The Pan Am 103 Verdict
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The Pan Am 103 Verdict

February 3, 2001

by William Blum*

The papers are filled with pictures of happy relatives of the victims of the 1988 bombing of PanAm 103. A Libyan, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, was just found guilty of the bombing by a Scottish court in the Hague, his co-defendant, Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, being acquitted. At long last there's going to be some kind of closure for the families. What's wrong with this picture? What's wrong is that the evidence against Megrahi is thin to the point of transparency. The court verdict might be dubbed Supreme Court II, another instance of non-judicial factors clouding judicial reasoning. The three Scottish judges can not have relished returning to the UK after finding both defendants innocent of the murder of 270 people, largely from the UK and the US. Not to mention having to directly face dozens of hysterical victims' family members in the courtroom. And with the full knowledge of the desires of Washington and Downing Street as to the outcome.

I have now read the entire 26,000-word Opinion of the Court which accompanied the verdict. One has to do that, as well as being very familiar with the history of the case, as I am, to appreciate what the judges did. I can only offer here a few examples of the many questionable aspects of the decision.

The key charge against Megrahi -- the sine qua non -- is that he caused a suitcase with explosives to be loaded at Malta airport and tagged it so it would pass through Malta, Frankfurt and London airports without an accompanying passenger and without being inspected. That by itself would have been a major feat and so unlikely to happen that any terrorist with any common sense would have found a better way. But aside from anything else, we have this -- as to the first step, loading the suitcase at Malta: there is no witness, no video, no document, no fingerprints, no nothing, no evidence of any kind. And the court admits it: "The absence of any explanation of the method by which the primary suitcase might have been placed on board KM180 [Air Malta] is a major difficulty for the Crown case."

The court places great -- nay, paramount -- weight upon the supposed identification of Megrahi by a storekeeper in Malta as the purchaser of the clothing found in the bomb suitcase. But this storekeeper had earlier identified several other people as the culprit, including one who was a CIA agent. When he finally identified Megrahi from a photo, it was after Megrahi's photo had been in the world news for years. Again, the court acknowledges the possible danger inherent in such a decision:

These identifications were criticised inter alia on the ground that photographs of the accused have featured many times over the years in the media and accordingly purported identifications more than ten years after the event are of little if any value.

The Opinion of the Court places considerable weight as well on the suspicious behavior of Megrahi prior to the fatal day, making much of his comings and goings abroad, phone calls to unknown parties for unknown reasons, the use of a pseudonym, etc. The three judges try to squeeze as much mileage out of these events as they can, as if they had no better case to make. But Megrahi was seemingly a member of Libyan intelligence, and last we all knew, Libya is entitled to have an intelligence service, and intelligence agents have been known to act ... well, in mysterious ways, for whatever assignment they're on. The court had no idea what assignment, if any, Megrahi was working on.

There is much more that is known about the case that makes the court verdict and written opinion questionable, although credit must be given the court for its frankness about what it was doing, even while it was doing it. "We are aware that in relation to certain aspects of the case there are a number of uncertainties and qualifications. We are also aware that there is a danger that by selecting parts of the evidence which seem to fit together and ignoring parts which might not fit, it is possible to read into a mass of conflicting evidence a pattern or conclusion which is not really justified."

Let's hope that Megrahi is really guilty. It would be a terrible shame if he spends the rest of his life in prison because back in 1990, as the United States was preparing for war against Iraq and needed Syria and Iran as allies, Washington suddenly dropped those two countries as the prime suspects in the plane bombing and -- seemingly from nowhere -- discovered Libya, the Arab state least supportive of the US buildup to the Gulf War.

* William Blum is the author of "Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower" and "Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2"


Comments About the book: "Killing Hope"

"Far and away the best book on the topic." Noam Chomsky

"I enjoyed it immensely." Gore Vidal

"I bought several more copies to circulate to friends with the hope of shedding new light and understanding on their political outlooks." Oliver Stone

"A very valuable book. The research and organization are extremely impressive." A. J. Langguth, author and former NY Times Bureau Chief

"A very useful piece of work, daunting in scope, important." Thomas Powers, author and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist

"Each chapter I read made me more and more angry." Dr. Helen Caldicott, international leader of the environmental movement


Background Article written early 1999:

by Bill Blum

PanAm Flight 103? ... Oh yeah, Christmas time 1988, those two Libyans did it, but Gaddafy has refused to allow them to be tried in an American or British court. He knows they'll be found guilty and the whole world will condemn him.

He does indeed. But not necessarily because the two men are guilty. The acquittal of the Los Angeles police in the Rodney King beating was sufficient to disabuse the Libyan leader of any illusions about the workings of the American justice system he may have entertained.{1} The verdict in the O.J. Simpson case may well have reinforced that view, while "The Guildford Four", the "Birmingham Six" and other infamous miscarriage-of-justice cases in Britain have reportedly imparted to Gaddafy a similar lesson about the UK.{2}

Now, with December 21 marking the tenth anniversary of the tragedy that took 270 lives in Lockerbie, Scotland, the United States, the UK, and Libya have agreed, at least in principle, to try the two Libyan suspects in the Netherlands, before Scottish judges and under Scottish law.

In actuality, the evidence against the Libyans -- Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah, who worked for Libyan Arab Airlines at the Malta airport -- is thin to the point of transparency. There is no forensic evidence to support the charge that they placed a suitcase containing the fatal bomb in an Air Malta plane in Malta, tagging it so it would eventually be transferred to Flight 103 in London. No witnesses, no fingerprints. Nothing to tie them to that particular brown Samsonite suitcase. No past history of terrorism.

Amongst the reported pieces of evidence casting suspicion on the two Libyans or on the Libyan government is an entry on December 15, 1988 in a diary kept by Fhimah, which, according to the U.S. indictment, says: "Abdel Basset is coming from Zurich with Salvu ... take taggs from Air Malta." It's all in Arabic except for the misspelled "taggs". "Salvu" is not explained.{3}

However, the indictment further states that "Air Malta ... was the handling agent for Libyan Arab Airlines" for flights to and from Malta, "and as such utilized Air Malta luggage tags on luggage destined for Libyan Arab Airline flights." It therefore seems rather unsurprising that Fhimah might have had some normal business reason to be using such tags. More importantly, if he were actually planning a murderous covert operation using the tags, why would he commit any mention of them to paper? And then leave the diary in his office where it could be taken.

Another piece of evidence presented by US/UK investigators, out of which they derived much mileage, is that the type of timing device used in the bomb was sold only to Libya. It was later revealed that, in fact, the investigators were told in 1990 by the Swiss manufacturer that he had also sold the same timers to East German intelligence, which had close contact with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) and numerous other "terrorist" groups.{4}

The investigators' failure to disclose this information can best be described by the word "coverup". And in any event, there's no reason to assume that Libya could not have given one of their timers to another party.

Malta became a focus for investigators, even before serious Libyan involvement was presumed, when tests indicated that the suitcase which contained the bomb also contained several items of clothing manufactured in Malta and supposedly sold in a particular clothing shop on the island. The present US/UK version of events would have the world believe that Megrahi has been identified by the shopkeeper, Tony Gauci, as the purchaser of the clothing. But there is no such evidence. Megrahi has never been presented to Gauci in person, and there has been no report that Gauci has even been shown his photo. Moreover, the Maltese shopkeeper has already made several erroneous "positive" identifications, including one of a CIA asset.{5}

Before the indictment of the two Libyans, the press reported police findings that the clothing had been purchased on November 23.{6} But the indictment of Megrahi states that he made the purchase on December 7. Can this be because the investigators can document Megrahi being in Malta on that date but cannot do so for November 23?

The identification of Megrahi is even more questionable than the above indicates.{7} The fact that the investigative authorities do not make clear exactly how Megrahi was identified by Gauci is indicative of the weakness of their case.

Furthermore, after the world was assured that these items of clothing were sold only on Malta, it was learned that at least one of the items was actually "sold at dozens of outlets throughout Europe, and it was impossible to trace the purchaser."{8}

Once Malta became a focus due to the clothing, it appears that the next "logical" conclusion for the investigators was that the suitcase containing the bomb and the Maltese clothing was put together there; and thus the suitcase was somehow put aboard Air Malta flight KM180 to Frankfurt without an accompanying passenger on the first leg in its fateful journey. News reports presenting the latter as a certainty have alternated with reports like the following: The Lockerbie investigating team "discovered [that] the list of luggage checked into the hold against passengers' names on Air Malta KM180 to Frankfurt bore no resemblance to what the passengers had checked in. The Air Malta list was a shambles, one officer said."{9}

Air Malta itself is on record as having made an exhaustive study of this matter and has categorically denied that there was any unaccompanied baggage on KM180 or that any of the passengers transferred to the Frankfurt-to-London flight.{10} And a report sent by the FBI from Germany to Washington in October 1989 reveals profound doubt about this thesis. The report concludes: "There remains the possibility that no luggage was transferred from Air Malta 180 to Pan Am 103."{11}

In January 1995, more than three years after the indictment of the Libyans, the FBI was still of the same mind. A confidential Bureau report stated: "There is no concrete indication that any piece of luggage was unloaded from Air Malta 180, sent through the luggage routing system at Frankfurt airport, and then loaded on board Pan Am 103." The report added that the baggage records are "misleading" and that the bomb suitcase could have come from another flight or was simply a "rogue bag inserted into the system".{12}

To accept the Malta scenario is to believe that the suitcase itself led the following charmed life: 1)loaded aboard the Air Malta flight to Frankfurt without an accompanying passenger; 2)transferred in Frankfurt to the PanAm 103A flight to London without an accompanying passenger; 3)transferred in London to the PanAm 103 flight to New York without an accompanying passenger.

To the magic bullet of the JFK assassination, can we now add the magic suitcase?

Under international airline rules, bags unaccompanied by passengers should not be allowed onto aircraft without being searched or X-rayed. Actual practice is of course more lax, but how could serious professional terrorists count on this laxness taking place three times in a row for the same suitcase? Regular airline passengers wouldn't make such an assumption. Moreover, since the perpetrators in all likelihood wanted to time the explosion to occur over the ocean, adding Malta as an extra step could only add much more uncertainty.

In any event, the Pan Am X-ray operator at Frankfurt on December 21 testified in court that he had been told look for a radio in such baggage, but found none.{13}

A passenger could conceivably have accompanied the suitcase on the first, and/or second leg, but this would carry with it the sizeable risk of subsequent identification.

We must also ask why Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, writing in her 1993 memoirs about the US bombing of Libya in 1986, with which Britain had cooperated, stated: "But the much vaunted Libyan counter-attack did not and could not take place. Gaddafy had not been destroyed but he had been humbled. There was a marked decline in Libyan-sponsored terrorism in succeeding years."{14}

Finally, it should be pointed out that even if the two Libyans were involved, there is no reason to assume that they knew that the suitcase contained a bomb, and not drugs, or some other contraband.

Alternative theory

There is, moreover, an alternative scenario, laying the blame on Iran and Syria, which is much better documented and makes a lot more sense, logistically, politically, and technically. Indeed, this was the Original Official Version, delivered with Olympian rectitude by the U.S. government -- guaranteed, sworn to, scout's honor, case closed -- until the Gulf War came along and the support of Iran and Syria was needed, and Washington was anxious as well to achieve the release of American hostages held in Lebanon by groups close to Iran. The distinctive scurrying sound of backtracking then became audible in the corridors of the White House. Suddenly -- or so it seemed -- in October 1990, there was a New Official Version: It was Libya -- the Arab state least supportive of the US buildup to the Gulf War and the sanctions imposed against Iraq -- that was behind the bombing after all, declared Washington.

The two Libyans were formally indicted in the U.S. and Scotland on November 14, 1991. "This was a Libyan government operation from start to finish," declared the State Department spokesman.{15} "The Syrians took a bum rap on this," said President Bush.{16} Within the next 20 days, the remaining four American hostages were released along with the most prominent British hostage, Terry Waite.

The Original Official Version accused the PFLP-GC, a 1968 breakaway from a component of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), of making the bomb and somehow placing it aboard the flight in Frankfurt. The PFLP-GC was led by Ahmed Jabril, one of the world's leading terrorists, and was headquartered in, financed by, and closely supported by, Syria. The bombing was done at the behest of Iran as revenge for the U.S. shooting down of an Iranian passenger plane over the Persian Gulf on July 3, 1988, which claimed 290 lives.

The support for this scenario was, and remains, impressive, as the following sample indicates:

In April 1989, the FBI -- in response to criticism that it was bungling the investigation -- leaked to CBS the news that it had tentatively identified the person who unwittingly carried the bomb aboard. His name was Khalid Jaafar, a 21-year-old Lebanese- American. The report said that the bomb had been planted in Jaafar's suitcase by a member of the PFLP-GC, whose name was not revealed.{17}

In May, the State Department stated that the CIA was "confident" of the Iran-Syria-PFLP-GC account of events.{18}

On September 20, The Times of London reported that "Security officials from Britain, the United States and West Germany are totally satisfied' that it was the PFLP-GC" behind the crime.

In December, Scottish investigators announced that they had "hard evidence" of the involvement of the PFLP-GC in the bombing.{19}

A National Security Agency (NSA) electronic intercept disclosed that Ali Akbar Mohtashemi, Iranian interior minister, had paid Palestinian terrorists $10 million dollars to gain revenge for the downed Iranian airplane.{20}

Israeli intelligence also intercepted a communication between Mohtashemi and the Iranian embassy in Beirut "indicating that Iran paid for the Lockerbie bombing."{21}

Even after the Libyans had been indicted, Israeli officials declared that their intelligence analysts remained convinced that the PFLP-GC bore primary responsibility for the bombing.{22}

In 1992, Abu Sharif, a political adviser to PLO chairman Yasser Arafat, stated that the PLO had compiled a secret report which concluded that the bombing of 103 was the work of a "Middle Eastern country" other than Libya.{23}

In February 1995, former Scottish Office minister, Alan Stewart, wrote to the British Foreign Secretary and the Lord Advocate, questioning the reliability of evidence which had led to the accusations against the two Libyans. This move, wrote The Guardian, reflected the concern of the Scottish legal profession, reaching into the Crown Office (Scotland's equivalent of the Attorney General's Office), that the bombing may not have been the work of Libya, but of Syrians, Palestinians and Iranians.{24}

Key Question

A key question in the PFLP-GC version has always been: How did the bomb get aboard the plane in Frankfurt, or at some other point? One widely disseminated explanation was in a report, completed during the summer of 1989 and leaked in the fall, which had been prepared by a New York investigating firm called Interfor. Headed by a former Israeli intelligence agent, Interfor -- whose other clients included Fortune 500 companies, the FBI, IRS and Secret Service{25} -- was hired by the law firm representing Pan Am's insurance carrier.

The Interfor Report said that in the mid-1980s, a drug and arms smuggling operation was set up in various European cities, with Frankfurt airport as the site of one of the drug routes. The Frankfurt operation was run by Manzer Al-Kassar, a Syrian, the same man from whom Oliver North's shadowy network purchased large quantities of arms for the contras. At the airport, according to the report, a courier would board a flight with checked luggage containing innocent items; after the luggage had passed all security checks, one or another accomplice Turkish baggage handler for Pan Am would substitute an identical suitcase containing contraband; the passenger then picked up this suitcase upon arrival at the destination.

The only courier named by Interfor is Khalid Jaafar, although this may well have derived from the many news reports already citing Jaafar as a prime suspect.

The report spins a web much too complex and lengthy to go into here. The short version is that the CIA in Germany discovered the drug operation at the airport and learned also that Kassar had the contacts to gain the release of American hostages in Lebanon. He had already done the same for French hostages. Thus it was, that the CIA and the German Bundeskriminalamt (BKA, Federal Criminal Office) allowed the drug operation to continue in hopes of effecting the release of American hostages.

According to the report, this same smuggling ring and its method of switching suitcases at the Frankfurt airport were used to smuggle the fatal bomb aboard flight 103, under the eyes of the CIA and BKA. Because of several warnings, these same officials had reason to suspect that a bomb might be aboard flight 103, possibly in the drug suitcase. But the CIA, for various reasons, including not wanting to risk the hostage- release operation, told the BKA to do nothing.

Interfor gave three of the baggage handlers polygraphs and two of them were judged as being deceitful when denying any involvement in baggage switching. However, neither the U.S., UK or German investigators showed any interest in the results, or in questioning the baggage handlers. Instead, the polygrapher, James Keefe, was hauled before a Washington grand jury, and, as he puts it, "they were bent on destroying my credibility -- not theirs [the baggage handlers]." To Interfor, this attempt at intimidation was the strongest evidence of a cover-up.{26}

Critics claimed that the report had been inspired by Pan Am's interest in proving that it was impossible for normal airline security to have prevented the loading of the bomb, thus removing the basis for accusing the airline of negligence.

The Interfor report was likely the principal reason Pan Am's attorneys subpoenaed the FBI, CIA, DEA, State Department, National Security Council, and NSA, as well as, reportedly, the Defense Intelligence Agency and FAA, to turn over all documents relating to the crash of 103 or to a drug operation preceding the crash. The government moved to quash the subpoenas on grounds of "national security", and refused to turn over a single document in open court, although it gave some to a judge to view privately.

The judge later commented that he was "troubled about certain parts" of what he'd read, that he didn't "know quite what to do because I think some of the material may be significant."{27}

Drugs Revelation

A year later, on October 30, 1990, NBC News reported that "Pan Am flights from Frankfurt, including 103, had been used a number of times by the DEA as part of its undercover operation to fly informants and suitcases of heroin into Detroit as part of a sting operation to catch dealers in Detroit."

The TV network reported that the DEA was looking into the possibility that a young man who lived in Michigan and regularly visited the Middle East may have unwittingly carried the bomb aboard flight 103. His name was Khalid Jaafar. "Unidentified law enforcement sources" were cited as saying that Jaafar had been a DEA informant and was involved in a drug-sting operation based out of Cyprus. The DEA was investigating whether the PFLP-GC had tricked Jaafar into carrying a suitcase containing the bomb instead of [or in addition to?] the drugs he usually carried.

The report added that "Informants would put [suit]cases of heroin on the Pan Am flights apparently without the usual security checks ... through an arrangement between the DEA and German authorities."{28}

These revelations were enough to inspire a congressional hearing, held in December, entitled, "Drug Enforcement Administration's Alleged Connection to the Pan Am Flight 103 Disaster".

The chairman of the committee, Cong. Robert Wise (Dem., W. VA.), began the hearing by lamenting the fact that the DEA and the Department of Justice had not made any of their field agents who were most knowledgeable about flight 103 available to testify; that they had not provided requested written information, including the results of the DEA's investigation into the air disaster; and that "the FBI to this date has been totally uncooperative".

The two DEA officials who did testify admitted that the agency had, in fact, run "controlled drug deliveries" through Frankfurt airport with the cooperation of German authorities, using U.S. airlines, but insisted that no such operation had been conducted in December 1988.

The officials denied that the DEA had had any "association with Mr. Jaafar in any way, shape, or form." However, to questions concerning Jaafar's background, family, and his frequent trips to Lebanon, they asked to respond only in closed session. They made the same request in response to several other questions. (NBC News had reported on October 30 that the DEA had told law enforcement officers in Detroit not to talk to the media about Jaafar.)

The hearing ended after but one day, even though Wise had promised a "full-scale" investigation and indicated during the hearing that there would be more to come. What was said in the closed sessions remains closed.{29}

One of the DEA officials who testified, Stephen Greene, had himself had a reservation on flight 103, but he canceled because of the warnings. He has described standing on the Heathrow tarmac, watching the doomed plane take off.(30}

There have been many reports of heroin being found in the field around the crash, from "traces" to "a substantial quantity" found in a suitcase.{31} Two days after the NBC report, however, the New York Times quoted a "federal official" saying that "no hard drugs were aboard the aircraft."

The DEA of course knew of its sting operation in Frankfurt two years earlier when the tragedy occurred, but they said nothing, not even to the President's Commission on Aviation Security and Terrorism which held hearings in the first months of 1990 in response to the 103 bombing.

The Whistleblowers

Lester Coleman, author and radio talk-show host, who spent several years with the Defense Intelligence Agency and the DEA, beginning in the mid-1980s, has revealed that when he was working with the DEA station in Cyprus, he met Khalid Jaafar several times, that Jaafar was working for the DEA, and that the young man had run two or three controlled deliveries of heroin into Detroit.{32}

Because Coleman did not keep what he knew to himself, but repeated his story in an affidavit for Pan Am's action against the U.S. government, and then co-authored a highly revealing book, he was hounded for several years, across continents, and severely punished by various institutions of that same government, including being imprisoned on phony charges to damage his credibility. His tale reads like something out of Les Miserables with the U.S. government as Inspector Javert.

At one point, a federal judge warned Coleman: "If you attack the government on the radio, I will take that very, very seriously."{33}

Several other individuals who have raised questions about a U.S. government role in the 103 disaster have also paid a heavy price, including Juval Aviv, the head of Interfor. His office suffered a series of break-ins; the FBI visited his clients; his polygrapher was harassed, as mentioned; and a contrived commercial fraud charge was brought against him. Even though Aviv eventually was cleared in court, it was a long, expensive, and painful ordeal.{34}

There was also Allan Francovich, who made a documentary film, "The Maltese Double Cross", which presents Jaafar as an unwitting bomb carrier with ties to the DEA and the CIA. Showings of the film in Britain were canceled under threat of law suits, venues burglarized or attacked with arson. When Channel 4 agreed to show the film, the Scottish Crown Office and the U.S. Embassy in London sent press packs to the media, labeling the film "blatant propaganda", and attacking some of the film's interviewees, including Coleman and Aviv.{35} Additionally, Francovich said he had learned that five CIA operatives had been sent to London and Cyprus to discredit the film while it was being made; that his office phones were tapped, and staff cars sabotaged; and that one of his researchers narrowly escaped an attempt to force his vehicle into the path of an oncoming truck.{36}

Lockerbie investigators went so far as to ask the FBI to investigate the film. The Bureau later issued a highly derogatory opinion of it.{37}

The film's detractors made much of the fact that the film was initially funded jointly by a UK company (two-thirds) and a Libyan government investment arm (one-third). Francovich said that he was fully aware of this and had taken pains to negotiate a guarantee of independence from any interference.

On April 17, 1997, Allan Francovich suddenly died of a heart attack at age 56, upon arrival at Houston Airport.{38} His film has had virtually no showings in the United States.

Abu Talb

The DEA sting operation and Interfor's baggage-handler hypothesis both predicate the bomb suitcase being placed aboard the plane without going through the normal security checks. In either case, it eliminates the need for the questionable triple-unaccompanied baggage scenario. They don't eliminate the clothing purchased in Malta, but we don't need the Libyans for that.

Mohammed Abu Talb fits that and perhaps other pieces of the puzzle. The Palestinian had close ties to PFLP-GC cells in Germany which were making Toshiba radio-cassette bombs, similar, if not identical, to what was used to bring down 103. In October 1988, two months before Lockerbie, the German police staged several raids against these cells, uncovering all but one of their known five bombs. In May 1989, Talb was arrested in Sweden, where he lived, and was later convicted of taking part in several bombings of the offices of American airline companies in Scandinavia. In his Swedish flat, police found large quantities of clothing made in Malta.

Police investigation of Talb disclosed that during October 1988 he had been to Cyprus and Malta, at least once in the company of Hafez Dalkamoni, the leader of the German PFLP-GC, who was arrested in the raid. The men met with PFLP-GC members who lived in Malta. Talb was also in Malta on November 23, which was originally reported as the date of the clothing purchase before the indictment of the Libyans, as mentioned earlier.

After his arrest, Talb told investigators that between October and December 1988 he had retrieved and passed to another person a bomb that had been hidden in a building used by the PFLP-GC in Germany. Officials declined to identify the person to whom Talb said he had passed the bomb. A month later, however, he recanted his confession.

Additionally, Talb was reported to possess a brown Samsonite suitcase, and have circled December 21 in a diary seized in his Swedish flat. After the raid upon his flat, his wife was heard to telephone Palestinian friends and say: "Get rid of the clothes."

In December 1989, Scottish police, in papers filed with Swedish legal officials, made Talb the only publicly identified suspect "in the murder or participation in the murder of 270 people".{39} Since that time, the world has scarcely heard of Abu Talb, who was sentenced to life in prison in Sweden, but never charged with anything to do with Lockerbie.

In Allan Francovich's film, members of Khalid Jaafar's family -- which long had ties to the drug trade in Lebanon's notorious Bekaa Valley -- are interviewed. In either halting English or translated Arabic, or paraphrased by the film's narrator, they drop many bits of information, but which are difficult to put together into a coherent whole. Amongst the bits ... Khalid had told his parents that he'd met Talb in Sweden and had been given Maltese clothing ... someone had given Khalid a tape recorder, or put one into his bag ... he was told to go to Germany to friends of Ahmed Jabril who would help him earn some money ... he arrived in Germany with two kilos of heroin ... "He didn't know it was a bomb. They gave him the drugs to take to Germany. He didn't know. Who wants to die?" ...

It can not be stated with certainty what happened at Frankfurt airport on that fateful day, if, as seems most likely, that is the place where the bomb was placed into the system. Either Jaafar, the DEA courier, arrived with his suitcase of heroin and bomb and was escorted through security by the proper authorities, or this was a day he was a courier for Manzer al-Kassar, and the baggage handlers did their usual switch.

International Law

Contrary to what American officials and the media have stated on numerous occasions, the 1992 U.N. resolutions do not demand that Libya turn the two men over to the United States or Scotland. No specific venue is mentioned.{40}

In 1992, Gaddafy declared that if the U.S. could demand that Megrahi and Fhimah be turned over for trial, he could ask for the surrender of the American airmen who bombed two Libyan cities, killing 37 people, including his daughter.

The United States refuses to accede to the request of Costa Rica for the extradition of John Hull, an American who was a major player in Iran-Contra, and who is wanted in Costa Rica for drug trafficking and other crimes. Similar requests from Cuba over the years for the terrorists harbored by the U.S. in Washington have also been ignored.

It is surprising that Gaddafy has agreed to subject the two Libyans to a Scottish judge and Scottish law, without a jury. Even though it would take place in the Netherlands, there's no reason to assume that the Scottish judges would be any less biased than in Scotland. To return home after acquitting the men could not be a pleasant thing to face.

At the same time, it's unlikely that any U.S. or British official really believes that Libya played a significant role, if any. And for that reason they probably do not actually want to see the trial of the two men take place.{41} Not only would the paucity of their evidence be exposed for all the world to see, but they might be obliged to reveal information they'd rather not see the light of day, perhaps touching upon the role played by one or more US agencies.

On February 16, 1990, a group of British relatives of Lockerbie victims went to the American Embassy in London for a meeting with members of the President's Commission on Aviation Security and Terrorism. After the meeting, Britisher Martin Cadman was chatting with two of the commission members. One of them said to him: "Your government and our government know exactly what happened at Lockerbie. But they are not going to tell you."{42}


1. The Times (London), May 11, 1992, p.11.

2. "God Bless America -- A Personal View", paper written by Dr. Jim Swire, spokesman for the bereaved UK families of Pan Am 103 victims, Oct. 20, 1995. Copy in author's possession. Swire met with Gaddafy in Libya.

3. Grand Jury indictment, US District Court for the District of Columbia, 1991.

4. Der Spiegel (Germany), April 18, 1994, pp.92-7; Sunday Times (London), December 19, 1993, p.2; The Times (London), December 20, 1993, p.11; Los Angeles Times, December 20, 1993.

5. Mark Perry, Eclipse: The Last Days of the CIA (Wm. Morrow, New York, 1992), pp.342-7. See also Time, April 27, 1992, p. 27 for another example of the unreliability of the shopkeeper's identification.

6. See, e.g., Sunday Times, Nov. 12, 1989, p. 3.

7. See The Independent (London), Jan. 24, 1995, p.3 for more on this matter.

8. Sunday Times, December 17, 1989, p. 14. Malta is, in fact, a major manufacturer of clothing sold throughout the world.

9. The Independent, October 30, 1989, p.2.

10. The Guardian (London) July 29, 1995, p.26.

11. Time, April 27, 1992, p. 28

12. The Independent, Jan. 30, 1995, p. 3. The newspaper said it was a five-page official briefing paper that had been leaked to it. It is possible that this is the same 1989 report referred to in note 11. Time magazine also said it was a five-page document.

13. Donald Goddard with Lester Coleman, Trail of the Octopus: Behind the Lockerbie Disaster (London: Penguin Books, 1994), p.420

14. Margaret Thatcher, The Downing Street Years (New York, 1993), pp.448-9.

15. New York Times, November 15, 1991, p.1

16. Los Angeles Times, November 15, 1991, p.25

17. New York Times, April 13, 1989, p.9; David Johnston, Lockerbie: The Tragedy of Flight 103 (New York, 1989), pp.157, 161-2. Johnston says investigators believed that the person who put the bomb into Jaafar's bag was Abdul Dalkamoni, the brother of Hafez Dalkamoni, whom we shall meet later.

18. Washington Post, May 11, 1989, p. 1

19. New York Times, December 16, 1989, p. 3.

20. Department of the Air Force -- Air Intelligence Agency intelligence summary report, March 4, 1991, released under a FOIA request made by lawyers for Pan Am. The intercept appears to have taken place in July 1988, shortly after the downing of the Iranian plane. Reports of the intercept appeared in the press long before the above document was released; see, e.g., New York Times, Sept. 27, 1989, p.11; October 31, 1989, p.8; Sunday Times, October 29, 1989, p.4. But it wasn't until Jan. 1995 that the exact text became widely publicized and caused a storm in the UK, although ignored in the U.S.

21. The Times, September 20, 1989, p. 1

22. New York Times, November 21, 1991, p. 14. It should be borne in mind, however, that Israel may have been influenced because of its hostility toward the PFLP-GC.

23. Reuters dispatch, datelined Tunis, Feb. 26, 1992

24. The Guardian, Feb. 24, 1995, p. 7

25. National Law Journal, Sept. 25, 1995, p.A11, from papers filed in a New York court case.

26. Barron's (New York), December 17, 1990, pp.20, 22

27. Barron's, p. 18.

28. Goddard/Coleman, p.205; Washington Times, October 31, 1990, p. 3; The Times, November 1, 1990, p.3

29. Government Information, Justice, and Agriculture Subcommittee of the Committee on Government Operations, House of Representatives, December 18, 1990, passim.

30. The film, "The Maltese Double Cross" (see below).

31. Sunday Times, April 16, 1989 (traces); Johnston, p.79 (substantial). "The Maltese Double Cross" mentions other reports of drugs found, by a Scottish policeman and a mountain rescue man.

32. Goddard/Coleman, pp.40-3.

33. Goddard/Coleman, passim, and conversations with Coleman by the author in 1998. Coleman was eventually compelled to plead guilty to a contrived perjury charge in order to be released from detention while seriously ill.

34. Article by John Ashton, The Mail on Sunday (London), June 9, 1996; Wall Street Journal, December 18, 1995, p.1, and December 18, 1996, p.B2

35. Ashton article and Financial Times (London), May 12, 1995, p.8

36. The Guardian, April 23, 1994, p.5

37. Sunday Times, May 7, 1995.

38. Francovich's former wife told the author that he had not had any symptoms of a heart problem before. However, the author also spoke to Dr. Cyril Wecht, of JFK "conspiracy" fame, who performed an autopsy on Francovich. Wecht stated that he found no reason to suspect foul play.

39. Re Abu Talb, all 1989: New York Times, Oct. 31, Dec. 1, Dec. 24; Sunday Times, Nov. 12; The Times, Dec. 21; and The Times, Feb. 9, 1990

40. UN Resolution 731, Jan. 21, 1992 and Resolution 748, Mar. 31, 1992

41. See The Guardian, June 8, 1995, p.1, "Clinton ends fight to try Lockerbie suspects"; and The Times, Sept. 20, 1997, p.9, "Britain gives up fight over Lockerbie".

42. Cadman in "The Maltese Double Cross". Also see The Guardian, July 29, 1995, p.27

February 2001


(February 27, 2001)
Was it the Likud Party, or the Labor Party, that authorized more illegal settlements in the occupied territories since the Gulf War and the Madrid Peace Conference?

(February 26, 2001)
For those who still needed proof of the cravenness and duplicity of Israel's Labor Party, the party that spawned "Peace Now" and "Oslo" among other gross deceptions, it came today.

Defectors say Iraq tested Nuclear Bomb
(February 25, 2001)
When Iraq was more overtly building nuclear weapons, the Israelis struck in 1981 destroying the Osirak reactor near Baghdad that could have provided the crucial processed uranium fuel.

"Go back, we don't want you"
(February 24, 2001)
General Colin Powell, now combining even more closely than usual the Pentagon with the State Department, was afraid to go to Gaza; and rightly so.

The Hebron MASSACRE - 7 long years ago
(February 24, 2001)
Abraham's dysfunctional family has had unbelieveable historical ramifications for which the focal point today is Hebron, site of Abraham's burial place, a religious site to both Jews and Muslim alike who are today quite literally at each other's throats.

Council on foreign relations help legitimize Sharon
(February 23, 2001)
The Council on Foreign Relations, New York-power elite-based but in recent years integrating more with the Washington government and corporate elite, has been for quite some time, to put it bluntly, a rather tricky and chicanery Israeli-oriented Zionist center when it comes to matters relevant to Israel.

Iraq - The great Cover-Up
(February 23, 2001)
As terrible as what the Israelis, with their superpower American ally (and European connivance), are doing to the Palestinians, what has been and is being done to the Iraqis and the Chechnyans is also truly appauling.

Arab expulsion admitted by Sharon Ally
(February 22, 2001)
One day maybe Israel -- like South Africa and Chile before it -- will have some kind of "truth finding" commission to try to purge itself of the past.

Protests in Jordan
(February 22, 2001)
If it weren't for the Hashemite Regime in today's Jordan, yesterday's Transjordan, and before that the East Bank of Palestine, the Israelis would never have been able to vanquish the Palestinian people in days past and would never be able to do to the remaining Palestinians what is happening today.

Powell and Sharon - Street protests?
(February 21, 2001)
Clearly, the US is rushing to court unpopularity across the world, contrary to expectations that the Bush national security establishment would conduct itself with a degree of sophistication.

"This is only the beginning"
(February 21, 2001)
The crippling is not just physical. Psychologically, culturally, economically, and even morally, the Palestinian people are being twisted and tortured beyond all recognition of their former selves.

Gaza Ghetto, Gaza Concentration Camp, Gaza Prison
(February 19, 2001)
For four months, the Gaza Strip has been effectively isolated from the world. Over 1 million Palestinians are caged in an area of not more than 365km2.

Locked in an Orwellian eternal war
(February 19, 2001)
President Bush Jr didn't seem so confident the other day as he told the world of the newly increased bombing of Iraq. But he made it clear that "until the world is told otherwise" the Americans are convinced they run the world and it is up to them to decide whom to bomb, whom to favor, whom to take out, whom to reward.

Arafat collapsing
(February 16, 2001)
The Arafat Regime is collapsing. Here are some of the details, twisted somewhat of course because the reports are from Israel's best newspaper, Ha'aretz, in view of the fact that Palestinian and Arab news sources are unable and unwilling to provide such insights.

The realization, "perhaps the dream"
(February 16, 2001)
Out of the cycle of violence the gradual, hesitant understanding - perhaps the dream - will grow, that the only way is through a struggle to create a land of Israel/Palestine that is undivided in both physical and human terms, pluralistic and open; a land in which civilized relations, human touch, intimate coexistence and a link to a common homeland would be stronger than militant tribalism and the separation into national ghettoes.

"Collective suicide" or Zionism united?
(February 15, 2001)
If there is a national unity government, it will be evident that the differences between Labour as the main branch of the left and the Likud as the main branch of the right are not that big.

Death and assissination
(February 14, 2001)
It didn't take long for the Israelis, now Sharon-led, to start creating the escalating provocations that will then bring about still more Palestinian rage which will then give the Israelis the excuse they seek to pulverize the Palestinians still harder, possibly destroying the regime they earlier created, and possibly leading to another Palestinian "nakbah" (disaster).

Israelis strike, Palestinians without strategy
(February 13, 2001)
The Israelis have had a long-term strategy for a very long time; and they have pursued it regardless of what party was in power and who happened to be Prime Minister of the moment.

Dozens of Palestinians wounded
(February 12, 2001)
Israeli troops shot dead two Palestinians in the West Bank Monday as Israel's rightwing Prime Minister-elect Ariel Sharon sought to forge a unity government.

"Holy war" is forever
(February 12, 2001)
Fifty four years ago when an international commission of that day was hearing from Jews and Arabs about what the new U.N. should do about Palestine there was testimony from very credible and very establishment Jewish Zionist sources opposing creation of a "separatist Jewish State" precisely because it would bring about an unending conflict with the Palestinian Arab population.

War preparations continue
(February 11, 2001)
The Arafat Regime, the "Authority", is near collapse -- not just financially, but credibility wise as well. The Israeli government is near "unity" -- with General Sharon in charge.

The PA is about to collapse
(February 10, 2001)
How ironic history can be. After generations of struggle and such suffering the regime that rules the Palestinians is now in the hands of Ariel Sharon representing Israel, the U.S. Congress representing the financial levers of the American Empire, and the European governments which in this situation operate on the pretense that they are better than either of the above.

Rocking Israel to its Biblical core
(February 9, 2001)
Well if King David was a nebbish (modern translation might be "nerd"), one has to wonder how history will record Ariel Sharon, the man with such a past whom the Jews of Israel have just overwhelming elected their leader.

Sharon maneuvers for starting position
(February 9, 2001)
It's time for serious political confusion and disinformation now. As the armies prepare themselves for the clashes likely to come in one form or another, the politicians maneuver for new starting positions.

Clinton pardoned Mossad spy for Israelis
(February 9, 2001)
The Israelis adore Bill Clinton, as all the pollsters know. Deep down even the common everyday Israelis know he was their man in the White House.

The many crimes of Ariel Sharon
(February 8, 2001)
Some incorrigible optimists have suggested that only a right-wing extremist of the notoriety of Likud leader Ariel Sharon will have the credentials to broker any sort of lasting settlement with the Palestinians.

Sharon wastes no time - Arafat bows
(February 7, 2001)
We will give him the benefit of the doubt. If he comes with good ideas that will bring us closer to the peace process, why not? The world has seen many such situations before.

Holy war for Jerusalem
(February 7, 2001)
We're on the way now to a new and expanded struggle, maybe even a religious war, Jerusalem the focalpoint.

The cold logic of Sharon
(February 7, 2001)
Many Israelis just stayed home. Others cast a blank vote. But a considerable minority thrust Ariel Sharon into the greatest electoral landslide in that country's history -- obviously as well an overwhelming majority of those who did vote.

Sharon wins and Peres wants in
(February 6, 2001)
He may be a brutish thug, he may fit the definition of war criminal, he may be a Jewish racist -- but now he is also the Prime Minister-elect of Israel, overwhelmingly swept into power in a way few imagined possible just a year ago.

All sides now committed to escalation
(February 6, 2001)
Now the real craziness begins. The Palestinians are committed to heating things up to demonstrate their resolve and their capabilities. The Israelis are committed to "stopping the violence" which means clamping the boot down on the Palestinians even more harshly.

The legacy of Ariel Sharon
(February 5, 2001)
This is a place of filth and blood which will forever be associated with Ariel Sharon. In Israel today, he may well be elected prime minister.

BBC casts doubt of Pan AM convictions
(February 5, 2001)
In advance of whatever the Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi is going to produce as "evidence" of innocence today, the BBC has published the following story quoting the very Scottish law professor who arranged the trial in The Netherlands casting great doubt about the veracity of the verdict reached:

What's left of Israel's left
(February 5, 2001)
What's left of Israel's left is in a fractured and demoralized state of affairs. Not only is Ariel Sharon about to become Israel's Prime Minister, but in all likelihood he is to be swept into power tomorrow in a landslide unprecedented in Israel's history.

The Pan Am 103 Verdict
(February 3, 2001)
The papers are filled with pictures of happy relatives of the victims of the 1988 bombing of PanAm 103. A Libyan, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, was just found guilty of the bombing by a Scottish court in the Hague, his co-defendant, Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, being acquitted... What's wrong is that the evidence against Megrahi is thin to the point of transparency.

Rivers of blood
(February 2, 2001)
The bloodiness and racism of Sharon's past is fact. And these two articles help bring that past forward to the present.

Waiting for Sharon
(February 2, 2001)
They believe a Sharon victory will be a boon for their cause. 'He will expose the true face of Israel,' says an activist in Yasir Arafat's Fatah movement in Nablus, 'and force the world, including the US, to address its real responsibilities to the peace process...

Israeli Arabs boycott Barak, await Sharon
(February 1, 2001)
As the extreme right-wing revolution in Israel nears, as Ariel Sharon and friends prepare to take over political power, the "Israeli Arab vote" will not be enough to save Ehud Barak, and in fact it will not even be mobilized on his behalf this time, though Yasser Arafat and his friends have surely tried.

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