Thursday, 15 June 2017

Lockerbie bomb 'in suitcase'

[This is the headline over a report that appeared on the BBC News website on this date in 2000. It reads in part:]

A forensic expert has told the Lockerbie trial that he located the plane's bomb inside a radio cassette recorder placed in a suitcase.

Alan Feraday said the explosion, which destroyed Pan Am Flight 103 and killed 270 people, exploded 25 inches inside the fuselage.

He explained he had pinpointed the precise location of the blast after a detailed study of damage suffered by all 24 cases in the same hold as the bomb.

Mr Feraday said during the trial of the two accused Libyans that he found that at least 13 items of clothing and an umbrella were inside the Samsonite case at the time of detonation.

It was on the second layer of luggage, resting in the angled container overhang - roughly parallel to the fuselage - or leaning upright, propped against another luggage stack.

The 400 grams of "high performance" Semtex plastic explosive inside the Toshiba radio cassette recorder was attached to a long-delay electronic timer.

The timer was made by the MEBO company of Switzerland, Mr Feraday - former head of the forensics explosives laboratory at the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency in Kent - told the trial at Camp Zeist in Holland.

Mr Feraday, now retired, said that such a long-delay timer would not require any other attachment in order to act as "a viable improvised explosive device capable of repeated flights before detonating at a pre-set time".

Asked by defence lawyer Richard Keen QC whether the bomb could have been in any other position than set out in his forensic conclusions, Mr Feraday replied: "I can't think of any other position.

"I am not saying there isn't any other position, I just can't find it myself." (...)

Mr Keen asked Mr Feraday if he was aware that the Lockerbie inquiry had centred for a time on a possible connection between the bomb and a Palestinian terror group.

At the start of the trial last month the court heard that the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command quickly became the "focus of attention" for the inquiry team because of arrests of some of its members in Germany just two months before the Pan AM 103 explosion.

The forensics expert agreed today that there had been a strong belief that the PFLP-GC was behind the bomb, but he added: "It played no part in my thoughts at all."

Mr Feraday acknowledged that early in the inquiry he had produced a report stating that the Lockerbie bomb had been contained inside a white Toshiba RT 8016 or 8026 radio-cassette player, and not, as he now testifies, inside a black Toshiba RT SF 16 model.


  1. He explained he had pinpointed the precise location of the blast after a detailed study of damage suffered by all 24 cases in the same hold as the bomb.

    Yeah, right. Didn't study them carefully enough, did he?

    It's hard to know whether he got this wrong because he was simply not bright enough for the job he was doing, or whether there was a deliberate attempt to misdirect. But it's striking how many separate faulty lines of reasoning lead to this erroneous "second layer of luggage" assertion, and it really does look like special pleading arguing to a pre-determined conclusion.

    You only have to look at the remains of the Carlsson and McKee suitcases, and realise where they were sitting in the container, to understand that the bomb was on the bottom layer. Feraday doesn't mention either of these items. Why so keen not to implicate the case on the bottom layer? Because that was the one that implicated failures in Heathrow security as the cause of the disaster. Can't have that!

  2. There are so many absurdities in this case, in every part of it. Adequately explained by nothing really. I have painfully revised such a number of beliefs.

    The linking of poorly supported/heavily contradicted theories, into a conclusion that a particular person 'conspired' with totally unknown persons to plant a bomb is a monument over human ability to self-deception-when-needed.

    If even one link in a chain is unproven in mathematics we discard the evidence.
    Here we can stack up great uncertainties:

    How certain was it ever (also with the knowledge had at trial time) that -
    - Megrahi was the buyer of the clothes?
    - the bomb route was Luqa-Frankfurt-Heathrow?
    - the Bedford suitcase was not simply the bomb?
    - that if there was another explanation then we would be likely to have evidence?

    Your detailed dis-proofs in your book tops it all.

    That still nothing has happened, that is another lesson to be learned. Endlessly much more scary and depressing than the simple fact that there are people who want to put bombs in planes.

  3. I know. The wilful blindness of those in authority is a bit of a shocker. It's crystal clear that most politicians and prosecution officials would rather see a completely wrong explanation for the atrocity remain current than see the establishment lose face.