17 March 2014

Lockerbie Bombing in the News

Lockerbie bombing: Al Jazeera documentary makes Iran link claims
11 Mar 2014
A documentary claims to have uncovered fresh evidence that Iran, not Libya, ordered the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie in December 1988. The Al Jazeera program quotes a "former senior Iranian intelligence official" Abolghasem Mesbahi as saying "Iran decided to retaliate as soon as possible. The decision was made by the whole system in Iran and confirmed by Ayatollah Khomeini." Five months before the Lockerbie bombing, Iran Air Flight 655 had been shot down by the USS Vincennes, with the deaths of all 290 people on board. The US government claimed its navy had mistaken the civilian Airbus A300 for an attacking fighter jet. Tehran vowed that the skies would rain with blood in revenge.

Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi dies in Tripoli
20 May 2012
Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the only person convicted over the 1988 Lockerbie bombing above Scotland which killed 270 people, has died at his home in Libya. Megrahi, 60 was freed from Scottish jail in 2009 on compassionate grounds because of cancer, stirring controversy when he outlived doctors' expectations. Megrahi's release sparked the fury of many of the relatives of the victims of the Lockerbie disaster. The US - whose citizens accounted for 189 of the dead - also criticized the move. But others believed he was not guilty of the bombing.

'Cloud of suspicion' over Lockerbie bomber release
20 August 2010
Following his release from a Scottish prison in August 2009, Megrahi got a hero's welcome in Tripoli. The UK Foreign Office warned ahead of the anniversary of Megrahi's release that similar scenes would be deeply insensitive to families of the 270 people killed in 1988. Of those who died in the bombing, 189 were Americans. Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill  took the decision to release Megrahi.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a statement on Friday that the US continued to "categorically disagree" with the decision to release Megrahi. "As we have expressed repeatedly to Scottish authorities, we maintain that al-Megrahi should serve out the entirety of his sentence in prison in Scotland. We have and will continue to reiterate this position to the Scottish and Libyan authorities," she said.

'A convenient scapegoat?'
20 Aug 2009
Dick Marquise, chief of the FBI "Scotbom Task Force" from 1988-1992, said investigators could find nothing later to link this plot with Lockerbie. "We never found any evidence," he told the BBC. "There's a lot of information, there's a lot of intelligence that people have said there were meetings, there were discussions. But not one shred of evidence that a prosecutor could take into court to convict either an official in Iran or Ahmed Jibril for blowing up Pan Am flight 103." Megrahi is now dying, but he may have been a convenient scapegoat for a much bigger conspiracy.

Lockerbie evidence not disclosed
28 Aug 2008
But there have always been doubts expressed about who was behind the bombing and what was their motivation. In June last year the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission concluded that al-Megrahi could have suffered a miscarriage of justice and recommended that he should be granted a second appeal. The specific terms on which the recommendation was made have never been fully published.

'Secret' Lockerbie report claim
02 Oct 2007
Lawyers acting for the Lockerbie bomber are expected to ask the High Court to examine claims that vital documents were kept from the trial defense team. Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi is currently serving a minimum of 27 years for the 1988 atrocity in which 270 people died when Pan-Am flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie. He is awaiting an appeal on the grounds of a possible miscarriage of justice. The documents, which relate to the timer which allegedly detonated the Lockerbie bomb, are believed to have come from the American CIA.

Gideon’s Spies by Gordon Thomas, 1999, Excerpts

On a December evening in 1988, Pan American Airways Flight 103 from London to New York exploded in the air over Lockerbie in Scotland. Pan Am 103 had been destroyed as an act of revenge for the shooting down on July 3, 1988, by the USS Vincennes of an Iranian passenger plane in the Persian Gulf, killing 290 people. It had been a tragic error for which the United States had apologized.

On board the aircraft as it left London on that December night in 1988 were eight members of the US intelligence community returning from duty in the Middle East. Four of them were CIA field officers. Also on board were US Army major Charles McKee and his small team of experts in hostage rescue. They had been in the Middle East to explore the possibility of freeing the Western hostages still held in Beirut.

Though the Lockerbie disaster investigation was under the jurisdiction of a Scottish team, CIA agents were on the scene when McKee's still closed and miraculously intact suitcase was located. It was taken away from the scene for a short time by a man believed to be a CIA officer, though he would never be positively identified. Later the suitcase was returned to the Scottish investigation team, who logged its contents under "empty." No one queried what had happened to McKee's belongings, let alone why he had been traveling with an empty suitcase. But at the time, no one suspected that the CIA officer might have removed from the suitcase data that explained why Pan Am 103 had been destroyed.

The airline's insurers hired a New York firm of private investigators called Interfor. The company had been founded in 1979 by an Israeli, Yuval Aviv, who had immigrated to the United States the previous year. Aviv claimed to be a former desk officer with Mossad. Aviv had satisfied the insurers he had the right connections to unearth the truth. Aviv had concluded that the attack had been planned and executed by a rogue CIA group, based in Germany, who were providing protection to a drug operation which transported drugs for the Middle East to the US via Frankfurt. The method of drug smuggling was quite simple. One person would check a piece of luggage on the flight, and an accomplice working in the baggage area would switch it with a piece of identical luggage containing the narcotics. 

The CIA did nothing to break up the operation because the traffickers were also helping them send weapons to Iran as part of the arms-for-hostages negotiations. McKee had discovered the scam while pursuing his own contacts in the Middle East underworld in an attempt to find a way to rescue the Beirut hostages. 

Aviv's report claimed McKee had learned about the "CIA rogue team," which had worked under the code name of COREA, and that its members also had close ties to another of those mysterious figures who had found his niche on the fringes of the intelligence world - Monzer Al-Kassar. Al-Kassar had built a reputation as an arms dealer in Europe, including supplying Colonel Oliver North with weapons for him to pass on to the Nicaraguan Contras in 1985-86. Al-Kassar's brother-in-law was head of Syrian intelligence and his wife was a relative of the Syrian president. Al-Kassar had found in COREA a ready partner for the drug-smuggling operation. Aviv stated in his report that "McKee planned to bring back to the US proof of the rogue intelligence team's connection to Al-Kassar." 

On the fatal night, a Syrian terrorist, aware of how the drug operation worked, had switched a suitcase with one containing the bomb. His reason was to kill the US intelligence operatives whom Syria had discovered would join the flight.

In 1994, Joel Bannerman, the publisher of an Israeli intelligence report wrote: "Twenty-four hours before the flight, Mossad tipped off the German BKA that there could be a plan to plant a bomb on flight 103. The BKA passed on their tip to the COREA CIA team working out of Frankfurt who said they would take care of everything." So far Mossad has kept to itself all it knows about the destruction of the flight. There are sources who claim that Mossad is holding on to its knowledge as a trump card should Washington increase its pressure for Mossad to cease its intelligence activities within the United States.

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