Libya Blamed by "American" Six Weeks After Bombing

June 28 2010
updates/edits/links 6/30

Early 1989 was a time of intense recrimination between German authorities and their British and American counterparts over whose airport security failed on December 21 1988. One of the lesser charges hurled at the time also bears a then-oddball but now-familiar stamp of blame. On February 3 1989, based on what someone had told them, CBS News reported that Libyans may have been behind the whole thing. The Herald (Scotland) reported on this, and I thank to JREF forum member Spitfire IX for the tip.

Libyan link to Lockerbie blast
3 February 1989
“INVESTIGATORS believe that employees of Libyan Arab Airways in Frankfurt planted the bomb which destroyed a PanAm Jumbo jet four days before Christmas, killing 270 people in and around Lockerbie, according to the American television network CBS News.”

This is far too early for any of the bogus clues against Megrahi to have emerged. It’s also far too early to be motivated by Gulf War alliances mandating a blind eye to Syria, as some assess the motive. It doesn’t appear to be based on any evidence (see below), but it must have been based on something or it wouldn’t have been said.

“CBS said that at least 100 Libyan airline employees are intelligence operatives under the command of Abdullah Senoussi, who is related to the country's leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. Senoussie reportedly has a printing plant which produces forged luggage tags, among other documents.”

That certainly would not explain accused Fhimah’s later plot to flat steal Air Malta tags for the bombing, a "clue" that wouldn’t emerge for over two years. In fact, these sounds like hollow points of speculation, maybe just a handy occasion to again draw attention to Frankfurt while floating a novel solution to the embarrassing truth. Of course, only a few people would know this soon just how embarrassing that would be.

“The bomb, said by CBS to contain 20lbs of plastic explosives, was in a suitcase falsely labelled to fly to New York, via London, on flight 103. It was not searched, x-rayed, or even weighed-in at Frankfurt airport, where it was smuggled in through a ''back door,'' the TV report said, citing an American source.

CBS said the device was believed to be identical to a suitcase bomb found by West German police, in the days before the Lockerbie disaster, when they arrested 14 members of Jibril's Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command.”

There is no likeness, "identical" or otherwise, implied in the given description. Mot obviously, the ones seized were designed to blow up within 30-45 minutes or an hour (it's complicated) of leaving the ground, which has never fitted with an origin at Frankfurt or further out. Not with the blast 38 minutes after leaving London. Further, the only one of the PFLP-GC devices known of at the time contained 312 grams of Semtex-H, or well under one pound. Three found later were comparable, and the bomb used on 103 was at least that weight, and perhaps as high as 680 grams, based on the container damage. Again nowhere near this alleged 20 pound Libyan monster.

In fact, such small amounts of explosive could only work as fatally as happened on Soltice ’88 with the choicest placement within the luggage container - against the sloping outboard floor panel just two feet from the plane's skin. This is entirely possible by random baggage loading, but far less than a 50/50 shot. There’s still no guarantee, but at least a good 50/50, if the luggage is actually arranged by a terrorists who knows of the sweet spot. Someone else could then move it, or not move it. And of course that could only happen at Heathrow where the container was loaded, hundreds of miles from those dastardly Libyans at Frankfurt and their "back door" antics that still have never been elaborated.

That unspecified “American source” would have presumably been someone involved in an investigation. And we know the CIA’s probe into 103 was headed by Vincent Cannistraro, head of Agency’s counter-terrorism center. Previously, Cannistraro was one of Reagan’s make-s***-up-about-Libya men (See Maltese Double Cross – 42:40 mark). Along with Ollie North and Howard Teicher at the NSC, he used input from CIA and Deprtment of Defense to seed disinformation in the media to justify a policy of covert U.S. harassment of Col. Gaddafi up to coup plans and attempted assassination by Cruise missile, in 1986.

I’d bet money that Vincent Cannistraro was the source for this allegation. He’s friendly with the press, and always eager to tell them whatever’s convenient at the moment with some flair and no compunctions. The story had Libyan intel agents working through LAA at an airport connected to the Lockerbie bombing. The CIA at that time had Abdul Majid Giaka’s stories on file, mentioning both Megrahi and Fhimah as just such agents, but attachedto LAA at Luqa airport on Malta.

Of course, no further moves were made for quite a while, as investigators spent all of 1989 and 1990 at least publicly pushing the PFLP-GC leads - and increasingly Malta leads. Even the suspicious, possibly backdated evidence pointing at Libya was dated around May ’89 and not generally understood for around a year. If this is indeed an early stirring of Vince’s Libya solution, it was too early after waking from the haze of no leads that can be pursued. Libyan guilt rather than PFLP-GC/Syria/Iran probably did look nice and comforting passing through the national news, but just six weeks after the bombing, it was clearly something to come back to after a cup of coffee and a fistful of planted clues.

AVN 7511 PA and its Clues

June 25 2010

This site has previously covered aluminum luggage container AVE 4041 PA, which clearly had contained the explosive device that destroyed Flight 103. Of the many other container in the hold as the bomb went off, only one has any investigative importance – AVN 7511, same model but made of fiberglass, was parked next to the blast container, immediately aft, in position 21L.

Below are two illustrations from the AAIB’s report – a sketch by Mr. Claiden, and a photograph. This what would normally be called the back face of the container’s back wall, but was forward-facing when loaded. This surface was just inches from AVE 4041’s front side when the blast happened.
A container’s front (loading) side is open – apart from a small outboard side panel, it’s essentially one absent wall, with the bags secured in flight using a retractable blue tarp door that latches at the bottom. This would provide little protection to AVN 7511, but might help cause the dark spatters at lower right, directly opposite the blast zone. The marked cut-off of the mess on the right-hand side is the edge of the door/flap, where the metal side panel starts.

This whole container wall is cracked in several areas, and exactly what here is blast damage vs. damage from the fall and landing is unsure. But we know the bomb suitcase in the lower outboard corner of its container, roughly ten inches above floor level. Note a span of damage near the bottom, starting at about that height (I measured it). The outer layer of glossed fiberglass is removed, leaving the fibrous under-layer exposed. And at the right end of that, something seems to have punched a small hole clear through the container’s back wall (highlighted yellow in Claiden’s sketch).

This damage is in fact directly across from the precise blast center. Its sudden right vertical edge marks about the dead center, again cut-off by the door edge. Claiden cites this five-inch hole as the main clue establishing the level of the blast inside AVE 4041, consistent with a flat-laid case on the second level up. The reasoning seems sound enough. The hole itself by my measurement starts ten inches up, and its center is about 12.5 iches, suggesting the blast center is a tad higher than Claiden found, which I already suspected.

What punched the hole?
One explanation mentioned for this puncture is the securable metal end of AVE 4041’s retractable tarp door. This seems to ne the main explanation, and seems plausible enough, but this lone entry has some competition for what made it.

One piece of damaged luggage – a purple canvas carryall labeled PH/137 – held a clue. Actually it held two clues, pieces of magnesium suitcase frame called PT/22, found to be from the bottom (hinge) end of the primary suitcase. PH/137 was the subject of some contention at trial, being both London-origin luggage and apparently blast-damaged. It’s generally thought that all damaged luggage was in container AVE 4041 and none of that was of London origin. (This will be explained better elsewhere).

I’ve already posted some strangely evasive statements by Allen Feraday about his and Dr. Hayes’ treatment of this case. In the broader discussion I hadn’t seen then, the nagging question no one could answer clearly was whether this bag had been inside AVE 4041 or AVN 7511. No one can say for sure, but it does seem possible that those bits called PT/22 created that hole before burying themselves in that purple bag next door. Otherwise, it was in the same container, and raises some questions about what was in 4041.

A stranger culprit can be found in TSH/346, a severely distorted steel suitcase frame, found to be 2030 millimetres in length. That’s 80 inches, nearly seven feet. It was originally from a 29-inch blue, softshell American Tourister brand suitcase, apparently blasted open and flayed out. This important piece of luggage (as explained in a separate post) is thought to have been right under the bomb suitcase.

But among the items removed from this mammoth TSH/346 was PT/39(c), “a fragment of fibreglass/plastics from AVN 7511 PA.” Is it possible this whole length of frame was hurled across and smacked the top off that fiberglass? The whole broad strip of damage runs across about 55 inches, or nearly the whole door width.

Unlikely. The rough strip is neither above nor below the blast, as that American Tourister was thought to be. What should hit along that line is superheated debris from the Samsoinite holding the bomb, high-pressure explosive gasses, and a shower of melting tarp. Perhaps TSH/346 just partially impacted that lower portion in the center. And perhaps there’s a bit of theater in that fiberglass find. It wouldn’t be the first time something shady happened around that luggage.

My Home Base: The JREF Forum's Record on Lockerbie

"My JREF crew" and our Investigation so Far
June 24 2010
last update July 25

Some of my more dazzled readers might be wondering how I got so informed on the Lockerbie bombing, case, and controversies. I first learned about it in detail only late last year, at the discussion forum of the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF). I had joined the infamous community of skeptics in 2007 to get a better grip on some aspects of the 9/11 attacks and test my own half-informed hunches. I stopped arguing much about 9/11 after that, but as a “conspiracy theorist” at heart, I’ve decided to remain an outsider there, promoting a little more paranoia for the rationalists and a lot more rationalism for the paranoids.

Member Rolfe had been running a slow-moving discussion thread, for about as long as I was there, on questions over al Megrahi’s guilt for the crime. I had pretty much ignored it in my shifting but narrow focus, but after al Megrahi was released in August, the controversy spurred me to start reading Rolfe’s thread. I couldn’t even have named the “convicted Lockerbie bomber” at first, if not for it being in the title I’d seen bumped occasionally for two years. I did know there was doubt of that guy’s guilt, and there was a conspiracy theory about CIA drug operations in Germany that I was curious about – was it something to promote or terminate? What did happen with Flight 103 and the aftermath?

I was rather amazed at how shoddy the official case really was, and at the sheer number of questions presented. As usual, a closer look relegates some “clues’ to the disinfo/distraction pile but what remains after this, washed up and put back together, fairly shines with plausibility and reasons to keep it covered up. I’ve personally never seen such a rotten edifice of a big lie just waiting to be kicked over.

With Rolfe’s help, I got up to speed and shot on ahead with the details by year’s end. I can say it was as soon as there were two of us dedicated to the issue that critical mass was reached at that forum. Several other members got involved in earnest, new threads were started for specific issues. I scored a copy of the full trial transcripts and soon we were all analyzing that for clues (and some false starts), comparing with other sources – websites, books, videos…. Some members, (notably Buncrana) joined the JREF forum just to be in our growing discussions (and he’s helped immensely).

By now I think the three of us – Rolfe, Buncrana, and myself (as Caustic Logic) - are pretty much world class on the issue. Among the members who’ve benefitted by reading along, some of those who stand out for actually contributing in a meaningful way are: Glenn B, Ambrosia, Dan O., Architect, Snidely Whiplash, Jaggy Bunnet, Rat, Spitfire IX, Command Line Gamer, Professor Yaffle, and (in their own ways) Longtabber PE and McHrozni, plus many others I can't remember.

Collectively (not to put words in anyone's mouth), we pretty much agree on the following basics:
1) Megrahi didn't do it, and was actively framed (not just a mix-up). He wasn't a "patsy," and no Libyans were involved.
2) The true perps are, essentially, the Syrian-based PFLP-GC on behalf of Iran. The motive was of course the criminal destruction of Iran Air Flight 655. That's a good grievance and a good motive.
3) The bomb was of the altimeter style attributed to Marwan Khreesat. We aren't agreed if it was one of his or a copy made by Abu Elias (I lean to the latter)
4) The bomb was introduced at Heathrow airport in London, NOT, as universally claimed by CTists in the past, at Frankfurt. Juval Aviv style claims (the "drug swap theory") of an intro there via a CIA-protected heroin smuggling op, have been nothing short of a huge distraction. 9/11 is far from unique that way, I've found.
5) For a variety of reasons we still debate, the US and UK were embarrassed enough of the truths above (plus other points, like supposed allied agents being involved) that they concocted the entire Libyan guilt storyline and at least some of the evidence that supports it.
6) The timer fragment PT/35(b) is highly suspect of being planted.
7) The radio manual cover PK/689 is even more suspect.
8) The pivotal Frankfurt/Erac printout is dubious in a way that's been under-reported so far.
9) Etc!

Most of those who entered the discussion to “debunk” us failed and walked away after one post, never admitting defeat. Most members have stayed out of the discussion entirely, but there has been surprising amount of sporadic support from other members. At one point I declared, and no one challenged it, that the JREF forum take on Lockerbie, collectively, is that the official story is false, and Megrahi did not do it. Officially of course “the forum” holds no opinion, but the actual discussion points that way every time.

The following are liks to most of the relevant threads, mostly in the "Conspiracy Theories" sub-forum. There are some started by Rolfe in other sub-forums, and threads started by other that wound up with worthwhile comments, usually by Rolfe. I'll see about gathering those links as well. In fact, here's all threads tagged Megrahi and Lockerbie Bombing and Pan Am 103. The best and a couple others, in roughly chronologival order.

General Thread, (started 2007).
MST-13 timer fragment thread
Unaccompanied bag from Malta - evidence?
Tony Gauci and the Mystery shopper
Dialog on Lockerbie Theories
Motive Behind the Lockerbie Bombing
Identification of the Toshiba radio from PA103
Lockerbie: London Origin Theory

- Where in the World is Abu Elias?
Lockerbie Bomber Alive after 9 Months
(this one is huge, current, very informative (later on) and outside the CT forum, which is itself important)
- Lockerbie Appeal Documents to Remain Secret

Having achieved so much there, I felt the need to spread out elsewhere. For one, I joined the “US Politics” forum, where I won a bet that ”you cannot discuss Megrahi’s actual innocence in US Politics.” You can do a monologue, but it’s not the same. Trying to comment on a MSNBC article led me to start a “column” at Newsvine that I’m starting to like. I’m not sure how many views it’s getting, but it looks pretty slick.

And most recently by a fluke I was invited to a phone chat with Jeff Hill, semi-famous “9/11 Truth” phone activist, to discuss the Pentagon flyover theory and its proponents (a previous investigative obsession of mine). Along the way, I wound up taking “Lockerbie Truth” to Hill’s Pumpitout forum. It garnered me about a dozen new American viewers, and nearly as many Canadians, for a nice little boost nearer to home.

But along with some extra work and other obligations recently, the blog is slowing down for content, and my end of the ongoing JREF discussions has suffered. I think they’ll need to continue suffering, relatively. It’s been a workshop and mental gym and home base for me. But I need to get some other stuff done, including filling in some of the blanks at the Lockerbie Divide, working offline in 3D space to get this information before people of influence. Or something. I don’t have that part figured out just yet. Maybe the JREF crew can help me hash that out...

Primary Suitcase Fragments: Graphics

May 6 2010
last edits 21 September

This post is just to show a new graphic I like. Eddie of Ed's Blog City tipped me off that a photo I already had was of suitcase debris, which I'd been struggling to visualize (I thought it was damaged clothing. This seems to be the "photograph 49" referred to in trial questioning of Dr. Thomas Hayes of RARDE. Corbis Images has a version viewable here, and some site has a Corbis-stamped copy. The restrictions at that first link sound fierce, ad I'm not even sure I'm allowed to do what I did, which is trace my own, separate original, image from it.
(free to re-use)

No interior detail, but it's the shape and size of these 40 fragments. There are other chunks not shown - a number of smaller shards of shell plastics, and fabric-lined cardboard from the divider in the middle of the suitcase. Hmmm... wasn't the bomb in the middle? PI/68 in the lower right corner is the one sample of these in photo 49. PI/911, the monster at upper left is specially covered in detail in a separate post - Dr. Hayes at first felt it was on the floor of the container, which would make it other than the bomb suitcase. I think he might have been correct before changing his mind.

The color coding is based on Dr. Hayes' final report, describing each item by number and giving its material composition. So that's value added. Darker brown is hard shell plastics, tan is liner fabric, gold is rubber bumper trim, and gray is metal from the middle - latch parts and frame bits. It's less clear here than in the photo, but Hayes agrees PI/1806 is from the case's rounded corner. PK/1310A is thin lining cloth, not case plastic. It's amazingly large, 20 inches long, nearly the entire width of the case.

The slightly darkened area of the backdrop is the 22x26" size of the original suitcase this came from. Note this is well under even half of a suitcase. The frame runs all the way around it originally, as does the trim. The handle, the other half... Which half is this? Some of each? Why such variability in size? Many smaller pieces yet were never found and here are pieces a foot square. 20 inches of uninterrupted lining fabric? Cardboard?

The other suitcase that Bedford saw?

Update 21 Sept.
The following graphic shows all the largest fragments above, to approximate scale with the damaged floor of container AVE4041. The dark outline is primary-style case in floor position, the light one would be the bomb case stackedabove it and slid left into the "overhang" section. The span of lining, PK/1310A, has been draped across the area for reference. The other fragents are all just set above, again approximately to scale. (edit - looking again, I madeall the cunks a bit too big - about five or maybe ten percent too big. The concept is the same though - nearly 1/2 suitcase recovered, mostly in very large chunks)

What Did The British Know?

The Scots-German War Over Airport Security, part 1 of 2
June 20 2010

last update 21 November

The following is part essay, part compilation of long quotes. Two early books are drawn from throughout:
[E+D] Emerson, Steven and Brian Duffy “The Fall of Pan Am 103: Inside the Lockerbie Investigation” New York, G. P. Putnam’s Sons. April 1990. 283 pages.
[L] Leppard, David.On the Trail of Terror: The Inside Story of the Lockerbie Investigation. London, Jonathan Cape. May 1991. 221 pages.
The views expressed by those writers are not necessarily shared by this blogger – the exercise is to gather facts and attitudes, the zeitgeist, of this minor 1989 struggle of wills between two erstwhile allies in a major investigation.
The point of origin for the bomb – where it first left the ground - was of prime importance in the first weeks after the explosion of Pan Am 103 on 21 December 1988. Fresh in investigator’ memories, a cell of Iranian-commissioned "Palestinian" terrorists had been busted in West Germany with multiple altimeter bombs, just six weeks before the bombing. That one of these had struck was obviously a prominent suspicion.

The plane that was destroyed, a 747 named Clipper Maid of the Seas, was loaded from empty at Heathrow, taking on luggage that originated from the surface there, as well as bags that had come in from several other airports. A bomb like those found in Germany could only have worked, the conventional wisdom ran, if it had been introduced at London. If any other flight had taken it up first, that flight would have been killed, rather than 103. Steve Emerson and Brian Duffy explained, in their early 1990 book:
“If a barometer had triggered the bomb, as some investigators suspected, Heathrow was the likely place to try to get it aboard. “If it were a barometric device,” one official said, “it would have to trigger only once.” Placing a bomb on the 103 anywhere else, if it was barometric triggered, meant it would have to trigger more than once. “Much too complicated,” said a U.S. official briefed on the AAIB findings.” [E+D 156]
And the fear of discovering London origin was real. As David Leppard wrote in 1991, “if Heathrow had been to blame, the ramifications would have been severe: it would have meant that the bomb had probably been constructed in England by a new terrorist cell whose activities were unknown to the British security authorities,” and would have slipped through their air security system. [L 60] It would be heartening then to see the headline on the December 31 edition of the Times of London:


This was the opening shot of what could be called a war of words between British and German forces that would mar 1989. But their supporting evidence for such a bold claim was scant at first. Emerson and Duffy note that investigators first concluded the bomb “must have been placed on the right side of the plane," after finding luggage in the right inboard engine but none in the left two engines. It seems doubtful there enough of the engines left to tell this, but without further explanation, the book asserts that this finding "meant the bomb had almost certainly been sneaked aboard at Heathrow.” [E+D 156]

There is no "Heathrow luggage on the right side of the plane" rule, but it was this alone that the authors cite as leading to the initial “Frankfurt connection” British and American investigators decided by the end of December. The FBI had concluded, as a December 31 internal memo stated, that the bomb had “entered the Pan Am system at Frankfurt.” [E+D 160] They had hoped to keep it out of the news to prevent the terrorists knowing what they knew. “Like John Boyd, Judge Sessions and Buck Revell wanted to keep a close hold on the Frankfurt connection.” [E+D 160] It was therefore a minor disaster when the Times ran its New Year’s headline, we're told.

The reasoning did get slightly better than left-side-equals-not London, or at least it reads better in David Leppard’s book from 1991:
“Sir Peter Imberth, commissioner of the Metropolitan police, was naturally concerned about the possibility that the bomb had slipped through security at Heathrow […] It was therefore a great relief when it was proved within the first weeks that the bomb had been inside a pallet containing luggage which had passed through Heathrow from other airports.” [L 60]
For example, John Bedford's story, elicited in the first half of January 1989, has the matching suitcases of the presumed IED style appearing at the interline shed. While a Mr. Kamboj was in charge, he says, two hard-shell Samsonite-style cases, one or both of them brown, were laid on the container’s floor. Normally all bags coming in there are from another connecting flight, not from the surface. And it was accepted that the container was then filled with luggage from the 727 arriving from Frankfurt, leaving no room, officially, for first-time-up luggage.

But they had already said the bomb was in the Frankfurt luggage, which was all transferred to the container after its time at interline, about an hour after Bedford saw those bags - the only two reported that were so similar to the bomb-bag style. So these too had to be eliminated, and it was the damage assessment of the container – plus strained logic – that made the hit.

The British AAIB and Mr. Claiden had assessed the container’s remains early on and found the approximate blast center – lower outboard corner, not in direct contact with the floor but only one flat-laid case beneath it, and against the sloping floor panel. The closest spot to the airplane’s fuselage and thus the deadliest possible. The bags Kamboj vouched for were both flat on the floor, when Bedford saw them.

David Leppard cites joint British-American forensics tests carried out in April 1989 at Indian Head, MD as the main thing that helped the investigation “narrow down estimates by [the AAIB] about the exact centre of the explosion.” Overseen by RARDE’s Allen Feraday and FBI’s Tom Thurman, they confirmed the findings in general, but more importantly, “the tests also meant that the mysterious brown Samsonite reported by [Bedford] could be ruled out; it was not the bomb bag. Kamboj was in the clear.” [L 141]

But of course, well before these tests, the mood music was building up that Frankfurt would be it. The Germans sought to keep their own airport from being named, but got little support. British Transport Minister Paul Channon was one of the few willing to grant them any leeway. Regarding a conference in Montreal on 16 February 1989, Emerson and Duffy wrote:
“In the prepared text, Channon’s original statement read thus: “The reconstruction of the baggage container suggests that the explosive device may have been among the baggage from the Frankfurt flight.” In another, larger typeface, two lines had been inserted before that sentence: “it has not yet been firmly established where the bag which contained the device was originally loaded, but…” The night before Channon’s statement, Bonn’s minister of transport, Jurgen Warnke, had asked that there be no reference made to Frankfurt. The most he had been able to get from Channon was the hasty two-line insert.” [E+D 156-57]
Interestingly, Channon would be sacked shortly for failing to stick to the script regarding Lockerbie.

The same peculiar mix of repeated wishful thinking tinged with hints of the actual uncertainty are reflected in a talk by Senior Investigating Officer John Orr at the Lockerbie Incident Control Center (LICC) on March 28:
“To date 14 pieces of explosive-damaged baggage have been recovered and enquiries to date suggest that on the balance of probabilities the explosive device is likely to be amongst the Frankfurt baggage items. Of all the currently identified explosion-damaged luggage all but one item originated from Frankfurt.” [L 100, italics in LICC original]
As will become clear later in the essay, these are all flimsy supports that don’t add up to what was claimed – solid reason to be sure of Frankfurt origin. The evidence claimed now, the Frankfurt printout, didn’t fully surface until August 1989. The desperate flailing for proof before this might seem strange at first blush, but the reasons above were not likely the real ones for the decision made. A whole other set of knowledge seems to be at work in dismissing Heathrow, and it’s the very abundance of London origin clues.
Next: Part 2: What did the Germans Know?

Frankfurt Airport's Missing Computer Records

Adam Larson / Caustic Logic
finished March 9 2010
last edit March 10 1am

An Urgent Inquiry?
Following the historic fall of Pan Am 103 onto Scotland, the world’s law enforcers and investigators sprang into action to sort out what had happened and how. A short six days after the bombing, on December 27 1988, a news article reported that:
“The New York-bound flight originated as a Boeing 727 from Frankfurt, West Germany, with a change of planes at London’s Heathrow airport. Federal police in West Germany and the commander of Scotland Yard’s anti-terrorist squad last week began investigations at those airports.” [1]
More properly, an official feeder flight called PA103A, a Boeing 727, brought 47 passengers and their luggage from Frankfurt to London, where 103 itself (a 747, Clipper Maid of the Seas, with 243 passengers) originated. So about 20% of the flight originated in Germany, and if Pan Am had let a bomb through, it was at one of these two airports. So no surprise agents were swarming on both before Christmas Eve.

One German whose opinion matters here was airport employee Bogomira Erac, whose diligence seems to have solved the troubles we’ll deal with below. At the Zeist rtrial in 2000 she related first learning of PA103’s explosion en route to NY after work that night. “On the news it said the plane came from Frankfurt,” she testified. “I thought it was a direct flight. I didn't know anything more than that.” [2] The better informed police knew the tragic flight had a partial start point at Frankfurt airport, and should have gone there looking for exactly one thing: data on the luggage sent onto the plane that blew up.

German federal authorities with the BKA (BundesKriminalAmt) had at their disposal Frankfurt Main’s world-class computerized luggage system. This routed many thousands of bags a day on mechanized conveyors, every movement controlled and recorded by a central computer. All bags routed to 103A could be identified and tracked with some precision, compared with other flights and with paper logs. All of this should have been just a print command away.

The Eight-Month Blank Spot
The BKA came away empty-handed, it seems. Even working closely with their German counterparts, for eight months neither the Scottish police nor the FBI had direct record of the day’s luggage routing, not even for the feeder flight they were increasingly suspecting. Investigators were already, on their own, fudging away John Bedford’s story with unfounded forensic decisions about luggage arrangement to disprove a London origin. They were already speculating about a Khreesat bomb with modifications to fit it a journey from Frankfurt or beyond, without the hard data that would later back it up.

It wasn’t until mid-August 1989 that the “Frankfurt printout” saved the day, and since then is touted as the revolutionary evidence proving the bomb came from Malta, through Germany, and only briefly passed through Heathrow. The blind interim of nearly eight months is often ignored, and when mentioned it’s usually pinned on mysterious German failings. David Leppard wrote that Senior Investigating Officer John Orr had been asking for the 103A records “since early January,” and noted “the delay was never satisfactorily explained by the BKA.” [3] Leppard also mentioned the BKA’s own, earlier “work on the baggage-loading list, and wrote, damningly “had the BKA drawn the proper conclusions from their work […] it is likely that the bombers of PA103 would today be behind bars.” [4]

As noted by Leppard, the BKA reports attached to the printout, the careful work showing a Malta origin bag with no passenger, were both dated February 2 1989. This does show a puzzling delay of six-and-a-half months before surrendering it to the Scots that has got to have an interesting explanation. However, another puzzle glossed over by Leppard and nearly everyone else on all sides of the Lockerbie issue, is why the BKA themselves didn’t get the printout until over a month after the crash.

It’s no secret that Mrs. Erac, who printed this evidence as a personal keepsake the day after the attack, was never asked for it or offered it up until late January 1989. [5] This means the BKA reports indeed were done upon belated receipt of the evidence.And the related and larger question is, since all agree that stray souvenir wound up being THE evidence for what went onto PA103A, why does no one seem to wonder or much care why that was the case? Why hadn’t police gotten the relevant data right off the central computer on, say, December 22, like Bogomira did?

Live Data
From various readings and reasoning on my own part, the luggage routing system ran thus: each item of luggage was placed in a tray (“coded”), each with a unique number (or code, running approximately 00000-12000). [6] The central computer would reconcile each tray number with a flight destination from the luggage tags. As the items kept in constant motion on mechanized conveyors, the central computer would read periodic scanner returns and direct the machinery to route each tray where it needed to go. Every signal sent to or from the computer could be stored in its active memory.

As the Zeist Court gave their understanding, in 2001: “it was possible, for a limited period, to identify all the items of baggage sent through the system to a particular flight. After some time, however, that information would be lost from the system.” [7] A November 1991 article from the UK Observer, revealing the role of Mrs. Erac’ for the first time, explained:
“The vital computer evidence […] would have been lost forever if the woman operator had not kept her own record. […] She knew records relating to baggage loaded on to flights were kept in the system for only a limited time [eight days] before being wiped.” [8]
To be quite clear, the computers were running and recording on December 21, and the information was able to be printed, says the printout of the key data from the next day. That was held in the computer for eight days or a week in normal circumstances. Investigators were there by three days after a major airliner bombing presumably looking for a copy of just this data.

Printouts and Data Tapes
Now if we accept that the BKA had forgotten to snag this data on their presumed visit, we have a separate poor decision by the airport authority. The FAG (Frankfurt Airport Group) also must have failed to make an official copy before the memory was cleared. Legendary Lockerbie researcher Ian Ferguson was able to speak with an anonymous man described as “The expert who helped design the baggage system in place at Frankfurt airport in 1988 and familiar with the operating software”
"He was puzzled when he saw how short the printout out was and explained that there was no need to print a very small extract from the baggage system traffic, as a full back-up tape was made. This would have shown all the baggage movements at Frankfurt airport that day." [9]
Ferguson explained to the expert “that the system was purged every few days and that no back-up tape existed,” he responded: "This is not true." He admitted "of course it is possible no back-up tape was made for that particular day,” but explained that the FAG would usually keep such records simply to meet insurance claims for lost baggage. [10] And they would surely learn within hours that a flight originating from there had exploded, and that a backup was still not ordered by them, on top of the failure of the feds to make a copy is… let’s just say troubling.

In contrast to the expert’s recollection, Mrs. Erac said in 2000 “it would be possible then to copy the data onto disks.” [11] Somehow tape sounds more plausible in a system first set up in the mid-1970s, but disc storage, and perhaps a dual system would make sense. That this central brain would wind up blank by accident just when it was needed most seems unlikely.

Erac also spoke to routine paper printouts that would be kept on file for some time. A few days after her return from holiday, she recalls, “Mr. Berg just asked me to take a look in the archive in order to see whether there were teletype printouts. These were the things which came automatically from the computer. But I couldn't find anything.” [12] Routine prints gone. Special official prints not done. Tape or disk backup, routine or investigative, failed to appear. Police copies, nil.

But a personal memento copy, out of the investigative loop for weeks, altered for all we know, and certainly with no other copies to check against, is later acknowledged and accepted despite its broken chain of custody.

Listless in Pursuit of the List?
The only mentions one will find of the lack of early knowledge is in connection with the problem being solved by Bogomira’s Printout. The Observer’s introductory article of 1991 said that after her return from holiday in mid-January, “she was surprised to learn that no one had shown any interest in the computer records.” [13] Each has their own way of couching this odd failure; the BBC’s 2008 Conspiracy Files episode said "after the crash, surprisingly, the German police hadn’t fully investigated all the luggage records at the airport." [14] Having looked at all available information, I can safely say it’s a guess that the police just didn’t fully look – they either didn’t look at all for the one part they needed, or it wasn’t there when they looked, or they found it and then covered it up. It’s never been clarified which of these happened.

Whatever the book got wrong, Coleman and Goddard’s Trail of the Octopus is useful in this area, summarizing the due incredulity over this development:
"If the new Malta/Libyan theory was to replace the established Iran/PFLP-GC scenario, it was necessary, first of all, to believe that no one thought to ask for the baggage-loading lists for Flight 103A as soon as terrorist action was suspected -- which was almost at once.

It was necessary to believe that no one in any of the British, German and American police, intelligence and accident inquiry agencies who had a hand in investigating the disaster, or anyone who was in any way involved with airport management or security at Frankfurt or London, thought to secure the baggage lists as the one indispensable tool that would be needed to unravel the mystery of how the bomb got aboard.

It was necessary to believe that the only person who considered the lists to be at all important was a lowly computer operator at Frankfurt airport."
And finally, none too helpful is a discrepancy revealed in Leppard’s book regarding the February 1989 reports attached to the printout. For these, the BKA had interviewed Gunther Kasteleiner, in charge of baggage flow to 103A. His interviewer wrote into the report “by a coincidence, the record of baggage transported […] for flight PA103 on 21.12.88 is still stored in the computer.” [16] This report then is in stark contrast to the story we now have that it was all wiped well before then and the souvenir saved the day. Leppard does however say “the BKA had obtained a print-out of this record from Kurt Berg.” [17] This, we now know, was Bogomira’s supervisor, to whom she handed the printout and by whom it was taken to the BKA at the end of January. But investigators were saying that Berg had gotten this off the computer itself, a month after the police couldn’t find it there. That could be a simple erred presumption, or a sign that a shifting cover-story was attached to this, and it changed later.

[1]“Crash Investigators Studying Suitcase; bodies identified.” The Arizona Republic December 27, 1988. Accessed March 5 2010 at:
[2] Camp Zeist trial transcription, Day 47, 30 August 2000. p 6662.
see also: full testimony, on-line posting.
[3] Leppard, David.On the Trail of Terror: The Inside Story of the Lockerbie Investigation. London, Jonathan Cape . 1991. 221 pages. p 151
[4] ibid. p 157.
[5] Erac testimony, p 6666
[6] Using the Erac printout as representative and randomly spread, its sequential tray numbers (with no connection to coding time) top off at 12224.
[7] In the High Court of Justiciary at Camp Zeist. Case no. 1475/99. Opinion of the Court. Delivered 31 January 2001. Paragraph 27. PDF link:
[8] Coleman, Lester and Donald Goddard. Trail of the Octopus - From Beiruit to Lockerbie, Inside the DIA. 1993. Online posting, chapter 7, unpaginated.
[9], [10] Ferguson, Ian. The Judges Got it Wrong. Sunday Times (Malta) 10 May 2009. Re-post:
[11], [12] Erac testimony p 6668, 6666-67
[13] See 8.
[14] "The Conspiracy Files: Lockerbie." Prod/Dir Guy Smith, Ex Prod Sam Anstiss, Narr Caroline Catz. BBC Two. First Aired 31 August 2008. 25:12
[15] See 8.
[16], [17] Leppard, p 152

A Message from Dr. Jim Swire

I'm quite honored to have received a comment by e-mail from the eminent Dr. Jim Swire. Received and re-posted Jan 28 2010. Links added to text May 24.
What an interesting site.

A number of us long ago abandoned belief in the Malta point of origin for the bag.

The judges themselves at Zeist pointed out that there was no evidence as to how Megrahi was supposed to have broken Luqa's security, and it now appears, with the second appeal materials available (on untrue that Megrahi rather than Talb could have been the buyer of the clothing from Marie's House.

However it was the technology of Jibril's PFLP-GC IEDs which was presented at Zeist by (W) Germany's Herr Goble which first revealed what you had to believe in as coincidence, to accept the prosecution case. He showed that these IEDs were stable on the ground indefinitely, but because of their air-pressure switch (which took 7 mins from take-off to switch on the timer) and their timers which were crude (analog and not adjustable by the user) all running for around 30 minutes, they were obligated to explode around 37 minutes after take off. PA103 was airborne for 38 minutes before being destroyed.

Yet we had to believe that the Malta origin, using an adjustable digital timer which could easily have been set for a mid Atlantic explosion 'just happened'... etc etc.

In those days no one in the court knew that there had been a break-in to the appropriate sector of the Heathrow perimeter early in the morning of the disaster.
That was concealed for 12 years (till after the Zeist verdict) when the Heathrow guard (Manly: deceased)asked the defence why his evidence had not been used despite the Metropolitan police special branch having grilled him almost immediately.

Presumably Henderson's policemen must have heard about it, but the Crown Office has denied to me in writing that they knew about it.

Since the break-in was fully documented and opened an obvious route whereby the suitcase that Bedford saw (before the Frankfurt flight had even landed) might have been brought into the airport and left perhaps with the Iran air personnel close by to put in the PanAm container while Bedford was out of the shed, one can assume that even the Zeist court could not have accepted that the Malta story was true against such a clear and simple alternative explanation.

Who concealed the Heathrow evidence for 12 years and why?

Since the airport knew it had been broken into immediately, but did not know who had broken in, nor with what motive, why did they not suspend flights immediately till a satisfactory explanation was found?.

These questions will have now to be answered.

All who display independent thought about this disaster are welcome in the fight to lay the fallacies of the 'official version' open to analysis, and to the public's sight.

- Jim, father of Flora, a victim of Lockerbie, who just wants to know who murdered her and why they were not prevented from doing so.

"Emotional Blackmail"

Deals, Appeals, and Megrahi's "Compassionate" Release
Adam Larson (Caustic Logic)
April 20 2010
last edit May 18 1 am

*Note: There are some aspects of this issue I'm not 100% clear on, like the continuity of PTA deals. Some of this is hashed out in the comments section below.

See also Professor Black's response at The Lockerbie Case and comments there.
There was much talk last year about a suspected deal over the release by Scottish authorities of convicted but innocent “Lockerbie bomber” Abdelbaset al Megrahi. The vast majority of the discussion skips over the subject of this article and obsesses over images of Brits caving to a Libyan trade of oil access for its terrorist back. It’s rather a crude construct, and technically untrue, but oil was a factor in earlier negotiations headed by the UK government back to 2007 - a prisoner transfer agreement (PTA) scheme pursued following Libya’s rapprochement with the West. [1] As talks with London dragged on towards 2009, it became clear that neither a newly-Nationalist Scotland nor the United States would agree to a PTA, and that option eventually faded away, as Professor Robert Black put it, “to the considerable annoyance and distress of the Libyans, who had been led to believe that repatriation under the PTA was only months away.” [2]

Now, for such an arrangement to have gone ahead, any outstanding appeals had to be closed. And yet for the two years that PTA agreements were considered, both defense and the Crown (prosecution) had appeals pending: the Crown had an appeal against leniency of sentence and Megrahi had his second appeal of the conviction (the first was controversially dismissed in 2002). [3] Scottish Courts had made him “convicted Lockerbie bomber” and only they could undo it in the right way. Besides, once an appeal is dropped by the applicant, it cannot legally be revived by anyone. So while Megrahi had reportedly said he'd surrender this appeal if a transfer was ever approved, [4] until that unlikely event, he kept it open to clear his name if at all possible.

Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill eventually made the decision for release on other grounds entirely, following Megrahi’s diagnosis in July 2008 with advanced prostate cancer. A controversial (and somewhat mysterious) July 2009 prognosis gave the prisoner perhaps three months to live, the key point at which release is mandated. There was no need for oil interests, or any other trades – the only requirement for compassionate release is that the applicant contracts a terminal, incurable disease and be expected to die quite soon.

There is an application process, where the Justice Secretary decides to approve or deny the request, but so long as the prognosis is good, such appeals had always been approved. There was American pressure to make an exception and deny the request, but to judge by MacAskill's later statements, he would have made the decision to release no matter what, as it was the right thing to do. Importantly, when a prisoner is released on compassion grounds, appeals can be left open for a successor to clear one’s name posthumously.

The Cost of Compassion?
Yet just as the prognosis and decision to release were made official and announced, Megrahi also, suddenly, dropped his appeal. Following the prognosis and Megrahi's appeal for the compassion out in late July 2009, Justice Secretary MacAskill made an unprecedented visit to the prisoner’s cell for an unknown discussion [5] (alternately reported as August 4, 5, or 6). This was followed a week later by Megrahi’s mysterious request to surrender the fight on August 12. That same day, the BBC broke the story of his imminent release [6], and indeed the High Court of Justiciary accepted Megrahi’s plea on the 18th and graciously closed the appeal, dooming him to permanent legal guilt. [7] Megrahi was released and flew away two days later, or eight months ago today, in what officially is a separate development.

While it’s been denied strenuously by the Scots, many sources at the time, seeing this rapid chain of events, simply stated things like “Libyan Lockerbie bomber Al-Megrahi drops appeal, paves the way for compassionate release.” [8] And Megrahi’s own words seem to show that he himself felt, deeply and tragically, that the two were linked. In an open letter to the people and system of Scotland of August 20, the day of his release, he again proclaimed his innocence and said in part:
"Many people, including the relatives of those who died in, and over, Lockerbie, are, I know, upset that my appeal has come to an end; that nothing more can be done about the circumstances surrounding the Lockerbie bombing.
I share their frustration. I had most to gain and nothing to lose about the whole truth coming out - until my diagnosis of cancer.
I have been faced with an appalling choice: to risk dying in prison in the hope that my name is cleared posthumously or to return home still carrying the weight of the guilty verdict, which will never now be lifted.
The choice which I made is a matter of sorrow, disappointment and anger, which I fear I will never overcome."
Clearly, he’d somehow gotten the idea that abandoning the appeal was connected to returning home. It was an “appalling choice” he was somehow “faced with,” and took the home route. Nine days later Herald Scotland confirmed that Megrahi had “dropped his appeal against the conviction because he would not live to see its outcome and was desperate to return to his family.” "It is all about my family," they quoted him saying. "People have said there was pressure from the Libyan authorities or Scottish authorities, but it wasn't anything like this." [10] Perhaps there really was no squeeze, but something went quite wrong here, and others can see it too:
"I saw Megrahi not so long ago and apart from his number one priority of seeing his family he was absolutely determined to clear his family’s name and prove his innocence […] If he had found a way to do both I know he would have chosen that route. That’s why I’m highly surprised by his decision to drop the appeal and why I believe he has been leaned on.” - Member of Scottish Parliament Christine Grahame, August 14 [11]
“I cannot know what exactly happened but I believe that the UK and Scottish government wanted the appeal to be dropped and somehow it was dropped […] I think there may have been some kind of deal. One part of the deal was to have the appeal dropped and the other part was the release on compassionate grounds.” - Former UK ambassador to Libya, Oliver Miles [12]

Confusing Compassion
For the curious decision to finally surrender the fight for his name, the reason Megrahi gives is to be at home one last time. And that simply does not compute with the normal rules of Compassionate Release. It would be a very confused man who’d do that, and one can only wonder how he got that befuddled. Scottish law magazine/website The Firm stepped in during this process on August 12 to address a scandal reported to them by “sources within the Scottish Government Justice Department.” In a meeting the day before, the Libyan attendees were told “if Megrahi is to be granted compassionate release he must first drop his appeal […] This was the rammed home to the Libyans at their meeting with the Minister yesterday,” the Firm’s source said. [13]

The site publicly asked the Scottish government for “reassurance … that Megrahi’s return home is not being made conditional upon his dropping his appeal. Justice must be done, though the heavens may fall. That time, surely, is now.” The following day, a governmant spokesman responded “In answer to the simple question posed by The Firm, the answer is “No."" [14]

Megrahi was reportedly set to drop his appeal anyway, and the UN's knoweldgeable observer at the Zeist trial, Dr. Hans Köchler, implied deliberate confusion of the prisoner. Köchler told the Firm that “certain quarters confronted [Megrahi] with the alternative of either giving up his appeal in order to be sent back to Libya on the basis of a recently ratified “prisoner exchange agreement” between the UK and Libya – or die in a Scottish jail.” He further urged MacAskill to “act without further delay” to simply grant compassionate release and so “allow the appeal to continue and avoid the circumstances of “emotional blackmail"" inherent in the existing arrangement. [15]

The answer MacAskill et al. had given was “no,” they were not placing such a deal before Megrahi, yet even with this assurance presumably communicated to the applicant, he continued to link the two in his words and his "personal decision" we're to believe arose only from the terrorist's own mysterious whims. Perhaps the dying man decided to just cash in all his chips in a desperate flailing bid to secure his release in as many ways as possible, but that contradicts the shrewdness he's shown before and after. I simply cannot buy it. (I could entertain moves that account for that shrewdness, but needn't go into them here.)

A Bad Turn and a New Beginning
Quashing the appeal wasn’t in the interests of the “convicted Lockerbie bomber,” nor in the interests of the families of the victims he’s convicted of killing. At least some of those acknowledge the loss; Pamela Dix, whose brother died in the bombing and who now heads the UK survivors’ group, said:
"My immediate feeling is of great disappointment if the appeal does not go ahead. Further useful information may or may not have appeared through Megrahi's appeal process. At the moment there is no other process or procedure ongoing to tell us how the bombing was carried out, why it was done, the motivation for it and who ordered it. As the British Government are aware, we will continue pressing for the independent inquiry that has been denied to us to date primarily because of the ongoing criminal case.” [16]
No convincing official explanation for Megrahi’s motive has ever been offered. While it has little traction with anyone knowledgeable. there is a theory that Megrahi knew he was guilty and was simply ending the charade. This was stated explicitly by the Telegraph's foreign affairs editor Con Coughlin - after calling August 20 "a black day" for Scotland and before suggesting US sanctions on the sitting government at Holyrood, Coughlin used the dropped appeal as proof of guilt:
"[Megrahi] remains the only person to have been convicted of the worst terrorist atrocity committed on British soil [...] he planted the bomb that killed 270 people [...] we have no reason to believe it was anyone other than Megrahi who placed the fatal device because he dropped his appeal against conviction shortly before Mr McAskill made his shameful decision." [17]
Likewise, no legal justification was ever given for tacking PTA requirements onto a compassionate release, but it worked out exactly as if that’s what happened. Mr. Megrahi talks as if he’d been forced into such a deal, and many others report such arrangements actually being forced.

I’d guess that while deciding to surrender, Mr. Al Megrahi also – shrewdly - plotted to release his case to the world and appeal to the court of public opinion after his return. Of course he did so, and controversially, and the retrial is by default in session. Legal courts have more direct power, of course, but get forced into blind alleys by being unable to question planted evidence and the like. In the court now running, scattered and confused as it is, all avenues are open, and the truth is finally coming out in force.
[1] United Press International. "Straw: Oil a factor in Libya prisoner pact." September 6 2009.
[2] Black, Robert. Commentary attached to post "Straw Denies Megrahi Release was Connected to Trade Deals" The Lockerbie Case (blog). 30 August 2009.
[3] Scottish Parliament. Justice Committee Report SP Paper 383 J/S3/10/R3 3rd Report, 2010 (Session 3) "The decision on Abdelbaset al-Megrahi." 5 February 2010. para 36.
[4] See [3]. paragraph 42.
[5] Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi (Decision). Scottish Parliament debates, 2 September 2009, 9:34 am
[6, 12] MacLeaod, Angus. "I suspect deal over al-Megrahi appeal, says former ambassador" The Times. August 31 2009.
[7] "Lockerbie bomber allowed to drop appeal." Canadian Broadcasting corporation. August 18 2009.
[8] "Libyan Lockerbie bomber Al-Megrahi drops appeal, paves the way for compassionate release." Associated Press. August 18 2009.
[9] BBC News "In Full: Statement From Megrahi." August 20 2009.
[10] "Lockerbie : Al Megrahi says public inquiry must take place into bombing of Pan Am Flight 103." Scottish Law Reporter (blog). August 29 2009.
[11] Taylor, Jerome. "Al-Megrahi 'pressured into abandoning appeal'" Independent. August 14 2009.
[13, 14, 15] "Path cleared for Megrahi’s compassionate release as government confirms “No” to pressure claims." The Firm. August 13 2009.’s_compassionate_release_as_government_confirms_“No”_to_pressure_claims.html
[16] "New cover-up claims as Lockerbie bomber drops his appeal." Daily Mail. August 15 2009.
[17] Coughlin, Con. "The release of the Lockerbie bomber is a black day for the Scottish government." 20 August 2009.

Corrections for the Daily Fail

June 7 2010

The Daily Mail (London), sometimes called the Daily Fail, just ran a rather obnoxious little piece about former PM Tony Blair's alleged consultancy with the Gaddafis in Libya. Their basis was a comment by Saif Gaddafi, Muammar's son, in which he called Blair "a personal family friend" and frequent visitor. Most importantly "he's adviser to the LIA, the Libyan Investment Authority. He has some consultancy role," Gaddafi said, explaining "Tony Blair has the right to earn money."

"If true," the article opined, "the claims will plunge Mr Blair - now a Middle East peace envoy - into a fresh row over potential conflicts of interest between his public and private roles." Indeed, claims causing a row is something that's not hard to see coming. Blair and his people denied flatly any role, even unpaid, with the LIA or Tripoli, but the Labour Godfather isn't convincing at the moment. There are at the least some variety in how one defines consultancy, and what constitutes "with" the LIA vs. someone else working with them, etc.

However, I'm not interested in that issue. I just didn't like the tone of their article in emphasizing what's wrong with cozying up to the Gaddafis - Pan Am 103 / Megrahi. They show no deviation from the standard manipulations.
Last night, families of the 270 Lockerbie victims accused Mr Blair of breaking bread with people who 'have blood on their hands'.

They have in the past raised questions about Mr Blair's relationship with Colonel Gaddafi especially over a prisoner transfer agreement with Libya that paved the way for the return of the Lockerbie bomber last year.

Saif made clear that the agreement - drawn up when Mr Blair was prime minister - was key to creating a 'special relationship' between Britain and Libya.

I could suggest more, but here are three important corrections. First, “families of the 270 Lockerbie victims” should be “Frank Duggan.”
Frank Duggan, president of the Victims of Pan Am Flight 103, told the Mail: 'If this is true, I guess this is Tony Blair's reward from the Libyan government for what he has done.
'It's important for world peace that Libya is brought back into the community of nations but that doesn't mean that you have to honour people with blood on their hands.'
Mr. Duggan was elected president of their brainwashed group, but he isn't even one of the 270 victims' relatives, let alone "families of the 270." And “have blood on their hands” should be “accused of having blood on their hands.” Only megrahi himself has a conviction, one other has an indictment, and the rest nothing but accusations, with all levels of allegation false (or, more precisely, unsupported).

And finally, these said victims “have in the past raised questions about Mr Blair's relationship with Colonel Gaddafi especially over a prisoner transfer agreement with Libya..." Cut there, this is accurate and worthy of discussion. The rest of the sentence, however, is grossly misleading. "... that paved the way for the return of the Lockerbie bomber last year.”

No. Terminal cancer and a questionable prognosis paved the way for Megrahi’s release. Blair’s ridiculous PTA scheme paved the way for Kenny MacKaskill to “consider it” alongside Compassionate Release, just enough to, it seems to me, trick Megrahi into dropping his appeal. An open appeal is allowed with Compassionate Release, but for not for a PTA. For all we know, the charade of reviving the Prisoner swap just at that time masked an explicit appeal-for-freedom swap - perhaps worked out in that secret jail cell meeting. It could be said the prisoner must have just gotten confused about his method of release.

I was thanked for registering and agreeing to the rules and for "adding a comment to MailOnline." I was informed "Comments on this article are being checked in advance. We aim to publish as many as possible. [...] If your comments do not appear, this may be due to the volume we receive or due to the content of your comment." Well, all the "enlightened" comments that did appear, "moderated in advance," did so in a 3.5 hour span. They were just too flooded with hate to let even a peep of a counter-point through. Terribly sorry.

So it's not my content, but the colour of comment that they are so good at drawing out in great masses. Which raises one last correction:
The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.
Not "necessarily," but it is uncanny how the article and comments tend to line up, and I would guess in this case the paper's own views are in fact represented.
Source: "Tony Blair our very special adviser by dictator Gaddafi's son." By Nabila Ramdani TimShipman, and Peter Allen. Daily Mail/Mail Online. June 5 2010. "Read more:"

Timeline: Toshiba Radio Identification

June 4/5 2010

The following is a detailed timeline of the establishment of the radio model used for the IED that took down Flight 103. Led by Mr. Allen Feraday and Dr. Thomas Hayes of RARDE in 1989, the model they decided on was a black Toshiba BomBeat RT-SF16, was sold largely (76%) to a Libyan company. Thus, the very radio model became another clue of Libyan guilt, and like the rest became full of strange inconsistencies suggestive of a fraudulent investigation.

The dates are as given. Fudging and backdating cannot always be ruled out. There is in fact a serious and obvious insertion of pages within pages and apparently a missing original page 50 (a new twist on an old anomaly, to be explained soon). This affects the alleged timeline May 12-15. Emphasis is on radio case plastics, main circuit board, and user's manual. Speaker mesh, speaker magnets, a screw, some wires, and other bits appear sporadically but not worth this level of dredging for you or for me.

Note on evidence labeling: In example item PI/995, the "P" means property (evidence), the “I” indicates search sector it was found in (sectors ran A-K), and the number should mean the 995th item found or logged in I sector. PT however means evidence removed from other items (PT/35 was found inside PI/995, for example). Again, the numbers within the PT category are supposed to be sequential – PT/35 should be found right after PT/34. Such a label is often attached to all debris found within a piece, subdivided by letter (ex: PT/35(a), PT/35(b), etc.)
  • Late Dec and into 1989: Dr. Hayes’ examinations work (mostly) alphabetically, from PA/ to PB/ etc. It will take a while to get to PH/, PI/ and PK/ where the bomb damaged material and radio remains will be concentrated.
  • mid-Jan (date not noted): Thomas Claiden at AAIB finds a lump of materials, trapped in a fold of a data plate for container AVE4041. He hands it back to the police.
  • Jan 17: This is received by RARDE, and designated evidence AG/145. The largest fragment (left) is app. 10x6 mm, and another marked “02” was about 5mm sq.
  • Jan 17-22: Feraday: "very early on, I thought we'd probably got a white case, because I'd got white fragments with that AG/145 fragment." No others would surface ever.
  • Jan 23-25: Mr. Feraday takes a trip to Germany “to compare the Lockerbie circuit board fragments (AG/145) with the radio/cassette device recovered in Germany [Khreesat’s BomBeat 453].” No match. For one, Khreesat’s was black.
  • Feb 2: Feraday goes to Toshiba UK headquarters at Camberley, Surrey. He examined “over 130” service data sheets and found the AG/145 pattern “was tentatively identified as originating from a Toshiba brand portable radio/cassette player, model number RT-8016.” A same-day physical examination of that model supported that.[3023-24]
  • Feb 3: Feraday sends a memo to Senior Investigating Officer John Orr: “I am completely satisfied that these fragments originate from a Toshiba brand radio stereo cassette recorder types RT-8016 or RT-8026 […with] a white plastics case.”
  • March 15: last entry in Dr. Hayes’ examination notes for two months - next entries are in mid-May.
  • April 18-21: Indian Head forensics tests, Maryland. Five blasts in luggage containers are set up by Feraday. He prepares all the devices, using the RT-8016 in all. He personally oversees the low-end test, using 360 grams Semtex-H. He makes no detailed report, relying on DCI Bell’s police report, which he’s not even sure RARDE got a copy of.
  • April 23-May 1: Feraday visits Toshiba HQ, Japan, learns the board he’s looking at was put in seven different models. One and only one of these is, surprisingly, given the BomBeat title - the RT-SF16. Identical to the 8016 except for the black case. And it had its Libya links
  • ??: Control sample PR/105 is obtained – RT-SF16 new in its box. The owner’s manual is “removed” from this “evidence” and dubbed PT/1. PT otherwise means actual blown-up evidence removed from other real evidence. Here they emphasize the “removal “ of PT/1 from “evidence” PR/105. 
  • May 11: radio manual cover PK/689 is received at RARDE. Supposedly from the bomb and found in a field in K sector near the North Sea, it’s ripped but can be read to announce “..Hiba … o cassette recorder … SF16 … BomBeat SF16.” It matched the control PT/1. Gosh, why didn't they call this in earlier? Afterwards, items are said to be from the RT-SF16. However, see June 30.
  • May 12 (by lab notes): “PT/2” is discovered – five crumpled bits of paper, consistent with same spot on most pages of PT/1. Found in clothing PI/995, along with (but not included in) PT/35. PT/35 included 11 bits of black plastics PT/35(a), the famous PT/35(b) (non-radio), and speaker mesh PT/35(c).
  • May 15: Hayes discovers black case plastics PT/41(a), and PT/42(c). 
  • May 16: Hayes examines PK/689 (above, left). “And I've concluded there that the two-page fragment of paper appears to have survived a close-range explosion involvement.” Hayes discovers case plastics PT/34(b), manual papers PT/34(c).
  • May 18: Hayes discovers case plastics PT/38(b), PT/40(b), PT/48(b), PT/78. Manual PT/40(c)
  • Mid-May, presumably (dates unavailable) – Hayes discovers case plastics PT/32(b), PT/33(b), PT/36(d), PT/37(a), PT/53(a), PT/56(a), and PT/61(b).
  • May 22: Hayes finds manual scraps PT/56(c).
  • June 1: Hayes finds PT/31, ten tiny bits of RT-SF16 manual, examining the 'blue Babygro' PK/2209.
  • June 8: Hayes discovers tiny radio circuit board fragment PT/30 embedded in suitcase fragment PK/2128. It’s about 4mm square.
  • June 18: DI Williamson claims in a letter to SIO Henderson that Feraday discovered the ”potentially most important” PT/30 this day examining PK/2128 [Leppard 207] Either way, it was shown to fit the same Toshiba board as AG/145 did (all labeled together in a prosecution photo). Clearly RT-SF16.
  • June 30: Feraday notes: "On the 30th of June 1989, some explosively damaged paper fragments [PK/689] were received at this laboratory, thus conclusively establishing which of the seven models of the Toshiba radio had been employed in the Lockerbie bomb.” He meant May 11. “It's a mistake that I made when I wrote the reports," he explained under questioning, "because sometimes items would come and go to the laboratory several times.”
  • July: Feraday attends a second set of four blast tests in the U.S., again using RT-8016 radios.“Mr. Feraday, you referred earlier in your evidence to having taken part in explosion trials in the United States in April and July of 1989 … nine in total…”
  • Aug 17: Dr. Hayes does an examination on AG/145. (first ever?) "A small quantity of aggregated partly carbonised material from which many fragments were recovered."
  • September 14: Feraday visits Dextar looking for matches to PT/30 (no luck) [Leppard 208] See also, Forensic Follies.
  • Late 1989 (date unclear): Dr. Hayes retires from RARDE. His slot as head of the explosives division is taken by Mr. Feraday. Hayes continues unofficially as a "consultant" for three month, then extended.
  • Nov 12, 13 1989: FBI interview with Marwan Khreesat in Jordan – the RT-SF16 has been decided on. Khreesat says he’d never use such a radio, is absolved of suspicion.
  • Dec 19 1989: date of DI Williamson’s letter regarding PT/30 cited above. He’s asking for more evidence from Germany – alarm clocks - to see if it can match up with PT/30. [Leppard 207]
  • ... 1990 ... 1991 ...
  • Nov 15 1991 - Indictments read out against Megrahi and Fhimah, using the identified RT-SF16 as part of its evidence. The rest is history.
Leppard, David.On the Trail of Terror: The Inside Story of the Lockerbie Investigation. London, Jonathan Cape. 1991. 221 pages.
Testimony of Allen Feraday and Thomas Hayes, Camp Zeist NL. Days 16-21, June 6-15 2000. Too varied to cite individually.
Others explained at provided links

Marwan Khreesat and his Bombs

Overview and all Relevant Posts
June 1 2010

I have been meaning to make a master post for the whole PFLP-GC/Autumn Leaves gang and episode - brief text with links. But even before that lofty goal, I've amassed enough posts just on this one player and/or his handiwork to warrant its own post. This way I can organize the highlights and push the mess of posts back a bit.

Full name: Marwan Abd Rezak Mufti Khreesat. Alt: Merwad for Marwan, Kreeshat for Khreesat. Born, etc. unsure. Jordanian nationality, with links in Syria. Image at left: screen cap, The Maltese Double Cross. Terrorist bomb-maker active with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, General Command (PFLP-GC) in the early 1970s and again in the mid-late 1980s. His specialty was the altimeter bomb - desgned to kill airliners, it would hide inside electronics inside luggage and only detonate after reaching a certain altitude.

By 1988 at the latest, Khreesat was also working for Jordanian inteligence, General Inteligence Directorate (GID), making him a double agent when he was called back into Jibril's fold in the autumn of 1988. To help Iran avenge the downing of Flight 655 in July, a PFLP-GC cell was formed in Neuss/Frankfurt West Germany, centered around helping Khreesat build more altimeter bombs. His GID bosses instructed him to infiltrate the group and not to arm any of his bombs. Instead, four armed bombs were intercepted, with a fifth disappearing just six weeks before the Lockerbie bombing.

Khreesat was arrested by German police but released, and fled back to jordan where he remained. He was at first a suspect but then he was found to be an ally, who gave clues to the FBI in two November 1989 interviews. And then the Libyan clues took over anyway.

Khreesat Advises
A PDF document compiling parts of agent Marshman's 1989 report, following interviews with Khreesat in Jordan. These portions were read out at trial, here compiled by original page number (about 60% complete).

Birth of Airborne Death
This post covers his early work - three airplane bombings in 1970 and 1972, mostly from a technical perspective.

1980s Boom Boxes and Ice Cubes
This post covers the technical aspects of Khreesat's 1985-88 handiwork. Timer variation, altimeter settings, etc.
Thirty-Eight Minutes
An older post discussing the Khreesat bomb's detonation timing re: Pan Am 103. A little muddles with the "35-45 minutes" claim, better understood (and more complex) in the link above.

Marwan Khreesat: How many Times an Agent?
My first post, a little more suspicious of Khreesat himself - emphasis on clues he might be a triple agent, willfully helping the PFLP-GC. Why did he disobey orders and build five armed bombs? (See next entry) Also some details of the GID end of his 1988 mission, first to Yugoslavia and then to Germany.

A Passing Magic Touch, and the Rest Unseen
"Abu Elias" is at least what Khreesat blames for making his bombs live. He's also the one who slippped away with the one that was suspected of bringing down Flight 103. He also may well be the one who built it. Khreesat did nothing but solder two wires (he says) and get credit as the bomb-builder to suspect.

PFLP-GC Radio Recycling and the Khreesats' Luggage
Some details on the five Toshiba BomBeat radios used in the 1985 trial bombs, the presence of two of these in Germany in 1988, Khreesat and his wife, their luggage, and the possibility that the PFLP-GC tried to frame Khreesat for the bombing.