Tuesday, 23 June 2009

The Truth, Trust, Inconsistencies and Contradictions of Lockerbie

[This is the heading over a lengthy and important recent post on the Ed's Blog City weblog. Reproduced below is the bulk of the text of the post.]

Since the release of the Dutch TV documentary, "Lockerbie:Revisted", a number of curious unexplained inconsistencies in the accounts given by many of those who led the investigation have remained unchallenged. Officially anyway. The documentary maker Gideon Levy asked a number of important questions, crucial to the investigation and pivotal to the whole case, which were quite clearly not satisfactorily answered. Even more astounding, given the position and power of those in the investigation, some of the answers given by those entrusted to find those guilty of the bombing in 1988 directly conflicted with one another.

Mr Levy's first unexplained question relates to the PFLP-GC cell which was exposed by the German BKA and who's members were arrested in Neuss, Germany in October 1988, two months before the Pan Am bombing. They had been discovered with an array of weapons including a radio cassette manipulated into a bomb designed specifically for targeting aircraft. The key member of this group Marwan Khreesat, seemingly known to be the bomb maker, and part of a group planning on attacking American targets, was inexplicably released without charge and was thought to have left Germany for Jordan. After the bombing over Lockerbie, and it was determined that the bomb had been concealed in a radio cassette player, naturally suspicion focussed on the cell that had been exposed in Germany.

Lord Fraser, the former Lord Advocate entrusted in leading the investigation into the bombing, claims that the Scottish authorities were never given the opportunity to question Khreesat at any point with regard to any connection or knowledge about the Lockerbie bombing. Mr Khresat's involvement with the PFLP group and yet subsequent release can only be explained by deducing he was involved with very powerful individuals with the capability of securing such a release, and we can only conclude that the chance to question him was denied due to Khreesat's complex and unclear association with various intelligence and government agencies.

Richard Marquise, head of the FBI investigative team, states that he does not know why Khreesat was released by the Germans, and it is a matter Mr Levy should take up with the German government to clarify. Mr Marquise considers an explanation may be that Khreesat was working for the Palestinian group, as a bomb maker targeting US trains, bases and aircraft, but was also involved with the Jordanian intelligence services who enabled his release from Germany. Lord Fraser however, suggests that the only plausible explanation was that Khreesat was working for the Palestinian group while also involved with US intelligence therefore facilitating his release from Germany and proving someone who the Scottish authorities could not gain access to interview.

This in itself seems a disturbing chain of events and assumptions by those investigating the bombing of 103, and even more inexplicable to those who expect honest endeavour when seeking truth and justice from the investigators, especially given the nature of Khreesat's activities in Germany and his apparent history of expertise in bomb making. This cynicism is merely strengthened when Mr Fraser had stated unequivocally that neither he nor the Scottish prosecutors had ever gained access, despite repeated attempts, "they (the PFLP-GC cell) had simply disappeared", to interview Khreesat, while Mr Marquise seems quite indifferent to the fact that the German authorities had simply released a man of extremely dubious background clearly engaged in activities to cause serious harm to American citizens and institutions.

Mr Marquise does however state that to his knowledge Scottish prosecutors did in fact interview Khreesat, as did the FBI in 1989, clearly contradicting Lord Fraser's position, and that Scottish investigators were happy to accept Khreesat's word during an interview that he knew nothing of the Lockerbie bombing. That a key figure such as Khreesat, the man that according to Mr Marquise was "building the bombs", with the motive, method and capability of attacking US targets, and whether investigators had interviewed him or not, is not conclusively known to either of the two people leading the investigation, is simply incomprehensible.

Mr Levy then enquires about the possibilty of financial payments made to witnesses before, during or subsequent to the trial at Zeist in Holland where Al-Megrahi was found guilty. Inducement had been made to the public by the US authorities to "Give up these terrorists, and we'll give you upto $4 million" by the way of posters with photographs of the two Libyans, and presumably, naturally, by those investigating while interviewing suspects or witnesses. Even if not explicitly offered to those potential witnesses by investigators, the witnesses would be well aware of the financial reward that was available for the successful conviction of the two Libyan's.

Both Lord Fraser and Mr Marquise deny any financial reward, as promised in the posters and adverts issued, was made before or during the trial. However, while Lord Fraser is unaware of any payment subsequent to the trial, Mr Marquise will not comment. The only implication that can be made from this is that the reward offered before the trial and during the investigation was indeed paid to some witnesses after the trial. Any financial reward or inducement to those providing statements would surely render any testimony or information as lacking credibility and does not enhance the supposed search for 'truth' when life changing amounts of money are used as enticement.

So concerned with the implication of rewards to witnesses that Lord Fraser is reluctant to even comment on the suggestion that money was paid to witnesses after the trial without his knowledge.

The focus of the documentary then turns to the most pivotal and crucial piece of evidence found during the investigation and presented at the trial in Zeist. The fragment of microchip discovered 6 months (although the exact period has been disputed) after the disaster, and determined to be the most significant piece of evidence linking the bomb to a Swiss timer manufacturer who had links to Megrahi and Libya.

This particular piece of evidence, the microchip fragment, already somewhat controversial given the unexplained altering of the labels on evidence bags containing the 'charred' fragments, was examined and concluded had originated with the Swiss company called 'Mebo'. They had supplied these timers, it was claimed, to Libya, and Megrahi with his connections and dealings with Mebo, had used this timer in constructing the bomb which he then placed on a flight in Malta, later finding it's way onto the Pan Am flight from Heathrow.

Now it seems, neither Lord Fraser or Mr Marquise can conclusively explain who exactly made this identification of the timer fragment, and where this identification was made. In the UK or in Washington? By Mr Thurman or Mr Feraday? The fragment itself, or as part of the larger circuit board from where the fragment came? By photograph or the actual fragment?

Mr Marquise is certain that this evidence was transported from the UK to the US, and taken to the FBI labs in Washington, by a member of RARDE, thought to be Alan Feraday were the identification was made. The photograph of the tiny piece of fragment of the microchip (evidence PT35b) on a persons finger is claimed to be that of Thomas Thurman of the FBI, who was also the scientist who uncovered the microchips origin and connection to the circuit board made by Mebo. He claims in Mr Levy's film that the microchip was "brought over by UK authorities" to the United States were identification was made, and was conclusively re-identified in the UK by RARDE (Royal Armament Research and Development Establishment).

However, once again there are contradictions in the accounts given. Lord Fraser is adamant that no evidence recovered from the Pan Am debris has ever left his authority or the UK mainland. This would have compromised the whole investigation and could have resulted in accusations of manipulation and, or, contamination of any evidence purity. Detective Chief Supt Mr Stuart Henderson, head of the UK police investigation, also states that the evidence relating to Pan Am 103, any evidence, but specifically the fragment of microchip, never left the UK mainland, but in actual fact the US investigators and the FBI had travelled to the UK to identify the fragment at RARDE with Mr Feraday.

When the public are asked to trust the integrity of those we commend with providing the truth and justice our democratic society demands, expectations can be, on occasion, somewhat unrealistic. Especially when dealing with highly complex issues of international politics, international crimes of nation states and multi-national business corporations. The public however, do expect a genuine and honest search for these truths, and those we charge with this responsibility to fulfil those simplest and most honourable tasks to have carried out their duty, with conscience and integrity.

Those who died over Lockerbie, and the families of the victims deserve at least this. With the pain of a lost loved one however, the relatives of those who died have also had to endure the persistent inaccuracies, the constant contradictions, and the inexplicable decisions taken with respect to those who carried out the atrocity and how their government failed in their loved ones protection. Not by those who wish to seek conspiracies were there are none, and not by those who have ulterior motives for continuing to ask questions. But by the very investigators, police, professionals, experts, lawyers and those in power entrusted with upholding their faith in human kind and seeking justice in the supposed democratic nation we live in today. For those fundamental expectations and hopes are diminished with every conflicting statement, every unexplained area of the investigation, and every inscrutable and unaccountable decision taken by those with power in relation to finding the true perpetrators who organised and carried out the crime over Lockerbie in 1988.


  1. The message for the five Judges from Ed's Blog City is clear: when the appeal court reconvenes on 7 July 2009, they should immediately quash Mr Megrahi's conviction. Their decision could be based mainly upon the submissions to the court made in May 2009 by Maggie Scott QC about the unreliability of Tony Gauci's identification evidence.

    Of course, such an abridged Appeal hearing would prevent our knowing all about "The Truth, Trust, Inconsistencies and Contradictions of Lockerbie". But, on the other hand, Mr Megrahi would be free to spend his last days with his wife and children in Libya.

  2. Ed raises the curious matter of the release of "CIA asset" Marwan Khreesat from custody and notes (as I did) Richard Marquise's astonishing claim that Scottish prosecutors had actually interviewed Khreesat.

    What I find difficult if not impossible to grasp is why the "special defence" at Camp Zeist named the Directors of the Mischa Bakery (giving some credence to the fraudulent claim that the bomb began its journey in Malta) but did not name Khreesat (and another obvious suspect.)

    Their Lordships could therefore invent the claim that Khreesat had been instructed by "Jordanian intelligence" (i.e.the CIA) to make his devices harmless and accept his hearsay denials of involvement as he had not named him in the "special defence".

  3. According to at least one of the books on Lockerbie, when the Scottish prosecutors finally got to meet Khreesat, they were allowed one question out of a list of questions, previously submitted in writing. That question was, allegedly,"are you willing to appear at Camp Zeist, either in person or by video link?" And the answer was something like "I can't just now, for family reasons". Certainly it was an interview of sorts...

  4. The PFLP-GC cell in Germany was on the radar of investigators after the bombing of Pan Am 103. It was clear they had motivation and means to carry out the attack. Mr. Khreesat was released from custody by the German judicial system before Pan Am 103 was bombed. Only the judges involved can say with any degree of certainly why they chose to release him and allow him to return to his home country.
    I do know that Scottish police unilaterally attempted to interview Mr. Khreesat without success in 1989. The FBI did succeed in November 1989 to interview him and an FBI agent testified at the Lockerbie trial as to the results of that interview.
    People smarter than I conducted the interview and based on what he said, we concluded his bomb did not destroy the Pan Am jet. Forensic evidence would later substantiate that assumption.
    The FBI interviewed him in November 1989 and despite objections from various governments, the results of the interview were provided to Scottish police officials in January 1990. I am not aware if the information was shared with the Lord Advocate.
    Regarding financial payments, I will only repeat what I have said in the past--no witness was ever promised any money in exchange for their testimony. Each was told to tell the truth with no promise of inducements.
    I will be very clear about the fragment known as PT-35-- I first learned of its existence in January 1990 when told about it at a meeting in Lockerbie. The Scottish police attempted for six months to identify it and when that effort failed, a photograph was provided to Tom Thurman who made a tentative identification as being connected to a timer which had been recovered in Senegal in 1988 in the possession of Libyan intelligence officials. Scottish police were requested to travel to the US in June 1990 and I believe (I did not see the fragment -PT-35- at that time) PT-35 came to the US in possession of Alan Feraday and Scottish police officials. A comparison was made in the FBI lab and positively linked to the timer which would later be connected to the Swiss company MEBO. The fragment was NEVER in the possession of the US and returned to the UK in the possession of Feraday. Several months later--in an effort to consolidate evidence, the timer in the possession of the US which led to the Thurman identification, and later confirmed by Feraday, was delivered to the Scottish police by me.
    The photograph of a "fragment" on the end of a finger is NOT PT-35 despite the claims by the writer of Ed’s blog--it is of another circuit board.
    The statement attributed to Mr. Henderson is only partially correct. It is true that I traveled to RARDE to see the fragment as I had not seen it at the FBI lab in June 1990. I went to RARDE in the spring of 1991 to see the fragment. In the US, evidence is routinely sent for laboratory examination by many methods--hand carry, FedEx etc. This fragment was a piece of evidence in a crime which affected many countries and the US was certainly a key player in the investigation. No international investigation would be successful if we did not have complete sharing of information---something which we did not do for the entirety of the investigation but was fortunately happening just after PT-35 was identified. I am not aware that any chain of custody was ever broken in this case to cause anyone to question the veracity of this fragment.
    All evidence was handled as every citizen of the world should expect and in accordance with the law. I know that each of the investigators in this case would be willing to stand up and say we did the right thing--every time and did consider the victims and ensured justice was served in this case. It is high time naysayers who have no knowledge of what "we who did it" did, get over the fact that just maybe we did the right thing even if we did not achieve a solution which made everyone happy.

  5. Funnily enough, the Wikipedia biography on Alan Feraday that I created on 14 May 2009 has just been deleted for no good reason (see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_talk:PJHaseldine#Block ).

    Despite its deletion, Alan Feraday's biography can be read, for the time being at least, at the following url:

  6. I am deeply puzzled by the questions over Marwan Khreesat...

    1: Pieree Salinger andJohn Coolie (both of ABC) intervoewed Khreesat at a military base just outside Amman in NOvember 1989 one week BEFORE 3 FBI special agents interviewed him! (I have Salinger's orginal notes!)

    THREE PFLP-GC members WERE tried and imprisoned in Germany having been found guilty in respect of charges of planting a bomb on a US troop train - they have since been released and 'vanished'.

    Kreesat was arrested duringoperation Autumn Leaves i n Frankfurtand then released into the custody of Bundes Nachtsrietsdienst (Geramn Foreign Secret Service) wine and dined in a five star hotel and placed onto a flight to Amman (Jordan).

    He was at the very least a double (Possibly triple) agent working principally for the Jordanian Security Services.

    AT THE TIME OF HIS RELEASE by the Germans - he WAS the subject of an Interpol Red File (Fiche Rouge) having an unserved life prison service imposed during a trial in absentia by the Italisn Judiciary.

    Mr. Marquises. selective memory and apparent ignorance is somewhat puzzlking given he was 'in charge' of the SCOTBOM squad.

  7. I would apologise about the mis-spelling in my earlier post caused by deteriorating eyesight.

    1: Tom Thurman was so discredited by the International Commission of Inquiry into serious allegations regarding Thurman and the FBI explosives laboratory. I commend anyone to read the volumous findings of the Comission. Shortly after it's publication, Mr. Thurman (and others) left the Bureau.

    2: I am, however, grateful to Mr. Marquise for confirming that all Thurman had was a photograph.

    3: The Scottish Policeman who was, in fact 'productions officer'for the fragment(s) of the timerand radio-cassette recorder, categorically denies that any of the fragment(s) was ever taken outwith the UK until he took them to Zeist for the trial.