Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Masonic Verses Part X The Bombing of UTA 772 - 19th September 1989.

Sanctions were brought against Libya in 1992 not only to (supposedly) compel Libya to hand over the two suspects in the Lockerbie case but to compel Libyan co-operation in the UTA case. ( 1 )

In the “official” version of events the UTA case demonstrates a pattern of Libyan behaviour. For some who dispute Libyan responsibility for Lockerbie there is also a suspicion that evidence in the UTA 772 case was manipulated to implicate Libya, perhaps even to ensure French support, as a permanent member of the Security Council, for sanctions.

There are similarities between the UTA 772 case and Lockerbie as well as significant differences, not only in the way the investigation was conducted but in the different method by which UTA772 was attacked.

The evidence in the UTA case against the six Libyan officials eventually convicted is essentially circumstantial and sometimes quite flimsy. There appears to be stronger evidence against other Libyan officials and a Congolese who were not charged. The names of persons implicated in the attack will be in bold type and those accused (and convicted in absentia) in bold print and underlined.

The Bombing of UTA 772 The Initial Response;

The second demand communicated to Libya on the 2nd April 1992 subsequent to the passing of Security Council Resolution 731 was that Libya “co-operate with France in the matter of the UTA flight.” ( 2 )

This referred to flight 772 of the French airline Union des Transports Aeriens destroyed on Tuesday 19th September 1989. The McDonnell DC-10 was on a flight from Brazzaville in the Congo to Paris having stopped on route in N’Djamena the capital of Chad.

The plane exploded at 13.59 45 minutes after take-off (having crossed a time zone) at an altitude of 35,000 feet breaking up over the Tenere Desert in the neighbouring Republic of Niger. Wreckage of the aircraft was discovered the following morning 800km north-west of N’Djamena spread over a corridor of 600 sq.km by a French military flight searching for the plane. The wreckage was in four large pieces. (The front and rear section and the wings.) However the forward area between the cockpit and the point at which the wings were attached to the aircraft had disintegrated. ( 3 )

As flight 771 from Paris the DC10 arrived at Brazzaville’s Maya Maya Airport just before 7 a.m. on the 19th September. After refuelling and cleaning the plane took off for N’Djamena at 08.47 landing in Chad at 11.13 where nine people got off and took off again from Paris at 12.13. The public papers do not indicate how many passengers embarked at N’Djamena only that all 156 passengers and fourteen crew perished. ( 4 )

It is known that a diplomat at the Libyan Peoples Bureau N’Djamena, Saleh Mahdi Mansour, was booked to fly on UA 772 but failed to show taking the same flight to Paris a week later. ( 5 )

The immediate concern was with the recovery of the bodies and the flight’s black boxes. 170 bodies were recovered and transported to Paris for post-mortem many carbonised as parts of the fuselage burned after the crash. Only 105 of these were positively identified. ( 6 )

The cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder were transported to Paris where initial analysis indicated no technical failure or any warning of the impending catastrophe. ( 7 )

Apart from the four major pieces of debris some fifteen tons of debris consisting largely of the forward fuselage were recovered and sent to Paris with the intention of reconstructing the fuselage. On the 23rd September traces of the explosive Pentrite were detected on parts of the forward hold recovered and a formal murder investigation was opened that day under the direction of the investigating Magistrate Jean-Louis Bruiguiere and carried out by Police Commissioner Romuald Muller. ( 8 )

Amongst the debris was found piece of the shell of a grey suitcase (later identified as a Samsonite 2000 model in Oxford grey) on the inside of which was a 3mm coat of the explosive Pentrite. ( 9 ) (There was no explanation as to how this survived an explosion).

Further forensic reconstruction indicated the IED had exploded within container 7044RK containing economy class luggage loaded at Brazzaville and positioned at the front right hand side of the cargo hold. In this position it could not have been accessed at N’Djamena. (10)

Following the explosion there were several calls claiming responsibility on behalf of several organisations. ( 11 )

The “Bruguire report” names a number of suspects in the case. It notes threats to “punish” France made by the President of Syria for France’s support in the Lebanon of General Michel Aoun (leader of the Iraqi backed “Lebanese Forces.”) It also notes the enmity between France and the Lebanese Hizbollah which was involved in the kidnapping of several French citizens and which conducted a terrorism campaign in Paris in 1986 following the arrest of a Hizbollah operative. (Throughout the English translation of this section, produced for the American civil action, “Lebanese” in the phrase "Lebanese Hizbollah" is mistranslated as “Libyan” i.e. the "Libyan Hizbollah") ( 12 )

The 15th May Organisation;

The use of a suitcase lined with Pentrite explosive was associated with a Palestinian group the 15th May Organisation. The organisation had been disbanded in 1986 and its members were believed to have joined other groups. The French had come into possession of one of these suitcases following the arrest of a Tunisian in Paris in 1986 and five other samples had been seized in Germany, Italy and Israel. ( 13 )

A witness in the case was Palestinian Adnan AWAD who had been sent by the organisation from Baghdad in 1982 with such a suitcase and a bomb concealed in a shoulder bag to bomb a hotel in Geneva. He had been given the suitcase by a leader of the organisation Abou Ibrahim who was in possession of a dozen such cases.(14) On arrival in Switzerland on the 1st September 1982 AWAD surrendered himself to the US Embassy. He was granted political asylum in the USA where in 1991 he was questioned by French officers investigating the UTA bombing. ( 15 )

According to the Bruguiere Report “AWAD stated that the 15th May organisation received financial and moral support from Libya.” ( 16 ) While this may well be true what he was actually reported to have said was “everybody knew that the May 15th organisation received moral and financial help from Libya” ( 17 ) Awad had received the suitcase after the Reagan administration removed Iraq from the list of states supporting terrorism on the 28th February 1982.. ( 18 )

Franco-Libyan Relations;

Relations between France and Libya were poor arising from Libyan opposition to France’s close “neo-colonial” relationship to several states in the region including autocratic and brutal dictatorships. In 1987 and 1988 Colonel Gaddafi had proclaimed Libya’s right to self-defence against French “aggression”. France was a supporter of the Government of Chad with whom Libya had a border dispute over the Aouzou strip and who had recently routed Libyan forces in battle. One of the UTA victims Jacques Renaudet, was an arms dealer who had been in Chad negotiating to buy captured Libyan arms and material. ( 19 )

The investigation into UTA772 also touches on a number of incidents involving attacks on French interests in a number of countries in which Libyan diplomats were implicated. These were notably a plot to assassinate the French President in the Central African Republic in 1984, an attack on French soldiers in Senegal and the bombing of another flight UTA 772 that exploded on the runway on N’Djamena Airport in May 1984 with one fatality and a number of injuries. ( 20 )

In March 1984 a Zairean dissident Celestine Ongala bombed a Kinshasha radio station and the Post Office using two suitcase bombs that he had been given by the cultural attaché at the L.P.B. in Brazzaville Mohamed Astiwi. Ongala and his friends were subsequently invited to Tripoli where they were trained in the use of SAM 7 missilies by Ibrahim Naeli. ( 21 ) Under pressure from the Zairean authorities Astiwi was expelled from the Peoples Republic of the Congo. (22)

Senegal Februatry 1988 – A Lockerbie Connection?

The Bruguiere report mentions twice a very significant episode that occurred at Dakar Airport Senegal on the 20th February 1988 which relates to the Lockerbie case. Two Libyan men were arrested disembarking from a flight from Cotonou, Benin via Abidijan, Ivory Coast. They were said to be in possession of weapons, several kilos of semtex, explosives and MST-13 timers which were in a briefcase found on board. They were not actually carrying the briefcase. Their stay in Benin had been paid for by the L.P.B. Benin and as a result the Libyan Ambassador Mustapha Abucetta was expelled.(23) Later in the Bruguiere report the Ambassador is named as Mohamed Astiwi. (24)

The two men were travelling on Lebanese passports in the names of Mohamed al-Marzouk and Mansour Omran Saber. They were detained until June when they were released, despite the protests of American diplomats. It was suspected or insinuated that Libyan agents had bribed Senegalese officials. ( 25 )

The MST-13 Timers;

According to David Leppard the key exhibit in the Lockerbie case (a fragment of MST-13 timer) was recovered by Allen Feraday of RARDE on the 18th June 1989 melted into the remains of a suitcase belonging to passenger Karen Noonan which had been positioned directly on top of the bomb bag. ( 26 ) Leppard refers to a memo written by Detective Inspector Williamson dated the 19th December 1989 entitled “Items of Interest at RARDE – Circuit Board” outlining this discovery by Feraday in June from “part of severely explosive-damaged American Tourister.”

The memo continued that “a description of the item together with a photograph were supplied to the Productions/Property team to search for any similar material.”(27) On the 14th September 1989 Allen Feraday visited Dexstar in Lockerbie, where exhibits were stored, to examine a number of items of circuitry, none of which was a match. ( 28 ).

This is quite at odds with the version of events presented at Camp Zeist where it was claimed that this fragment of circuit board was found in a piece of cloth recovered by DCs Gilchrist and McColm in January 1989. The fragment was discovered not by Feraday but earlier by his colleague Dr Hayes on the 12th May 1989. The Camp Zesit Judgement states “we are nevertheless satisfied that this fragment was extracted by Dr Hayes in May 1989 from the remnant of the Slalom shirt found by DC Gilchrist and DC McColm.” ( 29 )  (As my later article "Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil" demonstrates it is not possible that Dr Hayes note of this discovery could have been legitimately written on the date claimed.)

It was only in June 1990 that Dr Hayes realised the fragment of circuit board formed part of the timer. At this point Vincent Cannistraro, who was in charge of the CIA “investigation”, indicated possible similarities with a batch of ten timers recovered from two men arrested in Senegal. In August (1990) officers were sent to Senegal to retrieve photographs and control samples that Dr Hayes immediately identified as being identical to the recovered fragment. (31)

The Revelations of Vincent Cannistraro;

Cannistraro retired from the CIA in September 1990 and Leppard’s book continued with some revelations of his and his insights into the bombing. Cannistraro attributed responsibility for Lockerbie to the Iranian Government as revenge for the Vincennes Incident and claimed they had commissioned “simultaneous attacks against no less than five Western Aircraft” - “there is a lot of evidence which puts this at the doorstep of the Iranian Government”. ( 32 )

According to Cannistraro bomb-maker Marwan Khreesat was not the informant within the PFLP-GC. Another member of the “Autumn Leaves” cell Ramzi Diab slipped out of Germany with Khreesat’s “fifth” radio-cassette bomb. (Four had been recovered). Diab was interrogated and executed in Damascus. With the arrest of the “Autumn Leaves” cell PFLP-GC head Ahmed Jibril sent a representative to Colonel Gaddafi asking Libya to take over the task. ( 33 )

Cannistraro claimed that in November 1988 a meeting was held at the HQ of the Libyan Intelligence service and that the CIA knew of the meeting before the Lockerbie bombing. Present at the meeting were the head of Libyan intelligence Major Jalloud and his deputy Abdullah Sanussi. Jalloud selected the men arrested in Senegal, Marzouk (real name Mohamed Al-Naydi) and Saber (real name unknown), to direct the bombing. The bomb would be smuggled into Malta where the Libyans had a network in place with an intimate knowledge of Luqa Airport. (35)

In Malta the two arranged for a third junior Libyan agent to buy clothes to wrap around the bomb. The CIA identified him by comparing photographs of Libyan agents which matched the photofit given by Gauci to the FBI. In November 1990 the Maltese shop-keeper finally identified the Maltese third man and signed an affidavit. (36) (If Gauci made a photofit it was never put in evidence and should have been disclosed to the defence team.)

Astonishingly a Libyan secret agent Mansour Omran Ammar Saber was called as a witness by the prosecution at Camp Zeist and gave evidence on the 16th November 2000. (How and why the prosecution called him is unknown). He admitted to having been arrested in Senegal in 1988 but denied any relationship with the briefcase found on the plane. Apparently Saber was travelling on a false Lebanese passport in his true name but nobody asked him about that! Astonishinly (according to Cannistraro) this person was one of the masterminds of the Lockerbie bombing! ( 37)

The I.C.A.O. Montreal 19th September 1989;

The Bruiguiere report notes another possible link to Lockerbie. On the day of the UTA bombing the International Civil Aviation Authority held a meeting in Montreal and were expecting a Libyan delegation of 40. The meeting would be discussing both the Iranair 655 and PA103 incidents. In the event no Libyans actually attended. ( 38 )

The Libyan Peoples’ Bureau, Brazzaville;

Central to the UTA case was the activities of the Libyan Peoples’ Bureau (L.P.B.) in Brazzaville, capital of the Peoples’ Republic of the Congo (PRC) and it’s involvement with the African representatives of a number of clandestine opposition groups. Due to the suspected involvement of Libyan diplomats in terrorist activities the L.P.B. was under the surveillance of Congolese Military Intelligence.

Since 1987 the first counsellor of the L.P.B. was Abdallah Elazragh. (39) Elazragh had formerly been posted to Libya’s Paris Embassy and was known to the French Security Services as a Libyan Security official. (40) (While many Libyan intelligence agents posed as diplomats the practise is not exclusively of Libyan usage!)

The case also involves a commercial company SOCALIB, a joint venture run between Libya and the Congo dealing in valuable hardwoods. The venture was run by a Libyan Mohamed Hemmali as a subsidiary of the Libyan Arab Foreign Investment Company. (LAFIC) ( 41)

Elazragh inherited from his predecessor a relationship with a Zairean opposition group whose leaders were Appollionaire Mangatany and his friend Bernard Yanga. Mangatany was a passenger on UTA 772 and it is the official case that the bomb was in his luggage. Mangatany’s body was not identified. Congolese Military Intelligence knew of his links to the L.P.B., doubted he had the means to buy a ticket and suspected his involvement soon after the bombing.

Mangatany had been to Libya twice, in 1986 to undertake some sort of training course with the Mathaba the Libyan organisation dedicated to supporing liberations movements headed by Gaddafi’s nephew Moussa Koussa. Mangatany’s group had become dependent on Libyan support and in 1987 there was, allegedly some talk with Libyan diplomats about bombing a UTA flight out of N’Djamena.

Ibrahim Naeli & Arbus Musbah:

Ibrahim Naeli arrived in Brazzaville late on the 23rd Aug.1989 having travelled Athens-Brussels then taken the Sabena flight Brussels – Brazzaville. (41) His alleged assistant Arbus Musbah arrived on the 24th August 1989 having flown Tripoli-Rome-Brazzaville. Naeli had been head of security at the Athens Embassy from October 1987 until December 1988 and Musbah had also been posted to Athens. In 1986 a visa had been sought for him to work at the Rome Embassy. (42)

The morning after he arrived Naeli reported his suitcase lost. This was reported as being a greyish-blue Samsonite. It appears the bag was sent by SABENA on a Portuguese flight via Lisbon and it arrived at Brazzaville on the 24th. There is no record of Naeli recovering the bag. He may just have picked it up from the luggage carousel on the bag’s arrival. The bag was not physically traced otherwise. ( 43 )

The two men initially stayed at hotels after which they were the houseguests of Elazragh or Hemmali, their expenses being met by Elazragh. (40) In the hotel Naeli called several numbers in Libya one of which was later admitted to belong to Abdelsalam Hamouda a Libyan intelligence official and assistant of Abdullah Sanoussi. (44 (45)

According to Hemmali the men were supposedly there to conduct an investigation or audit of SOCALIB on behalf of the Libyan parent LAFIC and had a letter of introduction to that effect which Hemmali could not subsequently locate despite having (allegedly) been given a further copy. (46 ) Hemmali’s mistress (who also had a relationship with the head of Congolese Military Intelligence) claimed he expressed alarm when she announced she was flying to Paris indicating Hemmali’s knowledge of a plan to bomb a UTA flight. ( 47 )

Hemmali had not been notified of this inspection and while the two men held discussions at SOCALIB nothing of substance was discussed. The enterprise’s Congolese Director never saw the two in the office.( 48 ) Hemmali surmised that their visit was a cover and indeed a legitimate inspection would not have taken almost four weeks.(49)

Naedi and Musbah left Brazzaville in the early hours of the 19th September 1989 (3 hours before UTA 772) on an Ethiopian Airways flight to Addis Abbaba. Their onward connection was not traced. They had no hold baggage.(50)

The implied conclusion of the investigation was that the two went to Maya-Maya on the 19th September 1989 simply for the purpose of catching their flight. Despite the flaws in security the investigators appear not to consider that it may also have been related to the smuggling of a bomb on board flight UTA 772.

Also on the flight to Addis Ababa was an Iranian Diplomat Emmanjomah Shadid who had arrived in Brazzaville on the 10th August as a temporary replacement for another Iranian diplomat. (51 )

On the 25th September 1991 Elazragh hurriedly left Brazzaville. He told Hemmali he was retiring (which was untrue) and he had failed to give notice to terminate the lease on his accomodation. (52) (53)

Enquiries in Brazzaville:

From May 6th to June 8th French investigators conducted enquiries in Brazzaville. They were particularly keen to interview Mangatany’s friend Bernard Yanga whose whereabouts were supposedly unknown to the Congolese authorities. They did interview Appolinaire Mangatany’s widow and three sisters. The family lived in poverty and Mangatany only announced his plan to fly to Paris the day before his flight. The family owned only one suitcase which Mangatany did not use. The family could not help to identify the suitcase that he did use but were aware he was looking for a suitcase the week before his trip. (54)

The investigators conducted enquiries at the Maya-Maya Airport where they found security to be very poor. There was poor segregation between passengers and members of the public, even after check-in and investigators found luggage checked-in at a Hotel on the eve of a flight was left unguarded overnight. There was plentiful opportunity for a bag to be smuggled aboard a flight. (Amongst the debris recovered were the corpses of two dogs and three apes). (55) (56)

Evidence of the Libyan Oppostion;

Statements were taken from several opposition figures including leader Mohamed el Megarief who was visiting Chad using an alias at the time and suspected he was the target of the bombing. (When Sanoussi produced to the French investigators another “May 15th” suitcase the Libyans alleged it had been seized from a member of Megarief’s group.) Megarief claimed that after the bombing Abdelsalam Hamouda and Ibrahim Naeli had received special promotions (an issue that would be raised later). (57) (58)

Another opposition witness claimed to have worked with Saleh Mahdi Mansour (the Libyan booked on UTA 772 but who missed the flight) in Damascus in 1991. Mansour told him he had been ordered to miss the flight.

Another witness claimed that a Colonel Whalil Jdik had been approached by Sanoussi to participate in a mission which Jdik later understood was the bombing of UTA772. Jdik declined and joined the opposition (and may have been executed). (59) The "witness" continued that it was “well-known” in Army circles that Hammouda and Naeli were involved in the UTA case. (60)

The Evidence of Bernard Yanga:

Following the receipt of further intelligence received about the involvement of Mangatany and Yanga in the bombing Yanga was found. Since January 1990 he had been in the custody of the Congolese Security Services and escaped in January 1992. He made a number of statements in custody and following his escape. (61) (His initial statement is not amongst the papers published by Crowell & Morning but are referred to in the Bruguiere and Muller reports).

According to Bernard Yanga's account Mangatany was President of a Zairean opposition group and Yanga the Secretary. Elazragh’s predecessor had made Mangatany “sensitive to the commission of an attack against a French plane at N’Djamena.” (62)

In August 1989 Elazragh had two Libyan guests who gave Mangatany a mission at a meeting at the Olympic Hotel attended by a Chadian.  Elazragh provided Mangatany with a ticket, money and an outfit including a red tie. He also provided a suitcase a rigid dark suitcase on wheels. The purpose of the tie was so that at N’Djamena Mangatany could exit the plane and an Ivory Coast national would help him escape. (This story was amended in that this person was to board and recognise Mangatany on the plane). (64)

The precise details of how Mangatany received a suitcase from Elazragh are vague. According to Yanga Elazragh gave Mangatany the suitcase the evening before he departed. (65) (If the suitcase was empty Mangatany might have noticed the timer!)

Mangatany told Yanga the suitcase had been brought into the Congo as a Libyan diplomatic suitcase (“la valise diplomatique”) (properly translated as “diplomatic bag”.) (66) On the 20th and 28th August two diplomatic bags had arrived for the P.L.B. (67)

On the morning of his flight Yanga went to Mangatany’s "plot". Also there was Ngalina, a member of their group whose job it was to set the explosive device. Yanga accompanied Mangatany to the airport but left the taxi short of the Airport then walked as he didn’t want to be seen by the Libyans as Mangatany had been told to keep the mission secret. Yanga saw Elazragh was at the airport together with the two Libyans seen at the Olympic Hotel. (68)

Yanga’s statement indicates that Mangatany was quite aware his suitcase contained a bomb. However it transpired that Yanga's version of events was largely untrue and his story had been crafted to corroborate the version of events favoured by Congolese Military Intelligence!

According to Bruguiere “In the absence of any Congolese pressure Yanga confirmed his previous statements almost entirely. The divergences (Ngalina coming over to Mangatany’s to check the bomb, pretence of the two Libyans at the airport) were due to the Congolese Polices’ pressure under torture”

In the next paragraph Bruguiere wrote “He admitted that the meeting at the Olympic Hotel had been suggested to him by the members of the Congolese Military Security.” (69)

These “divergences” altered Yanga’s story completely inventing a meeting between Mangatany and Naeli and Musbah that never happened and creating the illusion Mangatany knew his suitcase would contain a bomb. The two Libyans could not have been at the airport – they had left for Addis Ababa hours before! Was Elazragh there as Yanga claimed? Did Yanga actually accompany Mangatany to the airport?

Apparently the claim Ngalina was to set the explosive device was another invention. Ngalina was simply passing by Mangatany’s house that morning when Mangatany approached him in his pyjamas asking for help to tie his tie! ( 70 )

In a later statement Yanga claims he gave Mangatany 9 letters to post in Paris to avoid Congolese censorship that Mangatany placed in his suitcase - why would YANGA do this if he knew Mangatany was carrying a bomb? (71)

After the bombing Yanga wrote five letters to Elazragh (who had left Brazzavile) the Mathaba, the Libyan Ambassador and two friends.  Yanga sent copies of these letters anonymously to the Congolese Military Security leading to Yanga’s detention.(72).   (Of course he might just have written them at the behest of Congolese Military Security as "evidence"  Yanga also claimed to have sent Ngalina to the Libyan People's Bureau, to solicit money for Mangatany’s wake an allegation Ngalina denied. (73) (74 ) 

On the 30th October 1991 (two weeks before indictments were announced in the Lockerbie case) international arrest warrants were issued for Elazragh, Naeli, Musbah & Senoussi. International research notices were issued concerning Muss Koussa and Abdusalam Zadma another employee of Libyan intelligence. (75 )

The Fragment of the Timer;

As in the Lockerbie case a piece of circuit board was found in the wreckage of UTA772, which was identified, and proved to be a crucial piece of evidence particularly against Colonel Abdessalam Isa Shibani.

The date of the discovery of the fragment is not known. The investigating magistrate was made aware on its discovery on the 15th October 1991. The fragment bore no trace of explosive residue. The help of the FBI was sought in tracing the origin of this fragment. (76) (It is understood that Thomas Thurman, as in Lockerbie, played a role in identifying this fragment.) Enquiries were conducted after the first four suspects were named and after UN Sanctions were imposed.

The fragment was identified as having been produced by Tai Yuen Electronics Ltd. a Taiwanese Company. Enquiries in Taiwan indicated that Tai Yuen had supplied several thousand printed circuit boards to a company called Costa Electronics, later acquired by another Taiwanese concern Ming-Yong which used them in “temporising devices”, (timers). The chief engineer of Ming-Yong gave the investigators his last such timer. The fraction of circuit board recovered matched part of the circuit board in the timer. A meticulous search of the debris recovered from the Tenere desert did not turn up any other fragment of the timer. ( 78)

Ming-Yong had a relationship with the Taiwanese subsidiary (Grasslin Far East) of a German Parent Company (Grasslin) who took 25% on Ming-Yong’s output. In 1989 another German firm H.P.Marketing had purchased 101 timers from a German Company Kremser who had bought the timers from Grasslin. (79 )

Hans Peter Wurst of H.P.Marketing had known Colonel Isa Shabbani since 1980 and believed him to be an officer in Libyan intelligence and had previously supplied the Libyans with electronic devices. In November 1988 Shabbani asked him to provide a number of timers for use in lighting desert runways servicing some warehouses that Shabbani owned. He was asked to modify them to increase the voltage.so they could be powered by a 12 volt battery. H.P.Marketing acquired from Kremser 101 timers which were modified and sent to Libya in July 1989. Shabbani later indicated his satisfaction with the timers. (80)

While the circuit board in the sample timer supplied by Ming-Yong was identical to the fragment recovered this did not prove this fragment came from one of the timers supplied to Shabbani which involved 101 of the several thousand circuit boards supplied by Tai Yuen.

The Libyan Responseto the Arrest Warrants and Sanctions;

The Libyans purported to co-operate with the French investigation and appointed Mohamed Mursi an official of the Libyan Supreme Court to liase with the French. Mursi interviewed a number of suspects whose statements were often terse in which they denied any involvement. (81)

Of significance Mursi produced evidence one of the accused Arbus Musbah died in a traffic accident in November 1990. Naeli’s evidence to Mursi referred to Musbah having died in a painful accident. (82)

Mursi passed on to the French information concerning the Libyans being in possession of two suitcases similar to those produced by the “May 15th” group. (83) It appears that in July a senior officer of the French security service the D.S.T. was shown one of these suitcases by Abdullah Sanoussi in the latter’s office. (84)

In late 1992 the investigating Magistrate was invited to Libya to continue his enquiries.(85) The Libyans withdrew their invitation and there was no progress until 1996 when Colonel Gaddafi wrote to the French President pledging co-operation and seeking a solution that would preserve Libyan sovereignty. (86)

Commission Rogatoire in Libya July 1996;

Investigations were conducted by the investigating Magistrate and his team in Libya. A number of witnesses were interviewed iuncluding four of the six accused. Ibrahim Naeli was not questioned and Arbus Musbah was supposedly dead. The salient points were as follows.

The responsible senior officer of the Libyan Army could neither confirm or deny that Naeli and Hammouda had been given special promotions following the bombing. Neither then nor later where the French allowed to see their files. Hammouda, who admitted to being Sanoussi’s chef de cabinet, claimed he had been promoted in 1992. (88)

The administrative director of the Libyan Arab Foreign Investment Company (LAFIC) claimed that L.P.B. in Brazzaville had alerted LAFIC to problems in SOCILAB. (89) He was evasive as to who paid for the inspection or why Naeli and Musbah had diplomatic status. Their report was not in the file but was forwarded later and was a “bland document.”(90)

Elazragh’s administration file did not contain any document that indicated Tripoli had decided the date of his return from the Congo. (91)

Enquiries were made into the documentation proving Musbah had died on the 14th November 1990 including the reports of Traffic Police, Doctors Report ect. Which were inconsistent as to the date. The Magistrate was aware that on the 1st April 1991 Musbah had applied for a visa to travel to Athens and had actually done so between the 6th & 9th April. The Libyans claimed this was a case of mistaken identity although the same passport number featured in both the visa application and the traffic accident documents. ( 92 )

The French also took possession of the “May 15th” suitcase that the French security official had seen in Senoussi’s office. (93)

The Criminal Trial:

In 1999 the six defendants were convicted in absentia following a brief trial for which no defence was entered. The Court ordered the Libyan Government to pay compensation of $3,000-$30,000 Euros. The Libyan Government, in the form of a charitable trust controlled by Colonel Gaddafi offered $170 US million to the families of the victims. The US families rejected the offer and sued the Libyan Government and the six defendants in the US Courts.

Civil Proceedings:

A Civil case was brought in the USA Robert L.Pugh et.al. v. Libyan People’s Arab Jamariyah et.al. on behalf of the estate of the seven American victims, their relatives and dependants and the owners of the plane itself. Judgement was for the plaintiffs in January 2008 and the defendants (including the six Libyans convicted in absentia) were ordered to pay the plaintiffs in total $6 billion US dollars. ( 94 ) ( 95 )   Of interest Ambassador Pugh had been deputy to the US Ambassador to Beirut at the time of the Lockerbie bombing.

Conclusion Concerning the Investigation and Evidence;

The depth and breadth of the French investigation of the UTA 772 and the competence and clarity of the Bruguiere and Muller reports obscure some of the shortcomings in the strength of evidence. (96)

Firstly many of the victims were never identified due to the charring of the bodies. Regrettably this meant that it is not known for certain that Appolinaire Mangatany was actually on flight UTA 772 when it exploded..

Further it was never proven that the suitcase checked-in by Appolinaire Mangatany contained the bomb. Evidence that Elazragh gave Mangatany a suitcase is based on the word of Bernard Yanga who in other respects appears to have greatly embellished his statement. According to the Muller report “the youngest sister Guillaumette affirmed that Appolinaire had informed her of having purchased a bag from the market a few days ago.” (97) It seems a fair inference that Mangatany’s ticket and expenses were paid by the Libyans but Mangatany had been to Libya twice before at Libyan expense.

It is implied the “bomb” suitcase was sent to Brazzaville as a diplomatic bag. There is no evidence of this. Alternately it was transported by Ibrahim Naeli as his own suitcase on his trip from Athens to Brazzaville. His bag was lost or delayed, possibly deliberately before it was sent on to Brazzaville. While there is no evidence of Naeli pursuing a claim for a lost bag there is no evidence he was reunited with this bag either.

In political terms there is strong circumstantial inference of Libyan involvement which involved actions beyond those of the six individual accused.  They had motive.  In Legal terms was there sufficient evidence to convict the six individuals, noting the evidence was never tested and an investigation report is always more coherent than a trial? There was a case to answer against Elazragh, Naeli and Musbah. The evidence against the other three Libyans is of a different nature.

Colonel Abdullah Senoussi was implicated as head of the external service of the Libyan Secret Service, the number 2 man in the organisation. He denied being in command of Elazragh, Naeli and Musbah and his guilt is conditional on theirs. He was also in possession of a “May 15th” suitcase similar to the device that destroyed UTA 772. Was this evidence that he was at some time in possession of the suitcase that did destroy UTA772?  There was also hearsay evidence he had tried to recruit another officer into the plot.  Musa Koussa, Senoussi's boss was never charged and appears to have enjoyed close relations with Western intelligence agencies.   He fled Libya for Britain before the fall of Gaddafi, was supposedly debriefed by MI5 and went into exile in the Gulf.

Colonel Abdelsallam Isa Shibbani was implicated as the purchaser of the 101 timers from H.P.Marketing and for his failure to account for all of them. Is there sufficient evidence one of these devices was used in the bomb that destroyed UTA 772 and is there any evidence of guily knowledge? Again evidence of his involvement would have been conditional on the guilt of Elzaragh, Naeli and Musbah.

Save that he was employed by the Libyan Secret Service the evidence against Abdelsalam Hammouda was thin. Ismael Naeli had telephoned his number from Brazzaville and according to opposition sources Hammouda and Naeli received special promotions after the bombing.

Conclusion – The Link Between Lockerbie and UTA 772

The one undoubted link between the two aviation bombings is that employees of the Libyan JSO have been convicted for both cases. This may be seen and has certainly been represented as a pattern of Libyan involvement in terrorism. There is also evidence of Libyan complicity in the earlier attack on flight UTA772 at N’Djamena in 1984.

There are of course dissimilarities in the official version of events although both cases appear to involve the introduction of an IED concealed within a suitcase onto a civilian aircraft.

Lockerbie involved the supposed mimicking of the method of Marwan Khreesat and the PFLP-GC – the concealment of an IED within a Toshiba radio-cassette recorder. (According to Cannistraro’s account the Libyans actually used Khreesat’s “fifth” bomb and the two Libyans chosen to run the operation had, by astonishing coincidence, been arrested earlier that year in possession of a number of MST-13 timers.)

UTA 772 involved the use of a modified suitcase made several years earlier by the “May 15th” group. According to the UTA investigation the Libyans were in possession of at least two such suitcases prior to the Lockerbie incident but didn't use them for the Lockerbie bombing, then after Lockerbie changed this successful method for the UTA attack..

Lockerbie (officially) involved the introduction of an unaccompanied suitcase at Luqa. UTA 772 (supposedly) involved a “mule” at Maya-Maya Airport, a method similar to the false claims that the Lockerbie bomb was introduced at Frankfurt in the luggage of supposed drug mule Khald Jafaar.

However as pointed out in my first article “Lockerbie – the Heathrow Evidence” the official version is untrue and security was subverted (or bypassed) not at Luqa Airport but at Heathrow. (and had nothing to do with Libya.)

There is however a great deal of circumstantial evidence and “intelligence” to link Libya to the UTA case and indeed much of the Bruguiere Report concerns “intelligence” rather than evidence. Libya had a discernible  motive in the UTA case.

But was the official version of events in the UTA case really true or was Bernard Yanga’s account an example of gilding the lily for the purposes of a criminal prosecution. Did Appolinaire Mangatany really check-in the bomb suitcase? Is there any real evidence "the Libyans" supplied him with a suitcase or was his involvement an improvisation to provide an evidential link to Libyan intelligence. The investigation revealed that security at Maya Maya was appalling.- Lockerbie supposedly involved the introduction of an unaccompanied bag with the right luggage tag that circumvented good security at Luqa Airport by unknown means. (However the official version of events is untrue.)  Was it not even simpler matter to introduce an unaccompanied suitcase onto UTA772?  If "the Libyans" had done this with PA103 why not repeat this tried and true method?

Ibrahim Elazrhag was also at Maya Maya Airport that day, (at least according to the evidence of Bernard Yanga.  However Yanga had also claimed to have seen the two Libyans he had met at the Olympic Hotel there (Naeli and Musbah) although he later admitted that meeting had never happened (and therefore he would be unable to recognise them).   However the key evidence may be the presence at Maya Maya Airport on the 19th September 1989 of Ibrahim Naeli and Arbus Mushab for their own flight to Addis Ababa, which later drew suspicion on them because it supposedly indicated foreknowledge of the bombing. But were they at the Airport simply to exit Brazzaville or to introduce the bomb suitcase?

Was there a possible link between the Lockerbie bombing and the UTA772 case in that the former was the inspiration for the latter?

Finally one might also conclude that having decided to co-operate with the investigation the Libyan strategy was a failure. For example by pretending one of the accused had died the Libyans had not really co-operated with the investigation.. Hoping to draw a line under the case by not contesting the trial and paying compensation in order to bring an end to sanctions the Libyan strategy was shattered by the US Civil case. The quantum of compensation obtained by the relatives in the UTA case may now carry over into the Lockerbie case..

Unless otherwise stated references are to files on the website of the Washington Law firm Crowell Moring (for which I am most grateful) who represented the US victims in the liability suit at www.crowell.com. “BR” refers to the Bruguiere Report.

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

(3) (wreckage) BR page 19

(4) (victims) BR page 23

(5)(Libyan diplomat no-show) BR page 37 (see also 59)

(6) (victims identified/unidentified) BR 31 – full list in French original

(7) (black box) BR page 26

(8) (criminal investigation opened) BR page 27

(9) (fragment of suitcase with Pentrite) BR page 28

(10) (point of explosion) BR page 38

(11) (claims of responsibility) BR page 45-46

(12) (mistranslation) BR page 48 (French original page 60-61)

(13) (schedule of seized “May 15th” devices) Muller Report page 91

(14) (Abou Ibrahim/”May 15th) BR 50-51

( 15) (AWAD –US asylum) BR 51

( 16) (AWAD “quote”) BR 51

( 17) (AWAD quote) Investigation Report on Mission to Washington page 4

(18) (Iraq dropped as sponsor of terrorism) Contemporary press releases

(19) (“Renaudat theory”) BR page 46

(20) (1984 attack on UTA 772-Libyan involved) BR page 93

(21) (Naeli as Sam 7 instructor) BR page 78

( 22 ) (Astiwi allegedly expelled from Congo) BR page 78 Muller 45

(23) (Mustapha Abucetta expelled as Ambassador to Benin) BR page 79

(24) (Mohamed Astiwi expelled as Ambassador to Benin) BR page 94

(25) David Leppard On the Trail of Terror Jonathan Cape London 1991 page 210 para.5

(26) Leppard page 207 para.4

(27) Leppard page 207 para 7

(28) Leppard page 208 (top)

(29) Lockerbie Judgement para.13

(31) Leppard page 208 (bottom)

(32) Leppard page 212 para. 4

(33) Leppard page 212 para.2

(34) (Naeldi described as “Enayli”) BR page 54

(35) Leppard page 214 para.2

(36) Leppard page 214 para.4


(38) (I.C.A.O.Montreal) BR page 53

(39) (Elazragh posted to Brazzaville) BR page 65

(40) (Elazragh security official in Paris) BR page 65

(41) (Affairs of SOCIALIB/LAFIC) BR page 52,80,117

(42) (Musbah’s posting to Rome) BR page 71 Muller report 73-74

(43) (Naeli’s lost suitcase) BR page 70 Muller report 50, 52-53, 55.

(44) (Naeli call to Hammouda Libyan admission) BR page 119

(45) (ID of Hammouda’s phone number) BR page 119

(46) (LAFIC “letter of introduction”) BR page 80 (Denied by LAFIC) BR
page 116,117 121 Muller report 63-64

(47) (Evidence of Guilhermino Araujo a.k.a. Greta) BR page 84

(48) (evidence of Francois Ntsiba) BR page 83 Muller report 69

(49) (length of inspection) BR page 81

(50) (Naeli/Musbah no hold baggage on departure) Muller report 86-87
(basis of this assertion in Muller report unstated).

(51) (Iranian diplomat on Addis Ababa flight) Muller report page 23

(52) (Elazragh departs Brazzaville) BR page 65

(53) (Elazragh lease/retirement) 82-83 125

( 54) (Interview Mangatany family) Muller report 18 90

(55) (Security at Maya-Maya) BR page 35-36

(56) (Recovery of apes/dogs) BR page 37

( 57) (Evidence of opposition) BR page 104-5

( 58 )(Libyan refusal to release military files) 105 112 122

(59) (“Evidence” ref; Sanoussi soliciting Walil Jdik) BR page 107

(60 ) (“Evidence” ref; “common knowledge involvement of Naeli
/Hammouda) BR page 107

(61) (Yanga’s evidence) BR 90 132 Muller report 20-48

(62)(Outline of opposition groups/plan in 1987 to bomb UTA) BR 72 87 Muller report 20-21

(63) (Alleged meeting at Olympic Hotel) BR 87 88 90 Muller 31

(64) (Mangatany’s “mission” financed by Libya) BR 86 88 Muller 79

(65) (Suitcase) BR 91 Muller 31

(66) (“valise diplomatique”) Muller 18

(67) (Arrival of diplomatic bags) Exhibit 41 “Yanga Deposition”

(68) (Mangatany, Yanga, Ngalina morniung of 19/9/89) BR 85 88 89

(69)(Yanga’s initial statement untrue) BR 86 90

(70) (Yanga’s false claims ref;Ngalina) 88 Muller 25,26, 31

(71) (Yanga gives Mangatany 9 letters) BR 88

(72) (Yanga copies 5 letters to Congolese Security) BR 90-91 Muller 89 Exhibit 40 “Yanga Report”

(73) (Ngalina denies soliciting cash from P.L.B.) BR 79

(74) (Yanga’s further statements Jan 1993) Exhibit 40 Yanga report

(75) See “The Responsibilty” BR 124-132

(76) (Discovery of circuit board fragment) BR 40

(77) (Enquiries in Taiwan Tai Yuen/Ming Jong) BR 41 Mueller 10-15

(78) (Search of debris) Muller report 15 (final para.)

(79) (Grasslin/H.P.Marketing) BR42

(80) (Wurst and Shabbani) BR42-3 117-8

(81) (Libyan investigation – Mursi) BR 97 Muller 56

(82) (Musbah’s “death”) BR 98-99 102

(83) (Mursi and “May 15th” suitcase) BR 100

(84) (DST view suitcase in Sanoussi’s office) BR 100 123

(85) (Libya ceases co-operation) BR 103

(86) (Letter of colonel Gaddafi restarts enquiry) BR

(87) (Hammouda/Naeli promotion) BR 112, 122

(88)(Evidence of Hammouda re; promotion) BR118-119

(89) (LAFIC & SOCIALIB inspection) BR 116, 117 &121 Muller 63-64

(90) (Bland Report forwarded) BR 121

(91) (Alazragh’s Admin file) BR 115 122 Muller 83

(92) (Musbah’s “death” and later trip to Athens) Muller 72-4 BR 120-121

(93) (Surrender of May 15th suitcase) BR 123

(94) (See evidence summary) BR 124 –

(95) District of Columbia Civil Action 02-02026 HHIC Memorandum

(96) District of Columbia Civil Action 02-02026 HHIC Judgement

(97) Muller report page 90