Thursday 30 October 2008

The South African connexion

[I am grateful to Patrick Haseldine for the following, written in response to various recent press contentions that a high-powered South African delegation was "hauled off" Pan Am flight 103.]

Both Magnus Linklater in the The Times ("Lockerbie questions demand an answer") and David Maddox in The Scotsman ("Was Lockerbie suspect working for the US?") are making the same mistake. They refer to senior South African figures being "hauled off" the plane, which is demonstrably untrue.

Following the first screening of Allan Francovich's film The Maltese Double Cross, which first revealed a South African connection to Lockerbie, a Reuters news agency report of 12 November 1994 ( clarified what actually happened. A 23-strong South African delegation - including Foreign Minister Pik Botha, Defence Minister Magnus Malan and Military Intelligence Chief C J Van Tonder - were travelling by South African Airways from Johannesburg. Their inbound flight inexplicably cut out a stopover at Frankfurt, which was SAA's European hub, and arrived early at Heathrow. The London embassy booked Botha and five of the party on Pan Am Flight 101 to New York for the signing of the Namibia Independence Agreement at UN headquarters on 22 December 1988. The remaining 17 members of the party returned from Heathrow on the SAA aircraft to Johannesburg.

UN Commissioner for Namibia, Bernt Carlsson, had been booked to travel by Sabena from Brussels (where he had addressed a Committee of the European Parliament) to New York for the same signing ceremony. However, Carlsson was persuaded by the South Africans to stopover at Heathrow and became the most high profile of the 270 Lockerbie victims.

Apartheid South Africa is thus intimately involved and might even have planned and executed the bombing without the involvement of any other country. This scenario neatly explains why Botha & Co did not need any forewarning by the CIA, and destroys the myth that they were "hauled off" the flight.

While it might be judicially and politically convenient now to shift the blame from the ailing Abdelbaset Megrahi to the dead terrorist Abu Nidal, we would be no nearer to the truth about the Lockerbie bombing. I continue to believe that, to get to the truth, a United Nations Inquiry into the death of UN Commissioner for Namibia, Bernt Carlsson, in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing ( is required. Let us hope that when the new US president takes office next January we will finally get this UN Inquiry.


  1. 1: Wikipaedia is NOT the fount of all knowledge and has, many times in the past, carried inaccurate or unverified material. This site has carried information allegedly pertaining to a persons closely assocoated with both UK and US intelligence services being an 'editor' on the site!

    2: As one of the consultants to the Maltese Double XX, I was told certain facts by the film's prime source for the South African change of plans.

    3: The TRUE story about the change of flights has NOT (as yet) been told.

    4: Alan Francovich tried to confirm major aspects of the story with Pik Botha who declined to comment.(I know the reason why he declined)

    5: No-one seems to be puzzled by the simple fact that SEVENTEEN members of the delegation decide ( to change their plans and not to even bother travelling on to New York! - WHY?

  2. The prime source in 'The Maltese Double Cross' for the South African change of plans is the late Tiny Rowland.

    Two questions for David Ben Aryeah:

    1. What is the true story about the change of flights (Botha's and Carlsson's)?

    2. Why did Pik Botha decline to comment?

    I, for one, am puzzled by the fact that 17 members of the SA delegation didn't bother to travel on to New York.

  3. Dear Patrick,

    There are MANY unrevealed facts about PA103.

    Most people do not know of the role I played with Jim Swire(and others) for the first 12 long years, and on my own since. I have been called 'the keeper of secrets'... I won't argue with it.

    I was the first to say it was caused by a bomb.

    I was the first to raise questions about Thurman and the FBI explosives labORATORY.

    I was the first to raise questions about the staff at RARDE

    I was the first to raise the fact that the investigators DIDS NOT KNOW with any degree of certainty EXACTLY how many bags were on board the doomed airliner.

    I was the first to find out about the non-existent 'white helicopter' which was then mis-confirmed in 1998.

    I was the first st notice that two bodies, seated at opposite ENDS of the Maid of the Seas fell into the same 100 metre map reference grid square.

    I was the first (non police person) to ascertain the truth about a passanger travelling under a false name.

    I was the first to raise questions about two US officials who sat with the Crown at Zeist,day in, day out during the trial.

    I was the first to question the situation whereby the Crown could 'brief'relatives attending the trial at the end of each day's hearings IN THE CERTAIN KNOWLEDGE that the defence team COULD NOT because of the Scottish Legal rules on 'client confidentiality'

    I could go on, and on, and on... I have spent 19+ years of my life on this case and have gone bankrupt (twice) just in case (as has happened before) someone claims I have been well paid.

    I have many files still, as yet undisclosed, and they kmust remain so UNTIL (a) the legal case is totally discharged and/or (b) an Independent Inquiry into events prior to, during and after the bombing is that point I will make copies of all of my material available to the Crown and the Counsel for the Relatives.

    Sadly, there has been far, far too much speculation over the past 20 years. Media, relatives and others who have done precious little actual investigation have fallen for mis-information, dis-information and manipulation by various parties for(as yet) undisclosed personal agendas.

    I spent over £140,000 trekking around the places associated with the case. Checking, verifying, observing and spending inordinate amounts of time getting epopple to trust me.

    I was honoured by the turst and friendship of John Merrit, Tiny Roewland,Pierre Salinger, Alan Francovich, Kamel Mahur, John Cooley and many others some, have sadly gone to a better place and I miss each and every one of them more than I could ever adeqautely express.

    The terrible situationnow exists that too, too many people who DID hold vital facts and/or evidence have now passed away.

    Unlike so many alleged 'experts' on Lockerbie, I WAS there the first night and weeks, I then spent the past 19+ years quietly probing, verifying and checking.

    Despite serious controversy over certaion scenes and claims in the Maltese XX, ALan Francovich KNEW that some of them were 'shaky' - it became a historical film the moment we had to stop filming by vurtue of the fact that new information was emerging week by week and the late and sadly missed Tiny Roland could not continue funding it from his PERSONAL funds for ever!

    IF you want to talk, ask Bob or Jim how to get hold of me...but I will NOT publish material publicly over the web...for others to claim as their own...somehting that has cost me dear in the past.

  4. Nice bit of obfuscation, David!

    Now here is the actual transcript of the Reuters report dated 12 November 1994 (referenced in the article):


    Former South African foreign minister Pik Botha denied on Saturday he had been aware in advance of a bomb on board Pan Am Flight 103 which exploded over Lockerbie in Scotland in 1988 killing 270 people.

    The minister confirmed through his spokesman that he and his party had been booked on the ill-fated airliner but switched flights after arriving early in London from Johannesburg.

    He was travelling with South African officials to negotiate peace in Namibia and Angola.

    Botha was reacting to a report in the Scotsman newspaper on Saturday which said a documentary film 'The Maltese Double Cross' alleged Botha, now South Africa's energy minister, and security chiefs were warned of the bomb and did not travel.

    "Had he known of the bomb, no force on earth would have stopped him from seeing to it that flight 103, with its deadly cargo, would not have left the airport," Botha's spokesman Roland Carroll told Reuters after consulting the minister. "The minister is flattered by the allegation of near omniscience."

    Gerrit Pretorius, at the time Botha's private secretary, said the then foreign minister and 22 South African negotiators, including defence minister Magnus Malan and foreign affairs director Neil van Heerden, had been booked on flight 103. "But to London an hour early and the embassy got us on to an earlier flight. When we got to JFK airport in New York a contemporary of mine said 'Thank God you weren't on 103. It crashed over Lockerbie'", Pretorius told Reuters.

    Darroll said that South African diplomats in the United States were convinced at the time that Botha and his team were on flight 103. He said the flight from Johannesburg arrived early in London after a Frankfurt stopover was cut out. "Had we been on 103 the impact on South Africa and the region would have been massive. It happened on the eve of the signing of the tripartite agreements," said Pretorius, referring to pacts which ended South African and Cuban involvement in Angola and which led to Namibian independence.

    British legislator Tam Dalyell said on Saturday he was going to screen the documentary on the bombing at the House of Commons after it was pulled out of a film festival for legal reasons.

    The film by American Allan Francovich challenges the official British and US view that two Libyan agents alone planted a radio cassette bomb that killed everyone aboard the jumbo jet and 11 people in the small Scottish town. The Scotsman said the film claims the United States intelligence service CIA allowed Pan Am flights to be used for regular drug runs to gain leverage with Middle East guerrilla groups.

    It said a former CIA agent says in the film he was asked to set up a 'dirty tricks' operation to implicate Libya in drug running. The paper said the bomb was unwittingly carried onto the flight from London to New York by suspected drug runner Khaled Jaafar, one of the 270 victims.

    For Mr Ben-Aryeah, I am repeating the two questions posed above:

    1. What is the true story about the change of flights (Botha's and Carlsson's)?

    2. Why did Pik Botha decline to comment?

    I doubt very much that you have any answers that can improve upon the explanation given in the Reuters report.

    And, finally, the report proves that Botha was definitely not "hauled off" Pan Am Flight 103, as Magnus Linklater and David Maddox would have us believe.

  5. It has now been demonstrated that SA foreign minister Pik Botha, defence minister Magnus Malan and the whole South African delegation bound for UN headquarters were always booked to travel on Pan Am Flight 101 which departed Heathrow at 11:00am on 21 December 1988. Please see this extract from Why the Lockerbie flight booking subterfuge, Mr Botha?:

    Pik Botha's claim to have been booked on the Lockerbie flight was shown to be false by the now retired South African MP Colin Eglin of the Democratic Party. In a letter to a British Lockerbie victim’s family dated 18 July 1996, Mr Eglin wrote of questions he had put to South African Justice Minister Dullah Omar in the National Assembly. On 5 June 1996, Mr Eglin asked Mr Omar if Pik Botha and his entourage 'had any plans to travel on this flight (Pan Am Flight 103) or had reservations for this flight; if so, why were the plans changed?'

    In reply in the National Assembly on 12 June 1996, Justice Minister Omar stated he had been informed by the former minister of foreign affairs (Pik Botha) that shortly before finalising their booking arrangements for travel from Heathrow to New York, they learned of an earlier flight from London to New York: namely, Pan Am Flight 101. They consequently were booked and travelled on this flight to New York.

    Mr Eglin went on to write in his letter to the Lockerbie victim’s family: "Since then I have done some more informal prodding. This has led me to the person who made the reservations on behalf of the South African foreign minister Pik Botha and his entourage. This person assures me that he and no-one else was responsible for the reservations, and the reservation made in South Africa for the South African group was originally made on PA 101, departing London at 11:00 on 21 December 1988. It was never made on PA 103 and consequently was never changed. He made the reservation on PA 101 because it was the most convenient flight connecting with South African Airways Flight SA 234 arriving at Heathrow at 07:20 on 21 December 1988."

    Mr Eglin gave the victim’s family the assurance that he had "every reason to trust the person referred to" since he had been given a copy of "rough working notes and extracts from his personal diary of those days". In his letter Mr Eglin wrote: "In the circumstances, I have to accept that an assertion that the reservations of the South African group were either made or changed as a result of warnings that might have been received, is not correct".