Amigocabal 2009-07-15 15:00:53
John Ashton’s and Ian Ferguson’s work on the circumstances surrounding the
destruction on December 21, 1988, of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie,
Scotland is worthy of careful study. It raises serious doubts, not only
regarding the recent conviction of the Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, now
incarcerated in Barlinnie jail, Glasgow, but over the entire official
presentation of events before and after the crash, from 1988 to the present
day. They give indicators as to how the full facts regarding the atrocity
which killed 270, perhaps 271, people might be uncovered and conclude with a
series of searching questions which any genuinely independent inquiry into
the Lockerbie disaster should direct toward various governments,
intelligence services, and individuals.
Ashton and Ferguson have followed Lockerbie for years. Ashton worked as the
deputy to the late British film maker Allan Francovich, whose film The
Maltese Double Cross, examined various alternative scenarios that have been
advanced as an explanation for the Lockerbie disaster, favouring that the
bombing was a consequence of a CIA controlled drug running operation
utilised to spy on Palestinian, Lebanese and Syrian armed political
groupings and factions.
maintains the www.thelockerbietrial.com website.
Writing in the immediate aftermath of the special Criminal Court verdict at
Camp Zeist convicting al-Megrahi, Ashton and Ferguson have drawn together
the fruits of long research and interviews with a large number of people
involved in the disaster, including a number of current and former spies.
The authors do not proclaim that al-Megrahi is innocent. Rather, they review
a large body of circumstantial evidence suggesting that responsibility for
Lockerbie may lie primarily with the intelligence services of several
Western governments, particularly the United States. They are highly
critical of the role played by the media in parroting the twists and turns
of the official line and note that no major British or US newspaper, radio,
or TV channel has had the journalistic independence to undertake a sustained
investigation of this most murky aspect of the disaster.
Ashton and Ferguson note that there were many general indications of a
possible attack on an American flight in late 1988. After the 1988 American
attack by the USS Vincennes on an Iranian Airbus, in which 255 pilgrims were
murdered, Iranian broadcasts warned that the skies would “rain blood” in
consequence. A Syrian backed Palestinian group with a history of attacks on
passenger aircraft was known to be operating in Germany. Many staff at the
US Embassy in Moscow altered flight plans to avoid Pan Am over the Christmas
More specifically, the authors suggest there may have been prior warnings of
an attack on flight PA103. They imply that both the US ambassador to
Lebanon, John McCarthy, and the South African Foreign Minister Pik Botha had
their travel plans altered at the last minute in order to avoid PA103.
Others, including Charles McKee, a US Army Special Forces Major, and Matthew
Gannon, the CIA’s Beirut deputy station chief, uniquely amongst US
officials, allegedly changed their plans at the last minute to fly on PA103.
McKee had been leading a hostage rescue team in Beirut. One suggestion, and
it is no more than that, is that these individuals were the target of a
successful assassination attempt in which intelligence agencies themselves
played a role.
According to the authors, from as little as two hours after the crash, US
intelligence officers were at the southern Scottish site. Over the next days
many more arrived. They were not looking for survivors or explanations as to
the cause of the crash. They did not cooperate with local rescue services.
Instead, they were searching for particular pieces of debris, luggage and
particular corpses. Ashton and Ferguson cite finds of large quantities of
cash, cannabis and heroin on the flight, as well as intelligence papers
owned by McKee, whose luggage was removed and replaced. A report noting the
location of hostages held in Beirut was apparently found on the ground.
There were reports of helicopter-borne armed groups guarding and then
removing a large box, and an unidentified body.
A police surgeon from Bradford, David Fieldhouse, insists that one body was
moved, after it had been tagged and its location noted, while another
disappeared entirely. Fieldhouse was subsequently victimised. Other concerns
were raised by local police officers, some of which phoned Labour MP Tam
Dalyell, who then began to take an active interest in the case.
Ashton and Ferguson detail the main alternative theory-that the bombing was
carried out by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General
Command (PLFP-GC). This was also largely the official position until 1991.
Ahmed Jibril formed the PFLP-GC in 1968, when he broke away from the PFLP.
The authors assert, on the basis of discussions with a number of spies, that
the PFLP-GC were recruited by the Iraqi, Iranian, or Syrian governments to
attack a US plane. When considering the motivation for such a terror
operation, whether on the part of the PFLP-GC or any of their possible
sponsors, the book is at its weakest. It gives very little insight into the
politics of these governments or of the PFLP-GC, other than to make such
observations as support for the PFLP-GC allowing the regime of Hafez Al
Assad in Syria to appear to be supporting the Palestinian struggle against
The authors instead draw attention to the bombing by the PFLP-GC 18 years
earlier, in 1970, of two aircraft destined for Israel-one survived with a
two foot hole in the fuselage, the other, Swissair 330 to Zurich crashed
killing 147 people-and another bombing 16 years earlier, in 1972. The
PFLP-GC in 1988 certainly appears to have had a European operation based in
Nuess in the Ruhr, Germany, intent on attacking US and Israeli targets. The
group eventually blew up some railway lines used by US troop trains, planned
an attack on an Israeli sports team, and became the target of a huge
surveillance operation by German state security, the BKA. Their operation
was hopelessly compromised. Raids by the BKA eventually discovered timers,
guns, along with various electrical goods altered to contain explosives. Two
PFLP-GC members were eventually jailed in 1991 for the train attacks.
Astonishingly, however, bomb-maker Marwan Khreesat was released on a legal
technicality and left Germany. According to Ashton and Ferguson, Khreesat,
who built the bombs used in the attacks during the 1970s, had by this time
become a Jordanian spy in the PFLP-GC. Jordanian intelligence apparently has
a close relationship with the Israeli Mossad and the CIA. Khreesat is still
living in Amman, the Jordanian capital, under protection.
Ashton and Ferguson note an interview with Khreesat by the FBI, which was
cited at the Camp Zeist trial but never reported in the world’s press, in
which Khreesat alleges that one of his bombs went missing after the BKA
raid. On this basis, the authors speculate as to whether the CIA had, with
the cooperation of other intelligence agencies, played a more active role in
allowing the destruction of the plane. They restate the suggestion that this
might have been to prevent exposure of the CIA’s drug running operations
from the Bekaa Valley, or for other reasons associated with US policy in the
Middle East, particularly the aftermath of the Iran-Contra machinations.
They suggest that a CIA approved suitcase, loaded with heroin from the Bekaa
Valley, might have been swapped for one loaded instead with a bomb intended
to kill McKee.
McKee and others had reportedly developed serious reservations about the
drug-running operation; it having recently endangered their own lives
through an aborted hostage rescue operation. The authors note that PA103 was
brought down shortly after the election of ex-CIA chief George Bush, father
of the current US president, when exposure of CIA drug running would have
been highly embarrassing.
Those who have made allegations of possible CIA involvement include an
ex-Mossad spy, Juval Aviv, hired by Pan Am to investigate the destruction of
its aircraft, an erratic ex-US spy Lester Coleman, who at one point sought
political asylum in Sweden, William Chasey, a Washington DC lobbyist, and
Time journalist Roy Rowan.
Ashton and Ferguson trace the development of the official position of
blaming Libya for the bombing. Bush called Margaret Thatcher in early 1989
asking for the inquiry to be “toned down”, at a time when Syria and the
PFLP-GC were favoured suspects. Just over two years later, on November 14,
1991, simultaneous indictments were brought by the Scottish Crown Office and
the US State Department against Libyan airline staff al-Megrahi and Lhamen
Fhimah. Days later, Bush announced that Syria, which had acquiesced in the
1991 US attack on Iraq, had taken a “b** rap”. The State Department put out
a fact sheet to justify the change of position, claiming that previous
pointers to the PFLP-GC and Syria had been cunning ruses by the Libyan
government. UK Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd said that no other countries
besides Libya were targets for investigation. Four days later, the last
Western hostages, including the Archbishop of Canterbury’s special envoy,
Terry Waite, were released from Beirut.
The authors thereafter recount the official line that the bomb, equipped
with an MST-13 timer from MeBo of Zurich, was loaded in a Samsonite suitcase
packed with clothes, which was inserted by Libyan agents onto flight KM180
from Luqa airport in Malta, transferred at Frankfurt to a feeder flight for
PA103, and then shuttled to Heathrow, where it was loaded on the fated
Boeing 747. This was the case presented in the Camp Zeist trial.
Ashton and Ferguson carefully summarise the numerous problematic aspects of
all the prosecution evidence at the trial; the dubious visual identification
of al-Megrahi by Maltese shop owner Tony Gauci; the contradictory and
bizarre ramblings of CIA spy Abdul Majid Giacka, the so-called “star
witness” at Luqa airport whose evidence collapsed in court; the contested
luggage records at Frankfurt airport; and the claim by MeBo owner Edwin
Bollier that he had been approached by the CIA and encouraged to frame
Libya, and that the CIA had had an MST-13 type timer in their possession
At Camp Zeist, the trial was in danger of disintegrating. By November 2000
few observers, including the book’s authors, expected anything other than an
acquittal, or a not proven verdict which is available under Scottish law.
But the verdict delivered on January 2001, which admitted that the
prosecution case was full of holes and based on circumstantial inferences,
nevertheless found al-Megrahi guilty, while his only alleged accomplice
Fhimah, was acquitted.
Ashton and Ferguson by no means completely exonerate Libya or al-Megrahi.
They note that his refusal to account for his activities on 20 December 1988
and his visit to Malta using a false passport cannot be dismissed. Trial
evidence suggests that al-Megrahi indeed worked for Libyan intelligence and
he has, so far, offered no explanation as to why he chose not to take the
stand to defend himself. Many aspects of the whole business remain to be
What the authors do is to cite 25 questions to which any genuinely
independent inquiry must seek answers. These include:
* the circumstances of the warnings given prior to the disaster.
* the circumstances of the booking changes for Pik Botha’s entourage, and
McKee and Gannon.
* the drug and cash finds at Lockerbie.
* the possibility of an extra body, the circumstances under which bodies
were moved, and the circumstances of wrong police evidence given against
David Fieldhouse at the 1989 Fatal Accident Inquiry.
* why Transport Secretary Paul Channon was able to announce that arrests
were imminent and why Margaret Thatcher blocked a full judicial enquiry?
* the relationship of the British MI6 to the Iran Contra deals and why was
the Foreign office official in charge of liaising with the US on
Iran-Contra, Andrew Green, was put in charge of the Lockerbie investigation.
* the role of the CIA and MI6 in hostage deals made after the exposure of
Iran Contra in 1986 and 1991.
* why Juval Aviv and others were never interviewed by the investigation
authorities about the bombing. What were the circumstances of legal cases
brought against Aviv and others?
* why did it take a year for the MeBo circuit board to be discovered, what
were the circumstances of its discovery, and what were the connections
between MeBo’s Edwin Bollier and the CIA?
* why did the CIA and the Scottish Lord Advocate seek to block access to CIA
cables that were helpful to the defence?
Under conditions where the US government is refusing to investigate its own
intelligence failures leading up to the September 11 terror attacks, any
exposure of a possible CIA role in aircraft terrorism clearly assumes great
significance. Earlier this year, al-Megrahi’s appeal against his conviction
was thrown out, despite defence evidence that made a strong circumstantial
case for the bomb having been loaded at Heathrow airport in London.
Following Tam Dalyell’s question in parliament, on March 26, there is a
suggestion that police evidence relating to Lockerbie is being destroyed,
and that yet another suitcase owned by another Special Forces member, Joseph
Patrick Murphy, was at one point early in the investigation thought to
contain the bomb.
Without making wild or unsustainable accusations, and despite serious
political limitations, Ashton and Ferguson have provided an essential
reference for anyone seeking to understand why a Boeing 747 should explode
in mid-air killing hundreds of ordinary air travellers, and yet, more than
13 years later, there is still no generally accepted explanation of why it
happened and who was responsible.
Anonmoos 2009-07-15 15:01:21
You sure do love to obsequiously and subserviently toady and grovel to
that scum Qadhdhafi — as well as all the other dictators, despots,
and tyrants of the Arab world, of course! Why is it that you hate only
democracies and love only tyrannies, StriderCabal?
SAUDIA OMNIS IN PARTES TRES DIVIDENDA EST! Free Arabia by
splitting the Saudi tyranny into its three natural parts:
Hejaz-alHarameyn, Nejd-Wahhabistan, and Gulf-Petrolia.
Murderers are not Martyrs! http://symbolictruth.fateback.com/