Saturday, 22 December 2018

Lockerbie suspect now living in US suburb slams 'complete lie' he planted bomb

[This is the headline over a long report in today's edition of the Daily Mirror. It reads in part:]

The man suspected of planting the Lockerbie bomb has been tracked down by the Daily Mirror.

Once allegedly identified as Abu Elias, the Syria-born US citizen lives a normal life under a different name in a suburban town outside Washington DC.

Questioned by the Mirror, he said it was a “complete lie” that he played any role in the worst terror attack in Britain which killed 270 people 30 years ago.

He hit out after former Cold War spy Douglas Boyd named him as the prime suspect and argued Libyan Abdelbaset al-Megrahi – the only person to be convicted – was a fall guy.

And it comes after the Mirror’s world exclusive yesterday with stunning claims from the daughter of a senior Jordanian militant.

She said before his death two years ago, Marwan Khreesat told his family his old terror group the Popular Front for the ­Liberation of ­Palestine – General Command carried out the attack.

He claimed its chief Ahmed Jibril was paid millions of pounds by Iran, which wanted revenge for 290 deaths when a US warship shot down an Iranian passenger jet months earlier.

Author Boyd, in his recent book Lockerbie: The Truth, claims it was Jibril’s nephew Elias who most likely broke into the Pan Am baggage store at Heathrow to plant the device on Flight 103.

The Palestine Liberation Organisation and, previously, the CIA have also named Elias as a prime suspect.

Terror cell member Mobdi Goben also claimed Elias was guilty in a deathbed confession.

But the suspect, who lives just 20 miles from the ­Lockerbie Cairn Memorial at Washington, told the Daily Mirror he was innocent.

Asked if he was ever known as Abu Elias, he replied: “No. I have been subject to more than 90 hours of investigation from Scotland Yard and the FBI, and they are through with me.

“The FBI did their ­homework. They know me very well. They have a big thick file on me.”

He later admitted the identity he now lives under was not his birth name.

But he added: “I’m not the nephew to no one. The bit you are talking about is full of f***ing lies. It’s a bloody lie.”

Author Boyd wrote in his book: “Megrahi was convicted on a tissue of lies. Little of the evidence against him can be taken at face value.

“It is a story of incompetence, vengeance, political expediency and then a cover-up orchestrated from the highest levels in London and in ­Washington – where the real bomber is said to live today, under cover of a witness protection scheme.” (...)

Many believed some of the evidence [against Megrahi] was weak. He was identified as buying clothes in Malta that were later found in the Lockerbie luggage. Megrahi died at home in 2012 from prostate cancer, aged 60, having been released from a Scottish prison on compassionate grounds three years previously.

It is believed he planned to reveal Elias’ new identity in a bid to clear his own name.

However, two weeks after being freed to return to Tripoli, SNP politician Christine Grahame used Scottish Parliamentary privilege to identify the man she said was Elias.

She said at the time: “Why were there no criminal prosecutions following the shooting down of the Iranian Airbus by the USS Vincennes in 1988, five months before Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie?

“Was there a contract issued by the Iranian authorities to the PFLP-GC to take revenge for the death of 290 Iranian pilgrims, 60 of whom were children, by bringing down an ­­American plane bringing its pilgrims home for Christmas?

“Why have the US authorities not queried the true identity of [name withheld] alias Abu Elias, a senior figure in the PFLP-GC at the time of the bombing and nephew of Ahmed Jibril, former head of that terrorist organisation?”

We asked the suspect where he was on December 21, 1988 – the day of the bombing. He replied: “I was in the United States. The FBI saw my journal they know I was in South West Washington DC handling my job.” (...)

Speaking to the Daily Mirror, SNP politician Ms Grahame said: “These various discoveries that you have made builds further on the case that it was, as many of us believe, Iran that was responsible for the ­Lockerbie bombing and that Megrahi was the fall guy. Libya took the rap for various international reasons.” (...)

[The Megrahi family's] lawyer Aamer Anwar said this week: “Many believe that Megrahi was the victim of a miscarriage of justice and the finger of blame has long been pointed in the direction of Iran.”

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