This is the subject-heading of an e-mail sent by Arnaud de Borchgrave to Frank Duggan and copied by the latter to me. It reads as follows:
"As Gaddafi explained it to me, which you are familiar with, it was indeed Iran's decision to retaliate for the Iran Air Airbus shot down by the USS Vincennes on its daily flight from Bandar Abbas to Dubai that led to a first subcontracting deal to Syrian intel, which, in turn, led to the 2nd subcontract to Libyan intel. As he himself said if they had been first at this terrorist bat, they would not have put Malta in the mix; Cyprus would have made more sense to draw attention away from Libya."
According to Arnaud de Borchgrave, Gaddafi made the admission, off the record, in the course of an interview in 1993. His published account reads:
"Megrahi was a small cog in a much larger conspiracy. After a long interview with Gaddafi in 1993, this editor at large of The Washington Times asked Libya's supreme leader to explain, off the record, his precise involvement in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, which killed 270 over Lockerbie, Scotland, on Dec. 21, 1988, and for which Libya paid $2.7 billion in reparations. He dismissed all the aides in his tent (located that evening in the desert about 100 kilometers south of Tripoli) and began in halting English without benefit of an interpreter, as was the case in the on-the-record part of the interview.
"Gaddafi candidly admitted that Lockerbie was retaliation for the July 3, 1988, downing of an Iranian Airbus. Air Iran Flight 655, on a 28-minute daily hop from the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas in the Strait of Hormuz to the port city of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates on the other side of the Gulf, was shot down by a guided missile from the Aegis cruiser USS Vincennes. The Vincennes radar mistook it for an F-14 Tomcat fighter (which Iran still flies); 290 were killed, including 66 children. A year before, in 1987, the USS Stark was attacked by an Iraqi Mirage, killing 37 sailors. The Vincennes skipper, Capt. William Rogers, received the Legion of Merit, and the entire crew was awarded combat-action ribbons. The United States paid compensation of $61.8 million to the families of those killed on IR 655.
"Gaddafi told me, 'The most powerful navy in the world does not make such mistakes. Nobody in our part of the world believed it was an error.' And retaliation, he said, was clearly called for. Iranian intelligence subcontracted retaliation to one of the Syrian intelligence services (there are 14 of them), which, in turn, subcontracted part of the retaliatory action to Libyan intelligence (at that time run by Abdullah Senoussi, Gaddafi's brother-in-law). 'Did we know specifically what we were asked to do?' said Gaddafi. 'We knew it would be comparable retaliation for the Iranian Airbus, but we were not told what the specific objective was,' Gaddafi added.
"As he got up to take his leave, he said, 'Please tell the CIA that I wish to cooperate with America. I am just as much threatened by Islamist extremists as you are.'
"When we got back to Washington, we called Director of Central Intelligence Jim Woolsey to tell him what we had been told off the record. Woolsey asked me if I would mind being debriefed by the CIA. I agreed. And the rest is history."
On the assumption that this account of an off-the-record conversation in 1993 is accurate, it in no way affects the wrongfulness of the conviction of Abdelbaset Megrahi. As I have tried (without success) to explain to US zealots in the past, the fact -- if it be the fact -- that Libya was in some way involved in Lockerbie does not entail as a consequence that any particular Libyan citizen was implicated. The evidence led at the Zeist trial did not justify the guilty verdict against Megrahi. On that basis alone his conviction should have been quashed had the recently-abandoned appeal gone the full distance. That conclusion is reinforced (a) by the material uncovered by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission and (b) by the material released on Mr Megrahi's website.