[The following are excerpts from a reportby Ben Borland in today's edition of the Sunday Express:]
The full details of how Colonel Gaddafi colluded with the Lockerbie bomber to blow up Pan Am Flight 103 can today be revealed by the Sunday Express.
Explosive new revelations emerging from crisis-torn Libya last night included:
- Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi’s threat to confess and expose Gaddafi unless Tripoli found a way to get him home to his family.
- The Libyan dictator ordering the execution of other agents involved to cover up the Lockerbie trail.
- Specific details of how the bomb was made in Lebanon and smuggled through the Congo.
- Gaddafi personally sanctioning Palestinian mercenary Abu Nidal to assist the terror attack.
The new allegations have come from former terror general Atef Abu Bakr, who has broken his silence as Gaddafi’s brutal 40-year reign enters its final days.
His confession could finally end the doubts surrounding Megrahi’s conviction and even see further charges brought in Scotland against a host of co-conspirators. So far, Megrahi is the only man ever convicted over the December 1988 bombing, which killed all 259 passengers and crew on board the New York-bound Boeing 747 and 11 people in Lockerbie.
Bakr also predicted the collapse of the regime would “open the door” to Gaddafi’s involvement in a number of other bombings and assassinations.
Now a frail, balding man in his 60s, he was once second-in-command to Abu Nidal, a Palestinian terrorist who was the world’s most wanted man in the Eighties. His feared militia was linked to more than 100 murders, aircraft hijackings and bombings, as well as the kidnap of journalist John McCarthy and machine gun attacks on passengers at Rome and Vienna airports.
The group, called the Abu Nidal Organisation (ANO), had a base in Tripoli until 1999, shortly before Megrahi was handed over to the British authorities.
Nidal was shot dead in Iraq in 2003 and Bakr said he had decided to speak out because be believes Gaddafi is now powerless to punish him.
He revealed the attack on an American passenger jet was ordered in retaliation for the 1986 US bombing of Benghazi and Tripoli, in which Gaddafi’s daughter was killed.
The bomb itself was built by the ANO’s “scientific committee” in a village “in the southern part of Mount Lebanon”.
Bakr said: “I can assure you categorically that the two processes [making the bomb and destroying the plane] were the outcome of a partnership between the Abu Nidal group and the security of the Libyan Jamahiriya.
“The committee, which was run by a Palestinian, prepared explosive radios of around three or four inches in thickness and put a rule of Semtex of less than four hundred grams in the vacuum in the speakers and under the metal plate.
“Then they put the explosive in the form of a gift and sent them to Tripoli, with timers. As always in such cases, the gift carrier did not know the nature of the gift.”
Bakr, who did not explain his own role in the operation, said the deadly “gifts” were smuggled into Libya via Brazzaville, the Congolese capital, and the couriers were later murdered by Gaddafi and Nidal.
He said: “Two of the group were met by members of Libyan intelligence and under the cover of the son of leader Patrice Lumumba. The killing of the two people who belong to the group took place later, the first in Beirut and the second in Libya.”
Lumumba, a Congolese prime minister who was murdered in a coup in 1961, had four sons – Francois, now leader of his father’s party, as well as Patrice Jr, Roland and Guy-Patrice.
The bomb was then taken from Tripoli to Malta, which fits with the case built by Scottish police and proved by the Crown during Megrahi’s trial.
Bakr said: “The Lockerbie explosive came from Tripoli to Malta and was then shipped from Malta. I want to emphasise the shipment came from Malta. There were members of the group visiting Malta, sometimes using Libyan passports and cards for the Libyan Aviation Office in Malta to be able to access and to facilitate shipping.”
He added: “The Abu Nidal group has subsequently liquidated a number of elements who have played a role in this process, including an official in the intelligence community.
“For their part, the Libyans had to liquidate a number of elements, including a former official in the intelligence.”
Bakr said the head of Libyan intelligence Abdullah al-Senussi was also involved in the plot. And he claimed that Megrahi, who worked for Senussi and may have played only a minor part, promised on the night before his extradition to keep silent about Gaddafi’s involvement.
However, he later went back on his word and recently “threatened to expose the whole process unless the Libyan authorities made efforts to secure his release, which is what has happened.”
Bakr, who led a rebel faction that split from the ANO in the 1990s, also recalled how Nidal ordered his men not to reveal their role in the bombing.
He said: “Abu Nidal laughed at the meeting and said, ‘No responsibility can be claimed. I will tell you this process was for us and our Muslim brothers in Libya. But discretion must be complete.’”
Bakr himself issued a statement to reporters in Beiruit in December 1988, denying any ANO involvement and expressing his condolences to the victims. His new confession was made yesterday to Al Hayat, one of the most respected newspapers in the Arab world. (...)
[On Caustic Logic's blog The Lockerbie Divide there is a recent post headed Rats, sinking ship, etc which is well worth reading, along with the Ian Bell article featured on this blog yesterday.]