Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Vincent Cannistraro. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Vincent Cannistraro. Sort by date Show all posts

Wednesday 18 April 2012

Vincent Cannistraro, Jack Straw and a new car

[This is the headline over an item posted today on the Lockerbie Truth website of Dr Jim Swire and Peter Biddulph.  It reads as follows:]

Today's news that Libya's military commander and former opponent of Gaddafi is taking legal action against Jack Straw comes to us as no surprise. 

Abdel Hakim Belhadj claims that CIA agents took him from Thailand to Gaddafi-led Libya, via UK-controlled Diego Garcia. His lawyers have served papers on Mr Straw after a Sunday Times report claims that Straw approved or allowed the rendition to take place. 

From approximately 2000 to 2008 Libyan intelligence services were effectively an out-sourced section of the CIA.  Tripoli was cooperating with both the CIA and MI6 in the rendition of Libyan dissidents, occasionally their wives, children, and other suspects to Libyan prisons for interrogation, torture, and sometimes death. In addition MI6 were monitoring the activities of active Libyan dissidents living in the UK and providing reports to at that time head of intelligence Moussa Koussa.¹

In 1995, as part of our research into the background to the Lockerbie tragedy, we discovered from files published by the US National Archive that the foundation for the current US network of rendition was established as far back as 1986, revealed in an email written by Vincent Cannistraro to his chief Admiral John Poindexter.  

We should recall that Cannistraro was, in December 1988, placed in charge of the CIA team investigating the Lockerbie bombing.  It was on his watch that a fragment of a timer circuit board mysteriously appeared on a hillside near to Lockerbie, and that fragment formed a central ground for the conviction of Abdel Baset Ali Al-Megrahi.

It has now been proved by independent scientific testing at two separate laboratories that the Lockerbie fragment could not have come from a batch of timer boards sold to Libya by Swiss company MEBO. [RB: See John Ashton, Megrahi: You are my Jury, pages 355 to 362.] So it was either a separately manufactured timer of unknown origin, or it was a fake, planted to turn suspicion away from Iran towards the simpler target nation of Libya. In either case, it destroys the prosecution claims against Al-Megrahi.  And what is notable today is the complete silence by the FBI and the Scottish Crown Office upon this matter. 

Cannistraro in 1986 was tasked by President Reagan to lead a campaign of "disinformation" to destabilise and eventually destroy the Gaddafi regime. 

For most folks with any sense of morality, the word "disinformation" means "lies". But to the White House and their CIA agents, it means doing one's duty for God and America.  

The motto in the entrance hall of CIA headquarters at Langley, Virginia is "Seek you the Truth and the Truth shall set you free."  Some say that Americans have no sense of irony. Well, maybe...

Cannistraro was exercised at the refusal of White House assistant Clair George to sign off a proactive counter-terrorism programme which involved kidnappings across the world of “suspected terrorists”. In USA speak of that era, the words meant simply “those who actively oppose US policy”. 

Cannistraro advised: "Dewey Clarridge told me he is being frustrated in carrying out the new counter-terrorist program. Specifically Clair is refusing to sign off on command cables setting up ops to apprehend terrorists abroad.... there was solid agreement on the objectives and intent, and the only contentious point was the legal language which CIA wanted and State and White House counsel insisted be deleted. Clair really doesn't want CIA to get into counter-terrorist mode. I discussed this with Ollie [North] before he left on his trip and he agrees. I think you should raise with [CIA Director] Casey. If you agree, I will do this as DCI [Director of Central Intelligence] / JMP [Poindexter] agenda item or as TPs [talking points] for a secure line call."²

In 2004 Prime Minister Tony Blair must have been aware of these issues. His much vaunted meeting in the desert with Gaddafi in 2004 would surely have covered such matters. But if it did not, then the conclusion one is forced to draw is that MI6 were not including reports on the running of the rendition system in their intelligence briefings at Downing Street. We might therefore fairly ask who runs Britain?

Be that as it may, if we look at this disgusting history with an objective eye, we might consider the honesty and credibility of all these characters.  The standard test of such is usually "Would you buy a used car from this man?"  Our answer is: No. And we wouldn't buy a new one, either.

¹,8599,2091653,00.html  , BBC and Sky News reports, Human Rights Watch research into files retrieved from Moussa Koussa’s office in Tripoli, 3rd September 2011.
²Vincent Cannistraro email to John Poindexter, 6th May 1986. White House Email. Pub 1995, National Archive of the United States, Ed. Tom Blanton.

Thursday 7 April 2011

Vincent Cannistraro on Moussa Koussa

[I am grateful to reader of this blog for drawing my attention to this report from 31 March on the American WLTX website. It reads in part:]

Moussa Koussa, the Libyan official who British officials said resigned Wednesday after travelling to England, was a "key organizer" of the bombing, the Central Intelligence Agency's lead investigator into the bombing told CBS News Thursday. All 259 people on the plane and 11 people on the ground were killed when the plane crashed in Lockerbie, Scotland, Dec. 21, 1988.

Vincent Cannistraro, who led the CIA bombing investigation, told CBS News that Qaddafi has long been suspected of initiating the attack.

"Yes, Moussa Koussa was personally responsible for the actual organization of it," said Cannistraro. "The orders to do it clearly came from Muammar Qaddafi himself as everything that happened in Libya over the years did originate with Qaddafi himself."

When Koussa defected to England, he brought with him secrets of his decades-long relationship with Quaddafi. Koussa was once Qadaffi's intelligence chief and is believed to know the intricate details of the Libyan leader's involvement with terrorism.

"Moussa is a person with a lot of blood on his hands over many years," Cannistraro said.

Monday 29 June 2020

Missing witnesses

[On this date in 2000 the Lockerbie trial was adjourned for two weeks. This adjournment had proved necessary largely because of difficulties encountered by the Crown in inducing witnesses (particularly from Malta) to attend at Camp Zeist to give evidence.  During the break in court proceedings I wrote a number of articles for The Lockerbie Trial website, curated by Ian Ferguson and me. Here are two of them:]

When the trial resumes at Camp Zeist on Tuesday 11 July 2000, it will be the thirty-first day of evidence.  Many witnesses have been called into the box to testify, a substantial number of them regarding matters not disputed by the defence and in respect of which it might have been thought that agreement could have been reached between prosecution and defence to obviate the necessity of their attendance.  But if some of the witnesses have seemed to the outside observer to be superfluous, it is equally the case that persons whose presence as witnesses might have been expected, have been conspicuous by their absence.

Prominent amongst these is John Orr who, as a Detective Chief Superintendent and Joint Head of Strathclyde CID and latterly as Deputy Chief Constable of Dumfries and Galloway, headed the Scottish police investigation into the Lockerbie disaster.  In a normal Scottish murder trial the officer in charge of the police investigation team is usually one of the earliest witnesses to be summoned to give evidence.  The absence of Mr Orr, who is now Chief Constable of Strathclyde, from the ranks of police witnesses at the proceedings at Zeist has caused a number of raised eyebrows. 

Other absentees are Oliver "Buck" Revell and Vincent Cannistraro.

Revell was the chief FBI agent assigned to the Lockerbie investigation.  In The Oklahoma City Bombing and the Politics of Terror by David Hoffman (1998, Feral House, Venice CA) he is described as Associate Deputy Director of the FBI and as the FBI counter-terrorism chief.  His son had been booked as a passenger on Pan Am 103, but switched to another flight some time before the plane departed. Cannistraro was the chief CIA operative assigned to the Lockerbie investigation.  In Libya: The Struggle For Survival by Geoff Simons (2nd edition, 1996, Macmillan, London) he is described as "the head of the CIA's counter-terrorism centre who led the American investigation into the bombing" and in The Oklahoma City Bombing he is described as a "CIA intelligence advisor to the National Security Council."  Both of these men are now retired, and in the years since November 1991 when the two Libyans were first accused of the atrocity, have been far from reticent in making known their views on the subject of Lockerbie in the media.  It is a pity that the Crown has not seen fit to call upon them to share with the Court, from the witness box, their very great knowledge of the Lockerbie affair.

Members of the defence team asked Mr Cannistraro to meet them for the purpose of precognition (the Scottish equivalent of taking a pre-trial deposition), but he refused to do so. 

In Scotland, there is a legal duty upon citizens to make themselves available for precognition by both the prosecution and the defence.  As one of Scotland's most distinguished criminal judges, Lord Justice Clerk MacDonald, said: "I consider it to be the duty of every true citizen to give such information to the Crown as he may be asked to give in reference to the case in which he is to be called; and also that every witness who is to be called for the Crown should give similar information to the prisoner's legal advisers, if he is called upon and asked what he is going to say....  I have been asked to express my view, and it is that every good citizen should give his aid, either to the Crown or to the defence, in every case where the interests of the public in the punishment of crime, or the interests of a prisoner charged with crime, call for ascertainment of facts."

But none of this seems to cut any ice with Mr Cannistraro.

Courts of law in general have powers of compulsion only in respect of persons who are physically present within their territorial jurisdiction.  Amongst other things, this means that only such persons can be compelled to attend and give evidence before them.  This limitation on its coercive powers is not something which is unique to the Scottish Court sitting at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands or to Scottish courts in general.  It would have applied equally if the Lockerbie trial had been held in a court in, for example, the United States of America.

A number of Maltese witnesses, mainly persons employed or formerly employed at Luqa Airport, have refused to attend to give evidence at Camp Zeist, and because of this the prosecution have been compelled to seek (and have been granted) yet another adjournment to enable them to secure the attendance of other witnesses.

The refusal of the Maltese witnesses to attend does not mean that their evidence is necessarily lost to the Court.  It is open to the Scottish Court by Letter of Request to seek the assistance of the appropriate Maltese judicial authorities in obtaining, if necessary compulsorily, the testimony of the witnesses in question.  This might involve either the witnesses giving evidence from Malta by means of a live television link to the courtroom at Zeist or the witnesses being examined before a magistrate or judge sitting in Malta and a transcript of their evidence then being supplied to the Scottish Court.  These procedures are competent in a Scottish criminal court by virtue of the Criminal Justice (International Co-operation) Act 1990, section 3, and the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995, sections 272 and 273.

As a last resort, the Crown, if able to satisfy the Court that it was not reasonably practicable to secure the attendance of the witnesses at the trial or to obtain their evidence in any of the ways mentioned above, and notwithstanding the general prohibition on the use of hearsay evidence in criminal proceedings, would be able to use as evidence any statement made by the witnesses in question, e.g. to police or other investigators, in the course of the Lockerbie investigation.  This is provided for under section 259 of the 1995 Act.  It does, of course, affect the weight likely to be accorded to the evidence that it is not given by the witness personally in court and is not subject to cross-examination.

If the Crown are having difficulty in securing witnesses to appear before the Court, and their need to request an adjournment when these Maltese witnesses (whose reluctance to attend has been known for months) balked at appearing seems to suggest that they are, perhaps they should reconsider their apparent decision not to call Chief Constable John Orr, Oliver "Buck" Revell and Vincent Cannistraro.

Just a suggestion.

Saturday 2 January 2010

Reaction to "Gadhafi admitted it!"

[The following comment on the "Gadhafi admitted it!" thread comes from Peter Biddulph. It was too long to be posted directly as a comment on that thread.]

The timing of this information is most strange.

According to Wikipaedia and other sources, Arnaud de Borchgrave appears to have an impeccable background. According to him, the CIA debriefing arranged by Woolsey took place in 1993.

But I am informed by an expert on these matters that Gaddafi never, repeat never, was without at least one armed personal bodyguard. To be alone with an American journalist with many contacts in Washington would be, for Gaddafi, impossible.

And if this information was known in 1993, why on earth did the CIA, the FBI and the Scottish Crown office not know of it in the next seven years leading up to the trial?

Why was de Borchgrave not invited to be deposed or give evidence to the Lockerbie trial, or even an affidavit?

It might be said to be hearsay, and therefore not admissable in court.

But several hearsay issues and affidavits were extensively investigated by the court, notably the Goben Memorandum, and the account of the interview of bomb maker Marwan Khreesat by FBI Agent Edward Marshman. Even a hearsay account that Gaddafi confessed to the crime would have cast serious doubt on al-Megrahi's defence.

The original 1991 indictment could have been varied to reflect the latest knowledge. Indeed, the final version of the indictment was agreed by the US Department of Justice and the Scottish Crown Office in 2000, only three weeks before the trial commenced.

If the FBI did know it, why did they not mention any of this in a May 1995 Channel 4 discussion following the screening of the documentary The Maltese Double Cross? Buck Revell of the FBI became quite intense in answering Jim Swire's questions and those of presenter Sheena McDonald. But he said not a word about the Gaddafi "confession". Why?

Also, how come Marquise - as he says himself "Chief FBI Investigator of the Lockerbie bombing" - was not aware of it in the seven years leading up to the 2000 trial or the nine years since? That is, sixteen years of ignorance?

And why did CIA Vincent Cannistraro himself not mention it when interviewed on camera on at least two occasions in 1994 by Alan Francovich for the documentary film The Maltese Double Cross?

As head of the CIA team investigating Libya, Cannistraro would be the first to be briefed by the Langley central office. He was happy to provide hearsay evidence to the media and film camera against Oliver North and any Libyan or Iranian that got in his way. He spoke at length about green and brown timer boards, and potential witnesses.

To relate on camera the Gaddafi "confession" would have been greatly to Cannistraro's advantage, a slam-dunk in the public mind. Indeed, even a hint in the media would have ham-strung al-Megrahis defence before proceedings commenced.

But between 1993 and 2009 from Cannistraro not a word. And when it comes to America's interests, the CIA never follow Queensberry rules.

CIA Robert Baer too, as a Middle Eastern specialist has given no hint of this. Such information would surely have come within the "need to know" category. Yet he has maintained on two occasions that Iran commissioned the job and paid the PFLP-GC handsomely two days after the attack. His conclusion suggests strongly that the so-called fragment of the bomb was planted.

The real reasons for this late announcement, we believe, are as follows:

1. It is well known among those who study these things in the field that there are two candidates shortly to succeed Gaddafi. His son Saif, and his son-in law Sennusi. Meanwhile Sennusi is not top of the pops with Arab leaders in the region. They would love it if he were out of the frame. The Borchgrave revelation discredits Sennusi perfectly.

2. The SCCRC is shortly to publish information which some believe will cause serious embarrassment to the FBI And CIA. The Borchgrave email is huge smoke and mirrors, a spoiler.

It all looks highly suspicious. Just another carefully crafted phase in a long, long history of disinformation.

Friday 3 February 2017

Libyan link to Lockerbie blast

[This is the headline over a report that was published in The Herald on this date in 1989. It reads in part:]

Investigators believe that employees of Libyan Arab Airways in Frankfurt planted the bomb which destroyed a PanAm Jumbo jet four days before Christmas, killing 270 people in and around Lockerbie, according to the American television network CBS News.
In a follow-up to its report on Wednesday night that the Palestinian terrorist Ahmad Jibril, sponsored by Syria and Libya, was believed to have built the bomb, CBS said this morning that the sophisticated device was in a suitcase which did not belong to any passenger aboard PanAm flight 103.
The CBS version contradicts a Radio Forth report, which said that an American agent of the Central Intelligence Agency unwittingly had the bomb in his luggage. Mr David Johnston, of Radio Forth, said last night police had given him until today to name his sources for his report which blamed a Palestinian group for the bombing.
He said he was ''completely confident'' he had been told the truth, and was prepared to face court moves if necessary. Mr Johnston said he was told by official agencies ''in Britain and elsewhere'' that the bomb was planted at Helsinki in the luggage of an American CIA agent returning from an unsuccessful attempt to release US hostages in Beirut.
Police gave him until today to approach his sources to ask if he could divulge them, he added. The officers said that if he did not want to disclose his sources to them, they would make available ''anyone in Britain, including the Prime Minister, for him to disclose them to.''
Mr Johnston said the police ''have said that if I don't tell them tomorrow where the story came from, it would be open to them to put me before a sheriff under precognition.''
CBS said that at least 100 Libyan airline employees are intelligence operatives under the command of Abdullah Senoussi, who is related to the country's leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.
Senoussi reportedly has a printing plant which produces forged luggage tags, among other documents. The bomb, said by CBS to contain 20lbs of plastic explosives, was in a suitcase falsely labelled to fly to New York, via London, on flight 103. It was not searched, x-rayed, or even weighed-in at Frankfurt airport, where it was smuggled in through a ''back door,'' the TV report said, citing an American source.
CBS said the device was believed to be identical to a suitcase bomb found by West German police, in the days before the Lockerbie disaster, when they arrested 14 members of Jibril's Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine -- General Command. The report said the PFLP-GC wished to upset the peace initiative of the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
Meanwhile, lawyers representing families bereaved in the Lockerbie disaster are to pursue their claims for compensation through the American courts. They will also press for a full accident inquiry to be held as soon as possible.
The first meeting of the lawyers' steering committee will be held in Glasgow today but its spokesman, solicitor Mr Michael Hughes, said last night it was virtually certain any compensation claims would be made to the American courts.
[RB: Caustic Logic has commented on this report on his blog The Lockerbie Divide. What follows is an excerpt:]
On February 3 1989, based on what someone had told them, CBS News reported that Libyans may have been behind the whole thing. The Herald (Scotland) reported on this, and I thank to JREF forum member Spitfire IX for the tip.
Libyan link to Lockerbie blast
“INVESTIGATORS believe that employees of Libyan Arab Airways in Frankfurt planted the bomb which destroyed a PanAm Jumbo jet four days before Christmas, killing 270 people in and around Lockerbie, according to the American television network CBS News.”
This is far too early for any of the bogus clues against Megrahi to have emerged. It’s also far too early to be motivated by Gulf War alliances mandating a blind eye to Syria, as some assess the motive. It doesn’t appear to be based on any evidence (see below), but it must have been based on something or it wouldn’t have been said.
“CBS said that at least 100 Libyan airline employees are intelligence operatives under the command of Abdullah Senoussi, who is related to the country's leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. Senoussie reportedly has a printing plant which produces forged luggage tags, among other documents.”
That certainly would not explain accused Fhimah’s later plot to flat steal Air Malta tags for the bombing, a "clue" that wouldn’t emerge for over two years. In fact, these sounds like hollow points of speculation, maybe just a handy occasion to again draw attention to Frankfurt while floating a novel solution to the embarrassing truth. Of course, only a few people would know this soon just how embarrassing that would be.
“The bomb, said by CBS to contain 20lbs of plastic explosives, was in a suitcase falsely labelled to fly to New York, via London, on flight 103. It was not searched, x-rayed, or even weighed-in at Frankfurt airport, where it was smuggled in through a ''back door,'' the TV report said, citing an American source.
CBS said the device was believed to be identical to a suitcase bomb found by West German police, in the days before the Lockerbie disaster, when they arrested 14 members of Jibril's Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command.”
There is no likeness, "identical" or otherwise, implied in the given description. Mot obviously, the ones seized were designed to blow up within 30-45 minutes or an hour (it's complicated) of leaving the ground, which has never fitted with an origin at Frankfurt or further out. Not with the blast 38 minutes after leaving London. Further, the only one of the PFLP-GC devices known of at the time contained 312 grams of Semtex-H, or well under one pound. Three found later were comparable, and the bomb used on 103 was at least that weight, and perhaps as high as 680 grams, based on the container damage. Again nowhere near this alleged 20 pound Libyan monster.
In fact, such small amounts of explosive could only work as fatally as happened on Soltice ’88 with the choicest placement within the luggage container - against the sloping outboard floor panel just two feet from the plane's skin. This is entirely possible by random baggage loading, but far less than a 50/50 shot. There’s still no guarantee, but at least a good 50/50, if the luggage is actually arranged by a terrorists who knows of the sweet spot. Someone else could then move it, or not move it. And of course that could only happen at Heathrow where the container was loaded, hundreds of miles from those dastardly Libyans at Frankfurt and their "back door" antics that still have never been elaborated.
That unspecified “American source” would have presumably been someone involved in an investigation. And we know the CIA’s probe into 103 was headed by Vincent Cannistraro, head of Agency’s counter-terrorism center. Previously, Cannistraro was one of Reagan’s make-s***-up-about-Libya men (See Maltese Double Cross – 42:40 mark). Along with Ollie North and Howard Teicher at the NSC, he used input from CIA and Deprtment of Defense to seed disinformation in the media to justify a policy of covert US harassment of Col Gaddafi up to coup plans and attempted assassination by Cruise missile, in 1986.
I’d bet money that Vincent Cannistraro was the source for this allegation. He’s friendly with the press, and always eager to tell them whatever’s convenient at the moment with some flair and no compunctions. The story had Libyan intel agents working through LAA at an airport connected to the Lockerbie bombing. The CIA at that time had Abdul Majid Giaka’s stories on file, mentioning both Megrahi and Fhimah as just such agents, but attached to LAA at Luqa airport on Malta.
Of course, no further moves were made for quite a while, as investigators spent all of 1989 and 1990 at least publicly pushing the PFLP-GC leads - and increasingly Malta leads. Even the suspicious, possibly backdated evidence pointing at Libya was dated around May ’89 and not generally understood for around a year. If this is indeed an early stirring of Vince’s Libya solution, it was too early after waking from the haze of no leads that can be pursued. Libyan guilt rather than PFLP-GC/Syria/Iran probably did look nice and comforting passing through the national news, but just six weeks after the bombing, it was clearly something to come back to after a cup of coffee and a fistful of planted clues.

Tuesday 16 December 2008

A response to Richard Marquise

[I am deeply grateful to Peter Biddulph for allowing me to post the following response written by him to Richard Marquise's recent broadcast and print contributions to Lockerbie lore.]

1. It would appear that Mr Marquise never handled the fragment [of circuit board allegedly from the MST-13 timer that allegedly detonated the bomb], never saw the fragment. All his forensic information appears to have come from Thomas Thurman, proven to be a manipulator of prosecution reports by the US Department of Justice in 36 out of the 52 Thurman cases that they investigated.

And yet Thurman too never saw the fragment or handled it. When challenged by journalists, he admitted that he had worked solely on photographs supplied by the Scottish police and Thomas Hayes. And the evidence he gave on US TV about identifying the fragment was given as a voice-over using photographs of a sample from the CIA's own laboratory in Langley, Virginia.

Thurman, by resigning and "leaving" the employ of the FBI avoided being a witness at the trial, and his claims and record regarding the fragment were never tested in court. All references to Thurman in the trial transcript took "a priori" that he was on the team who found the fragment that proved Libya did it. His questionable history was never challenged by the defence. Were they negligent?

2. Mr Marquise's senior FBI colleague Oliver Revell never saw the fragment, never handled the fragment. In a televised discussion in 1995 on UK Channel Four TV he claimed :

". . . And we were operating on the premise that [Iran] was the responsible party. But we simply could not bring to bear all of the information we had, and the evidence, and make it fit. And then when the item – the microchip – was found and was identified – and by the way it was through both RARDE and Tom Thurman of the FBI laboratory – independently – that we found the other connection, and then we started working on that." (My italics).

So, whatever might be said by the FBI now, their case in 1991 centred entirely upon the provenance of the fragment of the bomb said to have been found in July 1989 by Dr Thomas Hayes. Should Hayes' evidence be in any way suspect, the case would collapse.

Mr Marquise has claimed elsewhere that the retirement of the CIA's Vincent Cannistraro took place before the key evidence was found. He has said that to for us to say otherwise is wrong.

Well, it's not wrong. Cannistraro was busy as head of the Lockerbie team when Hayes claimed to have found the fragment. Cannistraro retired a year and a half later, in November 1990.

3. The chief identification witness, Tony Gauci, was exposed in 2005 by the very man who - in 1991 - helped with the indictments against Megrahi and Fhimah, former Lord Advocate Peter Fraser. In Fraser's own words, Gauci could not be trusted.

And now a Mr Clancy [Ronnie Clancy QC] of the Scottish Crown team has conceded in a recent Scottish High Court hearing in Edinburgh that even if Gauci's evidence is discredited, it would not significantly affect the prosecution case. A strange claim and admission indeed. Are they already conceding the case in total? [RB: What Mr Clancy said was that the Crown’s view was that there was sufficient evidence to justify Megrahi’s conviction even if Gauci’s evidence were discounted.]

4. Marquise's information regarding the British forensic tracing of the fragment came from Dr Thomas Hayes.

At the time of the trial, Hayes' record in the case of the IRA Maguire Seven (Guildford bombing) was never discussed in court. All that the judges heard was an oblique reference to "deliberate falsehoods" told by his former colleague and supervisor Dr Higgs in another IRA case, that of Judith Ward.

Since Hayes had not been part of that particular Higgs episode, he could - and did - deny all connection or knowledge of that particular Higgs conspiracy. The trial then moved on without further comment or question.

And yet Hayes was central to a Higgs conspiracy in another IRA trial, that of the Maguire Seven, in which the Hayes and Higgs were proved by Parliamentary investigation to have conspired to with-hold evidence that might assist the defence case.

But since the Maguire Seven story was not rehearsed in the Lockerbie trial, none of this could be considered by the Lockerbie judges.

I believe that if Hayes' history in the case of the Maguire Seven had been examined in court, his testimony in the case of Lockerbie would have been discredited in the same way as that of Majid Giaka, the double CIA and Libyan agent.

In his book Scotbom, and since, Mr Marquise gives the impression that American investigation was led and controlled by the FBI. In fact it was controlled overall by the CIA, and by certain people with much blood and lies on their hands. Among the White House team around that time were people proven by declassified documents to understand well the technique of the manufacture of evidence to destabilise Middle Eastern governments. These documents are now freely available. But nobody - including the media in both countries - seems to care any more. It's old news, unwelcome news. People die, so what? Life must go on etc.

All of this, naturally, never came to the attention of the Lockerbie judges. Hopefully the second appeal will offer a long overdue opportunity for the true back-story of Lockerbie to emerge.

If Mr Marquise wishes to challenge any of the above, I will gladly supply the document dates and references with appropriate quotations. I will also arrange for sections of the film and television records to be put on the web. And I will ensure that relevant sections of the trial transcript are also put on the web. People can then judge for themselves where this story might go over the next six months.

Friday 7 April 2017

An A to Z of Lockerbie “conspiracies”

[What follows is the text of an article published in The Guardian on this date in 1999. Some of the "conspiracies" have since been comprehensively debunked. Others have not:]

Lockerbie conspiracies: from A to Z


is for Africa, South
Several pieces of evidence (see H and W) suggest that the authorities knew in advance that the Boeing 747 which blew up over Lockerbie in southern Scotland on December 21 1988 was in danger. The German newspaper Die Zeit claimed that the South African foreign minister, Pik Botha, intended to fly on Pan Am 103 but had been warned off. Mr Botha flew on an earlier flight, Pan Am 101, which, unlike flight 103, had special security checks at Heathrow. No one has been able to definitively confirm or refute the Die Zeit story.


is for bomb-maker
The German anti-terror campaign Operation Autumn Leaves (see J, O and P) led to the arrest of bomb-maker Marwan Khreesat weeks before the Lockerbie disaster. Khreesat was released after a few days because of a lack of evidence. In April 1989 further German police raids resulted in the discovery of two more bombs designed by Khreesat specifically to blow up aircraft. Did he make the bomb which was placed on feeder flight Pan Am 103A before it left Frankfurt for Heathrow?


is for coffin
Two coach-loads of officials arrived at the disaster scene in the day after the crash. Many were plain-clothed Americans with no obvious affiliation. Among their baggage was a single coffin for which no explanation has ever been given. Labour MP Tam Dalyell later produced evidence indicating that the Americans had "stolen" a body from the wreckage. A local doctor identified and labelled 59 bodies and was then puzzled to find that the Americans had relabelled and tagged only 58 in the area where he had been working.


is for drugs
Lockerbie farmer Jim Wilson found a suitcase full of cellophane packets containing white powder among the debris in his fields. The suitcase was taken away, no explanation was given, and the authorities continued to insist that no drugs (apart from a small quantity of cannabis) had been found on the plane. But it was later discovered that the name Mr Wilson saw on the suitcase did not correspond with any of the names on the Pan Am 103 passenger list.


is for the Express
Ten days after the Lockerbie disaster, the Daily Express devoted its front page to exposing a Lebanese American called Khaled Jafaar whom it named as the "bomb carrier". The Express's sources were "the FBI and Scotland Yard". The Interfor report (see I) also named Khaled Jafaar as the bomb carrier.


is for fiction
It has been argued that talk of the CIA, cover-ups, bombs, timers and Maltese trousers (see M) is just entertaining fiction. Some observers believe that there was no bomb on Pan Am 103 and that explosive decompression or an electrical fault caused the Lockerbie disaster, as they caused other Boeing 747 crashes.


is for Garrick
Paul Channon, British Secretary of State for Transport, lunched five journalists at the Garrick Club three months after Lockerbie and told them, off-the-record, that the Lockerbie killers had been identified and would soon be arrested. Yet the two Libyans who came to be the prime suspects were not charged until November 1991. It seems likely that at that time Mr Channon was confident that the Lockerbie bomb was the work of the Palestinians (see P).


is for Helsinki
Sixteen days before the disaster, a man rang the US embassy in Helsinki, Finland, and warned of a bomb aboard a Pan Am aircraft flying from Frankfurt to the US. The 1990 US President's Commission report on aviation security said that "thousands of US government employees saw the Helsinki threat". Not a single US worker at the Moscow embassy took flight Pan Am 103 from Frankfurt, a standard and popular route home for Christmas. But the British Department of Transport had told Pan Am in December that British intelligence dismissed the threat as "not real".


is for Interfor
A report by Interfor, a New York corporate investigative company hired by Pan Am, suggested that a Palestinian gang (see P) had got the bomb on to the airliner at Frankfurt by exploiting a US intelligence deal (see U). In a bid to free American hostages in Beirut, American intelligence agents had apparently struck a deal with Syrian drug smugglers: in exchange for hostage information, the agents smoothed the Lebanon-US drugs route by relaxing security restrictions and allowing drug luggage to sail through customs. The terrorist gang simply switched the drug luggage for a bomb.


is for Ahmed Jibril
Ahmed Jibril was the leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command (PFLP-GC) (see P). He enjoyed the protection of the Syrian government. Intelligence agents reported that Jibril had been assigned by a furious Iran to avenge the shooting down of an Iranian airbus by a US warship in 1988 (which killed 290 people). The leader of Jibril's terrorist gang, Hafez Dalkamoni, was one of the Palestinians arrested in Operation Autumn Leaves (see O).


is for Kuwait
In 1990 Kuwait was invaded by Saddam Hussein. Anglo-American attitudes to the Middle East were transformed. Paul Foot and John Ashton argue that theories about Lockerbie are inextricably linked to this changing political situation. In 1989 intelligence-based evidence fitted snugly with US and British foreign policy in the Middle East. Both countries had severed relations with Syria, and the Iraq-Iran war ended in 1988 with America and Britain continuing to be hostile to Iran and supportive of Iraq. The US and British governments were content with the prime Lockerbie suspects: a Palestinian gang (see P), backed by Syria and Iran. But in 1990, the impending Anglo-American war against Iraq necessitated neutralising Iran and winning the support of Syria. Britain's diplomatic relations with Syria were duly restored in November 1990 and the Gulf war commenced in 1991. Sure enough, the credibility of intelligence theories about the Lockerbie bombing being masterminded by the Iran- and Syria-backed Palestinian gang was soon dismantled.


is for Libya
In November 1991, the American and British governments charged two Libyan airline officials, Abdel Basset Ali Al-Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah, with planting the Lockerbie bomb. To justify the radical change in the investigation's focus away from the Palestinians, the US State Department said: "Fresh evidence undermined the initial theory linking the PFLP-GC (see P) to the bomb". This included evidence that the Lockerbie bomb's "sophisticated electronic timer" had been delivered from Switzerland to Libya. And, in contrast, the bombs discovered in the hands of the Palestinians in Germany (see B) had "relatively crude timers".


is for the Maltese connection
A series of Sunday Times investigative pieces reported that the Lockerbie bomb had first been put on a plane in Malta. The bombing had been carried out by the Palestinian group (see P), after a gang member, Abu Talb, visited Malta. He was identified by a Maltese boutique owner as the man who bought clothes later found in the bomb suitcase. A bag which ended up on Pan Am 103 was identified by a baggage handler as coming from an Air Malta flight. When a Granada TV documentary repeated the allegations, Air Malta sued Granada for libel. A hitherto unpublished document from Air Malta's lawyers demonstrated that there were no bags on the flight which went on to Pan Am 103 or 103A. Granada settled out of court.


is for not proven
Legally defined as "a criminal verdict, somewhere between guilty and not guilty, the consequences of which are that the accused is treated as if found not guilty". Britain and the US fear that if attention is paid to the conflicting conspiracy theories, the case against the Libyans in The Hague could only be "not proven".


is for Operation Autumn Leaves
Five weeks before the Palestinian warning (see I) was received, a German anti-terrorism campaign, Operation Autumn Leaves, arrested a "team of Palestinians not associated with the PLO" in possession of a bomb in a cassette recorder (see T) strikingly similar to the Lockerbie bomb. These Palestinians, including Hafez Dalkamoni (see J) and Marwan Khreesat (see B) had been arrested outside a flat in Neuss - two hours' drive from Frankfurt, from whose airport Pan Am 103's feeder flight had originated. They were released after five days because there was not enough evidence against them.


is for Palestinians
Operation Autumn Leaves led to the arrest of a gang associated with a splinter group of the Palestinian movement the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command (PFLP-GC). Was Pan Am 103 blown up by a Palestinian gang, protected by Syria and paid for by Iran?


is for Queen's English
The official air accident report concludes: "The detonation of an improvised explosive device led directly to the destruction of the aircraft". If it was a bomb why wasn't it called a bomb in plain English?


is for red tarpaulin
On the night of the disaster teams of rescue volunteers scouring the area discovered a large object under a red tarpaulin. As they approached it, they were warned off by gunmen in the doorway of a hovering helicopter. A local farmer, Innes Graham, was also warned by US investigators to stay away from a small wooded area a few miles east of Lockerbie.


is for the Swiss circuit board
A central piece of evidence which pointed to the Libyans (see L) was a tiny fragment of a circuit board found among the Lockerbie debris. This was traced to a firm in Switzerland which exported timers to Libya. Apart from the confusion over when and where the circuit board was found (reports vary between June and November 1990), the Libyan connection to the timers is not as clear-cut as investigators have claimed. The US state department maintained that all timers from the Swiss firm had been delivered to Libya, but a BBC radio programme later proved that the firm had provided identical timers to the East German secret police, the Stasi.


is for Toshiba
The German anti-terror campaign Operation Autumn Leaves (see O) discovered a Toshiba cassette recorder packed with semtex. Pieces of a similar model of recorder had been found in the wreckage at Lockerbie.


is for US intelligence
There have been several claims that the bomb was planted on Pan Am 103 by a crack team of US intelligence agents. A Radio Forth journalist reported the claim and, within an hour, was threatened with prosecution or, bizarrely, invited to disclose his source to the Prime Minister. The Interfor report (see I) also alleged that Major Charles McKee, the head of the US intelligence team, who was travelling on the plane, was shocked by his colleagues' deal with Syrian drug smugglers and was returning on Pan Am 103 to report them. The inference was obvious - Pan Am 103 was sacrificed by the intelligence community to get rid of Major McKee. But the Interfor report was greeted with widespread scepticism.


is for Vincent Cannistraro
In the early 1990s the Lockerbie investigation shifted from the Scottish Borders to the CIA base in America. The man in charge there was Vincent Cannistraro. Mr Cannistraro had worked with Oliver North in President Reagan's National Security Council and, Paul Foot and John Ashton argue, he "specialised in the US vendetta against Libya". Mr Cannistraro was part of a secret programme to destabilise the Libyan regime which culminated in the US bombing of Libya in 1986. He retired from the CIA in September 1990 but by then had helped lay the foundations for a completely new approach to the bombing investigation, in which the chief suspect was not Iran or Syria, but Libya.


is for warning
Three days before the Helsinki threat (see H), an intelligence source in the US state department's office of diplomatic security warned that a team of Palestinians, not associated with the PLO, was targeting Pan Am airline and US military bases in Europe. The comment attached to the message read: "We cannot refute or confirm this".


is for xenophobia
In 1989 Anglo-American intelligence services and politicians widely blamed the Lockerbie bomb on a Palestinian terror group (see P), backed by Syria and Iran. In 1990, (see K) Iraq became the Anglo-American Arab enemy number one in the run-up to the Gulf war; Iran became neutral and Syrian troops joined the Allied forces. Only Libya remained adamantly aligned with Iraq. Suddenly, coincidentally, the Lockerbie bomb was blamed on the Libyans.


is for Yvonne Fletcher
PC Yvonne Fletcher was shot dead outside the Libyan embassy in London in 1984, causing diplomatic relations between Britain and Libya to be severed. The file on Yvonne Fletcher is still open and Britain continues to demand Libyan co-operation on the matter. The fairness of the trial of the two Libyan suspects could yet affect this case.


is for Zeist

Camp Zeist is the former US air base in The Hague where the two Libyans are being tried under Scottish law. But even the conviction of Abdel Basset Ali Al-Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah seems unlikely to still the disquiet and conspiracies that continue to surround flight Pan Am 103.