinn Fein O’Brien Press 1999

(25) BBC TV The Age of Terror( part III) Ten Days of Terror written and presented byPeter Taylor

(26) Best Laid Plans by David C.Martin quoted in Gavin Hewitt’s Terry Waite, Why Was HeKidnapped page 156

( 27) New York times 15.4.86

(28) Margaret Thatcher The Downing Street Years

(29) Kalil & Thabit page 24

(30) Geoff Symons Libya and the West from Independence to
2003 The Centre for Libyan Studies (note 15 to
Chapter 7 at page 198)

(31) Dimbleby lecture Security and Democracy is there a Conflict?Broadcast on BBC2 12.6.94 British Film Institute Library (note
the official transcript on the MI5 website is wildly inaccurate).

(32) Richard Marquise Megrahi’s Tale a Tissue of Lies Sunday
Times 14.12.08


Friday, November 21, 2008

Lockerbie Propositions

Having followed the Lockerbie case closely since 1993 here is a summary of my views on the case:

( 1 ) Lockerbie can be described as a Crime or a terrorist incident. It was also, if not primarily, an exercise in International Relations and explicable in terms of elementary International Relations theory.

( 2 ) Lockerbie was intimately connected to the Vincennes Incident and without the Vincennes Incident there would have been no Lockerbie.

( 3 ) Lockerbie was not unexpected. Because of the “Vincennes Incident” it was expected and planned for.

( 4 ) The “Vincennes Incident” obviously gave Iran a motive to retaliate. No commentator has noted that it also gave the USA a motive to collude in a measured and appropriate response. To understand Lockerbie watch the film “Fail Safe”.

( 5 ) The relationship between Lockerbie and the Vincennes Incident is something the authorities have gone to great lengths to deny. To acknowledge the link they would have had to respond and escalate the situation. With “honour” satisfied it was best to move on.

( 6 ) The arrest of the PFLP-GC “Autumn Leaves” group is of relevance because this represented an excessive and inappropriate response. It also indicated that –

(a) Iran had not decided to forgive and forget.
(b) The CIA had an active policy.
(c) The timing of “Autumn Leaves” was of crucial importance.
(d) It may cast light on who built the IED that destroyed PA103.

( 7 ) Libya was blamed for reasons largely but not entirely unrelated to the bombing itself. These reasons may even be regarded as laudable and may have saved many lives. Libya was blamed as –

(a)The creation of a false solution, any false solution, was necessary.
(b) The authorities pretended the case was solved to appease the
families of the victims who became a tool of policy..
(c ) a prelude to UN sanctions with the object of regime change
( d ) to moderate or eliminate Libyan support for various terrorist
groups and National Liberation movements notably the IRA.
( e ) payback for previous Libyan support of same and “pour
encourager les autres” .
( f ) As an employee of Libyan intelligence and a procuror of
sophisticated timers Al-Megrahi may have been personally
involved in these activities.

( 8 ) The only logical alternative to Al-Megrahi’s guilt is that agencies of the British and US Government knew that PA103 was doomed and colluded in the bombing.

( 9 ) This allows for the manipulation of passenger lists. One victims may not have been on the plane.

( 10 ) The IED that destroyed flight PA103 was not introduced at Malta. It is irrefutable that it was introduced at Heathrow.

( 11 ) The Malta scenario was created to implicate Libya in general and Megrahi in particular. The implementation of this plan largely pre-dated the bombing.

( 12 ) Lockerbie may have been the inspiration for the UTA 772 bombing. Evidence of Libyan responsibility fore the UTA case is compelling.

( 13 ) The object of the indictment of the two Libyan suspects was demonstrably not a trial but UN sanctions against Libya.

( 14 ) The defector Majid Giaka may have been recruited to play a role that the late Ian Spiro should have played.

( 15 ) The plan to blame Libya had nothing to do with the Gulf War which had ended several months before the indictment was announced.

( 16 ) The timing of the announcement of the indictment was related to;
(a) the objective of imposing sanctions
(b) the return of the second defendant to Libya from Tunis.

( 17 ) The attempt to impose sanctions could not commence until the 1.1.92 when significant changes to the UN Security Coucil took effect.

( 18 ) The conclusions of the 1990 Fatal Accident Enquiry that the primary suitcase arrived at Heathrow unaccompanied on flight PA103A and that it had likely been Interlined there was based on the evidence of the Lord Advocate’s Deputy and successor Andrew Hardie QC. This “evidence” was based on flawed deductive reasoning that was expressly repudiated in the Judgement at Camp Zeist.

( 19 ) The Scottish Judiciary, individually and collectively regarded “Camp Zeist” as an abomination a venue and form of trial arrived at by political negotiation and were determined to convict if they possibly could. They were determined that this experiment should not be repeated and to convict if they possibly could. Al-Megrahi was convicted because of “Camp Zeist”.

( 20 )The relationship between the McKie case and Lockerbie is solely based on the claims of Juval Aviv which are always unsubstantiated..

( 21 ) “Interfor” and the alternate “Drug Conspiracy Theory” expressed in the documentary “The Maltese Double Cross” are untrue, not because of moral rectitude, not because they are unsupported by a shred a real evidence, but because the primary suitcase was not on flight PA103A on the 21.12.88.

( 22 ) Khalid Jafaar was an innocent victim. He had nothing to do with the bombing.

( 23 ) The claims that Charles McKee, Ron LaRiviere, Daniel O’Connor and Matthew Gannon were a “team” is unsupported by any evidence.

( 24 ) Claims of South African involvement are based merely on a hunch and are unsupported by evidence. Indeed there is no credible motive. If the apartheid regime was involved one might think the successor government, good friends of Libya and Colonel Gaddafi might have come up with some evidence.

( 25 ) Lockerbie buffs should “google” Luis Posada Carriles.

A Poisoned Pill - The Mysterious Life and Death of Ian Spiro

What greater pain can mortals have than this - than see their children dead before their eyes?”Euripedes - The Supplicant Widow

The Murders at the Rancho Sante Fe;

1.     In the northern suburbs of San Diego (formerly home port to the USS Vincennes) is situated the Rancho Sante Fe, per capita the richest community in the USA. The Rancho Sante Fe achieved some notoriety in March 1997 when 39 members of the Heaven’s Gate cult committed mass suicide.

2.     Five years earlier the Rancho Santa Fe had been the scene of another shocking and apparently equally pointless multiple homicide when four members of a British family were murdered. Gail Spiro aged 42 and her three children Sarah (16) Adam (14) and Dinah 10) were shot in the head at the family’s luxurious rented villa sometime on the night of Sunday 1st – Monday 2nd November 1992.

3.      For the San Diego Police there was only one suspect in the case Gail’s husband Ian a British businessman and reputed “spy” and “arms dealer” with a murky past when based in the Middle East.

4.      Spiro had been at the villa and had fled the scene. At 8 a.m. on Monday 2nd November the family’s Mexican maid Maria Roxas had arrived at the villa. The door was answered by Spiro in his gown. Spiro told her that his family were away and that there was no work for her that day. Spiro, who had only hours before slaughtered his family, drove the girl to her shanty home.

5.     Save for a single sighting at a gas station payphone in the California Desert Spiro was not seen alive again. On Thursday the 5th November the Police entered the villa and recovered the bodies. Spiro had been married before. He had been a successful and prosperous London property developer but was ruined by the 1974 crash. He abandoned his wife and two daughters and moved to the USA living with his Uncle Joe in the Queens District of New York. He had met Gail in London and the couple married in London in 1976 at the Westminster Registry Office.

6.     On Friday 6th November Spiro’s body was discovered by hikers at a beauty spot in the Anza-Borrego Desert inside his locked RV. He had died by ingesting potassium cyanide. A vial of cyanide was found by his side. A suitcase of Spiro’s personal papers was later found in the desert.

7.    The weapon Spiro had used to murder his family, a .45 Colt magnum revolver, was never recovered. Spiro had borrowed a similar weapon from his friend and neighbour James Streeter a San Diego Attorney and former Colonel in the Marines Legal service. ( 3 )

8.   Spiro had (allegedly) confided to Streeter that he had felt threatened to such an extent that Streeter had lent him the gun for protection. In phone-calls to his brother-in-law Ken Quarton (Gail’s half-brother), a resident of Vancouver, Spiro complained of having received a number of “disturbing” (not “threatening”) phone-calls and said that “something from his past had come back to haunt him”. He told Quarton “the answer lay in Terry Waite’s book”.

9.      The story was first reported in the UK by the Sunday Times. (4) The Police were from the start in no doubt that Spiro had murdered his family and committed suicide. There were no signs of forced entry and little doubt that Spiro had been in the house at the time of the killings. Of course Spiro may have known the killer or killers or somebody else could have had keys to his home – in the full circumstances not a possibility but a likelihood.

10.      Spiro’s conduct after the murders was taken as conclusive evidence of his guilt. Why else would he have fled the scene and taken his own life? (The US authorities refused to release Spiro’s autopsy report and the body was cremated in the US). It was also rumoured Spiro had left a rambling taped message confirming his guilt.

11.     The Sunday Times quoted an unnamed Policeman to the effect that Spiro was a very scary guy whom he would not like to encounter on a dark night. Spiro, it was claimed had “suddenly gone berserk” and murdered his family. The logic was cyclical. As he had senselessly murdered his family therefore he must have gone berserk. It was difficult to pinpoint the time of the murders as no witness had heard gunshots.

12.    Spiro was alleged to be depressed by his debts to several Banks in respect of failed business ventures. The source of this allegation is unknown. It was an allegation that Gail’s family strenuously denied. Spiro had made and lost several fortunes. As the family home was rented and even his car leased Spiro had few tangible assets that could be recovered.

13.     However it may be that Spiro was not the sort of man who would be depressed by his debts. On the contrary he may have regarded them as a triumph. Indeed there were major flaws with the official version of events. Why did Spiro feel threatened and what were the “disturbing” phone-calls he had received? Were they of no relevance? What was it from his past that had come back to haunt him? What of his background in the Middle East where he had played a role in the Beirut hostage crisis?

14.       Above all there was one glaring inconsistency in the official version of events – Spiro’s acquisition of the murder weapon.

15.         Spiro had “suddenly gone berserk.” Yet he had acquired the murder weapon in advance by convincing his neighbour an Attorney and respected Military Officer that his life was threatened. Then having murdered his family he disposed of the murder weapon and acquired a quantity of potassium cyanide, not the easiest substance to find. According to the Police this was given to him by an unidentified jeweller friend although they did not say if this was prior to or after the murders. Had he acquired the potassium cyanide prior to the murders it would indicate considerable advanced planning, (despite forgetting to cancel the maid.) But why dispose of the gun then poison yourself?

16.      On the other hand why would somebody kill his family, leaving him unscathed, and why would he not tell the truth to the authorities? Would he be believed? In due course Spiro would be convicted of murder for if Spiro wasn’t the culprit that must surely have been the intent. Whether or not he killed his family he faced the rest of his life in prison.

Spiro and the Beirut Hostage Crisis

17.      Spiro had told Ken Quarton the answer lay in “Terry Waite’s book.” At the time Terry Waite’s memoirs “Taken on Trust” had yet to be published. When they were they made only the briefest mention of Spiro as a man with whom Waite had once had breakfast. ( 5 ).

18.      Waite had been kidnapped in Beirut on Tuesday 20th January 1987. After 1763 days in captivity he was released on the 18th November 1991. Four days earlier Britain and the USA had announced the indictment of two Libyan suspects for the 1988 Lockerbie bombing removing one obstacle to his release as US President George Bush announced that Syria and Iran had taken a “bum rap” in the Lockerbie case. ( 6 )

19.        The object of the indictment however was demonstrably not a trial but sanctions against Libya for political objectives largely unrelated to the bombing itself. Only with changes to the composition of the UN Security Council made on the 1st January 1992 when Cuba and Yemen lost their seats was the composition of the UN Security Council such that the USA, Britain and France were able to achieve their objective.

20.       Shortly after Waite’s release the BBC correspondent Gavin Hewitt published “Terry Waite Why Was He Kidnapped?” a book he had substantially completed earlier but which could not be published while Waite was still in captivity.

21.      This superb book concerned the relationship between Colonel Oliver North and Waite and their efforts to obtain freedom for the Hostages held by Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah and freelance kidnap gangs in the Lebanon. Waite represented himself as an honest broker, a disinterested humanitarian whose previous efforts in Libya and Iran had met with a great deal of success.

22.     North pinned his hopes for freeing the hostages on a series of increasingly ambitious arms deals with the kidnap gangs’ Iranian sponsors in order to fulfil what he discerned to be President Reagan’s wishes. His Herculean efforts in this mission, sponsored by CIA director William Casey, and in support of the Contra rebels in Central America were not entirely selfless. North had his own Presidential ambitions.

23.      North exploited Waite using him as “ecclesiastical cover” for hostages released as a result of his arms dealing. Waite in turn was taking credit for the release of hostages who had been freed as a result of arms dealing. North’s activities were self-defeating. By giving the hostages real value they became a valuable commodity and North’s efforts only encouraged further hostage taking.

24.       The priority of the kidnap gangs was not to serve the interests of Iran to whom they owed religious and political allegiance. Their central objective was to achieve freedom for a group of Shiite prisoners who included relatives of the kidnappers. They had been imprisoned in Kuwait following a 1983 bombing campaign the object of which was to discourage Kuwaiti financial support for Iraq in the middle of Saddam Hussein’s war against Iran.

25.      North and Waite’s strategy to resolve the Beirut hostage crisis was to give the kidnappers what they wanted. In this they were foiled by the determination of the Kuwaiti Government not to make concessions in which they were officially supported by their American allies. (The prisoners were actually freed a year before Waite’s release when Saddam Hussein invaded his Kuwaiti ally. The prison guards melted away and the prisoners fled.)

26.        Hewitt’s book made a number of references to “Spiro” part of North’s “inner circle.” Hewitt described “Spiro” as follows,

“ ‘Spiro’, as it turned out, had been at an influential school in the Lebanon. He knew most of the religious leaders, including the leading Shiite families. He had direct contact with Islamic Jihad, the group behind the hostage taking, and offered to make some introductions for Terry Waite.

Who he really was remained unclear. He was sparing with details. He was a Greek who had ‘business’ in the Lebanon; his wife had worked as a nurse in the American University Hospital. He had a house just outside Nice and another in California. He was paranoid about his security and always operated under a number of aliases; he possessed five passports in different names.

In fact ‘Spiro’ worked for both British and American intelligence although he was closer to the latter. He was described as a man who carried out ‘deep covert operations’. One person who knew him said that ‘he was on no intelligence register but a man without whom no agency could operate’. After the blowing up of the American Embassy in Beirut and the abduction of William Buckley, the CIA Station Chief, he was regarded as one of the few resources the CIA had left in Lebanon. Later in 1988 ‘Spiro’ was to play an important role in acquiring Buckley’s confessions, what he had revealed under torture. ”
( 7 )

27.           Another section of Hewitt’s book gives some insight into Spiro’s true character. On his previous visit to Beirut Waite had been warned by the kidnappers not to return to Beirut unless he had some concrete proposal on the issue of the Kuwaiti prisoners. (8) According to Hewitt Spiro offered to use his influence with members of the Kuwaiti Royal Family with whom he had been to school. Waite returned to Beirut and was kidnapped. In reality Spiro had been educated at Carmel College a Jewish Public School situated near Oxford. It is unlikely to number members of the Kuwaiti Royal Family amongst it’s old boys. Although part of North and Waite’s “inner circle” Spiro was duping them both.

28.          Two of Hewitt’s principal sources were the former hostage David Jacobsen and former Ambassador for refugees Eugene Douglas. According to Jacobsen’s memoirs he met Spiro in New York at the office of a “prominent civilian” presumably Douglas. At this meeting Spiro using the alias “John Smith” told Jacobsen that his wife worked as a nurse at the American University Hospital in Beirut. Curiously Jacobsen, who was Director of the American University Hospital didn’t seem to know her. Later the Californian Jacobsen became involved in Spiro’s fundraising efforts to release the Hostages by sponsoring a scheme of medical relief in Shi’ite Southern Lebanon.(9)

29.       Hewitt had written that -

“Not long after Waite’s disappearance ‘Spiro’ received what he considered to be a ransom demand. It was put not in crude financial terms but in the form of requesting financial assistance for the relatives of the seventeen men imprisoned in Kuwait.” – “As ‘Spiro’ explored the idea, it became larger in scope. His contacts wanted a relief programme for Southern Lebanon, involving hospitals, schools and housing: - the project could cost as much as $20 million dollars”. ( 10 )

30.      Waite had been kidnapped because he believed Spiro’s lie of having influence with the Kuwaiti Royal Family. If Spiro didn’t receive this “ransom demand” he concocted it as a way of making money from his friend Waite’s horrible ordeal. Is this the sort of person who was going to suffer anguish because he owed money to the Banks?

31.         Hewitt’s biography of Spiro was not based on facts but was what Spiro had told Jacobsen and Douglas. Indeed the portrayal of Spiro as having attended a religious school in the Lebanon and being an intimate of the leading Shi’ite families or having “direct contact with Islamic Jihad” is preposterous. He was a friend of a family of exiled Lebanese Christians the Badouns who lived in London. The claim that he had obtained Buckley’s “confession” is interesting. Buckley was admired for how little real information he gave away.

32.        While “Spiro” seems to be a Greek name in fact the family name was “Spirowicz” and is of Polish origin. At the 1996 inquest in Workington, Cumbria into the deaths of Gail Spiro and her children Eugene Douglas was quoted as stating that Spiro was of interest to the CIA because of his “twenty year” experience of living in Beirut. He also described Spiro as a “low-level conduit.” This was a person who supposedly held face-to-face meetings with Islamic Jihad.

33.           The Spiro myth was represented as fact in a TV presentation of a "True Crime" story "When the Lies Stop" written and directed by Paul Greengrass.. This depicted Spiro, (played by Alfred Molina) bumbling around a Beirut dungeon in which hostages were being held speaking in English to a turbaned mullah and boasting of being a personal friend of the Director of the CIA. Is it credible that Spiro could have done this and walked away? (11)

34.   In a BBC Inside Story production created to publicise the release of Waite’s memoirs the BBC arranged a meeting or confrontation in Waite’s Cambridge rooms with Oliver North who was touring Europe in 1993 prior to his unsuccessful bid to win a seat in the US Senate. The two had not met for over six years. In that televised meeting North described Waite as “the only living person I have ever met who has had direct access to the hostage-takers.” (12)  By the time of this meeting Spiro was no longer living.   While Waite was being duped by North and Spiro, North himself had been duped by Spiro.

MI5, Libya and the IRA.

35.     Following Spiro’s death the publication Intelligence newsletter wrote

CIA probably contacted him in early 80’s and led to regular meetings with William Buckley COS Beirut. He one of North’s principal intermediaries 85-87 for negotiations re hostages. In 85 he developed close ties to Libyan intel in West Beirut. Spiro got names two Libyan re bombing of Pan Am flight 103. He sent names of Abdel Basset Al-Mugrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fahima to U.S. and English intel services.” (13)

36.      Was this why Spiro and his family were living in rented villa in San Diego? Was he in the Witness Protection Programme?

37.       Perhaps in some real sense he was a spy. The British took a keen interest in North’s activities as they undermined official policy in the Iran-Iraq War and the Beirut Hostage Crisis. North’s arms dealings took no account of the balance of power in the region and led to more hostage-takiug. Who better placed to report back on North’s activities than Spiro?

38.       In 1994 the head of Britain’s domestic intelligence agency MI5 Dame Stella Rimington gave the televised Reith Lecture outlining the role of the service. She explained that the bulk of MI5’s resources were devoted to combating the threat posed by the IRA. In the lecture she boasted that “MI5 supported the investigation up to the point where the atrocity was laid at the door of Libya.” (15)

39.       In the Camp Zeist Judgement Megrahi’s arrival on Malta on the 20/12/88 using a passport in a false name was of great significance to the Judges. (16) Yet how was his true identity known unless he was already under surveillance? According to released CIA documents Megrahi's coded passport was known of on the 22/12/89 in relation to his previous visit to the island on the 8/12/89. (When he supposedly purchased some clothing at the St.Mary's House boutique.

40.       In the years prior to Lockerbie and the interception of the Eksund Libya had supplied hundreds of tons of weapons and millions of dollars to the IRA enabling the IRA to carry on with it’s armed struggle indefinitely. (17) The Eksund had begun it’s trips from Malta picking up it’s lethal cargo on the way. Libya trained IRA terrorists in its camps. Patrick Magee, who attempted to murder Mrs Thatcher at Brighton in 1984 was reputedly trained in Libya. His bomb was set 13 days before detonation. Meghrahi was in the business of procuring sophisticated timers.

41.    Naively Colonel Gaddafi felt he could interfere in the affairs of any country with impunity and sponsored numerous armed groups. By happy coincidence the identification of the two Libyans as the culprits in the Lockerbie case facilitated the UK Government’s objective of decommissioning IRA weaponry.

42.     One of the four demands made of Libya subsequent to the passing of UNSC Resolution 731 on January 21st 1992 was that Libya ;

4. Cease all support and aid to the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and provide the British authorities with all available information regarding that relation. (18)

43.        In short the creation of the “Libya solution” to Lockerbie had laudable objectives and saved many lives.      Libya, and in particular Colonel Gaddafi and his ruling clique had brought sanctions on themselves.

Other Theories of the “Spiro Murders”

44.         Spiro’s supposed discovery from Libyan intelligence of the identity of the two “culprits” in the Lockerbie case was not the only occasion when a foreign intelligence service had been horribly indiscreet in it’s dealings with Spiro. In his 1994 book “Terror, the Inside Story” Professor Yossef Bodansky, Director of the Republican Congressional Taskforce on Terrorism ascribed the “Spiro murders” to the publication of Hewitt’s book. (19)

45.      Quoting verbatim (but without acknowledgement of his source) Hewitt’s potted biography of Spiro (see above) Bodansky claimed that the identification of Spiro as a CIA “asset” in the Lebanon exposed the Iranian terror network he claimed existed in the USA to danger. (Bodansky ascribed the bombing of PA103, and indeed all the evil in the world, to Iran.)

46.       Through his “links” to Iranian intelligence Spiro had learned of the Iranian plot to bomb the World Trade Centre (thet bombing occurred more than three months after his death on the 19th February 1993. (Bodansky is now an expert on Al-Qaeda who did not receive a mention in his book).

47.       The “disturbing” phone-calls received by Spiro were from Iranian agents threatening Spiro to keep his mouth shut. According to Bodansky’s account Spiro was defiant. His family were seized by a team of former Russian and East German hitmen. At the time he received his maid his family were alive, being held captive in the house. Spiro was taken to the desert, tortured, then escaped, was recaptured and killed. Bodansky learned this from his access to “highly classified” CIA files.

There are a number of other theories concerning the Spiro murders the most significant of which is this ;

48.          On January 30th 2004 the Michigan Daily (student newspaper of the University of Michigan) published a letter under the title;

Real (we swear) Letters to the Editor”.

 The text reads in full:-

Spiro did not kill self, family; ‘Libyan agents’ most likely responsible.

To the Daily:

I recently encountered an article on your website concerning the alleged murder-suicide of Ian Spiro and his wife and children at Rancho Sante Fe in San Diego.

Spiro did not kill himself or his family.

My final meeting with Spiro took place the day before his death. My encounters with Spiro were part of covert UC operations to tag and trace certain of Spiro’s chilling activities for his covert client, Libya.

I believe that Spiro and his family were killed by agents of Libya.


49.         The article in question is no longer on the Michigan Daily website (if it ever was.) It appears that the author “Epiceraser” is one M.J. Carson of Grand Rapids, Michigan the recent vendor of some sapphires online. Was this Spiro’s jeweller friend?

50.       In November 2002 Carson was the vendor of seven patented lode claims (gold deposits) in Western Montana. ( 20 ) Potassium cyanide is used by jewellers and for the extraction of gold from ore.

Lester Coleman, Juval Aviv, Alan Francovich and the "Drug Conspiracy" theory.

51.      One of the most problematic “witnesses” in the Lockerbie affair is an American journalist Lester Coleman currently (2009) Professor of Communications at the Beirut University of Technology co-author of Trail of the Octopus which related the Lockerbie case to his time as a Drug Enforcement Agency employee in Cyprus. Coleman also claimed to have been simultaneously an agent of the Military Defence Intelligence Agency a claim that adds little to his story. (21)

52.       Coleman is a proponent of the “Drug Conspiracy Theory” of Lockerbie first advanced by private investigator Juval Aviv.   This is the most popular alternative to the official version of events and versions of it have been widely advanced by Aviv, Coleman, Paul Foot Alan Francovich (writer/director of the controversial documentary The Maltese Double Cross ) and by Francovich’s researcher and Deputy John Ashton.

53.         Essentially the “Drug Conspiracy Theory” is that the US Drug Enforcement Agency used Pan Am flights out of Frankfurt to ship “controlled” deliveries of drugs to the US and that the only Arab passenger on the flight a 19 year old US citizen Khalid Jafaar was a drug courier. Jafaar took his vacations in the Bekaa Valley in the Lebanon.

54.       At Frankfurt Airport the suitcase containing the drugs was switched for the “bomb” suitcase (or alternately in the Francovich/Ashton version) drugs were secretly recovered at Tundergarth and the drug smugglers had introduced a further suitcase containing the bomb.

55.     Neither version of the theory is supported by a shred of real evidence. Aviv never had any and Francovich and his associate, conman Oswald Le Winter fabricated theirs. Indeed some of the “evidence” concocted for the Maltese Double Cross was so blatantly fabricated even the Scottish Crown Office picked up on it. Coleman and his associate LeWinter brought a preposterous lawsuit against several US agencies including the CIA falsely claiming they had been subpoenaed as witnesses in the Camp Zeist trial. (22)(23).

56.      Like the official “Libyan solution” the theory claims that the “primary suitcase” containing the bomb arrived at Heathrow Airport on the feeder flight PA103A from Frankfurt. It didn’t. If, as the official version of events claims, the bomb was contained within a bronze samsonite “tourister” suitcase then it is irrefutable that the primary suitcase was at Heathrow Airport before flight PA103A arrived from Frankfurt. Like the official version of events the “Drug Conspiracy Theory” is untrue. Even if drugs were smuggled from Frankfurt to the US on Pan Am planes (and there is no evidence that they were) it had nothing to do with the bombing.

57.        Coleman, who had a bitter dispute with his boss Michael Hurley claims to have seen Khalid Jafaar at the DEA offices in Cyprus and concluded that the claims he was a drug courier were true. Jafaar may (or may not) have been a DEA informant. There is no evidence he was anything but an innocent victim at Lockerbie.

58.        Coleman’s basic premise is untrue and much of what he describes is outside his personal experience. He worked in Cyprus whose only known connection to Lockerbie is that four US Government employees flew from Cyprus to connect with PA103 at Heathrow having made their bookings through the Eurame Travel Agency in Nicosia. (Abu Talb, a terrorist associated with the “Autumn Leaves” group is alleged to have met another member of the group Hafez Dalkamoni in Cyprus between the 3rd and 5th October 1988.) (24). Talb’s relationship, if any, to Lockerbie is unproven.

59.     These four Government employees were the Deputy CIA Station Chief in Beirut Matthew Gannon, Army Major Charles “Tiny” McKee, Ron LaRiviere a security official at the Beirut Embassy and Daniel O’Connor a State Department employee at the Nicosia Embassy. Often described as “a team” the four men may only have been acquaintances.

60.     It is known that McKee and Gannon had travelled from Beirut to Cyprus by different routes Gannon having travelled by helicopter with the US Ambassador, McKee having taken the Jounieh Ferry. At Heathrow it was the luggage of McKee, Gannon and LaRiviere that was placed first in luggage container AVE4041 prior to the mysterious appearance of two further suitcases, one of which, a brown samsonite, being otherwise unaccounted for, must have contained the bomb. (O’Connor’s suitcase was never loaded onto PA103). (25)

61.     In his book Coleman claimed that in the days prior to the Lockerbie bombing an American double agent “David Lovejoy” made a number of telephone calls to Hussein Niknam, charge d’affair at the Iranian Embassy in Beirut revealing the movements of these US agents. (This story was lifted from the Arabic language publication Al-Quds.) These calls were monitored. Coleman wrongly identified “Lovejoy” as a news cameraman Michael Schafer. Time Magazine had run a story based on the claims of Aviv and Coleman also naming Schafer. Schafer sued for defamation.

62.        Coleman never mentions Ian Spiro although curiously a sub-plot in Coleman’s book concerns the INSLAW case with which Spiro has been associated. Indeed there is no direct evidence in the public domain that there was such a person as David Lovejoy or that these calls were made and the story could just be dismissed as one of Coleman’s tall tales.

63.         However in the epilogue to the 1993 edition of his book Hostage published after Spiro’s death the respected British journalist Con Coughlin, a man with real experience of Beirut and the Lebanon during the Hostage crisis, wrote of “wild allegations Spiro betrayed the travel plans of the US agents who perished at Lockerbie.” (Prior to the 1993 Edition Ian Spiro is not mentioned).(26)


64.       The “businessman”, “spy” and “arms dealer” Ian Spiro was a professional fabricator, a man who made money from selling bogus information. He duped many people including Terry Waite and Oliver North. Having made a good living from the misery of others in the Beirut Hostage Crisis is it likely that he would miss out on the El Dorado of fabricated intelligence the Lockerbie case?

65.       Intelligence newsletter claimed that in West Beirut he had come into contact with Libyan intelligence and passed the names of Megrahi and Fhimah to US and British intelligence. Even if Spiro lived in Beirut it isn’t credible that “Libyan intelligence” would disclose such information and indeed as the bomb was introduced at Heathrow Fhimah and Megrahi can have had nothing to do with bombing. However Spiro may never have set foot in Beirut. So how would he even know the names of Megrahi and Fhimah unless it was US or British intelligence that gave them to him not vice versa?

66.        Spiro could never have given evidence in a Court case which may be one of the reasons Majid Giaka was recruited to replace him. (Another might be that he was marked for death.) His ludicrous story would have been ripped to shreds. But the object of the indictment of the two Libyans was demonstrably not a trial but sanctions.

67.        Spiro had complained to his brother-in-law, and possibly also to James Streeter of having received a number of “disturbing” phone-calls and said “something from his past had come back to haunt him”. Why was he not more specific? One would assume that in these phone-calls the distant party would engage Spiro in conversation. Is that necessarily true? What if the calls were extracts of earlier telephone conversations and they were “disturbing” and “haunting” because one of the two voices he heard was his own?   Was somebody playing him tapes of "Lovejoy's"  calls?


(2) Spokesman at Press Conference at Iranian Embassy in London featured in BBC Correspondent “The Other Lockerbie”


(4) James Dalrymple Strange Death of Middle East Mystery Man Sunday Times 8th November 1992

(5) Terry Waite Taken on Trust Coronet GB 1994

(6) President George Bush remark on White House Lawn 14.11.88

(7) Hewitt, Gavin Terry Waite, Why Was He Kidnapped? Bloomsbury 1991 (titled in the USA Terry Waite and Ollie North) page 33

(8) Hewitt

(9) David Jacobsen with Gerald Astor Hostage. My Nightmare in Beirut Donald I.Fine Inc. 1989 (1993 or later edition).

(10) Hewitt page 200

(11) London Weeekend Television True Crime drama When the Lies Stop – the Ian Spiro Story written and Directed by Paul Greengrass.

(12) BBC TV Inside Story-Terry Waite British Film Institute library

(13) Intelligence Newsletter 3.12.92

(14) Reith lecture Security and Democracy is there a Conflict? Broadcast on BBC2 12.6.94 British Film Institute Library (Also University of Sussex library.)

(15) Dimbleby lecture Security and Democracy in the Modern World is there a Conflict? official transcript at

(16) Camp Zeist Judgement para.80

(17) Brendan O’Brien The Long War: The IRA and Sinn Fein O’Brien Press 1999 (see Chapter 6 section Libyan Arms at

(18) Demands communicated to Libya by three Western representatives Khalil I.Matar & Robert W.Thabit Lockerbie and Libya A Study in International Relations McFarland 2004 page 24.

(19) Professor Yossef Bodansk y “Terror, the Inside Story of the Terrorist Conspiracy in America Today” Shapelsky Publishers Inc. 1994

(20) Zeroko Mining – Mining properties offered for sale

(21) Trail of the Octopus by Lester Coleman & Donald Goddard Bloomburg Publishing PLC October 1993

(22) Some information on the Coleman/LeWinter lawsuit is attached to a quite unrelated Interview with Deirdre McNamer on the web.

(23) See Ex-CIA Agents claim they were smeared to cover up the truth Sunday Herald 7.5.2006

(24) On the Trail of Terror by David Leppard Jonathan Cape 1991 page 195-7

(25) Leppard page 117-8

(26) Con Coughlin Hostage Little Brown & Co.1992 (Epilogue to 1993 paperback edition.)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Lockerbie - The Heathrow Evidence

"Time shall unfold what plighted cunning hides"

            “ As the Kamboj episode showed, there had always been an outside chance that a bag had been smuggled into the container at Heathrow. That possibility aside Orr had effectively ruled out Heathrow within three weeks of the bombing. Much to the relief of British security chiefs, the Met’s Special Branch had long since stopped investigating the Heathrow theory.” 

"On the Trail of Terror" by David Leppard ( 1 )

1.       At 7p.m.on Friday 21st December 2008 the family and friends of some of passengers and crew of flight PA103 and perhaps of some of the eleven residents of Lockerbie who also lost their lives will gather at Heathrow Airport to mark the 20th anniversary of the Lockerbie disaster.

2.        It was from Heathrow Airport that flight PA103 took of at 1835hrs. on Wednesday 21st December 1988 on it’s journey to JFK Airport and presumably it is for that reason that Heathrow Airport has been chosen as a venue for the Service of Remembrance.

3.      There is however another reason why Heathrow is a suitable venue to commemorate the 20th Anniversary for contrary to the version of events advanced by the authorities it was at Heathrow that the bomb that destroyed flight PA103 was introduced.

4.     The official version is that the IED built into a Toshiba bomb-beat radio-cassette incorporating an MST-13 timer was placed within an antique bronze coloured hard-sided Samsonite tourister suitcase also containing a quantity of clothing purchased from a shop in Malta.

5.    This suitcase was smuggled unaccompanied aboard Air Malta flight KM180 at Luqa Airport Malta by unknown means on the morning of the 21st December 1988 and at Frankfurt it was transferred to flight PA103A and flown to Heathrow where the bag was transferred to container AVE4041 which was loaded onto 'The Maid of the Seas' the aircraft used for flight PA103.

The Police Investigation

6.      It was quickly established that a bomb had caused the disaster. Pieces of the bomb damaged aluminium baggage container AVE4041 were identified and recovered. Fragments of a brown hard-sided Samsonite were recovered which due to damage on the inside surface was identified as being the “primary suitcase” containing the IED. An early priority was to try to link the primary suitcase to a specific passenger or to ascertain at what point the suitcase was introduced into the system.

7.       All passengers and crew on board flight PA103 had either started their journey at Heathrow or had transferred from other flights. Passengers who transferred to PA103 at Heathrow from flights from Vienna, Brussels and Cyprus were known as “Interline” passengers. The 41 passengers that had transferred from the Pan Am feeder flight PA103A from Frankfurt were known as “Online” passengers some of whom had “Interlined” from other flights to Frankfurt.

8.       Police enquiries at Heathrow indicated that the luggage container AVE4041 had been loaded at Heathrow firstly with a number of Interline bags then filled with bags from the Frankfurt flight. It contained no luggage from passengers who had started their journey at Heathrow. By deducing the position of the “primary suitcase” within luggage container AVE4041 the Police believed they could deduce how the suitcase had arrived at Heathrow. From the start there was an assumption that the suitcase had been transferred from another flight.

9.        The container had a rectangular base and three walls of the container were at right angles to the base. The fourth wall sloped outwards to fit the curvature of the plane’s fuselage to a point just under half the containers height where there was an aperture the length and height of the container for placing luggage. According to the Air Accident Investigation Report the centre of the explosive event was 10” from the floor of the container 12” from it’s left hand wall and 15” from the front (sloping) wall of the container. The explosion occurred just 25” from the aircraft skin. (This conclusion was questioned at the trial by the evidence of another expert witness) ( 2 ) According to the official version of events the position of the primary suitcase so close to the aircraft’s skin was fortuitous.

10.       The most important witness in the Lockerbie case was a Heathrow baggage handler David Bedford a loader/driver employed by Pan Am. Yet from the start his evidence was discounted or ignored, deemed to be of no relevance at all. On the afternoon of the 21st December 1988 Bedford was working at the Interline Baggage Shed a structure where Interline bags that arrived from other flights were brought and fed into the shed on a conveyor belt that extruded from the building. Here the bags were x-rayed and placed into luggage containers. Bedford had set aside luggage container AVE4041 for flight PA103.

11.     Bedford placed four or five suitcases, upright on their spines to the back of the luggage container then left the area to speak with his supervisor. When he returned he found that somebody had placed two further suitcases flat in front of this row of suitcases. The one on the left was a brown or maroon hard-sided Samsonite. ( 3 )

12.     Bedford spoke to Sulaksh Kamboj an employee of Alert Security who was responsible for x-raying Interline luggage. According to Bedford Kamboj told him that he had placed the two suitcases in the container. When Sulaksh Kamboj was interviewed by the Police he denied having placed the two suitcases in the container and denied having told Bedford that he had. ( 4 )

13.      The Larnaca Interline passengers included four US Government officials. Three, CIA officer Matthew Gannon, Army Major Charles “Tiny” McKee and Ron LaRiviere a SecurityOfficial had travelled from the Lebanon and the fourth Daniel O’Connor was a State Department official posted to the US Embassy in Nicosia.

14.     The luggage of these four men was recovered. None had a bronze or maroon hardsided Samsonite (McKee’s had two grey suitcases one a Samsonite, Gannon’s Samsonite was blue and soft-sided.) Curiously O’Connor’s two bags were never loaded onto PA103 but after the bombing were found in a baggage room at Heathrow.

15.    The container was put aside and later Bedford drove the container to a site known as K-16 where luggage from flight PA103A could fill up the container. Bedford finished work at five p.m thirty minutes before flight PA103A touched down. Luggage had been loaded loose and was unloaded onto a “rocket” and approximately 39 further bags were placed in container AVE4041.

16.       Yet the fact of the mysterious appearance of these two suitcases, one a brown or maroon Samsonite, in the very luggage container in which the explosion occurred in or near the position where the explosion happened, was dismissed by the Police for within three weeks they had “eliminated” Heathrow as the point at which the bomb was introduced. How they had convinced themselves of this remains a mystery partly illuminated by comments made much later by the Chief Investigating Officer Chief Superintendent John Orr.

17.     On the 28th March 1989 Orr addressed the co-ordinating committee of the Lockerbie investigators at the Control Centre in Lockerbie. In reviewing the evidence to date Orr stated that in respect of the loading of AVE 4041-

Evidence from witnesses is to the effect (my emphasis) that the first seven pieces of luggage in the container belonged to Interline passengers and the remainder was Frankfurt luggage.” -

To date 14 pieces of explosive-damaged baggage have been recovered and enquiries to date suggest that on the balance of probabilities (LICC italics) the explosive device is likely to be amongst the Frankfurt baggage items. Of all the currently identified explosion-damaged luggage all but one item originated from Frankfurt.” ( 5 ).     (It transpired that several of the Interline bags had been damaged by the explosion).

18.        Orr had conflated the two further suitcases with the 4-5 bags placed by Bedford. While these bags could not have come from Frankfurt there was no evidence that the two further bags were “Interline” bags save they had been introduced at the Interline baggage shed. Evidence from witnesses was not “to the effect” they were Interline bags.     Evidence from witnesses was that somebody had placed a brown Samsonite within container AVE4041 and that it was never properly established who had done this or whose bag this was.

The Indian Head Forensic Tests

19.      Three weeks after Orr had expressed his conclusion that the two mystery suitcases were Interline bags a series of five forensic tests were conducted at the Indian Head Naval facility in Maryland which confirmed his conclusions and the decision to "eliminate" Heathrow.

20.      Using IEDs built for the purpose the tests, supervised by Tom Thurman of the FBI and Alan Feraday of RARDE, were to deduce the amount of explosive used in the IED and the position of primary suitcase within container AVE4041. In the closest approximation a suitcase containing the IED was placed flat on top of another hard-sided suitcase (also placed flat) at the front left of the luggage container. The centre of the explosion was just 10½” from the floor and was right at the front of the container only 20” from the fuselage.

21.     Due to the absence of “pitting”, the absence of material blasted into the floor of the real container AVE4041 and in the test, it was deduced that the primary suitcase was not on the bottom layer of luggage. As the bags loaded by Bedford and the two “extra” bags were in contact with the floor it was deduced that the “primary suitcase” must have arrived on the feeder flight PA103A.

“Autumn Leaves

22.      The Police were initially convinced that the Lockerbie case was related to the activities of a cell of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command (PFLP-GC) who had been based in the city of Neuss close to Frankfurt. The cell was arrested on Wednesday 26th October 1988. Four IEDs were eventually recovered one of which was concealed within a Toshiba radio cassette player. It is possible that a fifth device was not recovered.

23.      These IED’s incorporated barometric triggers and were designed to explode at altitude. The Scottish Police were stunned to learn that the cell’s bomb-maker Marwan Khreesat had been released soon after his arrest by the examining Magistrate. Khreesat was their prime suspect and the conclusion that the bomb had arrived unaccompanied from Frankfurt may have been influenced by this. What the Scots did not know at the time was that Khreesat was a CIA “asset”.(6)

24.      The first eight months of the investigation was taken up by an increasingly acrimonious dispute between the investigators and the German authorities which was resolved only in August 1989 with the production of evidence, that the Germans had supposedly had for months indicating that a “rogue suitcase” had been transferred from a flight from Malta to the feeder flight PA103A at Frankfurt.

25.     Essentially this was a forensic argument, the Germans arguing that if the IED that destroyed PA103 was built by Khreesat then it must have been introduced at Heathrow. The Scots spent a great deal attempting to refute the argument but stubbornly dismissed the possibility that a “Khreesat” bomb had been introduced at Heathrow.

Addendum April 2015

       According to Leppard in May 1989 the German BKA commissioned a report from its forensic section to demonstrate that the RARDE theory of the time (that a bomb incorporating a barometric trigger had been introduced at Frankfurt) was untenable, or at least extremely unlikely as it would have exploded on the Frankfurt-Heathrow leg.   Rather than consider the points made objectively the Police commissioned a report by RARDE (presumably composed by Dr Hayes and Mr Feraday) to research a response, or more accurately a rebuttal.   This argued that the data on which the Germans had made their argument was inadequate and that 25% of all IED's fail to operate as planned. (The IED that destroyed PA103 seemed to work OK.)   Of course the conclusion of the Scottish Police that the primary suitcase must have arrived from Frankfurt was nothing more than conjecture.

       It transpired that on the 12th May 1989 RARDE scientists had supposedly discovered the two key exhibits that made the possibility that the primary suitcase was introduced at an Airport other that Heathrow feasible.    These were the fragment of circuit board PT/35(b) that "proved" the bomb was not detonated by a barometric switch and a clump of five tiny sheets of paper identified as part of an owners manual for a twin-speaker Toshiba radio-cassette (which Khreesat later denied having ever used for one of his aviation bombs.)

       However as demonstrated in my article "Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil"  Dr Hayes note of the discovery of these items (which Mr Feraday gave evidence that had witnessed) was manifestly fraudulent and could not legitimately have been written before the 22nd May 1989.  When it was actually written is not known.    There is no credible evidence that these two items were actually discovered as claimed and the evidence that makes the claim that the bomb arrived on PA103A from Frankfurt possible may have been completely fabricated. 

Return to Original Article

26.      In the 1996 House of Commons adjournment debate Prime Minister John Major stated that the Lockerbie investigation was “open” and invited those with relevant information to “come forward”. ( 7 ) The claim was astonishing as four years earlier his Government had demanded in advance of a trial that Libya accept full responsibility for the bombing and had taken the lead in imposing sanctions.

27.       The author tested this claim by writing to the Prime Minister pointing out the Police had made a colossal blunder in “eliminating” Heathrow. He received a reply from an official of the Transport Security Branch of the Department of Transport drawing his attention to the conclusions of the Fatal Accident Enquiry firstly that the primary suitcase had arrived unaccompanied on flight PA103A from Frankfurt and secondly that the suitcase arrived at Frankfurt on an airline other than Pan Am. The letter also stated that “contrary to what you say, the Police investigation remains open”. ( 8 ) 

(While this letter suggested I write to the Scottish Crown Office to find out on what evidence the Fatal Accident Inquiry had come to it's conclusion I was quite aware of the evidence on which it had come to this conclusion.   None whatsoever.  Not a shred.   The FAI had accepted without question the submission of the Lord Advocate's Deputy (and successor) that the primary suitcase had arrived at Heathrow on flight PA103A from Frankfurt a "fact" of which he had no personal knowledge and which was presumably repeating the cod logic of John Orr.   While I was aware of this it was rather disturbing that the Transport Security Division of the Department of Transport, responsible for security at Heathrow Airport, were apparently quite ignorant of this!) 

28.     By supposedly reconstructing the contents of AVE4041 the Police purported to not only be able to distinguish between the position within the container of bags Interlined and Onlined at Heathrow but between bags that had begun their journey at Frankfurt and those Interlined there. (i.e.those that had arrived at Frankfurt on feeder flights).

29.       According to Leppard “the LICC had concluded after a detailed reconstruction of the contents of the luggage pallet that the bomb bag must have come from an Interlined flight because it was amongst the bags on the second and third level which had been Interlined into Frankfurt”. (the forensic tests had indicated the centre of explosive event was 10.5” from the floor of the container!)
There was of course not a shred of evidence that it was - this was just wishful thinking!

30.      Leppard continued “this was the basis for a statement at the fatal accident inquiry by Lord Frasier’s deputy, Andrew Hardie QC, that the bomb bag had arrived at Heathrow on the feeder flight from Frankfurt. Hardie explained this did not mean that the bag had originated from Frankfurt.  ( 9 )

31.    The conclusions of the Fatal Accident Inquiry set the stage for the announcement of the indictments nine months later. While it is assumed the object of the Indictment was to bring about a trial there is considerable evidence the real objective was the imposition of UN Sanctions and a trial was the last thing the Western powers wanted..

Camp Zeist and The Judgement

32.     Both David Bedford and Sulaksh Kamboj gave evidence at Camp Zeist concerning what had transpired 12 years before. The discrepancy between their accounts was still not resolved although their Lordships favoured Bedford’s account. However this discrepancy was found to be of no importance for their Lordships accepted the official version of events that the primary suitcase had been introduced in Malta and transferred to PA103A at Frankfurt. As the two suitcases had appeared in AVE4041 prior to PA103' arrival Bedford’s evidence was of no relevance as the Police had concluded twelve years earlier. (3)&(4)

33.     As their Lordships had supposedly discounted the evidence of the defector Majid Giaka they confessed they did not know how the bomb was introduced at Malta. (11) However having found the case against the defendant Megrahi convincing in other respects, and as Megrahi had flown to Malta on the 20th December 1988 using a false identity and had left Malta on the morning of the 21st December 1988 they concluded that this visit must have been related to smuggling the primary suitcase aboard flight KM180 rather than some other nefarious purpose.

34.     In their summing-up the defence made a telling point concerning Bedford’s evidence. According to the official scenario if the “Bedford Samsonite” was not the primary suitcase then it must have been in extremely close proximity to it. However as no bomb-damaged brown Samsonite was recovered, (or indeed any such Interline bag) save for the primary suitcase itself, then this must have been the primary suitcase.

35.     In their Judgement their Lordships got around this difficulty by speculating that the contents of luggage container AVE4041 may or must have been re-arranged when the further bags from PA103A were added and the “Bedford Samsonite” was moved far away from the point of the explosion “to some far corner of the container”. (12) In making such a claim their Lordships completely undermined the theory on which Heathrow had been “eliminated” and indeed the basis on which their fellow Judge Lord Hardie had given evidence to the Fatal Accident Inquiry.

This is a Private Eye story of 2001 summarising f Bill Taylor's closing submissions at Camp Zeist.    It is quite remarkable in that Private Eye, who to their credit had kept the Lockerbie issue alive, actually published a Lockerbie story that was true! 


“A disturbing theme emerged from the closing submission of Bill Taylor QC, counsel for one of the Libyans accused of murdering 270 people in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing.

Mr Taylor had already made much of the failure of the prosecution to establish the central point of its case: that the suitcase with the bomb  was put on a plane I Malta.  In his final speech, however,  he argued that the bomb was put on the doomed flight at London's Heathrow. 

 He argued the case systematically, making 20 separate points and pointing out that a terrorist who wanted to destroy the plane was more likely to put it on its final flight for New York rather than on feeder flights from Frankfurt or Malta.

He could prove easily that security at Heathrow in December 1988 was abysmal.   There were at least three places from where a suitcase could be smuggled on to the Pan Am flight without being picked up by airline staff.  The container with baggage for the flight was left completely unattended for three quarters of an hour.

Mr Taylor's most powerful point was his third namely that  “a brown Samsonite was introduced into that part of the container at the interline area at Heathrow airport.” This was highly relevant since everyone agreed that the bomb that destroyed the plane had been packed in a brown Samsonite case.   Mr Taylor's main evidence came from John Bedford, a baggage loader at Heathrow airport, who was interviewed soon after the bombing.  He then gave evidence at the initial fatal accident inquiry in 1991, which was referred to extensively by Mr Taylor.   He was asked:

Q: Can you recall whether on 21 December 1988 any of the luggage that you dealt with any of the luggage that you dealt with or saw at the interline shed destined for Pan-am 103 was a bronze Samsonite case?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: Did you see a bronze Samsonite case?

A: A maroony-brown Samsonite case, yes.

 Mr Taylor went on to deal in detail with the complicated evidence about the position of the loaded bags in the plane.  He concluded that the Samsonite case had been loaded into the plane in almost exactly the position occupied by the suitcase from which the bomb eventually exploded.  Mr Taylor also established that there was no other Samsonite bag in the plane.      (This claim is untrue – there were other Samsonites on the plane and in container AVE4041.  No  hardshell bronze Samsonite, other than the primary suitcase, was recovered)  Mr Bedford was called by the crown as a reliable witness.   There seemed no reason why he should invent the story of the mysterious Samsonite case which appeared as though of magic in the container of luggage for flight 103.

If the case with the bomb did go on the plane at Heathrow, the consequences for those in charge of the airport at the time are very severe.  But what is beyond dispute is that if anyone did put a bag with a bomb on the plane at Heathrow  it could not have been either of the two defendants."



36.     John Orr’s supposition that the two bags seen by Bedford were “Interline” bags, the forensic tests that purported to eliminate these bags, the speculation that these bags had been re-arranged was essentially irrelevant. Indeed the attempt to identify the origin of the primary suitcase from identifying the bags around it was deeply flawed as it assumed the primary suitcase was introduced into the system at the same point as the surrounding bags.  The primary suitcase was neither an Interline nor Online bag.

37.      There was only one way to properly identify and eliminate the brown/maroon Samsonite seen by Bedford and that was to recover it, examine it’s contents and link it to a particular passenger. If Chief Superintendent John Orr believed the Samsonite seen by Bedford was an Interline bag then it should have been recovered and linked to a specific Interline passenger.

38.        The logic is irrefutable. If the Samsonite suitcase seen in container AVE4041 was not otherwise recovered then it must have been the primary suitcase. As it was seen long before the arrival of flight PA103A then the official scenario (on which Megrahi was convicted) must be untrue.

( 1 ) David Leppard On the Trail of Terror page 145 Jonathan Cape
(2) Evidence of Christopher Protheroe at Camp Zeist (25th May 2000)

(3) Evidence of David Bedford at Camp/Zeist para.23-25 of
Judgement / Leppard page 137

(4) Evidence of Sulaksh Kamboj at Camp Zeist/para 23-25 of
Judgement/ Leppard page 137

(5) Lockerbie Incident control Centre memo 28th March 1989 quoted from Leppard page 100

(6) Evidence at Camp Zeist of FBI agent Hal Hendershot

(7) Hansard 17th May 1996

(8) Letter of the 5thh June 1996 from DoT Transport Security Branch Ref:AVI 4/2/20

(9) Leppard page 205

(10) Lockerbie and Libya a Study in International Relations Khalil I.Matar and Robert W.Thabit McFarland and Company Inc. 2004 page 9

(11) Judgement para.75

(12) Judgement para.25