Friday, 8 March 2019

"... the FBI was put in charge of the crime scene in Lockerbie"

[What follows is excerpted from a report published today on the website of North Carolina's Bladen Journal:]

The former FBI investigator, [John Kelso] who led the probe in the 1988 bombing of Pam Am Flight 103, was the guest speaker for the Bladen Leadership Luncheon, a fundraiser for the Cape Fear Council Boy Scouts of America. (...) [RB: Until today John Kelso's name has not once appeared on this blog during its (almost) twelve year existence. The head of the FBI's Lockerbie investigation team is usually given as Richard Marquise.]

On a topic that could be discussed or presented over many sittings, the skilled orator explained how the FBI was put in charge of the crime scene in Lockerbie, Scotland, how it went about determining suspects and what has happened in the 30-plus years since. [RB: Is it really the case that the FBI, and not the Scottish police, were in charge of the crime scene? If true, this might explain a lot. But I am reluctant to believe that it is true.]

The plane with 200,000 pounds of fuel carrying 259 people was at 31,000 feet flying 500 mph. When a Semtex device of about 1 pound exploded, all aboard and 11 on the ground were killed.

The crime scene was scattered over 845 square miles, which is roughly just smaller than Bladen County.

“We initially had three theories,” said Kelso, who retired in 2002. “One was a suicide bomber, someone knowingly checked in the device. The second was a mule, which is a situation, for example, of boyfriend and girlfriend. Someone says if you take some of my luggage, I’ll join you later. The mule is the one who takes the luggage.

“And then the third was an inside job, which is what happened.”

The agency’s investigation had a lucky break and a mystery letter, elements that seem to often accompany movie thrillers and good books. The break was two-fold, that the airplane didn’t take off on time and the explosive device was a straight timer as opposed to a barometric device.

Had the plane been on time, the explosion would not have happened over land, and all the evidence would have been on an ocean floor. [RB: Dr Morag Kerr has debunked the claim that the aircraft was late in leaving Heathrow. It left its stance within two or three minutes of the scheduled time.]

The anonymous letter was written and left at a US embassy in Vienna within weeks of the bombing, yet left pretty well out of the three-year probe. When a suspect connected to the timer was fingered, his conversation with the FBI uncovered his authorship of the letter. [RB: The strange story of the letter written by Edwin Bollier on a Spanish-keyboard typewriter is discussed in the trial court's judgement at paragraph 47.]

Kelso told the group he’s met with families of those killed. The meetings were emotionally draining.

At Syracuse University, which had several students onboard, an anniversary is held each year. Kelso and his wife have stayed in touch with one family, connected as parents of twins.

“One was a student at Syracuse, one at Rensler — both on the same flight and were killed,” Kelso said of the parents’ sons. “They both keep hoping, as do I, that there will be a stable government in Libya to help us get to the bottom of this. We indicted two, and convicted one, but we know there is more to this.

“For us who worked the case, and the families grieving, that’s what they’d like to see. If they could have some closure, charges against other Libyan officials, that would make things better.”

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