30 November 2009

The Lockerbie Bombing; Facts, Deception, And Misinformation

Your government and ours know exactly what has happened but they are never going to tell.

This was the statement made to Martin Cadman whose son Bill who was killed in the Lockerbie bombing. It was said to him by a member of the President's Commission on Aviation Security and Terrorism, a government body set up after the Lockerbie bombing. This statement is just another in a long list of facts, deceptions and misinformation that go to make up the shadows covering the truth behind the Lockerbie bombing.

The release of the Abdelbaset Ali Al Megrahi by the Scottish Government has led FBI director Robert Mueller to brand Scotland as a pro-terrorist nation and has also led to many Americans proclaiming that Scotland as a nation should be boycotted. Megrahi was convicted in for his part in helping to blow up Pan Am Flight 103 that exploded over the Scottish town of Lockerbie killing 270 people in 1988. But many experts who have in-depth knowledge of this case claim that Megrahi was either a fall guy or completely innocent and the victim of a gross miscarriage of justice. The Lockerbie bombing and who is actually responsible is still an ongoing mystery.

There is a huge amount of unanswered questions regarding the Lockerbie bombing, and theories abound over who is actually behind this act. The trouble with conspiracy theories where governments are seen to be involved is that many people think that governments would never actually perpetrate these acts; they would never break the law, never cross the line in this manner. Governments aren't capable of such atrocities and there are a great many people who actually believe this. There is also the point that if these acts are committed by governments then someone, somewhere would eventually say something. You cannot have such a huge number of people involved in a cover up, people such as the FBI, CIA, MI6, the Israeli Intelligence Agency involved without someone blowing the whistle. People can't keep secrets for 20 years without someone saying something.

Yet people have been saying something. The most respected investigative journalists in the world have been saying something. Ex undercover CIA agents have been saying something. Film makers have been saying something. Two documentaries provide a different story over the Lockerbie bombings. Questions are asked in films such as The Maltese Double Cross Lockerbie directed by American film maker Alan Francovich and financed by British businessman Tiny Rowland. A film that on its release angered both UK and US governments. In the UK, legal action from the US government prevented the film being shown at the 1994 London film festival. It has never publicly been screened in the US although it is available on the internet. A BBC documentary that was shown in 2008 came to many of the same conclusions as those found in the Maltese Double Cross.

The Maltese Double Cross was narrated by Scottish Actor Brian Cox one of the stars of the 2004 espionage thriller The Bourne Supremacy. When Abdelbaset Ali Al Megrahi was released from prison Cox publicly stated that he knew that Megrahi was set up. Talking about Megrahi's release on compassionate grounds Cox said on August 23 2009, "I'm in a double blind about this because I personally believe the man is innocent. I think it's all been a set up from the word go." Cox said that he obtained a lot of important information while making the documentary that led him to form the opinion that Megrahi's conviction was a set up job.

To write an in-depth analysis on the findings made by these documentaries would take at least 10,000 words; The Maltese Double Cross comes in at a running time of 2hrs 35 minutes alone. The documentary's findings and conclusions sound like something from a Hollywood thriller. It is a maze of double crosses, false leads, government corruption, CIA rogue agents, drugs for hostages deals, tampered evidence, and ultimately the loss of hundreds of innocent lives. It is a huge maze of information that can only be fully understood, and believed or not, with an open mind on how governments play political games with each other under banner of the war on terrorism.

One of the first questions asked by the documentary was whether the Lockerbie bombing was an act of retaliation by Iran over the shooting down of Iran Air Flight 655 on July 3rd 1988 by the U.S. Navy's missile cruiser USS Vincennes. The US missile cruiser mistook the Iran airbus for an F-14 Fighter Tomcat, opened fire, and the result was the loss of 290 civilians, 66 of which were children. Iran officials swore to, "avenge the blood of their martyrs" and these threats were take seriously by the US military.

The next question was why multiple detailed warnings about the bomb threat were sent to intelligence agencies before the Lockerbie bombing yet the public were not notified? If the warnings were considered a hoax then is it a simple coincidence that high ranking officials such as the South African Minister Pik Botha and the South African Defence Minister General Malan amongst other VIPS and intelligence operatives who were due to be on the doomed Pan Am 103 changed their flight only hours before take off? It was known that Botha had ties to both the CIA and the Israeli Intelligence Agency Mossad.

Only two months before the Lockerbie bombing bombs hidden in radio cases that were designed to detonate at high altitude were found in Frankfurt along with the bomb makers, members of The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command (PFLP-GC). The PFLP-GC was headed by Ahmed Jibril who in his own words was, "one of the leaders influencing the direction of the struggle urging for an escalation in the fight against the enemy who was occupying our land and our nation." The bombs were found in Frankfurt, the name of the location mentioned in the detailed warnings as the place where the bomb would be taken onto the Pan Am flight. Yet the suspects were interrogated then released due to lack of evidence.

Three months after the Lockerbie bombing Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's Secretary of State for Transport Paul Channon announced to five political journalists that those responsible for the bombing had been found and arrests were imminent. This information was not yet ready for release and the journalists were made aware that this was for their ears only. At least one journalist broke the story in the press to the public. At almost the same time Thatcher received a call from President George Bush Snr telling her to "cool it" over the Lockerbie subject. A few months later Channon, who had denied he was the source of the original arrest story, was quietly sacked

Into the mix comes investigator Juval Aviv a former MOSSAD agent who was hired by Pan Am to collect information on the bombing to be used in the legal compensation battles that would ensue. Aviv's findings are controversial to say the least. Aviv claimed rogue CIA agents allowed the bomb to be smuggled onto the PAN AM flight. The CIA agents were allowing Middle East terrorists to smuggle drugs into the US via Frankfurt. In return the CIA hoped to receive help in return for the release of hostages held in Beirut. Aviv claims that Ahmed Jibril took advantage of this operation to place the bomb in the suitcase. An unwitting drug courier wasn't told that his bag would be switched for the bomb.

Sounds like an unbelievable conspiracy theory? And yet Juval's theory is very similar to another conspiracy theory that turned out to be true. Three years before the Lockerbie bombing Colonel Oliver North was running a secret operation whereby missiles would be sold to Iran in return for American hostages held in Beirut by pro Iranian groups, the Arms for Hostages deal. Since Aviv has made his claims he has been has either been called a liar or the victim of a smear campaign. Yet why is his theory so unbelievable when similar trades were being made three years earlier?

The next question is the dramatic change of direction from laying the blame at Iran's door to Libya. Why did Libya suddenly come into the frame as the main suspects behind the bombing? Many believe that America and Britain had their own political reasons for turning the blame on Libya. At the time of the Lockerbie bombing the Gulf War was just beginning and America was trying to keep as many Arab nations as possible on its side. Meanwhile relations between Libya and the US were at all time low to say the least. But did it makes sense for Gaddafi to authorise the Lockerbie bombing that would lead to sanctions being imposed on Libya to the tune of an estimated $30 million?

Next up comes Vincent Cannistraro, the CIA Counter Terrorism Chief on the National Security Council. According to a story in the Washington Post by Bob Woodward, Cannistraro along with Colonel Oliver North was one of the main developers of a disinformation and deception plan that was spread during the Reagan administration with the intention of making Gaddafi think that there was widespread internal opposition against him, even from his most trusted aides. When the story broke President Reagan disavowed all knowledge although did admit, "there are memos back and forth, I can't deny that." Who better to lay the blame at Libya's door than Cannistraro who, as Chief of Operationsat the CIA's Counter Terrorist Centre was now leading the investigation into the Lockerbie bombing.

And so we come to Abdelbaset Ali Al Megrahi head of security for Libyan Arab Airlines who was convicted in 2001 and sentenced to life imprisonment for his part in the Lockerbie bombing. Megrahni and his co accused Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah were indicted in November 1991. They denied all charges but eventually gave themselves up under the condition that the trial be held in a neutral venue. After years of negotiations the trial eventually began in May 2000 in a purpose built venue in Camp Zeist in the Netherlands. The trial was engineered by legal academic Professor Robert Black of Edinburgh University and the case was heard by three Scottish judges, no jury. Megrahi was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison while Fhimah was acquitted and released.

Professor Black has since said that the trial was a shameful miscarriage of justice that has gravely sullied the Scottish criminal justice system. He has also stated that the case against the accused was entirely circumstantial and the prosecution could not even prove how the bomb that destroyed Pan Am 103 had gotten onto the plane. Black also claims that, "I am absolutely convinced that if the evidence had come out in front of a Scottish jury of 15 there is absolutely no way he would have been convicted."

The evidence provided by the prosecution was flimsy to say the least. Vital evidence had been tampered with and strong key witnesses were found to be confusing and evasive when questioned over evidence. One of the prosecution's star witnesses was a Libyan who claimed he could pin the charges on the accused. The prosecutions star witness turned out to be Abdul Majid Giaka a CIA asset and later defector. His evidence at the trial was found by the judges to be, "at best grossly exaggerated and at worst simply untrue and largely motivated by financial considerations."

Professor Michael Scharf who was counsel to the US counter terrorism bureau when the two Libyans were indicted said that the case was, "so full of holes it was like swiss cheese and the case should never have gone to court." He also claimed that Giaka was a known liar to the CIA and was out simply for money and that the CIA didn't actually believe what Giaka had said yet this was the man being presented at the trial as the star witness. Now Scharf says, "I played a role similar to that of Colin Powel after the invasion of Iraq, when he went in and said that he had open and shut evidence of weapons of mass destruction and now Powell feels that was the day that ruined his career. It didn't ruin my career but it's a moment I'm not proud of."

The other star witness Tony Gauci a clothes store owner in Malta gave key evidence that he had sold the clothes to Megrahi that would eventually be used to wrap the bomb, fragments of the clothes were found at the plane crash site. Gauci was interviewed 17 times by the Scottish and Maltese police, and although he had claimed that he was not sure that the clothes had been sold to Megrahi and that the multiple statements he gave were found to be inclusive his testimony was instrumental in convicting Megrahi. At the time Gauci claims to have seen Megrahi it has been proven Megrahi was not even in Malta.

In 1999, 11 years after the event Gauci had named Megrahi during an ID parade but strangely Gauci had said in a one of his previous statements, "I am sure I did not sell him a shirt." It has since transpired that only four days before the ID parade Gauci had seen a picture of Megrahi in a magazine and then the ID parade took place. Further new evidence has since came to light that Gauci was rewarded or given as compensation £2 million from US investigators for his part in the trial.

These are only some of the details that have been brought about by journalists, filmmakers and legal experts on the case of the Lockerbie bombing. There is a huge amount of other information that would take up too much space on this website including witnesses at the crash scene who were told by authorities not to mention drugs that were found.

British and US oil companies are now doing big business with Libya. The once enemy Colonel Gaddafi is no longer an enemy but a partner in the war on terrorism. Libya eventually admitted responsibility for the Lockerbie crash but as Colonel Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam who is set to take over from his father in the future said in an interview with the BBC, "Yes we took responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing, we wrote a letter but it doesn't mean we in fact did it. What could we do? Without writing that letter we would not be able to get out of the sanctions. We had to, there was no other solution. It's a game. It's a win win game."

Megrahi was released after serving eight years of his sentence and is now back in Libya. Suffering from the most aggressive form of prostate cancer he is not expected to live more than three months. Evidence that was to be used to prove his innocence at his second appeal is now being used in Megrahi's autobiography. The question over whether or not Scotland was right to release Megrahi is still under debate.

Time is running out for Megrahi, and the question over whether he was a political fall guy, an innocent man or indeed guilty may never be answered. Time may also be running out for the relatives of the 270 who died in the Lockerbie bombing, and who, 20 years after the event, still have many unanswered questions.

You can find updates and detailed information on this case on the blog of Professor Robert Black QC. Thanks to Robert for placing this article on his blog. http://lockerbiecase.blogspot.com/

4 comments:

Caustic Logic said...

Hey, pretty good post here. Thumbsup. Keep an eye on Robert Black's blog (linked to this post, at bottom). Things are steadily churning along in the world's mind, if not its legal actions yet.

Garryc said...

Thanks, will take a look at that blog...

Anonymous said...

Not bad article, but I really miss that you didn't express your opinion, but ok you just have different approach

Garryc said...

Was trying to stay neutral but I think I failed on doing that.