“Some speculated the charges against the pair were not credible and the only reason the Libyans had been blamed for the Lockerbie bombing was because it was politically expedient to do so. Henderson and I had talked many times about what public speculation would be when once again, the eyes of the world focused upon Gaddafi and Libya. We knew we had to get it right because even if the defendants were never surrendered for trial, some would believe the charges were trumped up just to point the finger at Gaddafi and away from others. - our focus had shifted to Libya driven entirely by the physical evidence found in the fields around Lockerbie.”
Richard Marquise "Scotbom"
1. Tim Weiner’s book “Enemies – A History of the FBI”, contains Weiner's account of how the FBI’s Richard Marquise “solved” the Lockerbie case by turning “intelligence” into “evidence” through the use of the Libyan defector Majid Giaka as a "golden informant". Weiner intriguingly quoted Marquise that “we brought MI5 to Washington.” BBC News of the 22/12/2014 stated the Scottish Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland was in Washington to discuss the (purported) ongoing joint investigation into the Lockerbie bombing. (Obviously bearing no grudge for the Giaka fiasco!) In view of this Father Christmas brought me a copy of Richard Marquise’s account of the original FBI Lockerbie investigation “Scotbom: Evidence and the Lockerbie Investigation”.
2. I found "Scotbom" a much more interesting and honest account than I expected and very readable although it has much less to do with evidence than the politics of the Lockerbie investigation. While I understand why Mr Megrahi was framed for the Lockerbie bombing, in loco parentis Mu'ammar Gaddafi, and the real culprits exonerated, I previously had some sympathy for Mr Marquise’s predicament in being under pressure not only to get a result, but a particular result. However I had not been aware of the enthusiasm with which he embraced a fraudulent version of events, put up Majid Giaka as a credible witness, and like his Scottish counterparts ignored compelling evidence that would have led to a true solution of the crime.
7.While the FBI availed themselves of the assistance of the KGB in investigating “Sally Vincent” Marquise wrote (page 114) “there was no way anyone in the United States or Scotland would authorise any investigator to travel to Libya” but conceded “The Libyans did say they would allow Fhimah and Megrahi to be interviewed.” Rather than recording a statement committing the suspects to a particular version of events the prosecution case relied on (former CIA officer) Pierre Salinger’s filmed interview of Megrahi to prove his denial of being in Malta on the 20-21/12/88. (In 1999 the Scottish SIO did conduct investigations in Libya with significant results relating to Megrahi’s “coded” passport.)
and the Evidence of a Heathrow Origin:
12. Mr Marquise is extremely vague about the number of Interline bags in total and says nothing about the ownership of the Interline bags that were in AVE4041 He claimed (page 36) that “16 online passengers checked in 16 bags”. (They may have but two of these bags belonging to Daniel O’Connor never made it onto PA103.)
13. He states that “interviews with the baggage handlers who loaded AVE 4041 PA on December 21 indicated there were between five and nine bags which had been sent to London from other flights before he began loading flights from the Frankfurt flight.” (Above at para.11 it is "eight to ten bags"!) At page 32 he notes that the Camp Zeist Judgement conceded “it was conceivable a rogue bag could have been placed into the baggage system at Heathrow” but claimed that “no evidence had been introduced to substantiate that claim”.
14. In fact a great deal of evidence had been introduced to substantiate that claim which Their Lordships dismissed by speculating that the brown Samsonite seen by Bedford had been moved “out of harm’s way to some far corner of the container.” Of course if it had been moved then logically it should have been recovered and linked to a specific Interline passenger. It never was and the only Brown Samsonite recovered were the fragments of the primary suitcase.
The CIA, “Intelligence” and Vincent Cannistraro
18. (One might have imagined the CIA would have been 100% behind the creation of the “Libyan solution” in view of their thirty year campaign to bring about regime change in Libya.)
21.Cannistraro (a bureaucrat and propagandist occasionally described as having led the CIA's Lockerbie investigation) had previously been tasked to come up with schemes (some crackpot) to harass the Libyan regime and perhaps understood better than Marquise the real objective of the Lockerbie investigation. Marquise later discusses the issue of “rendition”, arresting one or more of the Libyan suspects outside Libya. Cannistraro’s intervention had put Libya on notice it was under investigation, (which may have been his intention!), as an actual trial may have been the last thing the West wanted.
22. The FBI’s involvement in the case centered on two areas. Firstly through the CIA they obtained an interview with PFLP-GC bomb-maker, mass-murderer and CIA "asset" Marwan Khreesat in November 1989 in Jordan from which the Scottish Police (who had regarded Khreesat as their No.1 suspect) were excluded. (Khreesat was under the protection of the Jordanian Intelligence Services allies of the CIA.) Tom Thurman was one of the two FBI agents who interviewed him.
24. As pointed out in my article “Hear no Evil, Se no Evil, Speak no Evil” the evidence the IED was actually contained within a twin-speaker SF-16 radio-cassette recorder was dubious in the extreme. (At page 54 Marquise had describes this owner’s manual for the twin-speaker SF-16 model as being “printed in Arabic”, proving its origin within the Arab world without mentioning the instructions are also printed in English, Spanish and Chinese!)
|Photograph 117 (which proves the crucial page 51 of Dr Hayes notes is a fabrication)|
27.In short while the interview of Marwan Khreesat and the RARDE forensic report (together with Their Lordships claim, contradicted by the death of a German technician, that Khreesat's devices were harmless) supposedly eliminated Khreesat as the bomb-maker, CIA “asset” Khreesat remains the most credible suspect to have been the bomb-maker which may explain why the FBI, CIA & RARDE bent over backwards to clear him. If Khreesat was the bomb-maker this would indicate official foreknowledge of the bombing.
28.In view of Marquise's revelation that the simultaneous US and Scotttish indictments of the 14th November 1991 were made in advance of RARDE (and the Police) submitting their final report Marquise makes what may be the most astonishing revelation at page 107 of his book (although his narrative is somewhat unclear). He describes how (circa 29th April 1991) he, Stuart Henderson and some Swiss officials flew from Scotland to Heathrow then took a train to RARDE at Fort Halstead Kent where they met Alan Feraday and an associate Maurice Marshall (but not Dr Hayes). Marquise continued -
“The Swiss were convinced. This was important: after all it was the purpose of the trip. As we headed for downtown London and a meeting with the BSS (MI5) the day seemed bright even though it was a typical British spring day, cool and rainy. Feraday and Hayes, who had been involved in the forensic examinations earlier in the investigation, said they were 100 per cent certain of the accuracy of what they had examined. This was helpful even though the written report was months from completion.”
MI5 Stella Rimington & Elizabeth Manningham-Buller:
30. In the 1994 Dimbleby Lecture -"Security and Democracy - is there a Conflict?" - MI5 Director-General Stellla Rimington claimed “The service played a major part in the investigation into the bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie in December 1988, to the point where the atrocity was laid firmly at the door of Libya. As a result Libya came under further significant international pressure to cut its support for terrorists including the Provisional IRA and of course to surrender the accused for trial.”
Tony Gauci and Megrahi's alias "Abdusamad".
44.Marquise also had no doubt that the printout of Bogomira Erac demonstrated that a “rogue suitcase” had been transferred from flight KM180 to flight PA103A on the 21/12/88 although there was little or no evidence that one actually was and none that this item was a brown Samsonite suitcase.
45. Following a tip-off from the NSA that Megrahi had an alias Abdulsamad Marquise had a long struggle to prove Megrahi and Abusamad were one and the same. He was of course convinced of Megrahi’s guilt when he found evidence that "Abusamad" visited Malta on the 20/12/88 leaving for Triipoli the following day “only thirty minutes after the suitcase left Malta on KM180.” (Which is hadn't!) It seems apparent from the captioned CIA cable that Megrahi was under surveillance on his arrival in Malta on the 7th December 1988 and the detail of Fhimah assisting Megrahi through immigration is similar to Giaka's claim. Was the arrival of Megrahi @Abusamad in Malta on the 20/12/88 actually a trigger for events elsewhere?
57.Henderson (who came to Washington to observe Giaka’s interview, was initially sceptical of Giaka asking (Page 139) “Was Giaka involved in the bombing? Was he sent to USA by Libyans to find out what we knew?” These were pertinent questions. Marquise wrote that “Giaka would not be prosecuted so long as we found no evidence he had been involved in the attack.” (He had claimed to have submitted a plan to smuggle a suitcase onto a plane bound for the USA!)
59.While Maquise asserts “that no one in the FBI or DoJ believed, nor had we seen any evidence he would lie or fail to tell the truth” they made no attempt to test this and were already satisfied as to what “the truth” was. Giaka's role was simply to confirm this theory. Having travelled to the US Giaka had already burned his bridges and had every reason to embellish his account He hated Gaddafi and wanted to settle in the USA. He was kept in protective custody until the trial. Marquise does not say what happened to Giaka and his family after the trial. Unlike Paul and Tony Gauci they were not paid a "reward for justice". Giaka's memoirs would have been of great interest yet not a peep has been heard from Giaka since he gave evidence at Camp Zeist. Where is he now? Was he perhaps subjected to "extraordinary rendition" as a suspected Libyan plant?
60.Very early in the book Marquise wrote “The information we would eventually provide to the DoJ, and later to the public, would be based on fact and not speculation. It had to be able to stand the scrutiny of a court.” Well it didn't.
61.As it transpired with the release of the CIA cables detailing Giaka’s performance as a CIA informant and his failure to mention to the CIA any of the key allegations that the FBI so willingly swallowed even the Camp Zeist tribunal (which bent over backwards to accept the remainder of the prosecutions dubious assertions) dismissed Giaka’s evidence stating (Scotbom page 234) “We are unable to accept Abdul Majid as a credible and reliable witness on any matter except his description of the JSO and the personnel involved there.” Their Lordships felt Giaka had embellished his evidence of a simple sighting at the Airport (if he was even there!) with the ludicrous detail of seeing Fhimah take a particular suitcase off the carousel.
63.Perhaps Their Lordships were determined to convict if they possibly could (persons purportedly acting in Megrahi’s interests having him tried without a Jury in a judicial experiment in which he was precluded from giving evidence!) so that never again would defendants in a Scottish Criminal case negotiate the form of tribunal before which they would deign to appear. The verdict may have been on "Camp Zeist".
64. Perhaps the most disgraceful episode related by Marquise concerned a briefing given by himself and Henderson to the Deputy Maltese PM Guido DeMarco on the 10th October 1988 in Malta. Marquise wrote without a trace of irony or self-awareness that "he didn't was to lie or be evasive" in telling DeMarco that "the bomb had definitely originated in Malta" transforming a dubious theory into fact. They also told De Marco the two Libyan suspects kept explosives in Malta and had brought a large hard-sided suitcase into Malta. All this was based on Marquise's credulous acceptance of the claims of Giaka although Marquise lied to De Marco that this was based on CIA intelligence.
67.Of a meeting on April 4th 1991 he writes “It seemed officials in Scotland had developed a timeline for the end of the investigation” and “I had not been privy to discussions between the White House and DoJ and wondered if they too had developed an end line.” “On June 20th 1991 Mueller, Stephens (DoJ official) and Peter Fraser, the Lord Advocate met to discuss the investigation. Investigators were not invited but I learned they came up with a “charging” date of November 15th - 1991 Henderson and I continued to be troubled by the “end line” the date set by the Lord Advocate to conclude the investigation. We believed we might not be finished by November 15 and thought an artificial dealine was one which would put undue pressure on us. That could lead to shortcuts taken and mistakes made.” On July 10th “Henderson asked for support in asking the prosecutors on both sides of the Atlantic not to set a deadline for the announcement of the indictment.”
70. There were a number of discussions about the rendition of one or both of the suspects. At page 118 he wrote about a discussion of the possibility of a "snatch" of either suspect should they venture outside Libya. (In fact Megrahi's co-accused Fhimah was living in pro-Western Tunisia as an LAA employee.) But as Marquise frankly admitted (page 156) "No one wanted to try Fhimah alone, without Megrahi."
The Federal Grand Jury
Payment of Witnesses
FBI Told of Heathrow Origin:
80. It is a long time since Mrs.Rimington boasted that "the service played a major role in the investigation." Nobody picked up on this and at Camp Zeist nobody senior in the actual investigation was called to give evidence. I did suggest to the defence team that Mrs Rimington be summonsed to explain her boast.
81. Richard Marquise's book has confirmed MI5 did play a major role in the investigation although the detail of what role they played is outwith the public domain and was not disclosed to the defence.
While the British Government outsourced the Lockerbie case to the (pre-devolution) Scottish authorities it does seem curious that the head of the FBI's investigation was in frequent contact with and attended meetings at MI5 Headquarters (accompanied by the Scottish Senior Investigating Officer Stewart Henderson.)
82. The central point is that the British Security Service (MI5) is not a law-enforcement agency. They have their own agenda and objectives.
83. The bombing of flight PA103 was almost certainly quid pro quo retaliation for the incompetence of Captain Will Rogers in his attack on Iranair flight 655 (the "Vincennes Incident"). For quite obvious reasons it was expedient to pretend retaliation had not occurred and to blame somebody else. Libya was an ideal choice. The CIA had had a thirty year campaign to overthrow Gaddafi, finally succeeding in 2011. While Lockerbie was supposedly just another count on Gaddafi's rap sheet it was in actuality part of the campaign to overthrow him.
84. The CIA's long-term objective coincided exactly with MI5's No.1 overwhelming priority - the disarming and the defeat of the Provisional Irish Republican Army - the real and vital threat to the security of the British State. In this they had the 100% support of the British Government and successive British Prime Ministers. While the British Government exerted enormous pressure on the PIRA it was probably the events of "9/11" that made that made the IRA's campaign obsolete.
85. In a Benthamite sense the framing of Megrahi (as a substitute for Gaddafi) might be regarded as a "good thing". It had little to do with the actual bombing of flight PA103 but part of the genius of the "Libyan solution" was that the relatives were generously compensated giving them a financial interest in the official version of events.
86. I take the view that the Western authorities were prepared to accept the destruction of a single airliner as retaliation for the Vincennes Incident (as opposed to the destruction of several planes and the further escalation of the crisis.) Were they aware in advance that flight PA103 of the 21/12/88 was targeted for destruction? It seems likely that a CIA "asset" built the bomb. I am sure most people would assume that if the authorities became aware of a plan to bomb a particular aircraft they would do all in their power to prevent such a thing - but then some other plane or planes would be attacked. The central question is whether acceptance became collusion and even management.