Primary Suitcase Fragments, Brown and Gray

One IED Suitcase Found, or a Bit More?
March 17 2010
Last update May 1

Note: The main point of this post is seriously questioned or mooted by my later discovery that the primary suitcase model was made of gray plastic, simply coated with a brown film. I'll leave this up for whatever its information is worth as scrap, but it doesn't drive like it did.

Following is a partial list of evidence recovered by police that are probably fragments of the IED suitcase(s). These items were discussed at the Camp Zeist trial in 2000, all described as fragmentary, burnt, and mostly brown/copper, hard suitcase plastic. Some give an account of fragment size, shape, and condition. No photos are publicly available.

The find locations for these fragments are of two types – in-field and in-store. Some of special interest were labeled individually where they were found, with coordinates usually given. Other times there were too many to label all given the bad weather or whatever, and were bagged together, marked for the sector and taken to Dexstar or, usually here, Longtown, where the plane fuselage was being re-built. Those found at “CAD Longtown” as given only have the sector letter for location; there were eleven search sectors, named A-K. Most of the pieces we’ll examine came from sectors I and K, near the easternmost edge of the debris field, 35 miles from Lockerbie and beyond.

Witness 309, a Lothian and Borders police officer named Thomson, explained to the court how searchers were told what to look for, apparently once they’d found enough pieces of the presumed IED case. As Thomson recalled it, hard-sided, brown, and Samsonite were the three key features to watch for. [p 924-27] He also assured the record it was impossible to recover every bit of small debris, especially when caught in the spruce canopy of Newcastleton Forest, where much of the evidence did land.

Whether searchers knew it or not, there was always good reason to wonder about two brown hardshell Samsonites reported in the same corner of container AVE4041 the bomb suitcase (same model) later exploded in. Only one such suitcase was apparently found, but as we'll see, it was in two colors.

As I was compiling the brown suitcase chunks, I ran across a few mentions of highly fragmented, blast-damaged, hardside suitcase material – exactly what we’d expect for the IED case but for the color – usually given as “grey.” I had dismissed these as irrelevant to my two bags notion, until I stumbled upon this passage from Emerson and Duffy’s 1990 The Fall of pan Am 103, regarding severely blast-damaged suitcase fragments found east of Lockerbie:
“The fragments were a whitish blue. But that hadn’t been the original color of the bag. Further examination showed that the bag had been a Samsonite, a hard-sided suitcase. Purchased new, it had been copper-colored. In the heat and violence of the explosion, the copper had been bleached out to a pale blue. Specialists at Fort Halstead determined conclusively that the copper-colored Samsonite had contained the bomb in a radio-cassette player. They had found the bag that contained the bomb.” [p 191]
This adds a wrinkle, if it’s true (and that’s a big if – Emerson and Duffy got a number of other points wrong). But “whitish-blue” might also be called gray, so below are listed both types, first brown, then gray, sub-organized by date of find. Citations are sporadic, mostly day five or so of proceedings.

23 December - Label 73: "a piece of brown suitcase,” found at: unsure exactly. Marked with “an identifying mark, which I've put as 125, DAI.” No further description. [Day 4 witness 202, Ion, Dumfries and Galloway police]

14 January - Label 28: “piece of suitcase with puncture holes. Where found, I sector, under 507 859. 14/1/89. […] It is -- it is a piece of hard suitcase with various bending marks on it. It's a charred part and some holes pierced through it.
Q And what colour?
A It is brown.”
size: shown, not spoken.

17 February - Label 29: "Piece of fragmented, hard, plastic - brown colour, possible suitcase. Where found, Sector I, Longtown." “it's a hard, plastic, brown-coloured material.” Size: shown, not spoken. Two police labels attached.

6 March - Label 30: “"Piece of brown suitcase [possible blast damage]” Found: I Sector in CAD Longtown, 6/3/89. Size: “It's in an L-shape, 7 or 8 inches by 5 inches, 6 inches.” [750-51]
Witness 119 Duncan McInnes, Strathclyde Police, day 5

7 March - Label 53: "suitcase (part of), brown colour, charred edges, found in K Sector, CAD Longtown." "It appeared to be part of a -- what may be a Samsonite suitcase. It's plastic material that appears charred and ragged around the edges. It's about 10 or 11 inches long, brownish coloured on one side and black on the other." [pp 827-28]

10 April - Label 48: “piece of suitcase, found in I Sector, grid reference 482 854, on the 10th of April 1990." “It appears to be a bit of Samsonite with jagged edges, brown on one side […] and dark coloured on the other. Approximately an inch and three-quarters by an inch and a half. [p 833]

27 April - Label 33: “Piece of brown suitcase [possible blast damage]." Found: “Newcastleton Forest, I Sector, with a grid reference of 509 859, and dated 27/4/89.” [Witness 119 Duncan McInnes, Strathclyde Police, day 5]

9 May - Label 36: "Rubber trim," and in brackets, copper-coloured." I've also written, "Brought in at that time, possibly from the bomb case." Found: “Newcastleton Forest.”

18 May - Label 39: A small fragment of bronze coloured hard suitcase/charred, found in Newcastleton Forest, Tinnisburn, grid ref 458 849. “One and a half inches long. It's an irregular shape. It's about three quarters of an inch, narrowing down to a quarter of an inch.” [p 942-43]

19 May - Label 41: "Piece of brown suitcase, blast damaged."
A "Found in I Sector" with a grid reference of 476 854. And the date, 19/5/89.
Q What sort of size is it?
A One and a half inches by three-quarters of an inch.

24 May - Label 43: "A piece of brown-coloured suitcase, blast damaged. Found in Newcastleton Forest, Redmoss, grid reference 847 457, on the 24th of May 1989".
It's a small piece of what appears to be plastic or Bakelite material, brown in colour. [p 982]

16 June - Label 47: “a piece of -- it looks like "brown," in brackets -- I can't read part of it, but in brackets, it says: Samsonite suitcase found in the Border Forest Park, 430 847.”

19 June - Label 46: "Part of a brown suitcase, possibly Samsonite." Found: "Border forest park. Grid reference of 428 848," 19/6/89.Size: “Three inches by one and a half inches.” [p 758-59]

13 Jan - Label 82 AKA police number PI 990: “…charred pieces of a suitcase found in I, 502 858, by T. Gilchrist, on the 13th of January '89.” A secondary label, "Debris (charred), found I Sector, 502 858," in my writing. Refers to the same.” [DI T. Gilchrist, p 855-56]
“described as a small, charred piece of grey plastic suitcase.” [p 1054]

20 February – (label?), police no. PH/773, we can see is grey/white material, suitcase interior.” Logged 1.40 p.m. on the 22nd.
“Q Underneath are the words "Joseph Patrick Curry" in red?
A That is not my handwriting.” Witness no. 127, Findlay, p 1074-75]

6 March - Label 81: "Piece of grey plastic with soot marks [possibly suitcase]."
Found: K Sector, CAD Longtown.
“Q You indicate that you had written on the label "possibly suitcase." What was it that made you think that?
A The type of material it was, basically.
Q What sort of size of article is it?
A Much smaller than the last piece; about, I would say, three and a half inches by two inches.
Q And what colour is it?
A Grey.” [p 748-750]

25 April - Label 91: “a piece of grey plastic.” Found: “grid reference 509 859, Newcastleton Forest.” “It's about an inch square, and it's quite ragged around the edges.” [p 831-32]

27 April - Label 87: "Piece of grey-coloured suitcase, I Sector, grid reference 509 859." [p 981]

No date given - Label 83: "Piece of charred material [possibly part of a suitcase]." Found: I Sector at CAD Longtown. “It's a grey coloured -- appeared to me to be plastic material, hard plastic material … It's a fragmented shape, I would say… Eight inches by five inches or so.” [McInes, pp 747-48]

No date Given - Label 98: "Piece of grey material, possibly suitcase, found debris, K Sector, Longtown." “a piece of grey plastic Bakelite-type material.” [p 979-980]

Unsure, possibly related:
16 February - Label 89 "piece of fragmented and charred material. [possible suitcase]" Found: “Sector I, Longtown." No further details. [pp 874-75]

10 March - Label 113: "Piece of material [possibly suitcase]” Found: K Sector, Longtown, on 10 March 1989." [p 978]

18 April - Label 31: "Small piece of badly scorched suitcase (possibly bomb case)." Newcastleton Forest, I Sector, grid reference number 508 858.
“It's probably just over -- maybe an inch and a half in length; and width, probably an inch. Maybe just slightly less.” [p 902-03]

25 April - Label 32: "suitcase (piece of), charred, found in I Sector, grid reference 509 859 … It's an oblong piece, about an inch and a half by one inch, a tear through the middle of it. It's dark coloured. It's hard to differentiate any other colours.” [p 830-31]

17 May - Label 94: "Small piece of charred suitcase.” Found: I Sector, 474 853. “a small piece of charred suitcase, approximately one inch by half an inch, again with jagged edges.” [Gilchrist]

26 May - Label 44: "Small piece of what appears to be IED case." Color not given. Found: “I Sector, Redmoss area, grid reference 847 457.”

It's difficult to say much about the spread of the fragments at the moment. Nearly all were found in I or K sector, from those given. These are the furthest east, with A sector itself at Sherwood Crescent Lockerbie, and K being near the North sea. Newcastleton Forest is I believe within I sector, starting about 35 miles east of Lockerbie. We can note the only given item fram H sector (PH/773), which would be nearer to Lockerbie, was of the light gray variety. This probably deserves a graphic when I've got the capability back.

In total we've got at least 24 likely IED suitcase fragments - thirteen in the brown column, seven gray, and four unsure. Those described vary from an inch or less per side to almost a foot in length. Laid side-by-side, that could almost be a full suitcase's worth, or even more. It's really hard to say without the photographs.

As for the color variation, Emerson and Duffy would not just make up a copper-colored bomb suitcase turned blue-white. Someone almost certainly told them about it, based on part of the actual evidence that's been little-mentioned since. The connection between this intriguing clue and the non-brown fragments is far from certain; clearly "grey" and "pale blue" are not the same thing, but might well be jointly compatible with a common true color I'll call washed-out, faintly-bluish light gray. Perhaps their source was a scientist who understood the blue-shift that can happen with high-explosives, and thus over-emphasized the color, which to most eyes would appear simply absent, or gray.

And finally, whatever connection we can draw, it's important to note how few alternatives there are. There was no second hardshell Samsonite in the area, in the official scenario, to yield additional chunks with the same combination of material descriptions as the IED case. Therefore, if this differentiation was ever officially addressed, it would have to be all be from the same case, just showing extreme force variation from one part to the next, leaving some parts bleached and others with their tan.

I'm having a hard time visualizing what could so vary a uniform spherical detonation wave - the radio case? The clothes? Internal divider? I'm no forensic scientist or explosives expert, but I propose we're dealing with two suitcases here, one housing a proper Semtex detonation, the other presumably just torn up by the blast. If that can be shown wrong, so be it, but as the intriguing possibility, which can explain John Bedford's report of two brown Samsonites, within the known pool of evidence, it must be proposed.

Camp Zeist – Perils and Pitfalls of a Designer Trial

What follows is a commentary by Barry Walker submitted to the Lockerbie Divide
Posted 19 February 2010
I thought Robert Forrester’s article “Circumstantial Jigsaw Puzzle” of the 5th February 2010 raised interesting points. It is his belief (and that of other supporters who regard Mr Megrahi as the principal victim of Lockerbie) that he should not have been convicted on the evidence presented at Camp Zeist.

He quotes Professor Black (para.10) that in his view “it constituted the worst miscarriage of justice perpetrated by a Scottish Criminal Court since 1909.” As this was also the first time in which the experiment concept of a Scottish Court sitting on neutral territory had been attempted I wondered if there was a connection between the two.

I would therefore pose the fundamental question - why was Megrahi convicted if the evidence against him was so flimsy?

As the article notes the “evidence” of Majid Giaka was rejected and the evidence against Megrahi was almost entirely circumstantial. Why was it that at every point where the prosecution case was challenged their Lordships decided in favour of the prosecution case despite compelling evidence to the contrary (The conclusion, despite the meteorological evidence, that the clothing was purchased on the 7.12.88, the “identification” of Megrahi as the purchaser, the absence of evidence of a bag smuggled onto KM180, the conclusion a suitcase had been transferred at Frankfurt, ignoring the evidence a brown Samsonite was introduced at Heathrow ect. He also points out the crucial issue of the renumbering of RARDE’s notes concerning the discovery of the MST-13 timer although the notes were those of Dr Hayes not Alan Feraday.)

There was also in this Camp Zeist trial the quite astonishing reversal of the burden of proof and the mystery of the “missing” witnesses that a Jury may have found curious.

Mr Forrester had a lot to say about the absence of a Jury. (para.2)
“It is truly hard to believe that if a Scots jury of fifteen ordinary citizens had been employed to reach a verdict, they would have arrived at the same conclusion as their Lordships.”
He raises the incongruity of any “self respecting bomber” introducing a bomb at Luqa and transferring it twice to explode after take-off from Heathrow. It is a point to which the Judges were indifferent but a Jury employing common-sense may rightly have come to a different conclusion.

“Never again” he writes “should the Crown be in the position where it performs the role of prosecutor, Judge and Jury”. In view of the outcome of “Camp Zeist” it is unlikely that any defendant anywhere would chose such an option – that may have been the object of the conviction. He speculates that the result would have been different if there were a “Jury drawn from citizenry at Zeist”. But the key feature of “Camp Zeist” was the discarding of a Jury. With a Jury what would be the point of moving the trial to Camp Zeist – indeed what objective was served by having the trial at Camp Zeist at all save to give the illusion that this was a negotiation not a surrender?

Mr Forrester’s article implies that in some way the Jury was disposed of by some Government decree. Mr Forrester writes “it is clear that he (Professor Robert Black) agrees that one of the reasons why we have a Jury of fifteen ordinary citizens in criminal trials, and do not utilise a form of Diplock Court in Scotland is in order that a degree of common sense might prevail in arriving at a verdict.” This is quite true but whose idea was it to try this case as a “Diplock Court” without benefit of a “degree of common sense”? It was the defence “team” and the Libyan Government who thought the defendants chances were improved by abolishing the Jury. Messrs Fhimah and Magrahi (to the extent that they had any say in the process) were given some pretty lousy advice. The Libyan Government were also badly advised and fell into a trap set by the West by responding in a thoroughly predictable manner. (As with Iraq while sanctions were bad news for the people they were not necessarily bad for the regime.)

At para.10 Mr Forrester writes “There is no criticism whatsoever of Professor Black (Mr Forrester’s colleague in the Justice for Megrahi campaign) how could anyone have imagined that such a Pandora’s box be opened?

Well some people did imagine this outcome prior to the trial and wanted a proper investigation and the right defendants charged. However I for one was astonished that their Lordship’s still managed to convict Mr Megrahi after rejecting Giaka’s evidence. I thought it was the defendants who were “bonkers” to agree to be tried for mass murder in a Judicial experiment the central feature of which was the abolition of a Jury.

I take the view, completely without empirical evidence, that the Scottish bench is composed of individuals who are deeply conservative (with a small “c”) who regarded “Camp Zeist” as an abomination an overt politicisation of the Judicial process in which they were expected to conduct a show trial on foreign soil and come to the pre-determined verdict of “not proven”.

I suspect they found it intolerable that a defendant or defendants would negotiate the form of tribunal before which he would deign to appear (presumably in the expectation that they would gain some advantage from it) and were determined that this Judicial experiment would not be repeated, an objective I suspect that has been achieved. In the circumstances were they ever going to give the defendants an even break?

“Camp Zeist” was a disaster for Mr Al-Megrahi as, for reasons that escape me, he gave up his right to a Jury and elected instead to be tried (and have his 1st appeal heard) before a panel of Judges determined that the defence should not benefit from “Camp Zeist”. How could “anyone imagine that such a Pandora’s box be opened?” I suggest someone of reasonable intelligence might have predicted the attitude of the Legal Establishment to a “designer” trial.

One should recognise that “Camp Zeist” was likely a factor in Mr Megrahi’s conviction.

Mobdi Goben and his Memorandum

Caustic Logic
March 26 2010
last update April 7

Player: Mobdi Goben, alias Abu Fouad, aka "The Professor." (not to be confused with "Professor" Samir Kadar of Abu Nidal's group). Born August 4 1943 in Haifa, Palestine. Member, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command (PFLP-GC). [Leppard, 1991, p11] Died, apparently, sometime prior to late 2000. [inferred, see below]

In later 1988, Mobdi Goben was based in Yugoslavia, running a safe house at Krusevac. He served as a supplier of Semtex-H explosive for the PFLP-GC’s airliner-bomb-making activities in Neuss, West Germany. Member Martin Kadorah picked the stuff up from Goben and brought it back to the cell, where Marwan Khreesat worked it into his radio-encased altimeter-triggered IEDs.

Goben was arrested in Yugoslavia following the Autumn Leaves arrests, of October 26, one of two related arrestees in that country (the other being Kadourah). "The Professor" wasn’t gotten until November, but as they took him in, authorities also found a quantity of Semtex in the safe house. [Leppard 11]

From there details are not clear. At some point, years later, he might have died. During the Camp Zesit trial in late 2000, the Prosecution was tipped off about a document held by the Syrian government, apparently the ‘deathbed confession” of Mr. Goben. I’ll cite the analysis posted at Ed’s Blog City, which seems about right from what I know, and cogent.
Much has been made of a secret document that had been apparently seen by the Prosecution team during the original trial in 2000, but not revealed to the Defence team at Zeist.
Private Eye magazine reported in 2001: Soon after FBI agent Edward Marshman had finished giving his evidence at Zeist in 2000, the trial was subject to a long delay.

The Prosecution team explained that they had had notice from a foreign government that more information might be available that would be relevent to the trial. The foreign government, it was revealed later, was Syria and the information was known as the Goben Memorandum, of which the full text was now in the hands of the government in Damascus.
On his death bed, it was rumoured that Goben has set out the entire 'Autumn Leaves' conspiracy […] He had since died and, after a few more weeks' delay to the trial at Zeist, the Syrian government made it clear that if there was any such memorandum, they had no intention of releasing it.

Exactly who handed this copy over the the Scots and why remains a little unclear. Even in the years since its first mention at trial, the letter has been seen by a scarce few, mostly within either the PFLP-GC, the Syrian services, or the Scottish prosecution. If it's even genuine. The letter clearly remain mysterious, but researcher Ludwig de Braeckeleer has gathered this summary, from available sources, of the its alleged contents:
"The Goben memorandum claims that Abu Elias, a relative of Ahmed Jibril and senior member of the PFLP-GC, planted the bomb in the luggage of Khalid Jaafar. In his Memorandum, Goben, nicknamed “the Professor” in his organization, also claims that the Lebanese American passenger was involved in a CIA-approved heroin-smuggling operation. The luggage used for these operations, it is claimed, bypassed normal security screening." [source]
"Abu Elias" is the elusive bomb-builder (?), apparent snoop for his uncle, and the hand-off guy who was to handle the airline security end of delivering the bombs. It seems to be largely Goben's supposed confession that has backed the Megrahi Defense team's charge that this central player is currently living in the United States - specifically, the capitol. If the memo is their main source for the man's identity, that's not the best omen, as Goben could well have just been repeating the same CIA-drugs-Frankfurt intrigue recently aired by Juval Aviv, Lester Coleman, Alan Francovich, and others.

But by now we have compelling reasons to suspect "Abu Elias" might have left town and sidled into London for the deed. It is the only entry point that would work for a Khreesat bomb as understood, and then fits perfectly as for takeoff-explosion time. And there's direct evidence that the bombs were placed at London, somehow in the deadliest corner of luggage container AVE4041, well before the German feeder carrying any Jaafar bags had arrived there. [see: London Origin Theory]

For these reasons, if Goben's alleged words are any clue of real knowledge, it's that he was trying to help distract from the true method by tossing a golden apple of discord into the discussion. An insider endorsing the Trail of the Octopus revisionist line is irresistible to many. But however the dying (?) terrorist intended it, his story is likely wrong and a distraction, at least regarding the bomb introduction.

And would it then be wise to rely much on his identifying clues of this elusive "Abu Elias"? This could reflect back poorly on the suspicions that it first seemed such a boon for. Nonetheless, the issue remains vital.

Interline Shed Chronology

Posted long ago
last edits Feb 10 2011

In the interest of sorting out the Bedford suitcases story, below is a timeline of the afternoon around the interline shed of Heathrow's terminal three and the bomb-ruptured luggage container AVE4041.

Some notes on procedures: The interline shed in question handled luggage transferring from one airline's flight to another. Bags were placed on a single long conveyor belt sticking out of the building that took it inside for sorting. Workers from different airlines stood inside picking out bags from all airlines destined for one of their flights. Pan Am's crew consisted of a variable number of Pan Am employees who took the bags off the belt and set them in containers. Between these actions, another crew from Alert Security (a Pan Am subsidiary) would x-ray the bags for anything suspicious they could recognize (apparently a small list). Usually two Alert personnel worked in tandem - one read the screen, the other placed a security sticker on it and handed it back to the Pan Am people.

In early police interviews, Mr. Kamboj strenuously denies he'd ever place a bag in a container himself. But at trial in 2000, he recalled they would do this on occasion, as Mr. Bedford always said.

12:30 am – break-in discovered at Terminal three. No one knows if anyone took advantage of this aaccess to facilitate getting an IED suitcase into the luggage system. Thirteen hours pass.

2:00 pm – John Bedford is the lone Pan Am employee working in the interline shed.
Q … in the morning, were there other Pan Am workers helping you?
A Yes, sir.
Q By the afternoon, was it busy or quiet?
A Reasonably quiet, sir.
Q … would that mean that fewer bags were coming in?
A Yes, sir.
Q Would it mean that there were fewer workers there?
A Yes, sir.
Q And
Q By the afternoon, and say by about 2.00, were there any other Pan Am workers left in the interline shed?
A No, sir. … just myself.
[Day 44, pp 6441-42]

2:00-4:00 – Bedford and Alert employees Kamboj and Parmar together intercept, scan, and place app. 4-5 suitcases in the container Bedford selected: AVE4041.
Q Were there still people working for Alert?
A Yes, sir.
Q Do you remember who?
A Mr. Kamboj and Mr. Parmar.

?? - Parmar goes home
Questions put to Mr. Kamboj by Turnbull:
Q Did Mr. Parmar stay in the interline shed as long as you did?
A Yes, sir.
Q What time did you finish; do you remember?
A No, sir.
Q Did Mr. Parmar finish at the same time?
A Usually, yes, sir.
Q And on that day, the 21st of December, do you remember if he finished at the same time as you?
A Yes sir.
Cross-examination, Mr. Davidson, minutes later:
Q Is it your recollection, Mr. Kamboj, that you and Mr. Parmar finished work on that day, the 21st December '88 --
A Yes, sir, we worked together.
Q Sorry, the red light is flashing – that you finished work at the same time that day?
A I don't remember, sir.
Q You don't remember.
A Yes.
Q Do you remember having a break for a meal or a snack of some description that afternoon?
A Yes, sir.

Q Do you remember going back to work in the interline shed after your break?
A Yes, sir.
Q Do you remember Mr. Parmar leaving work at that time and you staying on?
A I don't remember, sir.
Q You don't remember. All right. [pp 6411-12]
Bedford confirms Parmar left at some point before Kamboj:
Q Who had been left in the interline shed when you went to visit Mr. Walker?
A Mr. Kamboj, sir.
Q Anyone else?
A No, sir.
app 4:10 - Bedford takes a break, 30 minutes
Trial testimony, 2000:
Q After you had put some bags into the container that afternoon, did you go to see Mr. Walker?
A Yes, sir.
Q Was that at the baggage build-up area?
A Yes, sir.
Q And did you have a cup of tea with him?
A Yes, sir.
Q How long do you suppose you were away from the interline area visiting Mr. Walker?
A I don't remember that, sir.
Q Can you give me an approximation?
A Half an hour.
[p 6446]
4:40 – approx return from break time
Bedford to police, Jan 9 1989:
"I went to see Peter Walker in baggage build-up leaving Camjob in interline. I returned about 4.40 p.m., Camjob told me two further suitcases had arrived for PA 103 which he had put in the tin. ..."
We wonder why they so closely match the case that held the bomb for style, color, and location in that very container.
4:45-55? - Bedford takes AVE4041 to baggage buildup.
Q All right. Did there come a stage when you took the container away from the interline shed?
A Yes, sir.
Q Where did you take it to?
A To the build-up area, sir.
Q Why did you take it there?
A Because that's where my supervisor [Walker] was, and that's where he asked me to bring it.
[p 6450]
5:02 - Bedford clocks out and goes home
Q Were you planning on leaving work early that day?
A No, sir.
Q What was your normal finishing time that day -- supposed to be for that day?
A I think it was 6.00, sir.
Q You weren't at -- you went off work at two minutes past 5.00, didn't you, sir?
A Yes, sir.
Q Why did you leave early?
A Because Mr. Walker said the 103 would be late and take me past my time, so I could finish early.
[pp 6470-71]

app. 5:35 - AVE4041 Taken to meet 103A and filled with luggage piled on top of whatever was placed in there at interline. It's quickly loaded onto PA 103.

6:04 PA 103 departs the gate, starts taxiing (four minutes behind schedule).

6:25 PA 103 takes off from the runway.

7:02 – PA 103 blows up 38 minutes after take-off.

Bedford and Kamboj Statements: Primary Evidence

Last edit June 8 2010

In the interest of clarifying what’s been said by whom in the Bedford/Kamboj controversy at Heathrow, I’m compiling as much as I can find of statements by the two. Below, from trial transcripts Day 44, (August 25 2000) are original police interviews from 1988-1990, and Fatal Accident Inquiry testimony, read back in court at Camp Zeist, along with some interesting testimony from Zeist. The descriptions and follow up questions are as stated in court, in black here, condensed. Original source material, apparently given in direct quotation, is in green. Each was affirmed with the witnesses Kamboj and Bedford - neither could remember the details nor anything they said, nor having said it, but they each agreed on every quote that if it's there they said it and if they said it it's true to the best of their knowledge at the time.

For comparison, see also Peter Walker's statements.

Sulkash Kamboj, statement taken "by a Detective Sergeant Downs on the 28th of December '88"
"I was involved with x-raying the interline baggage ... throughout my tour of duty, and all I do, once I've x-rayed the baggage, is to put a security band round them."

John Bedford statement “taken on the 3rd of January 1988, probably wrong -- should be 1989, obviously, by constable – detective constable called Adrian Dixon"
"I have been asked if it would be – if it would have been possible for anything other than the bags that should be in the tin to be put in there, and I would say yes. […] Whilst dealing with other baggage from other flights, it's not possible to keep the tin in my view all the time." [day 44 p 6479]

Sulkash Kamboj, to A. Dixn, 6 January 1989.
"Earlier in the afternoon, John Bedford had brought into interline a
metal tin into which PA 103 luggage was to be placed. I did not place any luggage in the PA 103 tin on that day."
Bedford 9 Jan 1989 – to Adrian Dixon
"I went to see Peter Walker in baggage build-up leaving Camjob in interline. I returned about 4.40 p.m., Camjob told me two further suitcases had arrived for PA 103 which he had put in the tin. I looked inside the tin and saw the suitcases that I had put in the tin still in the same position. Lying on their sides in front of the other suitcases, handles pointing towards the back of the tin, were two suitcases. They were hard suitcases, the type Samsonite make. One was brown in colour, and the other one, if it wasn't the same colour, it was similar. In size, they took up the remaining base area of the tin."

"... a statement, Mr. Kamboj, that has been taken from you by a police officer called Mr. Hogg, and it would appear to have been taken from you on a date which is not terribly legible … the date is recorded there as 23rd of August 1990"
"I did not load any bags into the container that day in the interline shed, as it is -- as I do not load containers." [6421-22]

Kamboj questioning and testimony, Fatal Accident Inquiry “in about November of 1990”
Q And an interline bag comes through into the shed and you put it through your machine. Is it possible that in those circumstances, in the absence of the loader, you would simply remove the bag from the machine and put it into the tin?
A No. We only remove the bag from the belt, as you can see in picture 59.
Q I am interested in the loading of containers. You have described to us how the normal practice was for the loader to do this job.
A Yes.
Q You have also told us a number of times that you didn't regard it as part of your job?
A Yes.
Q To load containers?
A Yes.
Q Did you ever put a bag in a container? Have you ever done that in the whole of your time with Alert?
A No, I don't, never.
Q You took a little time to think about it. Is it possible you may have done that?
A No, no.
Q Have you ever seen other Alert Security staff not only x-raying a bag but also putting it into a container?
A I have never seen.
Q If Mr. Bedford were to tell us at this inquiry that he went away from the interline area some time during the afternoon and that when he came back, you told him that you had put a couple of cases into the tin, might he be right in that?
A No, I can't say that would be right.
Q I am sorry.
A No.
Q You are not happy about that?
A No.


Bedford, Fatal Accident Inquiry, 1990:
Q Can you recall whether on 21st December, 1988 any of the luggage that you dealt with or saw at the interline shed destined for Pan Am 103 was a bronze Samsonite case?
A Yes, sir.
Q Did you see a bronze Samsonite case?
A A maroony-brown Samsonite case, yes.
Q Where was that tin when you saw it?
A In the front of the container, lying down
Q Again in relation to the photograph that we have looked at in Production 42, photograph 1, can you point to where that case was when you saw it?
A Just there?
Q Indicating the left-hand case which is lying flat on the floor in the
front of the container?
A Yes, sir.
Q Now, I wonder if I could get in a bit more detail of the colour. What is your recollection about the colour of the case lying in that position?
A I think it was a brown or maroony colour, hard-backed suitcase.
Q I also used the word "Samsonite." What is your position about that?
A I couldn't say that it was Samsonite, only that it was a hard-backed suitcase, a Samsonite type.
Q But as far as colour is concerned, can you be any more precise than you have been in your evidence?
A No, sir, I am sorry.

[pp 6482-85]
Q I think it's fair to say that you have been seen on a number of occasions by police and other investigating agencies; is that right?
A Yes, sir.
Q And as far as the colour of that particular case is concerned, have you always expressed the same view as to what the colour was?
A To my knowledge, I have.
Q Isn't it fair to say that on different occasions you thought it was brown or maroon, and at one point you were quite certain it was maroon?
A Yes.
Q Again this is no criticism of you, but I am anxious to know what the state of your evidence is about colour. In view of the different expressions of view over the period, are you able to be clear at all as to what the colour of that case was?
A No.
Q With regard to the suitcase that you saw lying down flat to the left side of the container, I would like you to think back as best you can. Could that suitcase have been a blue suitcase with a maroon or brown trim?
A I couldn't say.
Q You don't know whether it was or not?
A No, sir.
Q But it could have been?
A It could have been.
Bedford, Camp Zeist, Aug 25 2000:
Q When you left the interline shed to go to Mr. Walker's for a cup of tea ... There were no bags at the front of that tin, that container?
A No, sir.
Q You didn't see the two bags that you are referring to being put in that container ... Your only knowledge of how they got there was what you say Mr. Kamboj told you, namely, that he had put them in?
A Yes, sir.
Q Can you help us with this, please, Mr. Bedford. Mr. Kamboj gave a number of statements to police in the weeks following the date of this disaster in which he maintained that he had never put any bags in that tin at all. Can you help explain that discrepancy?
A No, sir, I can't help you to explain that.
[pp 6460-61]
Worse, of course - he vehemently insisted he never would have done that, essentially calling Bedford a big fat liar. But then his story had changed by the time of the Zeist trial. Examination in chief by Mr Turnbull for the Crown:
Q Did the Alert workers ever put bags into containers after they'd passed through the x-ray machine?
A No, sir.
Q Why was that?
A That's not the job of the security.
Q I see. Was that never done, even as a favour or to help out?
A Yes, in the case of if somebody is, like, if it's a quiet time and somebody going for restroom or toilet, and bags come, you do the favour. But it's not normal routine, because we worked together, so if somebody not -- we just maybe – but it's not a normal routine.
Q I see that. So it's not the normal routine, but it did happen?
A Yes, sir.
Q And in particular it might happen if there was a quiet time?
A Yes, sir.
Q And if somebody was in the restroom or away somewhere?
A Yes, sir.
Q And you mean by that, if the airline worker was in the restroom or away?
A Yes.
Turnbull/Kamboj, examination in chief:
Q Do you remember if you helped [Mr. Bedford] out at all in the later part of that afternoon?
A I don't remember, sir.
Q Well, do you remember if you helped him out by putting two suitcases into a container for him?
A I don't remember, sir.
Q Doing that, perhaps, whilst he was away for a little while?
A I don't remember, sir.
Q All right. Is it possible you might have done that, Mr. Kamboj?
A Yes, sir, possibility, yes.
Q Do you remember, in fact, telling Mr. Bedford that you had done that for him?
A I don't remember, sir.
Q If Mr. Bedford remembers you telling him that you had helped him out by putting two suitcases into a container, would you quarrel with him over that?
A If he said that, or whatever -- I mean, it's a possibility, as I already said before, and I can't actually remember now. So if he said -- I mean, I will admit that, yes; but if I did, that maybe had to go through the proper security procedure, and then --
Q Of course. Of course. But if Mr. Bedford has a recollection of you telling him that, would you say he was wrong?
A I won't say he was wrong, no.
Kamboj admits they also sometimes picked bag off the line for Pan Am, under questioning from Lord Sutherland:
Q ... So somebody has to watch the conveyor belt all the time and then pick off any bags which are destined for Pan Am flights; is that right?
A Yes, sir.
Q And who would that be?
A It's the airline employee, and sometimes when we are by the machine. That's right.
Q Yes. So would that be Mr. Bedford, if he was normally in the shed?
A Yes, sir, he was normally in the shed, yeah.

PI/995 Label Issues

Completed March 9 2010

PI/995 is the evidentiary designation given to a 4" bomb-damaged shred of a shirt collar, Slalom brand, gray in color. It became relevant first for being near the bomb, later for yielding pieces of the IED radio case and electrics, paper user's manual, and the famous timer fragment PT/35(b). All this magicall assortment plus the pregnant find PI/995 can be seen in this photograph. Here we'll deal with its evidence label, which has some interesting issues.

DC Gilchrist under questioning at Camp Zeist (witness 257, day 5, May 9 2000)
Q I wonder if we can magnify on the word "debris." Now, when we magnify the photograph of the label, Mr. Gilchrist, we can see, can we not, that it has been altered?
A I can see writing underneath it.
Q Exactly. And if we look carefully at the writing underneath the word "debris," we can make out, can we not, the word "cloth," with the C being under the D, the L under the E, an O under the B of "debris," and a T under the R, and a H under the S?
A It's possible, yes, sir.
Q It's more than possible, Mr. Gilchrist. It's perfectly obvious, isn't it?
A Yes.
Q Well, why didn't you mention this alteration during your examination in chief, Mr. Gilchrist, when you read out the label to us?
A I didn't notice it. It's the first time it's been brought to my attention.
[p 845]
Mr. Gilchrist could not recall doing so, but guessed that he had re-written carefully over the fainter word "cloth" when "on closer examination ... I put down "debris" ... in case it isn't cloth." One simple reason to do some overwriting (one would presume of the same words of course) is the original pen being almost dead for ink. "The "debris," certainly, appears overwritten," the witness noted, "and the "(charred)," if you look, "Where Found," I Sector, the pen looks as if it's almost running out there, and the "debris" is in heavier writing." [pp 860-61]

From there it gets interesting - he didn't do the re-writing, once he started thinking about it. Tangled together here are two pieces of evidence, PI/995 and PI/990, with their separate tags.
Q Label Number 82 refers to PI 990, Lockerbie air crash, charred pieces of a suitcase found in I, 502 858, by T. Gilchrist, on the 13th of
January '89.
A secondary label, "Debris (charred), found I Sector, 502 858," in my writing. Refers to the same.
Q Do we understand that there are two labels attached --
A Yes.
Q -- to Label 82?
Can we first of all be clear whether it's possible to say from which police force these labels are?
A The first one is a Dumfries and Galloway label. The second one is a Strathclyde one.
Q And which of these have you signed?
A The second one, the Strathclyde one -- or the first one; I don't know which.
Q Well, if we call it the Strathclyde one, you've signed the Strathclyde label?
A Yeah.
Q All right. And who has filled in the details on the Strathclyde label?
A I have.
Q And what have you written?
A "Debris, charred, found I, 502 858," and signed by myself.
Q And is there a date?
A There is a date in the column, but it's not my writing.
Q What's the date?
A 13/1/89.

Q And what's the grid reference?
A 502 858.
Q Will you have before you at the same time Label Number 168. And will you confirm that Label Number 168 is PI 995?
A Yes.
Q How many labels are attached to it?
A One.
Q And I think you've told us earlier that you completed that label?
A Yes.
Q And you've told us that that was on the 13th of January 1989?
A Yes.
Q Is that the same date on which you found Label Number 82?
MR. KEEN: With respect, My Lord, the witness has already said in respect of the earlier label that he did not complete the date.
MR. KEEN: Although my learned friend chose
not to take up that point with the witness, he very clearly said that.
LORD SUTHERLAND: Well, the witness did say that, Mr. Depute, that the date is not in his handwriting.
Q Is the date which you've entered on Label Number 168 the same date as appears on Label 82?
A I've entered the date on Label 168. I haven't entered any date on Label 82. There is a date entered, but it's not in my writing.
Q What is that date?
A 13/1/89.

Q I wonder if it's possible to put both of these labels together on the document imager, please. […] On the bottom label, the one for PI 995, there appear the words "Debris (charred)"?
A Yes.
Q The word "charred" in brackets, whose
writing is that in?
A I can't be specific about that. It looks like mine, but --
Q It looks like your writing?
A I'm not 100 percent convinced.
Q Is there any difference between the entries on the two labels?

A I don't think PI 995 is my writing.
Q You don't think it's your writing?
A It's not the way I would do a "D".
Q You signed the label attached to it, the label itself?
A Yes. Yes.

Q Who else has signed the label?
A Several people. Cal Mentoso (phonetic), Derek Henderson -- no, I think it's -- I think it's Derek Henderson, Tom Hayes, Allan Feraday, Tom McColm, Ron McManus.
This is supposed to PI/995's label, with seven signatures, but only the three Thomases (Gilchrist, McColm, and Hayes) are visible to me. The lower right writing seems like a reference note, possibly "MOD PER16 D&G", where D&G refers to the leading Dumfries and Galloway police department. The lower left could be a jammed in signature, but "TCP Scribble" isn't a match for any of those names. The remaining two were done in pens completely out of ink, one must presume, or we're mixed up here and he's referring to an attached form or writing on the back, or something. It's not a big deal.

Q Looking to the other label [PI990], you see the words "Debris (charred)"?
A Yes.
Q You explained to the Court earlier that you had written these words.
A Yes.
Q Is that the position?
A Yes, it's my writing.
Q And what about the position on the other label, PI 995?
A Part of it's mine.
Q Sorry?
A Part of the writing is mine, but I am not convinced it's all mine.
Q Well, with respect to the words "Debris (charred)," what do you say?
A I can't give an opinion on it. I don't recall overwriting it, and I'm not convinced that "charred" is my writing.
Q I see. But the phrase "debris (charred)" is a phrase that you clearly used --
A I normally use.
Q -- on the other label; is that right?
A Yes. Yes.
Q The phrase "debris (charred)" is a phrase that you had in mind to use in relation to the other item that you have before you, the one that's Label 82?
A Yes.
Q And it's a phrase that you used in relation to that item, which you found at exactly the same spot that's referred to in the label on PI 995, isn't it?
A Yes.

From there Campbell was happy to draw the parallels - if these two items PI/990 and 995 were found same day and same spot by same witness, who signed off on both, then clearly the witness wrote these out. All this was just to carry out what was supposed to be a simple exercise - introducing a piece of evidence that was found by a cop at the site. It's a highly significant, charged, piece of evidence, yielding that infamous timer fragment PT/35(b), and along the way the basic cop with the basic "yes sir" script revealed a possible red flag of manipulation. It was written using someone else's hand, the witness says. 'But it's phrase you would use if you'd written it?' Campbell in essence asks, and moves on. Same guy, same spot, same phrase, same day - except the other tag's date was written in later by someone else, the witness says. So it all ties up (??), PI/995 duly noted as legitimate evidence and ready to elaborate on...

(see PT/35(b) Papers, Photos, Details for the ensuing shadiness)

PT/35(b) Papers, Photos, details


In this post I will relate all direct visual evidence, gathered from different sites, relating to the circuit board fragment found in the evidence of the Lockerbie bombing. These should be official photographs and documents, mostly from the British side of the investigation. My sources are a few, but mostly websites run by Mebo, the board’s manufacturers and confusing advocates in the trial and its controversies. I accept these images, if not the commentary, as accurate (aside from some color issues with the fragment), and simply lay them out in approximated chronological order with some of the available information on them.

Discovery of PI/995
The fragment was allegedly first gathered by DCs Thomas Gilchrist and Thomas McColm, unseen within a piece of cloth logged in mid-January 1989 as item PI/995, “Cloth (charred).” Note here how the date (13/1/89 as on the left side) seems faintly penciled in for "introduction in case against," and the loaction found line seems written over with invisible ink. The resolution on these is not good - here I took the full tag and a clearer zoom-in and merged them for the best effect. [image source page: Mebo] In the 2000 trial, Gilchrist was able to read it from the real item, as I Sector, grid reference 502 858. More specifically, this was near the the intersection of grid lines 86 and 50 on Ordnance Survey maps they used to keep track of ground covered. Fellow researcher Rolfe helped narrow this down to an area 35km east of Lockerbie, betwixt Newcastleton and Newcastelton forest, Blinkbonny Height and the town of Blinkbonny. It's been alternately said to be the forest itself, or even Kieldere forest to the south in which the scrap of cloth, 4" of shirt collar, was recovered January 13, and later logged on January 17. Te delay might be interesting, or perhaps not.

Anomalously, and famously, the label was later changed with “debris” written right over “cloth” in a non-standard way - usually stricken out and re-written, rather than replaced. Under questioning at Zeist, Gilchrist was faced with this and other controversies, at some points refusing to acknowledge some of the writing as his own, at other spots confused and noncommittal, almost as if he worries someone else has given a different story and he doesn't want to contradict them. Not the most encouraging midset to encounter, if so. (this is all covered in detail in another post.) The Zeist judges, in their Opinion of the Court [PDF], found his explanations "at worst evasive and at best confusing," but found no "sinister connotation" in this (and neither do I, in particular).

On the tag above, note a third signature on the line for "Nature/Locus of Crime" - this is given as "T. Hayes." [More detailed info on P!/995's controversies]

Discovery and Examination of PT/35(b)
That would be Dr. Thomas Hayes [wiki] of RARDE (Royal Armament Research and Development Establishment), who analyzed this material more closely on May 12, 1989, according to his lab log (on page 51, left - r-click new window for readable view).

This was the first mention anywhere of the pivotal timer fragment, as item b) at left - "a fragment of green coloured circuit board." Reportedly, the pages following this in Hayes’ loose-leaf binder of notes were renumbered, which he was unable to explain in later testimony.  [more on the page re-numbering]

This could well mean this page was inserted after the fact, as widely speculated, to introduce a backdated paper trail for a later plant. It's a little sloppy to my eyes, and doesn’t add much detail to the record; there is nothing about the board other than a simple note of “a fragment of green coloured circuit board." He offers no drawing, no details. Note that the paper fragments, carefully re-sketched here (five sheets, 2 sides each, lower half of page), were identified early and given the evidence no. PT/2. The exploded electrics of items a-c, on the same page here, are "raised" collectively as PT/35 “assorted materials RECOVERED from clothing PI995.” (caps in original). This suggests 31 pieces of evidence were catalogued between these identifications allegedly discovered the same day.
The famous photo shows the shirt collar and all the evidence taken from it, with the circuit board chunk circled in red in the publicly available version. Considering the quality of blow-ups possible from this (see below) it is presumably 35mm, and not one of the "polaroids" mentioned below. It seems to be the first photograph to be taken of the fateful fragment, just prior to Hayes' May 12 entry, as the lumpy shape to the right of the fragment seems to be the paper fragments prior to being separated and drawn therein. (Original Image source)

At left is the best blow-up of this available, from a higher resolution original than is up anywhere on the Internet. Here can be noted the “1” shaped touch pad, twin solder lines beneath this, the intact top edge, rounded corner, crumbly edges. The "etched" sideways “M" and "scratches" beneath it have been called clues of forgery, but likely are fibers of fabric like those clustered on the left side. The color of this board's coating plastic, described as green by RARDE people, and as evidently BROWN by Mebo missives, seems to me no particular color, but more precisely off-black or muted dark gray-blue with a slight greenish hue. It's probably supposed to be burnt, so green-blue seems closer than brown. (source)

Another to take a crack at this fragment was Alan Feraday [wiki] the director at the time of DERA (Defense Evaluation and Research Agency), who at some point made a study using another shot, straight on, with another view of it flipped over on its back. Using enlarged photos (“approx X 3”), perhaps photocopied on paper, he added notes around the mirror-flipped dark shapes - the following are my best reading:
"straight edge" pointing to the straight top edge.
"curved edge" pointing to curved edge
"trimmed copper" pointing to solder lines. ("track pattern on underside" added)
"Green top surface" pointing to back view.

There isn’t much resolution here to work with, but that back view is totally unique. So I used a separate layer with maxxed out contrast to pop out all details (below, right). There seems to be a small bump corresponding to the middle of the touch pad, and some roughness (fracture? bubbling?) around the edges, quite a ways in at bottom and right. Otherwise little can be seen. image source

On September 15 1989, judging by the header, Feraday sent a memo to Detective Inspector William Williamson, a counterpart in the Dumfries and Galloway police (along with the FBI, they were the official investigators). This was to explain “some Polaroid photographs of the green circuit board,” which he found "potentially most important," depending on what ID the D&G could come up with. Feraday apologized for the quality of these pictures, noting “it is the best I can do in such a short time.” Some have presumed he was sending the circled photo above, but the use of plural photographs, could mean what he sent was the analysis above, having two photos in it. It’s not entirely clear what the rush was all about or why that precluded better pictures. (source)

Following this is a long gap in the timeline of what I've sorted out, from later '89 into early 1990. Investigators analyzed the fragment (though not for explosives residue), searched for matching board patterns, and so on. According to a Mebo site, on February 8, 1990 “a needle-thin section” was removed from the evidence, apparently for forensics work, “by Mr. French from CIBA-Geigy." Four days later, the site continues,
“Mr. Roderick MacDonald, withness no. 589, had been called into Strathclyde police-station to take some photographs of an allegedly Lockerbie-recovered MST-13 timer fragment with the allocated no: PT/35 (evidence: production no:1754) According to Court-documents, the alleged MST-13 timer fragment PT/35 was at that time no longer in its orginal condition and in one piece!” (source)

For a good trans-Atlantic, Anglo-American (sorry, Scots-American) investigation, it only seems appropriate to bring in some expertise from across the pond. Investigator Paul Foot (Flight from justice, PDF, page 11) reports a July 1990 call from FBI forensic authority and political scientist James "Tom" Thurman [wiki] offering a lead to DCI Williamson on the fragment Feraday told him of. Reportedly Feraday and Williamson both went to Virginia to meet him. Although some have said this fragment was physically taken there, and the controversy recently upped with Levy’s Lockerbie Revisited video, the preponderance of testimony suggests to me, so far, that it was just a photo. I may sort it out in a separate post.

At any rate, Thurman was able to get pictures also of a captured Libyan MST-13 timer and, on June 15 as he recalls (not July as Foot reported) found a perfect match to the fragment from Scotland. He kept some photos on file to show reporters later, including a giant blow-up, heavily blue-tinted, of the fragment, perhaps MacDonald's view. This is shown alongside a comparison board with unfilled solder lines and some odd spatterings off the touch pad. (this Mebo photo seems to be the same board Thurman compared to, here in odd color, a different angle, and labeled). The image at left also is from a Mebo graphic, with the backdrop only altered by me for aesthetic reasons. (Original Image) This is the earliest view I know of showing he top sliver missing, as well as the lower right corner cut out or at least deeply scored. Otherwise, it appears to be the same piece, if perhaps a bit bluer, probably due to photo tinting. Also note, the “M” is missing, supporting the idea it was a transitory fiber since cleaned off.

I’m still vague as to when the famous trial photo below was taken. Showing evidence PT/35(b) and, apparently, the separated corner labeled DP/31, compared to model DP/347(a), an intact MST-13 timer. This might seem the photo taken by MacDonald on Feb 12, which would leave one wondering why the trip to America if they already knew what to put it alongside. It may have been after Thurman’s ID in June, as a verification with cleaner sample, and done in 3-D. Or as some have stated, this side-by-side was done by Thurman himself, with access to both real items. Whenever, wherever, and by whomever it was captured, again with intense blue tinting of the whole evidence photo. Here I’ve color-corrected to the best (app) nexus of natural whites, standard blue backdrops, and fragment plastic color. I’m not sure where this model is from, but it’s clearly different from the one Thurman used for comparison.

In the end, counter-claims aside, the fragment looks the same throughout, other than the noted diminishings, so if any planting happened it was at the beginning, which could be later than the paperwork suggests. But the case was made and handed to us thusly: this was from the wreckage, near the bomb, perhaps part of it. It was handled carefully by trained and diligent professionals leaving a clear paper trail. It was rigorously matched, with photos AND microscopes, to a style used by Libyan operatives. And it all came down to a fragment of circuit board, and wound up appealing to the kind of late-90s popular TV fiction mentality needed to win crucial public/political support for the indictment. As agent Thurman bragged to the TV news just after the 1991 indictment, "when that identification was made, of the timer, I knew that we had it." Whether by accident or staging, it was brilliant theater.

The South Africans Theory

Posted February 14 2010

Below is a summation I requested from Mr. Patrick Haseldine of his persistent theory that elements of South Africa's Apartheid government carried out the 103 bombing. Beneath that are some counter-points by Robert Forrester and myself, not to this specific article, but from existing comments re: the South Africans theory (which no one but Haseldine supports, AFAIK). I still have no idea what "Wi" and "Wii" have to do with anything. (C.L.)

Why Pan Am Flight 103? That’s the Wii


Why did the Libyans do it is the Wi question.

Libya’s motive in sabotaging Pan Am Flight 103 on 21 December 1988, according to one school of thought, was to avenge the death of Colonel Gaddafi’s daughter in the 1986 US bombing of Tripoli and Benghazi. In which case, PA 103 was Gaddafi’s second bite of the revenge cherry since he was alleged to have sponsored the September 1986 hijacking of Pan Am Flight 73 in Karachi, Pakistan, when 20 passengers were killed.

Former CIA head of counter-terrorism, Vincent Cannistraro, who had worked on the PA 103 investigation, was interviewed in the 1994 documentary film Maltese Double Cross, and offered another scenario. Cannistraro said he believed the Palestinian terror group PFLP-GC planned the attack at the behest of the Iranian government (in revenge for the July 1988 shooting down of Iran Air Flight 655 by the US Navy). The Palestinians then sub-contracted it to Libyan intelligence after October 1988, because the PFLP-GC’s bomb-making cell in Neuss had been disrupted by the German police and could not complete the operation.

Officially, then, the Wi question remains open.

Why that particular flight and date is the Wii question.

The Wii question was never actually addressed during the trial in 2000 of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahiand Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah at the Scottish Court in the NetherlandsAn explanation can however be divined from the Court Judgment, which states: “From the evidence which we have discussed so far, we are satisfied that it has been proved that the primary suitcase containing the explosive device was dispatched from Malta, passed through Frankfurt and was loaded onto PA 103 at Heathrow.”

So, it appears the official answer to the Wii question is that Pan Am Flight 103 on 21 December 1988 was sabotaged for a simple, mechanical reason: the bomb suitcase had been ingested as unaccompanied baggage atLuqa Airport in Malta, conveyed by Air Malta flight KM180 to Frankfurt International Airport, and transferred there to a connecting feeder flight PA 103A to Heathrow Airport, where it was put into the interline baggage container AVE 4041PA and loaded onto PA 103 in the forward cargo hold.


Why did the apartheid South African regime do it? (Wi)

The alternative answer is that the apartheid regime was motivated entirely by self-interest: economic and political.In December 1988, the United Nations was planning to take legal action against De Beers/Anglo American to enforce UN Council for Namibia (UNCN) Decree No 1, which prohibited the exploitation of Namibia 's natural resources - particularly diamonds and uranium. The UNCN Decree provided for the payment of damages to the future government of an independent Namibia . A former senior De Beers employee, Gordon Brown, has estimated that from 1967, when South West Africa (Namibia) became the responsibility of the United Nations, until the territory gained its independence in 1990, De Beers illegally removed diamonds valued at £11.0 billion ($18.7bn).

On 22 December 1988, the day after the Lockerbie disaster, apartheid South Africa was set to surrender control of Namibia to the United Nations upon signature of the New York Accords at UN headquarters, thus ending its illegal occupation of the territory in defiance of UN Security Council Resolution 435. Once Namibia was under UN control, De Beers and the apartheid State faced prosecution under UNCN Decree No 1.

Why that particular flight and date? (Wii)

The alternative answer to the Wii question starts with what former MP Tam Dalyell called a “Faustian agreement” whereby Washington agreed with Tehran to sacrifice one American aircraft in revenge for the Iranian airbus - rather than the ten demanded by Iran’s minister of the interior at the time, Ali Akbar Mostashemi (see Mail on Sunday16 August 2009, The truth about Lockerbie? That's the last thing the Americans want the world to know).

To prevent the awful truth about this agreement from emerging, Washington secretly delegated the 'eye for an eye' task to Pretoria which accepted, but on condition that it had a say on choosing the sacrificial aircraft. Thus, the apartheid regime’s newly-fledged Civil Cooperation Bureau (CCB), having been assigned the task by the CIA, then selected Pan Am Flight 103 and 21 December 1988. That just happened to be the flight on which Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and UN Commissioner for NamibiaBernt Carlsson, was booked to attend the signing ceremony in New York and to take charge of Namibia. The CCB had ample time to plan and execute the crime since Bernt Carlsson’s movements and travel arrangements, dictated in part by De Beers in London, were known well in advance. At one stroke, PA 103’s destruction met the requirement of the “Faustian agreement” and, by targeting the UN Commissioner for Namibia, achieved the objective of apartheid South Africa: to stop him prosecuting De Beers for the illegal exploitation of Namibia's natural resources (see South Africa Inc: The Oppenheimer Empire, pages 117-121, and 'World in Action' documentary The Strange Case of the Disappearing Diamonds, which featured strong criticism of De Beers by Bernt Carlsson ).


As at February 2010, there has been no criminal investigation into Bernt Carlsson’s murder. The decision not to investigate was taken by Scottish policeman, Detective Constable John Crawford, on the basis of information supplied to him by “a very helpful lady librarian in Newcastle ” (see "The Lockerbie Incident : A Detective's Tale", by John Crawford, pages 88/89).

- Patrick Haseldine
Commentary by Robert Forrester (Quincey Riddle), Jan 30 2010

I must confess that, academically speaking, I lack what some seemingly do not: a doctorate in Double Think. With regard to the Carlson angle specifically:

A: Without doubt the RSA government of the day would have been more than happy to have him 'removed'.

B: However, by blowing up a jumbo with 258 innocent bystanders on board in the process! To what end? To provide a cover and cast the blame on to a group of disaffected Arabs or Iranians?

C: Surely Pretoria had plenty of alternatives that could have achieved the same goal without all the 'collateral' (I believe is the appropriately sanitised term to express mass murder these days).

D: Let's not forget how much they had learnt from the results yielded via their investment in Project Coast.

E: In other words: why not simply do a Georgi Markov number on him?

F: After all, the progress made in the realms of DNA sequencing and biotoxins through Coast would have been sufficiently well advanced at the time to make discovery almost impossible unless the pathologists knew exactly what they were looking for.

Now then. I have an immense degree of respect for Tam Dalyell, however, when he refers to a Faustian pact whereby Washington subcontract the job to Pretoria, I am afraid I do not know in what context this statement was set. Was it, for example, one of: 'it is not beyond the bounds of credibility to imagine.......etc'? Or, was it an assertion? Mr Dalyell has also said, and here I paraphrase, that the only hope of discovering who committed the act probably lies in one of the perpetrators believing sufficiently strongly in God that there is a deathbed confession. I, therefore, cannot believe that any reference to a Faustian pact on Tam Dalyell's part was anything other than a nodding acknowledgement of the theory.

Nevertheless, on the grounds that it is not unknown for governments and their servants to indulge in apparently insane and overly complex subterfuge, where is the proof? The layman casting an eye over this can arrive at one of two equally valid conclusions:

1: The whole thing is so spectacularly convoluted as to render it credible on the grounds that it is precisely the type of machination that people dream up when they have something to hide.

2: The whole thing is so spectacularly convoluted as to render it incredible, particularly when we place its apparent sophistication beside the fact that Pik Botha was booked on to the same flight only for himself and his entourage to unbook themselves. But there again, some might argue that that slip up was a blind to make it look like RSA had no blood on its hands because they wouldn't have made such a stupid mistake, would they?

How far then does this take Saul along his journey to Damascus? Precisely nowhere in my view. Don't get me wrong, I am a huge fan of crime fiction, and theories of this nature are most stimulating, but for me, until some tangible proof emerges, I am afraid they only serve as a form of intellectual exercise.

Furthermore, my principle motivation in the Lockerbie issue is the travesty of justice that was Zeist. Whatever I may think about who dunnit (and I do have my thoughts, prosaic though they may be), I am not interested in apportioning blame at this stage. What I am very much interested in doing though is righting a wrong. One step at a time, my friends.

Anyhow, just a couple of passing thoughts.
Toodle pip for the moment,
Robert Forrester (Justice for Megrahi Campaign committee member).
Commentary by Adam Larson (Caustic Logic)
actually an exchange with Mr. H. Dec 22 2009

CL: So... (aplogies for any imprecisions on my part) Were the South Africans responsible for the $10 million transfer from Iran to the PFLPGC to blow up a plane with Americans as revenger for IA655? Did Botha have a hand in getting Khreesat's bombs made in Frankfurt? Or in smuggling one of them onto PA103 in London? Or is it just a coincidence that the South African method happened to so resemble a Khreesat bomb in blowing up 38 minutes after takeoff? And a coincidence the SA job so reflected the shoot-down of IA655? Why do you suppose the Iranians never got their revenge they paid for? Do you have a supposition at all on how they did it, or do you even care?

Also, why - when he was a supporter of Megrahi - was Nelson Mandella unable to expose his predecessors' true involvement?
Just asking questions. I'm sure you've got the answers somewhere or you wouldn't be so sure the SA folks did it. (If you can't provide answers, I will just flat ignore you for good)

And otherwise, I agree with your analysis.

PH: I don't pretend to know the full answers to the questions posed by Caustic Logic, but here are my preliminary suggestions:

a. South Africa's National Intelligence Service (NIS) was an integral part of Western intelligence;

b. Marwan Khreesat was a double/triple agent, and a CIA asset;

c. one of Khreesat's bombs might have been smuggled onto Pan Am Flight 103 at Heathrow (or it could have been a replica device made by a dedicated bomb-making section of the SADF's Directorate of Military Intelligence);

d. the Heathrow break-in on 20/21 December 1988 was a classic decoy operation, probably carried out by South Africa's Civil Cooperation Bureau;

e. thanks to South Africa, and with CIA support, Iran got their "revenge". (Whether the Iranians had to pay for it is another matter: there's no audit trail for the $10 million "transfer");

f. Gaddafi funded the ANC, and when Nelson Mandela was released from jail in 1990 (18 months before Megrahi and Fhimah were indicted), Libya was the first country he visited;

g. South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission established in 1996 was, I believe, precluded from investigating the regime's involvement in crimes committed overseas, unless amnesty had been applied for them. Since no-one applied to the TRC for amnesty over the Lockerbie bombing, it was not investigated. Lockerbie was however mentioned in the context of an amnesty granted to South African spy Craig Williamson for the 1982 bombing of the ANC offices in London (see ).

I could say a lot more, but that's probably enough for now.

Mr. Haseldine, thanks. That definitely forestalls "putting you on ignore." For what that's worth. (?) For the record a few notes on your thoughts here:

a- almost seems a counter-point, but okay...

b - I suspect tangential relationship - could a good chunk of a $10 million prize (plus genuine disgust with the IA655 incident) turn a single agent into a temporary double one?

c - may and may. Okay, but no specific supports. Duly noted.

d - Decoy? They specialize in cut-lock decoy ops more so than other groups?

e - Something tells me for revenge to work, one has to deliver the pain oneself, or on one's own orders. Your take seems that SA did this to kill Carlsson and, perhaps to claim Iran's prize at the same time? Otherwiise they didn't get their revenge if someone else did. They could as well predict 10,000 US flu deaths in the winter of 86 and call that more than enough revenge for their piddling 290.

f - yes, thanks. And he, as President, found no evidence of Botha et al's involvement to help get Libya off the hook? That definitely did not answer that important question.

g - Okay, that starts to answer it. Did anyone have reason to ask for that investigation? None that I've seen. The US drive against Libya as the villains of Lockerbie AND Mandella's presidency were both years old by 1996, and this question not entering the picture supports there being no such evidence.

The link just says ""If you look at the Lockerbie disaster - this is very similar. I think Britain would like to see these guys are prosecuted in England even though they get amnesty here." That reads to me as a comparison of jurisdiction and amnesty issues using a then-current high-profile case involving those sort of issues. It does nothing to support South African involvement in Lockerbie, whatever other heinous crimes they were guilty for.

Perhaps they're just really good at covering their tracks too. But some are perceptive enough to see the tracks anyway in the random jumble of the forest floor. Being able to make others see them is the tricky part though. No one else is seeing it, so maybe... it's not really a covered track? Just in case you hadn't considered that yet...