Monday, 18 July 2011

Ex-foreign minister says Libya behind 1989 airline attack

[This is the headline over an Agence France Presse news agency report published today on the Al-Arabiya website. It reads as follows:]

Libya is responsible for a deadly 1989 attack on a French airliner, Libyan former foreign minister Abdel Rahman Shalgam told al-Hayat newspaper in an interview published on Monday.

“The Libyan security services blew up the plane. They believed that opposition leader Mohammed al-Megrief was on board, but after the plane was blown up, it was found that he was not on the plane,” said Mr Shalgam, who defected from Muammar Qaddafi’s embattled regime earlier this year.

On September 19, 1989, a UTA DC-10 travelling from Brazzaville to Paris via N’Djamena crashed in Niger after explosives on board detonated, killing 170 passengers and crew, including 54 French citizens.

A French court in 2009 sentenced six Libyan agents in absentia to life in prison for the attack, but Libya has never admitted it was responsible.

However, Tripoli had in 2004 agreed to pay $170 million in compensation to the families of the victims.

Mr Shalgam also said that the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am flight over the Scottish town of Lockerbie that killed 270 people, for which Libya is widely believed to have been responsible, was more complicated than the UTA attack.

“The Lockerbie operation was more complex ... the role of states and organizations has been discussed, and while the Libyan services were implicated, I do not think it was a purely Libyan operation,” he said.

Last February, a former official from the radical Palestinian group Abu Nidal said that the attacks against the Pan Am and UTA planes were conducted “in conjunction” with Libya, and that the explosives were fabricated in Libya.

Mr Shalgam’s defection came in March when he was serving as Libya’s representative to the United Nations.

[Whether Libya was involved in the destruction of Pan Am 103 or not (eg by supplying materials to the culprits) it does not follow that a particular Libyan, viz Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, was involved. The evidence against him remains just as weak as it was before Mr Shalgam spoke and the conviction of Megrahi on the evidence led at Zeist remains just as outrageous.

I may say that Mr Shalgam, whom I met on several occasions while he was Libya's foreign minister, always denied to me that his country was responsible for Lockerbie. But it may be that he is one of those who tends to tell people what he thinks, rightly or wrongly, that they want to hear.]


  1. Well, exactly. We have not yet reached the stage where we can say we rather think a certain country's authorities were involved in a terrorist act, oh look here's a man who is connected to that country's authorities, that'll do. Or I would have hoped we hadn't anyway, but looking at the Zeist judgement I can't help but wonder.

    Rational, impartial examination of the evidence indicates that the Lockerbie bomb positively did NOT travel Malta-Frankfurt-Heathrow. It indicates that the bomb started its journey in Heathrow. That hardly absolves Libya in general of all blame, but it does appear to absolve a particular Libyan who was verifiably in Tripoli at the time the luggage for the flight was being assembled at Heathrow.

    Bland assertions that "Libya didit" cannot be taken to infer that the Zeist conviction was sound.

    In fact, if Libyan involvement was confined to the supply of munitions, and that's enough to justify the conviction of Megrahi, why not just find him guilty of the Birmingham pub bombings, and Guildford, and Brighton, and Warrington, and Omagh, and Eniskillen and all the rest? That was Libyan-supplied Semtex too. And it saves all the political fallout that comes from trying and convicting actual Irishmen.

  2. A French court in 2009 sentenced six Libyan agents in absentia to life in prison for the attack, but Libya has never admitted it was responsible.

    For the record, it was in 1999 that the Paris Assize Court convicted the six Libyans of the UTA Flight 772 bombing.

  3. Mission Lockerbie, 2011. doc. nr.1458.rtf:

    Ugh ! Mr Abdelrahman Shalgam, you should be ashamed. Such people want to build a new Libya ?

    Do you remeber ? Sunday, 17 August, 2003:
    Libyan Foreign Minister says the Lockerbie bombing was a tragedy but was not caused by the Libyan Government. Yesterday, Libya accepted responsibility for "the actions of its officials". Abdelrahman Shalgam says it is not true the Libyan Government was behind the attack. He says the Government wants to cooperate with the US to find out the truth. "We want to go together to discover the [real] story, who was behind that tragedy". [ABC]

    by Edwin and Mahnaz Bollier, MEBO Ltd. Switzerland. URL:

  4. Doc. nr.1459.rtf. Everything was blackmail against Libya:

    Remind: Friday, 15 August, 2003:
    French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin has warned his Libyan counterpart, Abdelrahman Shalgam (photo), that Paris will block the lifting of UN sanctions imposed on Libya if France did not receive compensation for the bombing of a French UTA airline that cost the lives of all 170 passengers and crew. [AFP]

    Please visit our webpage for more information about UTA 772 on URL:

    by Edwin and Mahnaz Bollier, MEBO Ltd. Telecommunication, Switzerland.

  5. All these high ranking defectors with a vested interest in condemning their former boss and blaming him for Lockerbie. Presumably high ranking enough to know chapter and verse. Every single one (unless I've missed it) saying "yes Libya was involved."
    But nobody saying "right, this is what happened, this is how it was done......."
    Instead we get tantalising hints like "The Lockerbie operation was more complicated....."
    Its liking going to a spiritualist, "I'm getting the letter M......"
    The inability of these defectors to supply any information pointing to Megraghi's guilt (or otherwise) should be viewed as evidence pointing to his innocence.