The London Origin Theory

The First Causualty of the Investigation was Truth
last update July 30 2010

“I want to know when the bomb was placed on the plane and by whom. We have to look more closely into the "London theory" – that the bomb was placed on the plane at Heathrow and not in Malta.” - Hans Köchler, independent UN observer at Zeist trial, 21 Aug 2009 (Source)

"If I was determined to bring down an airplane, I would have put [the bomb] on in London." - Robert Baer, 'former' CIA agent and weapons expert, who doesn't buy the Libyans-did-it story line.

The London Origin theory has emerged as the most logical explanation for what happened to Pan Am 103 on December 21 1988. The official story, all the most widely-seen revisionist arguments, and even Megrahi's defense team's curious "special defense of incrimination" drew on elements of the drug swap theory, with the bomb coming in from Germany or further afield. Megrahi's counsel William Taylor QC did however give reasons to suspect a  London origin (some below) to the trial judges and summarized at trial's end in 2001:
“My submission is that all of the above render the choice of Heathrow a much more likely one [than Malta]. And when that possibility is considered, one finds that there is a compelling body of evidence that points to Heathrow as being the point of ingestion.” [day 82 p 9862]

But in the earliest days of the investigation, January and February 1989, British investigators labored to clear Heathrow Airport of any lapses and ensure that the bomb's origin would have to be found elsewhere. Years of confusion ensued... (see "Counter-Arguments" below for more on the dismissal of the London theory).

Direct Evidence For the Theory
Among the first clues came from finding where the plane failed, and what luggage container the blast originated in. Container AVE4041 in forward left cargo hold, position 14L, was decided within a few days. The container's blasted out remains were found and reassembled enough to show the blast was down at the bottom of the container, in the aft outboard corner. It had been in the spot closest to the hull, only 25" from the thin and aged skin of Maid of the seas.

Unfortunately, the exact placement, origin, or even number of suitcases in that box was hard to pin down. Records and witnesses helped decide 4041 was loaded with a few bags (6-8 or so) of (apparently) interline luggage, then filled up with a few dozen cases from the feeder/first leg flight 103A out of Frankfurt. But within this generally imprecise body of memories, one stands out as of amazing possible significance.

The Bedford Suitcase(s)
This was always the hard part to get around in order to reject the initially obvious Heathrow introduction theory. A Pan Am worker mentioned to police right after the attack said he saw two brown hardshell samsonite suitcases, placed on the floor of container 4041. The position of these was side-by-side from the far left of the floor, at the (loading) front of the container. If the bags had been later stacked one on the other and the top bag slid a few inches left, it would be in the perfect spot to match the explosion center - aft outboard corner, second suitcase from the bottom - where just such case detonated.

An amazing lead, investigators almost seem to have tried to not follow this one.  Since the cases Bedford saw were on the floor when he saw them, and the blast seemed to have happened one layer up from that, they decided these cases were a coincidence. They must have been moved across the container, and replaced in that lower corner with an identical case from Germany, on top of some other damaged Frankfurt-originating luggage. The leaps of faith here are simply alarming.

The Bedford story is covered in great detail at this site, with the works so far compiled at the link above.

> Break-in Reported
A security Guard at heathrow Airport reported a break-in at terminal 3 around 12:30 am on  December 21. Ray Manly's report, of a padlock on the floor "cut like butter" was covered up for over a decade. Even at trial in 2000, the defense was not allowed to know of this. Manly came forward in 2001 with the story, soon verified by the long-suppressed police reports. A post is up but empty - anyone care to help? I'll get to it later.

Mentioned in: Appeal Court Dismissal of the Heathrow Theory

Circumstantial Evidence For the Theory

The 38-Minute Coincidence
Aside from its crew and perhaps some cargo that (probably) doesn't matter here, the 747 Clipper Maid of the Seas landed empty at London's Heathrow airport mid-day December 21, 1988. There the plane took on a load of 243 passengers and their luggage, and took off at 6:25 PM for New York as Pan Am Flight 103. Clearly, the bomb went on the plane at London, but the question that comes quickly behind it is where did it come from before that? A van in the parking lot, or another plane?

Such clues were vital to tracking down the perpetrators, and should be embraced when they're found. The time of explosion itself is a valuable clue - 38 minutes after leaving the ground - is a known hallmark of the altimeter bombs made just weeks earlier by terrorist bomb-maker and "double agent" Marwan Khreesat. He had produced four altimeter-triggered, radio-disguised bombs, set to detonate less than an hour after takeoff. Each of the others was a bit different, but the one that was captured and tested thoroughly would have blown up about 45-50 minutes after takeoff.  

The timing compatibility with a Khreesat bomb loaded at London notwithstanding, it's been officially decided and legally established that was a Libyan-ordered and set MST-13 timer that told the bomb to go off over Lockerbie. Officially, legally, by the evidence led at trial, it's an asbolute coincidence the timing so resembles the method first suspected. 

> Operational Security
When confronted with the official story of a Malta-Germany-London, the most obvious averse reaction of those who know air travel operations is to ridicule the notion that an airline bomb would make any sense being trusted to so many switches. Any functional security screen or time delay along the way coulld screw up the whole operation with a timer-based device as alleged. A trip from Frankfurt only is often suggested to replace this, but it too has one too many stops for a Khreesat bomb, and still a high chanced of the bomb being delayed or intercepted. If one could pierce security at any of the three airports, and it obviously happened at one of them, Heathrow would give one the best chance for success and the only way for a Khreesat bomb to have done what happened.  

Former head of security for British Airways, Denis Phipps, Maltese Double Cross:
“If a device had been infiltrated into the system at Malta, it would have been necessary for that device to have been carried in an aircraft in the sector from Malta to Frankfurt, to have gone through a handling process, been carried on an aircraft through the sector from Frankfurt to Heathrow, and then timed to detonate during the final sector, Heathrow to New York, presumably whilst the aircraft was over the ocean to avoid discovery of forensic evidence …  one has to say, um, are - terrorists  - idiots? Don’t terrorists plan to have a reasonable degree of success?"  

> Explosive Efficacy
If one places a device at the airport the target leaves from, rather than remotely through multiple flights, a new ppossibility is opened up - depending on the nature and depth of his penetration, a determined terrorist could place the bag himself and chose where in the container it went. As it happened, the bomb in PA103 was placed in the best spot (for the terrorists), and one of the few that could have even worked - the lower outboard quadrant, more or less on the sloping floor nearest the hull. Figure F13 (below) of the AAIB's report shows the deduced center of explosion that officially was achieved by accident. Considering even there, all that was blows from the hull was a chunk the size of a dinner plate. That's all it took, but it wouldn't happen at all if the bomb had wound up in the upper inboard corner, or even in the middle.

It is true, as some have pointed out, that there'd be no guarantee any cases placed in that deadly corner would stay there. But terrorists simply can't wait for guarantees. Certainly having it in the right spot, for sure, at one point, is better than relying on pure chance. Perhaps with this in mind, famous former CIA agent Robert Baer, who may have direct experience in this for all we know, has said:
"I used to teach explosives. The last thing you want to do is put a bomb on in a place like Malta and have two stops along the way ... you couldn't count on this thing hitting its target. ... Malta would not have been my first choice. It would have been London. If I was determined to bring down an airplane, I would have put it on in London." Flight into Darkness video, part two, 5:25

Counter Arguments Addressed
Forensics and the Frankfurt Link to the Rescue
UK and Germany had both been unsettled by the possibility their security forces had allowed the horror of Lockerbie to pass through. Some of their early wrangling is addressed in the post "What did the Germans Know?" British investigators decided the blast - 10 inches above the container floor - was above any possible non-Frankfurt luggage and therefore had to be some other brown, hardshell Samsonite from the one(s) Bedford described, that must have been from the feeder 103A. It was unsound reasoning and wishful thinking until the Erac printout emerged months later, showing an item apparently coming from Malta, to PA103, via Frankfurt.

The Malta Link to the Rescue
The Erac printout, emerging months after the attack from an employee's locker after all official copies somehow disappeared, sealed the deal for Malta origin. But the tiny island nation had already been mentioned in the evidence, as the place of manufacture for some of it. As it so happened, the Erac (Frankfurt) printout in August 1989 spurred a closer look, and the clothes were traced to a store on Malta where Tony Gauci was found...

Malta-based Libyan defector Abdul Majid Giaka was already on file with the culprits - Megrahi and Fhimah - that some hoped Tony saw one of. By late February 1991, they had a sort of identification of Megrahi from the shopkeeper.  A few months later, Giaka was finally removed to safety and first mentioned the suitcase - possibly the same model Bedford reported - seen on Malta the day before it reappeared on that dubious printout leaving there. The story is clearly false, but formed one basis of the U.S. indictment against Megrahi and Fhimah in November 1991.

And finally, Air Malta has airtight records that the 55 bags on flight 180 were all claimed by its 39 passengers. They've shown this in court, like in their libel suit against Granada television. How the bomb was sneaked around Air Malta's system was never explained or substantiated even back when Fhimah was accepted as an accomplice. Investigators tried to find evidence of Maltese collusion or corruption or incompetence, but came up only with 'well, they must have done it somehow.' After the dismissal of Giaka's Malta stories, the Zeist judges  found that accomplice not guilty, further complicating the feat for Megrahi. They admit it's hard to see just how he did it, but he must have. Guilty.

See also: JREF Forum discussion thread on the London Evidence - great discussion

Debate Call: "Kaddafi Delenda Est"

July 28 2010

Kaddafi Delenda Est (Latin, Gaddafi must be destroyed) seems so far to be just a yappy little propaganda smear-bot has been spamming numerous Megrahi / Pan Am 103 discussions lately with irrelevant, out-of-context claims of Libyan villainy. In particular, consider his contributions beneath this post at the Washington Post national security blog "Checkpoint Washington." "Black September, Rome/Vienna airport massacres, London embassy shooting, La Belle disco, Pan Am 103, UTA flight 772, PIRA, Abu Nidal, Abu Sayyaf, etc., ad nauseum." And the Bulgarian nurse tortured to confess she was spreading AIDS in Africa (I think). It's like acomputer virus written by Vincent Cannistraro in 1986, with someInternet news-feed add-on.

Once I learned just what exactly the case against Libya for PA103 really was, I became suspicious of the preceding laundry list as well. I haven't looked into any of these other events/allegations, and for all I know some or all of them might be correct. But I'm convinced they were framed for Lockerbie, and to me, the frenzied litany of allegations reads like propaganda written to whip Americans up to keep leveraging Libya and keeping it down until it plays by our rules. KDE does little to change that impression:
"America fought our first overseas war against Tripolitan pirates who used hostage extortion to secure huge annual jizya payments from Western nation treasuries. Kaddafi now has that racket back in business. Are Americans prepared to do anything about it?"

I'll challenge you to debate, Kaddafi Delenda Est, on the relevant issue of the moment: Pan Am 103 - bring me your best evidence how we can know Megrahi is actually guilty of this crime.

Other possible subjects if you're up to it: The Bulgarian Nurse's story - that's disturbing, and I'd like to learn more and see how credible the report is.

And for a fourth aspect, I'll start by addressing you attacks on me and my work here, in case they don't allow my response there.
"Some deluded Leftists still drool over illiterate conspiracy theories-- framing Juval Aziz’s refried nonsense as grounds for yet another specious Megrahi "appeal." [...] Don’t be a Kaddafi clan apologist your whole life, CausticLogic. Sod off, you wanker."

"CausticLogic (aka, Adam Larson) is a 9-11 Troofer conspiracy moron. Please follow Penn Jillette's sage advice to HBO viewers and feel free to throw Adam "down a flight of stairs” without reservation."

This last is in reference to Penn and Teller's advice re: 9/11 neo-Nazi nutter and clown Eric Hufschmid. My main work regarding 9/11 was debunking claims made by people like him. I challenge you, Kaddafi Delende Est to find any support for the inaccurate and misleading slur "9-11 Twoofer moron." Bring the dumbest claim I've made - be it no-planes, space-beams, nano-thermite, whatever. Post it in the comments below, or else retract or clarify what that term means re: me.

And if I get a respectable response for you here, I'll modify my introduction accordingly.

Further responses will start below.

(oh, and I didn't catch your real name?)
postscript: HE didn't show up! His note of excuse at the same page:
"Adam can take his "debate" invitation up with Penn Jillette. Rational folks have no interest in plumbing the depths of depraved minds of troofer morons who indulge in jihadist homicide denial.

Piss off."

Merging my response to this and a really stupid follow-up:
Nice. Penn never called me a moron or told people to push me down stairs. YOU are the one who did and who knows you'd look the fool if you tried to support any of the drivel you post after it was properly challenged. And you claim you're too "rational" to explain yourself. Why is the SCCRC "specious?" Which of their six grounds of miscarriage of justice do you disagree with and how? You have no idea, but I’m sure you’re sure that it's all Euro-Jihadist lies!

Terp Mole / aka Kaddafi Delenda Est's dickless handling of having it pointed out that he doesn't know what he's talking about seems to be part of a pattern. No comprehension of the real world plus tea-bag delusions leads to the brilliant and o so original conclusion that President Obama is on the side of terrorists trying to destroy America. We "need to know" the answer to that before we can be confident, you never will "know" that, because you are the king of never finding out what you don't want to know.

And now you go on ignore as the worthless waste you are.

Frank Duggan, for the Families

July 21, 2010

PCAST in A Leading Role
To start with, the current leader of the official 'American families group,' Victims of Pan Am 103 Incorporated, is not himself a victim of Pan Am 103; president of the board Frank Duggan lost no loved ones in the bombing. But his involvement with the bereaved runs deep, back to 1989 with his appointment as "liaison to the Families" on the President's Commission on Aviation Security and Terrorism (PCAST).

This “blue ribbon panel” was originally to be independent, but wound up being under President Bush’s control. As its chair, he selected Ann McLaughlin, who was once Secretary of labor under Reagan, as well as having been a director for at least “five major corporations.” Frank Duggan had worked as an aide and assistant secretary of labor under her before she picked him as PCAST’s families ambassador. Duggan grew up in Brooklyn, became a cop, and put himself through college, before turning into “a lawyer and a reliable Republican pol who had been a railroad industry lobbyist,” wrote Alan Gerson and Jerry Adler in a 2000 book. ”Needing someone who could win the trust of mostly middle-class families from the Northeast, many of them Irish or Italian Catholics, McLaughlin couldn’t have done better than Frank Duggan.” [1 pp64-69]

In a later interview, Duggan described PCAST as "the Cadillac of commissions” due to “the quality of its work and the number of recommendations, some 60 of them if I recall." [2 - ] The most memorable passage in the report was “national will and the moral courage to exercise it are the ultimate means for fighting terrorism.” The section that was in emphasized missile strikes covert action, either “preemptive or retaliatory,” and was penned by former FBI agent J. Brian Hyland, working from a desk next to Duggan’s. “As Hyland wrote, Duggan kept humming “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” to keep his colleague in a martial frame of mind.” [1 pp68-69]

As Family liaison, Duggan lobbied for their interests and listened to them – concerns, conspiracy theories, plots to hire assassins - with patience and understanding. The families also had a chance to support Duggan when his daughter was crushed into a coma by a drunk driver (she later awoke, but with brain damage). [1 p70] After the commission he continued lobbying for the families as the trail turned to Libya, indictments, and a 1990’s deadlock. During this time, he went to work for one of the legal teams representing the families, headed by Allan Gerson, whose 2001 book noted that “for six years Duggan had worked for the families and had earned nothing for it except their trust and gratitude.” [1 p255-56]

The Corporation / A Man of Vague Understandings
Mr Duggan maintained these ties with the families over the years, as Victims of Pan Am 103 Inc. proved itself a highly effective lobbying group, securing huge payments from Pan Am and then from Libya, netting billions for survivors, lawyers, board members, and so on. But only in 2008 was Duggan offered the presidency of the group’s board of directors - a post usually held by a family member. He told the Scotsman:
"I could not say no to them. I told them I didn't think there was much more to do. Legally and politically the battle was over. Libya was recognized and compensation had been paid. Then they released Al Megrahi and a 20-year-old story was back on the front pages again." [2]
These developments needn’t have been a surprise to those who followed the news. In June 2007 the Scottish Criminal Case Review Commission had announced Megrahi may have “suffered a miscarriage of justice” and should have his appeal heard. Duggan’s election/appointment was clearly after this omen, and perhaps (I don’t know the date) after the prisoner’s September 2008 diagnosis with advanced, terminal cancer. Compassionate release was a known factor at the time, as were prisoner transfer deals already being discussed.

The increased publicity following the convict’s eventual release and inevitable “hero’s welcome” would, predictably, stimulate both anger and also attention to the case. With all this plus more evidence than ever available, 2008 was a year rife with threats to the official stasis – just the time to circle the wagons and re-focus the voice of the American families, the force one dares not be seen as out-of-step with.

And Duggan tried to seem well-equipped for verbal battle, tackling the growing ranks of official story critics as “cranks,” “Libya shills,” a “shameless band of conspiracy mavens,” and “no worse than Holocaust deniers who will not accept the facts before their faces”. They're hopeless;  by December 20 he was “through trying to reason with Prof Black or MSP Grahame.” [2] It’s no wonder he tires so easily. Duggan’s scholarly achievements consist of an article for TransLaw, (transportation law) Winter 2010. It’s got details that are correct enough by normal standards, but it shows little actual insight. He’s clearly looking these things up as he goes, perhaps using Wikipedia.

When working strictly from his own head, Duggan fails, as when George Galloway made mincemeat of his in a phone interview a few weeks after Megrahi’s release. Duggan tried the standard hollow offensives (“eight judges” ruled guilty, Megrahi “lied under oath,” etc.), and made numerous factual errors (Galloway made a few as well). The short talk centered on Tony Gauci’s evidence, which Duggan called “reliable” and “natural,” while admitting he doesn’t know that the man actually said. The high point was Duggan aggressively and repeatedly denying the $2 million reward for Gauci as a rumor with no substance. That and my rebuttal are covered separately, but it looks like he made the wrong call here, loudly as always. And again he was done trying to “reason” with cranks and hung up. [3]

He can’t be happy with this blogger either. In December I wrote an article sarcastically accusing the Maltese government and Air Malta of complicity in Megrahi’s plot to destroy PA103. I even suggested the UK sever the “axis of malice between Velletta and Triploi” by re-conquering the island. Duggan wasn’t the only commenter to miss the fine-tuned sarcasm, but he was the only one who sided with what he saw, and called it : “a welcome change from the bilge we have to read from the Libya shills.” Said shills, he explained, “have no shame and cannot be embarrassed by the facts.” And he thanked me for my “efforts to publish the truth,” and said “you are like a breath of fresh air.” [4] I felt a little sorry for the poor guy, in fact. It was’t meant to trick anyone, except into reading it. They were supposed to get it by halfway through …

Speaking for the Families
Nine days after praising my Maltese prank, the solemn anniversary arrived - 21 years exactly after the event that started all of this. VPA103 Inc. always has had a controlling say in the annual ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. It wasn’t Duggan, but the board of which he was president, that voted to disallow the remarks they had solicited from Friar Pat Keegans. As the parish priest of Lockerbie on December 21 1988, he came within yards of being a PA103 victim himself. He had bonded with the American and all families who came to the area, and has often been asked for his thoughtful remarks.

But this time Keegans opted to express his feeling that Megrahi was innocent, and that either way his release was justified by Christian compassion for a dying man. Well that’s just not the right message for Arlington. Duggan said they try to “avoid a discussion of the bomber's trial and conviction or of his health," or “any political statements or any discussions of the convicted bomber." President Obama’s counter-terror point man John Brennan was on-hand with some more neutral, appropriate, apolitical messages: “The trial was fair. The guilt of Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi … unjustified release … a deplorable scene on a tarmac in Tripoli … those who assisted him …” [5]

To their credit, the board did send the Friar’s speech to members by e-mail, so they know his stance in that odd corner with Dr. Swire and a few other Brits and, it seems, absolutely none of the hundreds closely related to the 190 Americans killed. Clearly what Duggan meant is that December 21 is a time to remember that we’ve got everything figured out, and that - America’s ability to secure a politically expedient conviction by … means - will be thy solace as the bell tolls at that name that pulls the heartstrings.

In his debate with Galloway, Mr. Duggan was unsure how many families he represented, but when asked “whether there unanimity amongst the families in the United States,” as opposed the widely divergent opinion of UK victims, he responded “Yes there is. I can tell you that. There’s a difference of opinion as to how compassionate we should be. But there’s no difference of opinion as to the guilt of Mr. Megrahi” … I don’t know how to explain it … eight judges have already looked at this and decided the man was guilty beyond a deasonable doubt. There’s no question in anyone’s mind that I know of who’s looked at the evidence. The man - was - guilty.” [5]

In June 2010, the Daily Mail (daily fail) opined on Saif Gaddafi calling Tony Blair and adviser of Tripoli’s, and reported that “last night, families of the 270 Lockerbie victims accused Mr Blair of breaking bread with people who 'have blood on their hands'.” The actual quote was “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.” They say the quote was spoken to them by Mr. Duggan. [6] He isn't even one of the 270 victims' relatives, let alone "families of the 270," but he will keep speaking as if that’s so. And there are structural reasons they’ll continue to obligingly let him, and to say the same things when they speak for themselves.

On Blood Money, More of
As mentioned above, Duggan had in the mid-1990s joined one of the legal teams representing the PA 103 families, and apparently was again a family liaison. In June 1995 Gerson asked him “whether he thought the family members would support a suit against Libya,” the lawyer’s book explained. “George Williams – at that time president of Victims of Pan Am 103 – polled the members of his board.” They had earlier rejected a similar idea by fellow survivor Bruce Smith, “but now, Duggan reported back to Gerson, the board was unanimously in favor.” [1 p229] Duggan added the following, articulating a central theme of Gerson’s book – The Price of Terror:
“Since the majority will still consider monetary compensation ‘blood money,’ the award must be punitive as well as compensatory and be large enough to discourage any government from ever contemplating support for another terrorist act. The families have not made their political efforts for money, rather they have made it for justice and to leave some legacy in the names of their lost loved ones.” [1 p230]

Of course this punishment, "justice," and "legacy" would take the form of huge piles of money. If it’s a problem, is a whole lot more of it the answer? One can also be excused for wondering what role the justice/legacy/punishment money from Libya – an average $10 million per each of the 270 victims – has had in keeping the family members who accepted it quiet about any tiny, itching doubts they might harbor.

Duggan will always help maintain the confidence that they got it right, and assure those left behind that they do not need to re-open, with a critical eye, the trial transcripts they were all given. The families are best equipped to keep that fuzzy view of the end picture and just remind the world as needed - with or without Frank's help - that the heart-stricken families of the far-fallen are ironclad behind the government’s case.

[1] Gerson, Allan and Jerry Adler. The Price of Terror: Lessons of Lockerbie for a World on the Brink. New York, Harper Collins, 2001. First edition. 302 pages.
[2] Forsyth, John. "After 21 years no end in sight to wrangles over Lockerbie." The Scotsman. December 21 2009.
[4] "Another call on Malta: Admit it already!" Caustic Logic. Dec 11 2009. 12/7-9/11 treadmill.
[5] "Keeping the Politics Out of Arlington" Caustic Logic. 12/7-9/11 Treadmill. December 24 2009.
[6] "Tony Blair our very special adviser by dictator Gaddafi's son." Daily Mail, 5 June 2010.

The MEBO Files

1988-91: Eine Intrige in den Studien der Lockerbie-Tragödie!
July 16 2010 (incomplete)

Me ("Caustic Logic"): So you agree, you "know" a bunch of "facts" suggesting the Libyans you knew were up to something at the time of the bombing, involving Libyan Army/JSO, Malta, suitcases, MST-13 timers, the approximate bombing day and time, a blue baby suit, other mixed clothes, Abdelbaset, Badri (left at the end of 1988 mysteriously, you say!), Ezzadin, and what else again?

Edwin Bollier ("ebol," translated): That is the result after 18 years private investigations into and around the Lockerbie Affair, begun after the visit of the 'Third Man' with MEBO, on Friday 30th December 1988 approximate at 10 o'clock A.M. 
Libya and Abdelbaset Al Megrahi are definitely not involved in the Pan Am 103 Lockerbie Tragedy ...
(Source (comments))

Find below the gathered exploits of Herr Edwin Bollier, electronics seller extraordinaire, co-founder of Swiss firm Mebo, and would-be intriguer. Ever since one of Bollier's timers (MST-13) was identified as setting off the bomb on Pan Am 103, the man and his knowledge of Libyan players seemed of great importance. In recent years, he's championed al Megrahi and his nation as victims of a frame-up, but at first, from 1988-1991, he was mumbling a different story and may have had a fairly important role in bringing the case "onto the Libyan track."

> Prelude: From Zurich to Malta to Tripoli to Malta to...
An older piece from my first blog, written last year. Starts to address the issues below, with a side-emphasis on Bollier's theory that the plotters tried to implicate him in the plot by routing him through Malta the day before the bombing.

> Part One: Bollier's "Catch-Letter"
July 1. The story behind the first suggestion to frame Libya, from the man who would become the champion of poor framed Libya. Dateline, Jan 5 1989. A typewriter with Spanish keyset, a letter to the CIA mentioning secret meeting in Libya, a request for payment. The CIA made him do it, with the old "mystery man" device.

> Part Two: Why Bollier Suspected the Libyans.
July 4. Even before the mystery man tasked him with that letter, Bollier had his hunches. Enough to call "Lockerbie bomber" al Megrahi to see if "something had happened." It's got an illogical order for timers, the bombing time entered on one, shuttling between Libya and Europe, prank calls, police interviews, pretending to help in a ceaseless quest to find out who was behind it all.

> Part Three: A Suitcase for Hinshiri
July 6. A brown suitcase, a blue baby suit, a note at the airport, favors for friends, more "favors for friends." Allegations of blackmail. Bollier being "helpful."

> Part four: (No) Money from Megrahi (forthcoming)

> Part Five: Unsure

> Etc...  

Is Schumer 'Shrooming? Return Megrahi to Jail?

July 13 2010

In the unfolding brouhaha over some nonsense spouted by quack doctor Karol Sikora, one headline that popped up: U.S. senators demand Lockerbie bomber is sent back to jail. Nothing in the article actually said that, but it mentioned the activities of four US Senators: Charles Schumer, Frank Lautenberg, Robert Menendez, and Kirsten Gilibrand - all four of the Senators from New York and New Jersey, all Democrat, all united in fury to hear some stuff.

They wrote a letter to the UK's ambassador in Washington, Nigel Scheinwald, who said he'd pass on their questions to the proper Scottish authorities, who would answer. After being denied by those officials, Mr. Schumer and Menendez got fed up and just yesterday made an open call for just what that headline said. Press Release from the office of Senator Schumer:


Dear Mr.Schumer and Mr. Menendez (and/or Lautenberg, Gilibrand, others):

Oh boy, guys, the wrongness is just so thick with this headline and with the text beneath it ... where to begin? Well, most glaringly, as always, you neglect completely to consider the mountains of available evidence that Megrahi was framed by your own government. Loyalty to on high be damned; if you care about the families and justice, you know you'd look into even a slight chance that we got the wrong man. If the real killer of your constituents' relatives may still be at large in, for example, Reston VA, maybe with his kids attending the same school as some younger PA103 relatives, you'd want to know. If witnesses were paid millions and still never really made an identification, wouldn't that be pretty weak for the single direct connection to the bomb? What if there were legitimate concerns that at least two important pieces of physical evidence were planted? There's well more than a slight chance of these and other possibilities, and you show no sign of caring in the least. Can either of you explain this?

Next, "Reports" of a ten year life span (it was "ten or even 20," by the way) is misleading. "Reports" sounds possibly medical, but really what's concerned you is news media repetition of a hypothetical musing from a man of little repute to begin with, Dr. Karol Sikora.
Schumer and Menendez noted the release of al-Megrahi was predicated on his only have [sic] three months to live, yet the doctor who examined him now suggests the bomber of Pan Am flight 103 may well live for another ten years.

He said there was "always a chance" of this, but it is "unusual" and, by extension, highly unlikely. Megrahi has cancer of the pelvis now too, among other things, and no medicine but a morphine drip. That's a real-world sign of the end, compared to words from an apparent charlatan. The Senators have chosen, and have set about making it noisy.

Like so many, the Senators are badly confused in thinking Dr. Sikora, who was paid by Megrahi's Libyan team (I'm not sure by whom exactly), was the sole doctor who examined the prisoner. But that examination is mentioned here to bolster the irrelevant musing cited; Sikora knows Megrahi's health and says he'll live a decade. Like so many, you guys are using Sikora to debunk Sikora, besides confusing that loop with the actual release decision.
"[T]he Scottish government on Friday rejected reinvestigating al-Megrahi’s release, claiming due process had been followed and there was no further need to investigate the decision any further. The senators are demanding the US State Department pressure London to have him returned to prison immediately."

This has been suggested before by you, Mr. Schumer, in November 2009. Now you're back on it backed with Sikora's well-timed Fourth of July words, with Mr. Menendez alongside, and, near the end of the PR, it again looks like Sens. Lautenberg and Gilibrand signed the letter to State:

"In their letter to Secretary Clinton, Schumer, Menendez, Gillibrand, and Lauenberg stated the US Government must do everything in its power to pressure London to put a facilitate a return of this convicted mass murderer of 270 people, 189 of whom were Americans, to Scotland to serve out the remainder of his prison sentence."
Wow. How far should this one go, guys? To the shores of Tripoli itself? Again, please recall that you are still strangely ignorant of the high likelihood that you're flat wrong and deceived about how PA 103 was destroyed. And please consider that before pushing this nonsense any further.

The overriding reasons given for the Obama administration to demand such a return trip are "for the families whose loved ones were murdered, for national security, and for fundamental justice." These are all excellent reasons to look into this confused mess of a release, but only after a thorough review of the original case. Sure, Megrahi decided to drop his own appeal, but why take that as a free ticket to avoid a review, unless you’re afraid of a review? I urge the Senators to pressure the UK and in fact Scotland itself, if they can be bothered, to revive the appeal themselves and look it over in the wide open. You wouldn’t fear that, would you, good Senators?
"The families of the 270 people who were murdered have already once lived through an unthinkable, real-life horror story. It’s as if they now are being forced to live through a sequel. They believed that justice had found the man who killed their loved ones, only to see that the system was rigged and that this terrorist is having the last laugh. This is outrageous and cruel."
With the edits above I could agree with you guys here. The bandage placed over their wound had to come off, and the justice-starved scar was left raw and exposed again. To heal it right will require another painful re-living yet. You're helping stall that, you know. At the rate we're going, only their great-grandkids will finally get to know the truth. Please – you’ve become encrusted with the need to uphold an artificial status quo. Just step aside and stop prolonging the inevitable. Or, get involved in a useful way.

To Senator Chuck in particular: I know it can be frightening to confront the possibility that you’ve been lied to and deceived by a conspiracy so huge. It’s okay to ask advice and draw on the courage of others. I suggest you ring up your "old friends, Joe and Eileen Bailey." They’re imaginary, and so are another part of you, of course. But that kind of externalization can help you scrape up the courage to look long and hard at the facts that are available at, for example, this site.

- Caustic Logic, 13 July 2010

Some Background on Karol Sikora

July 12 2010

Form the moment I heard about Megrahi's magical three-months prognosis, I was a bit suspicious. His appeal was dropped, apparently due to confusion that was allowed to linger, to speed the process that call allowed. As the prognosis gets more and more wrong by the month, that feeling grows. A Dr. Karol Sikora was generally cited as the source of that assessment. Recently, he came out as saying he has no idea - Megrahi could live for ten or twenty years. He's embarrassed to have been wrong, but did nothing wrong.

Below is some information on Dr. Sikora gathered by my compatriot at the JREF Forum, Rolfe, who knows more than I and I'm grateful to her for putting this together. Commentary follows. (original link)
(I have memories of him as a well-respected expert, from many years ago. Either he has changed his approach as he became more senior, or I was mistaken in the first place.)

Look at his involvement in the case of Lisa Norris.

Miss Norris was given 58% too much radiation during her treatment at the Beatson and died at her family home on 18 October 2006.
An internal inquiry following her death found that she had died from her tumour and not from the overdose.
However, that was disputed by an independent report from one of the country's top cancer experts. [....]
Miss Norris's father, Ken, did not want to comment directly on the proceedings.
But his lawyer, Cameron Fyfe, said: "We had a report from Professor Sikora, an expert in oncology, who confirmed that Lisa would probably have survived had it not been for the overdose.
"After further inquiry the professor revised his report to say it was a possibility, not a probability.
"Proof in Scots law is based on the balance of probabilities and that is not enough for the fiscal to proceed with the fatal accident inquiry.
"I think the family are disappointed that Professor Sikora was unable to adhere to his initial view but they accept that it was not appropriate for the FAI to proceed in these circumstances."

That is absolutely classic "hired gun" behaviour. Oh, you think the radiation overdose killed your little girl? Yes, I can go along with that, here's an expert witness report saying so. Then they get to the point where the experts from both sides confer to try to reach an agreement, and he realises he's not on solid ground at all. He revises his report to be less certain than it was originally, and the case collapses.

It's not really, consciously dishonest. It's unprofessional. It's an outlook that aligns itself too closely with the side of the dispute you're talking to, and fails to take a properly professional, unbiassed, disinterested view. I've seen it scores of times in the witness box, often from senior academics.

As y'all know, I'm a big fan of David Colquhoun. What David has to say about Karol is quite distressing.

CRC Public Relations is a conservative PR firm previously known as Creative Response Concepts. ‘Creative’ appears to mean ‘lying’, but I guess that is what PR is all about.

Disgracefully, Karol Sikora, a former oncologist at the Hammersmith Hospital, supported CPR on US television. See
Karol Sikora makes a fool of himself at NHSblogdoctor.
“Karol Sikora had been duped by a slick American businessman into providing a “rent-a-quote” service for a notorious right-wing American organisation”
Sikora now works for the UK’s only private university and a private cancer treatment company. He is also famous
for claiming, falsely, to be a professor at Imperial College (he has an honorary contract with the Imperial College Hospital Trust but nothing with the University). And for promoting a load of nonsense about alternative medicine (a lot more on that coming up shortly).

Karol Sikora, formerly an oncologist at the Hammersmith Hospital, is now Dean of Medicine at the University of Buckingham (the UK’s only private university). He is also medical director at CancerPartners UK, a private cancer company.

He recently shot to fame when he
appeared in a commercial in the USA sponsored by “Conservatives for Patients’ Rights”, to pour scorn on the NHS, and to act as an advocate for the USA’s present health system. A very curious performance. Very curious indeed.

His attitude to quackery is a mystery wrapped in an enigma. One was somewhat alarmed to see him sponsoring a course at what was, at first, called the British College of Integrated Medicine, and has now been renamed the
Faculty of Integrated Medicine That grand title makes it sound like part of a university. It isn’t.

The alarm was as result of the alliance with Dr Rosy Daniel (who promotes an
untested herbal conconction, Carctol, for ‘healing’ cancer) and Dr Mark Atkinson (a supplement salesman who has also promoted the Qlink pendant. The Qlink pendant is a simple and obvious fraud designed to exploit paranoia about WiFi killing you.

The first list of speakers on the proposed diploma in Integrated Medicine was an unholy alliance of outright quacks and commercial interests. It turned out that, although Karol Sikora is sponsoring the course, he knew nothing about the speakers. I did and when I pointed this out to Terence Kealey, vice-chancellor of Buckingham, he immediately removed Rosy Daniel from directing the Diploma. At the moment the course is being revamped entirely by Andrew Miles. There is hope that he’ll do a better job. It has not yet been validated by the University of Buckingham. Watch this space for developments.

Stop press It is
reported in the Guardian that Professor Sikora has been describing his previous job at Imperial College with less than perfect accuracy. Oh dear. More developments in the follow-up.

I happened across this lot after I'd posted my out-dated opinion about Karol Sikora being a respected expert. He may have been at one time. Now he's something else.

Which is actually fairly peripheral to the Megrahi affair. In that situation, all parties involved in the decision were aligned in their wishes. Libya wanted their human sacrifice home, being as they didn't believe Lockerbie was a Libyan operation in the first place and had only agreed to pay compensation for political advantage. The Westminster government wanted him home to get rid of this perennial bump in the road that was complicating their oil deals. And the Holyrood government wanted him home so they could get that appeal stopped. Having Megrahi die in a Scottish jail was also politically unacceptable, as it would have done lasting damage to UK/Middle Eastern relations.

In that situation, just who was paying whom to come up with an agreeable opinion really isn't all that important.


Decky Horton and Her Find

Posted June 17 2010
last edit July 14

This post will gather the evidence of Gwendoline "Decky" Horton regarding her find of a piece of paper, alleged to have been evidence PK/689 (below, compared to a control sample, PT/1). This was alleged to be the cover off the manual for the bomb radio, which had obviously been near a powerful Semtex explosion, since it's - ripped up a bit. The clearly readable model name identified the model used for the bomb (??) as one sold primarily to a Libyan company.
Mrs. Horton and her husband Robert Geoffrey Horton (or Jeff) had been credited as turning the miracle find in to police in Late December, from their farm near the North Sea. The main controversy about this surfaced at trial in 2000 where Decky but not Jeff testified.

Trial testimony
Camp Zeist, day 6 May 10 2000
Witness number 334, Gwendoline Horton
Transcripts pp 962-966

In her remarkably brief questioning, she re-told of finding "what we thought was just debris, possibly from a passing car or something," on the morning after the crash. Soon they heard there was debris everywhere, and a neighbor told them "she understood it was from the plane that had crashed, and that all the local farmers were collecting it in the fields." So Jeff and Decky headed out to gather what they could in case it had any value. From there her testimony runs:
Q And did you hand material in to the police on that day?
A I can't remember if it was that day or the following day.
Q How many times did you hand material in to the police?
A Twice.
 Q And how did you carry this stuff once you'd gathered it?
A Just in a carrier bag, I think, at the time.
Q I would like to ask you about one item in particular. Do you remember coming upon a document of some sort that made reference to a radio cassette player?
A Yes, I do.
Q Can you describe what that item was like?
A Well, from what I remember, it was possibly about -- I know I'm supposed to say it. * About that kind of size, you know, about possibly eight by eight, or something like that, inches.
* This apparently refers to the usual instruction to speak out sizes, directions, etc. rather than gesturing.

Q Could you see writing on it?
A I could see writing, because I remarked to my husband, "This appears to be from a cassette player," or something like that. I do remember it was something electrical.
Q And did you hand that item in to the police?
A Yes, that went into the bag as well.

Q Right. I wonder if you would look, please, at Label 24. You'll see there is a bag which contains items there. Do you recognise anything?
A Well, not in its present state. I'm sure when I handed it in, it was in one piece.
Q Yes.
A Yes.

Q Perhaps -- I wonder if it could be put on the document imager, to see if we can see it. You can see within the police plastic bag, I think as you've described, more than one piece of a document.
And you can at least see writing on it?
A Yes.
Q Do I understand you to say that when you handed it in, it was in one piece?
A It was in one piece, sir. I am practically sure of that, yes.
Q But apart from that, you recognise the item?
A Yes. Uh-huh.

Q Whereabouts did you find that item?
A In the fields -- we are a private house on the roadside. In the field opposite, they are known as the glebe fields, and it was in the bottom glebe field, down beside the burn, down in the bottom. In the dean.
Q Thank you very much.

LORD SUTHERLAND: Thank you, Mrs. Horton. You are free to go. Thank you for coming.
THE WITNESS: Thank you.

2008 Media interest
Following the 2007 SCCRC findings that Megrahi deserved a second appeal, and coming on the 20 year anniversary of the attack, 2008 brought attention to the whole case including the Hortons. The trial controversy had the crew of BBC Conspiracy Files visit the farm and get Decky's story on camera.
BBC Conspiracy Files, 2008: (Starting around 37:30)
"I was taken into court by the usher, and I had to swear the oath. And then I was shown a plastic bag with this ... piece ... of paper in it. But at the time I was asked is this what I had found. And I said well when I found it, it was in one piece. But in the bag there were several pieces, and the name Toshiba was only just discernable by then."
"When I found the piece of paper it was more or less intact - a bit tatty around the edges but it definitely had Toshiba written across And it was in one piece, where this is in several pieces."
Narrator: "The police say the evidence had become degraded because it had undergone hundreds of forensic tests."

> Contemporaneous article, The Sunday Sun (UK)
Geoff and Decky Horton found a key piece of evidence after wreckage was strewn over their farm, located 60 miles from the crash site. But the piece of paper — believed to be from the package which contained the bomb that blew up Pan Am Flight 103 — was damaged after it was handed over to investigators.
Police said the paper was damaged following a battery of forensic tests.
But the documentary says: “Why was the piece of paper so altered from when the Hortons found it? Was it proof of a conspiracy or careless handling by the police? The mystery remains.”
Conspiracy theorists believe key evidence was tampered with to implicate Libya in the bomb plot.


Mrs. Horton didn't independently recall any specific wording, including Toshiba, at trial. All she said before being shown the item was "I remarked to my husband, "This appears to be from a cassette player," or something like that. I do remember it was something electrical." In 2008 she claims to have remembered it saying "Toshiba" in its entirety. This could be a false memory. Nonetheless, I suspect it did say Toshiba. The reason being, this fragment appears to be a plant, one designed to exploit an actual memory.If the fragment had said something else, like Panasonic, she might remember that and cry foul when it later said Toshiba. That would be risky. I doubt she would or should recall the tedious model number, be it RT-SF16 or otherwise. The "BomBeat" or lack it might stand out, but it doesn't seem to have.

I also challenge Mrs.Horton's "several pieces" categorization. It can appear that way, but it's described in eaminations, and is, a single sheet of paper, nearly torn through in spots. THE BBC's coverage of this tricked me at first - the question is whether investigators tore up the paper Decky found on purpose. The real question is whether this was the piece she found at all. If so, it was nowhere near the bomb, and then what a coincidence it's for this model, sold primarily in Libya.

Again, it was allegedly torn through from being inches from an explosion that ruptured a plane's hull at over two feet. Or rather, if one trusts both RARDE and Mrs. Horton, one needs to accept that the manual cover (and no other page) was made "a bit tatty around the edges" by that blast, and torn to nearly to shreds by later forensic testing.

These tests were discussed at the Zeist trial. PK/689 was listed as first received at RARDE on both May 11 and June 30 1989. [link] Dr. Hayes' notes said (paraphrased) "this item was received at RARDE on 11/5/89, and then passed to a DC Jordan on the same date for non-destructive fingerprints, and then returned to RARDE on 16th May, passed to DC Jordan on 16th May for chemical treatment after photography." Jordan, by Hayes' recollection, was with either the Metropolitan police or Scotland Yard. [Zeist trial, day 18]

That's all I can find, and no mention of explosives residue testing. It hardly seems worth the hassle, of course, being so clear on the face of it. In fact, I'm half surprised they didn't claim Megrahi's prints from this find.

Container Geometry and Blast Location

July 14

This post is just to visually work out some doubts I had about suitcase arrangement in container AVE 4041. The premise I've been thinking of is the two suitcases reported by John Bedford, taken as matching, and as both matching the single identified model - Samsonite Silhouette4000 series hardshell case, antique copper/maroony brown in color, 22x26 inch frame. (further details)

The official findings of the UK Air Accident Investigation Branch established the approximate blast center within the container. In Appexdix F of their 1990 report, Thomas Claiden placed the event near the outboard end, and near floor level - the most potent nexus, slosest to the plane's own fragile skin. Its height was found to be around ten inches above the pallet's floor level, in a suitcase placed on top of another, rather than on the floor itself. In general, I agree with these findings so far. The floor panel seems to have been shielded from the blast, and my own view will be generally the same, give or take a few inches.

The neighboring container AVN 7511 bore a 5-inch hole straight across from this blast center. Some item(s) apparently entered the fiberglass back wall of 7511. A piece of AVE4041's aluminum outboard panel, and two fragments of the primary suitcase's hinge end wound up embedded in the luggage of Heathrow-originating passengers in the next container. The hole was centered 10 inches up, and was the main fact cited by the AAIB to establish the blast height. Below, a side-by-side. "CL Estimate" explained below (see "vertical difference")  

After some reflection I've decided the clue is more ambiguous than it seems. It presupposes a directly lateral blast with no vertcal angle - a 2-d solution to a 3-d problem. A normal explosion tends to be omnidirection of course, so debris and force can travel in any straight line, so long it's generally OUT. They really have no reason to be certain of the exact height.

This comparison of Claiden's figures F-10 (inverted) and F-13 show how much ambiguity there is in the "official story." F-13 is working with an extra 25" measure to aircraft skin, which would be a bit further if that red dot were also shown 10"above the floor as labeled, not 7.5" as shown.  Compare the two10"lines at left and right F-10 is also wrong in the report, but corrected in this remix (left,backwards) At right is F-13's wrong measure.)

Inboard-Outboard Placement
Claiden's official decision was that the blast was  2"outboard - that is, towards the hull - of the upright door edge member. That is shown in F-13 (right) and would put it just behind the small outboard panel, the only metal span on that whole face, near its bottom pointed end. The AAIB's Thomas Claiden decided this because the blast had to be outboard of the vertical door edge member. That bar suffered direct blast  damage on the inner side, but not on its inboard face (right side here)

However, note in the comparison above, the outboard  edge of that yellow-shaded hole in 7511 (left edge here) is a bit outboard (left) of the door edge. The two sketches did not fit exactly, so the degree is unsure. It's nearly 2"in, so it may be significant. The apparent center of the hole, marked "+" by Claiden, suggest a blast just barely inboard (right) of that member. If so, no metal was between the blast's dead center and that fiberglass wall, aside from the suitcase frame. And its blast line would then angle slightly left, and would explain  the door edge's "shadow" being a bit outboard from straight across, as it seems to be.     

This wouldn't really conflict with Claiden's damage-based assessment, and the image at right, of different positions in the container, shows why. He called it 2"outboard only because the inboard face of the door edge member was not blast-damaged (image), and center #1 is roughly what Claiden decided. Clearly it would not impact the right hand face of that bar, but neither really would blast center #2,  which I propose. The inboard face would  technically recieve the blast, but only glancingly, not enough interference to invite pitting or burning of any notable degree. The green arrow here leads (roughly) to the sudden edge of the hole in AVN7511, a bit outboard of the blast. Only center 3 as shown here would clearly conflict with Claiden's findings and really blast that inner surface. I'm sure this isn't precise, and in fact I ammend my proposal to a hair left of the #2 as shown. But that's the concept to consider.

Vertical Difference
My proposal is of course a matching set of cases stacked one on the other, and so the thickness/depth of the model is important. At trial this was given as 8.9 inches, which I've rounded to nine. In fact, however, it might be rounded down, given the several cases stacked on top of them would cause a slight compression. This should be noted, because generally, two cases this thickseems a minor problem. If the blast height was10", it wouldhave to be centered at the very bottom of the upper case, rather than dead-center inside it.

It's not a huge problem, obviously, but one I wanted to tackle. The explosive center of the bomb radio could have simply been placed right along the bottom. But one clue complicates that: a purple case dubbed PH/137, which was probably in AVN 7511,  was apparently pierced by two pieces of the IED suitcase(s). Specifically, those pieces were from the case's magnesium alloy frame, which runs around the middle, base/hinge end. Bedfrod reported his Samsonite style brown cases as laid handle ends in, so bases towards  ANV 7511. This is consistent with them being stacked but not  rotated.

The distance between containers is unknown - I lost where I did the math on the forward hold in Fig F1, but it's not precise to begin with. It came out a tight squeeze - for  eight rows of LD3 containers, leaves about 2 inches average between the rows. I used a 1.5" and 3" distance below, app. Considering both container distance and IED placement within the suitcase, these are the approximate closest and furthest scenarios below. Note that nether is implausible, and both put the neighboring damage lower than the blast center.

The relevant line passes through the middle frame to carry a piece through that hole and intoPH/137. This is now about 15 or 16 inches above the container floor. It's way off from what the AAIB said, but  can anyone show how it must be wrong?

A Problem on the AVE 4041 Side
A possible complication arises from the face across from 7511. The closes (aft-facing) face of container AVE 4041 PA is shown diagram by Mr.Claiden, figure F-5, below. The outer frame and left-hand (outboard) panel, plus the bar across the middle, are all the metal here. The large middle span with the X would be a retractable door of blue tarp, easily shredded away by a Semtex blast. 

Intriguingly, this is the only face with no photograph present in appendix F. The image below is a screen cap of an online re-showing of an old ABC News segment. It seems to show the same things about the outboard panel: top peeled back, a large span missing in the middle, and one solid sheet, bowed out a bit, in front of the bomb position.
Why was that upper middle span never recovered? Was there another bomb on the fourth level up? And why is the lower portion, right in front of half the explosion, in one piece?  At the very very bottom, a foot below the bomb, one small spot seems missing from the outside. But one solid sheet, not even torn by the bomb so near, rests above it. From the inside, the bottom couple inches of the vertical bar are severely pitted. This is shown at right, with the mysterious panel not attached (so no interior view of it). This extremely low damage is puzzling in any scenario I favor so far.

But the intact panel is strangest of all. It is more consistent with my inboard blast center notion, in which the dead-center at least is not behind the panel. But it's not consistent enough. That too would at least tear that panel severely. And there was that piece of container skin that was found stuck in the heel of a shoe within the next container  - where did it come from if not this span between the low-level bomb and the hole into AVN 7511?

Perhaps there's a simple explanation, but it eludes me for now.

A Suitcase for Hinshiri

The MEBO Files, Part 3 
July 6 2010

Note: This post is longer than the others, more rambling and with more loose ends. Apologies, it's just a lot to figure out and organize.
Cited throughout: Camp Zeist trial transcripts, days 25 and 26, June 21/22 2000.

A Letter to Hinshiri
Mebo co-founder and Libya-implicator Edwin Bollier started giving – or trying to give - bogus intelligence about the Lockerbie bombing to American investigators at the beginning of 1989. He didn’t become important, however, until the discovery in June 1990 that a Mebo timer (MST-13) was amongst the wreckage from Lockerbie. Before the year was out and well into 1991 Edwin went “on the record” with a string of stories about the timers and his dealing with Tripoli. One Bollier-FBI meeting occurred in Zurich on January 14 1991 and, among other things, helped set in motion the “fact” (a fact Bollier later renounced) that his MST-13 timers were sold only to Libya. But at the time, this important distinction helped tighten the noose. That fragment really does 99% prove Libyan authorship, as Bollier had told them from the beginning.

Shortly after this, on Feb. 6 1991 the Swiss jabberjaw wrote a letter to his friend Ezzadin Hinshiri of the Libayn JSO intelligence agency. At the Zeist trial in 2000 he explained this was “to make it clear to these people what was going on, what was happening, because our timer was in question.” Mr. Turnbull for the Crown questioned Bollier about this letter:

Q Was this in any sense designed to be a threat to Mr. Hinshiri?
A No. No. We simply wanted to inform him that something big was coming towards us, and that also the Libyan military security might be involved. We just wanted to inform him.

Q But, you see, the first thing that you explained to him in the letter is that you'd been spoken to by the police. And then you go on to tell him that you told the police that [the 20 MST-13s] had been sold to a gentleman in Beirut. Is that correct? Is that what you said in the letter?
A That is correct. Yes.

Q Was that true, what you said in the letter?
A No. We haven't sold any to Beirut. I remember now. This letter also was about telling people and that they wouldn't think that we were testifying against them, because at the time the matter was being covered in the media. We just wanted to explain to them that something was in the offing that might be of interest to them, and simply they were our business friends, after all.

Q Was it designed to be a warning to Mr. Hinshiri?
A No. I just wanted to orient him.

Q You see, because after telling him the lie about saying to the police you'd sold timers to Mr. Khouri in Beirut, you went on in the letter to give Mr. Hinshiri some more information […] about the suitcase that you had taken to Libya for Badri Hassan.”
A That is correct. Yes. […] We informed him briefly what was happening. And this is precisely what we wrote.
It was neither warning nor threat, just a friendly tip-off that they were in the process of being framed by someone. The additional about a certain suitcase read, in part: "I remembered myself that this suitcase was brought by Mr. Badri to our office, and he asked me to take it to Tripoli. He mentioned the suitcase contains clothes for a friend."

Under Crown questioning in 2000, Bollier explained “I wrote to him that the police had asked about that suitcase. […] I just wanted to explain to him, and tell him what the police had asked about.” Mysteriously, he managed to squeeze this in before being cut off again:
"The police told me that if I were to go to Libya, I was not actually going on orders of the police to Libya. And this is why I mentioned it in the letter, so that they wouldn't think that we had made up the story in order to accuse the Libyans. That was the reason for the letter.”

The Case, its Contents, and Journey
Having cleared that up, we turn to the suitcase itself. Bollier says he first saw it on December 17, 1988, in the hands of “Mr. Badri,” or Badri Hassan - a business associate of his and of al Megrahi’s. Bollier was leaving in the morning to take a batch of Olympus timers to Tripoli, and Hassan, who shuttled back and forth himself routinely, wanted the Mebo boss to take this case with him. “He brought it to the MEBO firm premises,” Bollier explained at Camp Zeist. “It stayed there over the night, and in the morning I took it with me on my trip.”

Just as he was careful to re-set all his brand-new timers to zero before leaving, he says he took stock of this suitcase. As he said at trial, “one should always inspect luggage one is taking for somebody else into a plane […] because something dangerous may be contained in the luggage.” Nothing dangerous was inside – nothing but an odd assortment of men’s women’s and children’s clothing like Hassan said. “Badri told me they were new children's clothes which he wanted to send to a friend who owned a boutique in Libya.” Elsewhere he says it was for a friend with a family, or “was to be for a wedding.” After the Libyan had left into the Zurich evening, Bollier “opened the case and checked what was in it. It was not locked,” he explained. “It was a brown leather suitcase with an additional leather security strap.”

Knowing Bollier’s style and seeing lines like “I didn't know what was finally going to happen to the suitcase” suggest he was going to call it a brown hardshell Samsonite. But he says it was a leather case instead, which is a relief – unless he were to recall it only had a brown leathery surface but was made of hard plastic. That in fact sounds like the kind of thing Herr Bollier might suddenly remember somewhere. But he did manage to faintly tie its content to the bombing (see below).

In his December 17 1990 interview, records relating to his travels were referred to:
Q … it can be seen that you checked in a piece of luggage weighing 19 kilos. What was this?"
A I took my personal luggage into the cabin with me as hand luggage in a large briefcase, including the timers. The case in question which I checked in was a suitcase with new children's clothes, which I was taking to Tripoli […] Badri Hassan […] asked me to deliver the suitcase and its contents to Ezzadin [Hinshiri]'s office in Tripoli.
At the airport, he was handed an additional note before leaving Zurich. It was from Mr. Hassan to Mr. Hinshiri, “and at the front of the letter there was an address, to which the suitcase was to be brought.” Unsealed, of course, it was written mostly in Arabic, but with a section in English he could read, more or less, to say “that it was for a friend – that these garments were for a friend, something like that.”

As instructed, Bollier left the case and the note with “the driver, Mr. Ali,” he explained at trial. It was understood tat Mr. Ali would deliver it to Hinshiri. Elsewhere, “I had to take the suitcase along, and that the suitcase was then deposited in [Hinshiri’s] office. And later on the driver took it again. This is the only link.” The last two lines are ambiguous, but this does suggest a link he was allowed to see in detail – the clothes for the bomb bag, and perhaps the bomb bag itself, sent via a talkative Swissman.
Q I see. Now, over the years since you've been explaining your involvement in this incident to people, has there grown some confusion about one of the items that was in the suitcase?
A No. Later on, it was quite clear that there was no umbrella in that suitcase. We compared that, because there's another suitcase involved in the Lockerbie case, and the question arose as to whether the garments have anything to do with this. And that is why one dealt with that suitcase as well.
Q Well, was there a child's suit in the suitcase, Mr. Bollier?
A There was no child's suit in the suitcase…

The Blue Baby Suit
The “blue babygro” is a relatively famous piece of evidence in the Lockerbie case. It was originally a blue full-body pajama-type suit, perhaps of stretch material (hence “gro”), with foot covers built in, and a lamb design on the front. Bits and fibers of it were found everywhere in the blast-damaged luggage, suggesting it was in the bomb bag. It stands out as a morbid reminder that the plotters knew children might be killed.

Enough of the tiny body suit’s tag remained to show it was made in Malta, and it was one of the more memorable items (along with the umbrella) that shopkeeper Tony Gauci recalled selling to the “mystery shopper” some weeks prior to the bombing. Bollier claims he was the source of this item, or at least of one remarkably similar.

A ... What I did was to add a blue baby's overall for the driver, Mr. Ali.
Q So was that a present from you?
A That was a present for Mr. Ali and, in fact, for his son. He asked me for it.
Q He asked you for it?
A That is correct. Because a year before, I already gave him such a little suit, which was apparently too small. So he asked me to bring another one, and cigarettes.
Q All right. Now, over the years that you've been discussing your involvement in this incident, have you become a bit confused sometimes about how the child's suit got to Tripoli?
A Yes. I would say yes. This is the second mysterious story, and I need to explain it to you.

Seems like a good cut point to explain in his interview of Jan 14 1991 he said "the suitcase contained new ladies' and men's clothes from the Jemoli store. […] Specifically, I can only remember a blue children's suit and Jemoli labels."” (Jemoli is a department store in Zurich) He’s saying here it was among the items he saw inside the case after opening it. It was the one that stood out, among the items he did not buy.

At Zeist he stammered “perhaps I put the baby overall in Badri's suitcase when I went to Tripoli.” That really doesn’t explain his statement. He says investigators sent him a “film” to explain how the blue baby suit was supposed to be bought on Malta, not at Jemoli. And the “second mysterious story:”
“[T]his testimony that most likely I had put the suit into the suitcase all the way to Tripoli wasn't left and corrected, but instead it was deleted on the computer. Sometimes I would make a mistake when a record was being taken, and each and every time the sentence was left standing and was typed again. But that time they didn't even want to know it. They deleted that sentence. And this was the third mysterious story in this whole Lockerbie incident.”
Oops, sorry, missed a mystery. But one allegedly missing sentence out of hundreds - of complete bulls*** - is not a compelling clue of cover-up. Bollier was then confronted with the earlier statement that he first saw it clearly standing out amongst the clothing Hassan had sent – he agreed he had said it, and signed it, but disagreed that it was true.
A No. That is not true. We corrected that later on. This is what is so mysterious. I was then being asked whether I didn't just see that on the film, and I was being sent by the federal police a film about Lockerbie so that I could see that there was no blue children's overall -- or that a blue overall was being bought in Malta. And I was convinced of something else then.

Q We understand that you think there is a mystery, but what I am asking you is simply – the question I asked.

Ever So Helpful
In a previous post, I mentioned Bollier’s “helpful phase” regarding the Lockerbie investigation. He responded “My helpful phase of support for Libya in the Lockerbie Case, from February 1991 till now and is to prove that Libya and Abdelbaset Al Megrahi do not have anything to do with the Lockerbie-Tragedy.” Why Febrruary? “After the visit of the Swiss federal police (BUPO) with MEBO, I informed Libya of the investigation against Libya in the case of Lockerbie (MST-13 timer). See Kamp van Zeist, Prod. 291, this letter is written in February 1991, and the date is February the 6th.”

Authorities had been speaking with him about the case for at least three months by then, and his first tip-off to Tripoli is the letter this article opened with. In this case his help consisted of alerting Mr. Hinshiri that police were asking about the timers and also about “that suitcase,” presumably because he had told the police about it in the first place.

I would presume there was never any response, and like his earlier phone calls to Hinshiri and Megrahi, Herr Bollier probably took the silence as alarming. He probably hoped the investigation – to which he sent a copy of the letter - would find it just as suspicious. Perhaps they did, but being a Bollier lead, it was apparently too kooky to follow up on.
Postscript: From the archives, referring to Meister's, not Bollier's, testimony.

The defence also accused Mr Meister and Mr Bollier of trying to blackmail one of their Libyan business contacts, Ezzadin Hinshiri, in February 1991 after they had received a visit from the Swiss police about the Lockerbie affair. Mr Meister acknowledged they wrote a letter informing Hinshiri of the police inquiries and offering to tell the authorities the timers were sold to someone in Beirut, not Libya. They ended the letter asking if any more business was possible with Libya.

"Wasn't this a blatant attempt to extract business, lucrative business, in exchange for telling lies?" Mr Burns asked. Mr Meister denied this, saying they had only written the letter to placate Mr Hinshiri since they feared for their safety.

Meister did admit that MEBO was in the process of arranging loans from Libya during the time of the early investigations into the crash. Challenged by the defence that he and MEBO had offered to cover for Libya by stating that they had sold timers to an extremist group in Beirut, Meister denied this.

Megrahi's Three-Month Prognosis

Caustic Logic
April 4 2010
last update July 12

I wanted to bump this old aimless post as a spot to sort out details on Megrahi's prognosis, with links to other posts on specific aspects.

- Confusion over who was responsible for the prognosis are addressed here: Dr.Karol Sikora does appear to be the "one doctor" who was willing to say three months.

- Dr. Karol Sikora has some troubling suggestions of being a "hired gun" and his findings being suspect. He was paid by Libyan clients in mid-2009 when he reached the prognosis he understood them to want. That's clearly troubling from a standpoint of professional ethics.

- Then Dr. Sikora was unfortunately quoted July 4 ruminating that hypothetically, "there was always a chance he could live for ten years, 20 years . . . But it's very unusual." It was July4. "British Petroleum's" oil was/is still gushing into the Gulf. BP had also lobbied for Megrahi's release. Somehow...the story resonnated and sparked a s**tstorm of fury and indignation and words.

- Four senators wrote to the UK ambassador in DC, Nigel Sheinwald July 8, asking for an investigation. Rebuked, they called on the State Department July 12 to press for Megrahi to be put back in jail.
Original Test, April 4
The 21-year old Lockerbie case has enjoyed an increased profile over the last six months, and that has of course been due to the early release, last August, of convicted conspirator Abdelbaset al Megrahi. Have no doubt, innocent though he surely is, the man was legally convicted and stands legally guilty (right?), and was released with that assumption, based on something disbelievingly quoted in quotes as, quote, "compassion." Meaning, to so many minds, some Scottish (?) greed for Libyan oil, or something.

But in fact, as they know, the compassionate release was based on al Megrahi's prognosis of terminal prostate cancer, set to kill him within three months. Scottish law demands a prisoner with three months or less to live should be allowed to die at home - compassion, if not for the prisoner, than for his innocent family. People were angered immediately that mr. Megrahi should be given that privelege when the people he was convicted of killing recieved no such "compassion." And as three months stretched to four, five, six, and now seven, with conflicting reports and opinions on his life expectancy from here, well, people might start wondering if he could be taken back to jail...

I'm no expert on the relevant laws, nor on the medical angle, nor on oil negotiations where Libya demanded its terrorist back. So I won't even try for an eludicating post on this for the moment. Rather, I'm hoping this time for comments from other readers. It's been a hot issue at Professor Robert Black's blog The Lockerbie Case recently.  But for my own part, to start or in case no one else comments here...

I understand there is some room for improved condition with family support and a home environment that would turn three months into something longer. But it's starting to push that envelope as well, and as I've said elsewhere, I can also see the logic of manipulating the science to fit a political agenda. I of course see it less as trading terroritst for oil as trading a framed patsy home-death for the dropping of his appeal. After he released his appeal documents to the court of public opinion instead, it became confusing why he dropped it with such an amazing case and a third try at clearing his name - unless he knew it was required in order to leave.

And then there are the valid question about the diagnosis. Perhaps these two questions of political medicine and perplexing surrender answer each other?

The Scottish Governments deny any connection to the release aside from the 3-month prognosis - it was decided on the medical records only. To my knowledg no one had specified if the diagnosis itself (or rather its acceptance) was the result of any such deals ...

There are numerous related issues here - Megrahi's secret meeting with Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, the medical details of the diagnosis, the (still?) unnamed doctor originating the opinion, the dropping of Megrahi's appeal so soon after the prognosis, the relation between Prisoner Transfer Agreements, compassionate release, standing appeals, Megrahi's understanding and his legal team's maneuvers, and, yes, UK political concerns, Libyan relations, oil and business deals, etc. Here are some excellent insights on the PTA phase of talks from Professor Black, from his own dealing between Libya and the UK government.