Wednesday, 23 December 2015

23 December 2007: "There is still an innocent person in jail"

[What follows is excerpted from an article headlined Lockerbie story heads to Hollywood that was published in Scotland on Sunday on this date in 2007:]

Juval Aviv was behind the book that inspired the acclaimed Steven Spielberg blockbuster Munich.

His latest project is a fictional account of the Lockerbie disaster – in which 270 people were killed – and he hopes that the Jaws and ET filmmaker can make it into a major movie.

Flight 103 – which alleges that the Iranians and the American secret services were complicit in the atrocity – will be published early in the new year. The book is expected to become an international bestseller, and the former Mossad agent has revealed he is in talks with a number of high-profile Hollywood directors over the film rights. (...)

The former major in the Israeli Defence Force believes that [Steven] Spielberg would be the ideal man to bring his vision to the big screen.

"Steven is looking at the book right now. I worked closely with him on Munich and he is someone whom I admire greatly. My initial fear was that Munich could become little more than a Jewish James Bond movie. But Steven created a thought-provoking political movie, which showed the heavy toll that the assignment took on the agents who participated."

Aviv, who acted as lead investigator for Pan Am during the Lockerbie inquiry, admits that his book is a thinly veiled account of what he is convinced really happened in December 1988. [RB: Aviv’s report to Pan Am (the Interfor Report) can be read here.]

In the novel, retired Israeli agent Sam Woolfman discovers that Tehran ordered the destruction of an American plane in retaliation for the US downing an Iranian airbus, carrying 133 civilian partners, earlier in 1988.

The Iranians then enlist an experienced Palestinian terrorist, Ahmed 'The Falcon' Shabaan, to carry out the bloody reprisal.

In the book, the American secret services turn a blind eye to the plot and ensure that three CIA agents, who are due to blow this whistle on a internal heroin dealing racket, are aboard the doomed eponymous flight.

Woolfman, accompanied by his glamorous young Irish sidekick Orla Sheehy, discover that American Embassy staff around the world were warned not to board the Pan Am airliner.

The suggestion that Libya was not responsible for the atrocity was made forcibly by Aviv, who writes under the nom de plume of Sam Green, during the inquiry, but his evidence was rejected.

With a second appeal under way by Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, the Libyan convicted for the Lockerbie bombing, the president of investigations firm Interfor is convinced that his version of events will finally be vindicated.

He said: "Flight 103 is written as fiction, but it is based solidly on real-life facts. The US Government urged me to change my report (to the inquiry), but I wouldn't and I fully stand by my version of events.

"I think 2008 will be the year when the truth finally emerges. There is still an innocent person in jail, but hopefully not for much longer."

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