Sunday, September 23, 2007

The New York Times on the Libya-Pan Am 103 Case: A Study in Propaganda Service

Prof. Edward S. Herman
September 22, 2007

New York Times propaganda service has often been dramatically displayed in connection with the shooting down of civilian airliners. The editors were hysterical over the Soviet shooting down of Korean airliner 007 on August 31, 1983: 270 articles and 2,789 column inches during September 1983 alone, along with an editorial designation of the incident as “cold-blooded mass murder.” The paper took as truth the official and party line that the Soviets knew they were shooting down a civilian airliner. Several years later the editors acknowledged that their assumption had been wrong, but they blamed this on the government, not their own gullibility (ed., “The Lie That Wasn’t Shot Down,” Jan. 18, 1988). It had done no investigative work on the case in the interim, and the lie was shot down based on information developed outside the media.

In a markedly contrasting response, when Israel shot down a Libyan airliner over the Sinai desert in February 1973, although in this case there was no question but that the Israelis knew they were downing a civilian airliner, the New York Times covered the incident much less intensively and without expressing the slightest indignation, let alone using words like “cold-blooded” or “murder.”

Equally interesting, the paper recognized the political importance of their treatment of each of these events: in the Soviet case, in a year-later retrospective, Times reporter Bernard Gwertzman wrote that U.S. officials “assert that worldwide criticism of the Soviet handling of the crisis has strengthened the United States in its relations with Moscow.” With the orchestrated intense and indignant coverage of this shootdown the Soviets had suffered not only harsh criticism but boycotts for its action. By contrast, Israel suffered not the slightest damage. The New York Times editorialized that “No useful purpose is served by an acrimonious debate over the assignment of blame for the downing of a Libyan plane in the Sinai peninsula last week” (ed., March 1, 1973). Within a week of the shootdown, the Israeli Prime Minister was welcomed in Washington without incident or intrusive questions. In short, blame and debate is a function of utility, which is to say, political advantage. Where it helps, as in putting the Soviets in a bad light, we support assigning blame, indignation and debate; where it would injure a client, “no useful purpose” would be served by such treatment. And somehow the UN and “international community” react in ways that conform to what the U.S. government and New York Times perceive as useful.

In the case of Pan Am 103, the political aspect of assigning blame has been clearly and, arguably, overwhelmingly important. The plane was blown up over Lockerbie, Scotland on December 21, 1988, with 270 plane casualties (and 11 persons killed on the ground). This followed by only five and a half months the U.S. navy’s shooting down of Iranian airliner 655 in July 1988, killing 290, mainly Iranian pilgrims. The link between the two events was quickly seen, and the likelihood that the later event was an act of vengeance by Iran was a working hypothesis, supported further by an unproven claim of Western security forces that Iran had offered a $10 million reward for a retaliatory act. As the case developed it was soon a consensus of investigators that the Pan Am action had been the work of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) under the leadership of Ahmed Jibral, based in Syria, and responding to the Iranian offer.

But then, as relations with Saddam Hussein deteriorated in 1989 and 1990, and the United States sought better relations with Syria and Iran in the run-up to the first Persian Gulf War, Western officials became quiet on the Syria-Iran connection, followed by a fairly rapid shift from “definitive” proof of PFLP-Syrian-Iranian involvement to “definitive” proof that it was a Libyan act. As Paul Foot noted, “The evidence against the PFLP which had been so carefully put together and was so immensely impressive was quietly but firmly junked” (“Lockerbie: The Flight From Justice,” Private Eye, May/June 2001, p. 10). Libya provided a suitable new culprit, as it was already on the U.S.-UK hit list and had been subjected to a series of efforts at “regime change,” a hostility based on its independence, support of the Palestinians and other dissident forces (including the ANC and Mandela in their resistance to the apartheid regime), as well as occasional support of anti-Western terrorists. So Libya it was.

The Libyan connection lasted in pristine condition from 1990 into 2007, during which time Libya was subjected to intensive vilification, costly sanctions imposed by the Security Council, and a highly publicized trial in Scotland that resulted in the conviction of a Libyan national for the Lockerbie murders, with further bad publicity for Libya and Kaddafi, and a payment of several billion dollars in victim compensation that Libya felt compelled to provide (although still denying any involvement in the shootdown). All this despite the fact that many experts and observers, including some victim family members, felt that the trial was a political event and a judicial farce that yielded an unwarranted and unjust conviction.

This belief in the injustice of the court decision was greatly strengthened in June 2007 when a Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission issued a decision that found the 2001 trial and decision flawed and opened the way for a fresh appeal for the convicted Libyan. If this decision is validated, the world will be left without a party responsible for the Pan Am-103 bombing, but with the strong likelihood that attention will be refocused on the PFLP and its sponsors, Syria and Iran. Is it not an amazing coincidence that this second turnaround occurs as Libya becomes more acceptable to the United States and its allies and these Western powers are now retargeting Syria and Iran?

We should note one other set of facts in this controversy that bears on the quality of “international justice.” That is, the treatment by the United States, New York Times, and international community of the shooting down of the Iranian airliner 655 by the U.S. warship Vincennes in July 1988 and the process of bringing justice to the families of the victims of that act. It is true that this was not a planned destruction of an airliner, but it was carried out by a U.S. naval commander noted for his “Rambo” qualities and the civilian airliner destroyed was closely following its assigned air space (in contrast with 007). A point rarely mentioned in the U.S. media is that the U.S. naval vessel that shot the plane down was on a mission in aid of Saddam Hussein in his war of aggression against Iran.

The Reagan administration did express “deep regret” at the incident, although blaming Iran for hostile actions that provoked the U.S. action (which were later shown to have been non-existent) and for failing to terminate its war against Iraq--and as the United States was supporting Iraq, by definition Iran was the aggressor. It also paid some $132 million as compensation, including $62 million for the families of the victims. This is, of course, substantially less than Kaddafi felt obligated to pay the victims of Pan Am 103, the ratio of payments to the respective victims being roughly 30 to 1.

The New York Times, which had had an editorial entitled “Murder” in connection with the 007 shootdown, asserted back in 1983 that “There is no conceivable excuse for any nation shooting down a harmless airliner,” but it predictably found one for the 655 case: “the incident must still be seen as not as a crime [let alone “murder”] but as a blunder, and a tragedy.” Neither the UN Security Council nor International Civil Aviation Organization condemned the United States for this action, although both had done so as regards the Soviet Union in the case of Korean airliner 007, and of course the Security Council would eventually take severe action against Libya in regard to Pan Am 103. There was no punishment whatsoever meted out to Rambo Captain Will Rogers, who got a “hero’s welcome” upon his return to San Diego five months after the shoot-down (Robert Reinhold, “Crew of Cruiser That Downed Iranian Airliner Gets a Warm Homecoming,” NYT, Oct. 25, 1988), and was subsequently awarded a Legion of Merit award for “exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service.” The Iranians were naturally angry at this reception and treatment of the man responsible for killing 290 mainly Iranian civilians, and were possibly a bit resentful at the workings of the system of international justice as it impacted them.

Polls indicated that the warm greeting Rogers got in San Diego was not an aberration—the public was pleased with his accomplishment. This reflected the fact that media coverage of the 655 shootdown had focused on official claims about the reason for the deadly act, not the plight of the victims and the grief of their families—which was the heavy and continuing focus of attention in both the 007 and Pan Am 103 cases. The alleged suffering of Captain Rogers got more attention than that of the 290 victims and their families. We are back to the contrast between “worthy” and “unworthy” victims, and the “useful purpose” of the focus of attention, as seen by the U.S. establishment and media.

One further note on international justice concerns the treatment of the U.S. bombing of Libya on April 14, 1986. That attack followed by little more than a week the bombing of a discotheque in Berlin that was quickly blamed by the Reagan administration on Libya, though proof of this connection was never forthcoming. The U.S. bombing attack targeted Kadaffi’s residence, and, while failing to assassinate him, killed his young daughter along with 40 or more Libyan civilians. This was an act of state terrorism and a straightforward violation of the UN Charter, but here again a U.S. (along with supportive British and French) veto prevented any UN Security Council condemnation, let alone other action, in response to this terrorism. The UN can act only when the United States wants it to act; it can never do anything in response to U.S. or U.S. client state violence, no matter how egregious. And the case of Libya and Pan Am 103 affords strong evidence that when the United States wants the UN to act against a target, serious penalties and other forms of damage can be inflicted that are based on false charges and a corrupted legal process (as described below).

We may note also that the New York Times editors were delighted with the 1986 terroristic attack on Libya. Their editorial on the subject stated that “The smoke in Tripoli has barely cleared, yet on the basis of early information even the most scrupulous citizen can only approve and applaud the American attacks on Libya” (ed., “The Terrorist and His Sentence,” April 15, 1986), The “early information” showed only that while the assassination attempt had failed scores of what the editors would call “innocent civilians” in a reverse context were killed. Thus once again the editors expose their belief that international law does not apply to the United States, and it demonstrates once again that civilians killed by the U.S. government are “unworthy” victims whose deaths the editors can literally applaud.

As in the case of the shooting down of 007, on November 14, 1999 the New York Times had big headlines and lavished a great deal of attention and indignation on the U.S.-British indictment of two Libyans alleged to have been the bombers of Pan Am 103, and it provided similar headlines, attention and indignation when the Scottish court found one of the two Libyans guilty on January 31, 2001. By contrast, the report that the Scottish Review Court had found the trial of the Libyans badly flawed and suggested that justice called for a new trial, was given no editorial attention and a single question-begging article (Alan Cowell, “Lockerbie Ruling Raises Questions On Libyan’s Guilt,” June 29, 2007).

At no time did any of the 15 Times editorials on the Pan Am 103 shootdown and Libya connection express the slightest reservation about the process or substance of the charges against the Libyans. As regards the politics of the case, with the seemingly strong case involving the PLP, Syria and Iran abandoned just when the United States was briefly cozying up to Syria and Iran, shifting to the continuing target Libya, the editors did refer to “cynics” who thought the administration “finds it convenient to downplay Syria’s dreadful record now that Damascus has joined Middle Eat peace negotiations” (ed., “Seeking the Truth About Libya,” March 30, 1992), but the editors refused to accept this cynical notion and, most important, it didn’t cause them to examine the evidence against Libya more closely. This was their government, Libya was a villain, and patriotism and built-in bias kept their blinders firmly in place.

As regards legal process, following the U.S.-Scottish charges against the two Libyans, Libya immediately arrested the two suspects and started a judicial investigation, which followed precisely the requirements of the 1971 Montreal Convention dealing with acts of violence involving civil aviation. Libya promised to try the two men if evidence was supplied it, and it offered to allow observers and requested international assistance in gathering evidence. The United States and Britain rejected this on the ground that Libya would never convict its own, although if the trial was flawed they could have demanded action from the World Court. An exceptional Times op-ed column by Marc Weller argued that what Libya did was in accord with international law and that the U.S.-UK action was not only illegal but also abused and politicized the Security Council (“Libyan Terrorism, American Vigilantism,” Feb. 15, 1992).

The Times’ editors ignored the Weller argument: as always, for the editors international law doesn’t apply to the United States. Also, it was clear to them that Libya could not be trusted to try its own—just as it never occurred to them that a trial of Libyans in the West could be anything but justice in action, even though the advance publicity by Western officials, once again demonizing the alleged villains and alleging “irrefutable evidence,” put great pressure on judges and juries and made a fair trial problematic.

A standard form of propagandistic journalism is to provide “balance” by citing on the “other side” the villains and their sponsors rather than independent critics. In past years the New York Times regularly cited Soviet officials for balance, rather than dissident U.S. citizens who would have had more credibility with U.S. audiences. In the Libya-Pan Am 103 case, the Times regularly cited Kaddaffi (“ranting”) and other Libyans as charging political bias in the proceedings, while neglecting Westerners with more authority. Most notorious, the Times has yet to cite Dr. Hans Kochler, a German legal scholar who was Kofi Annan’s appointed observer at the trial of the two Libyans in the Netherlands (Camp Zeist) under Scottish law. Kochler produced a powerful “Report and Evaluation of the Lockerbie Trial” in February 2001 that was widely reported and featured in the Scottish and other European media, but was never once mentioned by the Times in its news or editorials. The other expert almost entirely ignored by the Times was Professor Robert Black, a Scottish legal authority who was an important contributor to the arrangements for the trial at Zeist, who followed it closely, and was immensely knowledgeable on both the trial and Scottish law. Black was mentioned briefly twice in Times news articles, but never in an editorial. It can hardly be a coincidence that the ignoring of Kochler and marginalizing of Black paralleled their finding the trial a travesty, badly politicized (Kochler) and with a judicial decision unsupported by credible evidence (Black [“a fraud”] and Kochler).

The Times has repeatedly claimed that the case against the Libyans resulted from a model police effort—they used the phrase “meticulous British and American police work” more than once—and it was allegedly supported by “hundreds of witnesses” and “thousands of bits of evidence.” Thus, while the trial never yielded a smoking gun, it provided compelling “circumstantial evidence.” At no point does the paper acknowledge any possible mismanagement or corruption in the collection and processing of evidence. Among the points never mentioned are that:

--Not only “police” but the U.S. CIA and other personnel were on the crash scene on December 21, 1988 within two hours of the disaster, moving about freely, removing and possibly altering evidence in violation of the rules of dealing with crash-scene evidence, and over-riding the supposed authority of the Scottish police (for details, John Ashton and Ian Ferguson, Cover-Up of Convenience, chapter 12, “’An Old-Fashioned Police Investigation’”). Presumably, for the Times, just as international law doesn’t apply to the United States, neither do the rules of proper assembling of evidence.

--The key piece of evidence, a fragment from a timer, was first marked “cloth, charred,” but was later overwritten with the word “debris,” a change never adequately explained. Some months later , upon examination by UK forensic expert Thomas Hayes, a note about this fragment was written by him, but the page numbers were subsequently overwritten and renumbered, again without explanation. Months later, marks on the timer were allegedly identified with MEBO, a Swiss firm that manufactured timers, and one that did business with Libya. This was “conclusive evidence,” although MEMBO also sold the timers to East Germany, Libya might have provided the timer to others, MEMBO had reported several break-ins at its factory to the Swiss police between October 1988 and February 1989. Furthermore, when finally shown the fragment MEMBO’s owner said it was a different color from his own, and it turned out that the CIA had this very timer in its possession.

--All three forensic scientists who worked intensively on this case, one for the FBI (Tom Thurman) and two for a branch of the UK ministry of defense (Allen Fereday and Thomas Hayes) had run into trouble in the past for concealment of evidence (Hayes), wrong conclusions (in one case, false testimony on a explosive timer—Fereday), and fabrication of evidence (Tom Thurman). (See Foot, op. cit, App. 2, “The Three Forensic Geniuses.”)

--The CIA had a major role in creating the case, their primary witness being the Libyan defector Majid Giaka. The CIA offered him to the prosecution even though years ago they had decided that he was a liar and con man. Giaka had said nothing about any Libyan connection to the Pan Am bombing for months after it took place, and he came through only when threatened with a funds cutoff. Paul Foot asks ” Why was such an obviously corrupt and desperate liar produced by the prosecution at all?” It is also testimony to the quality of the legal process that for a while the CIA refused to produce cables and e-mail messages regarding Giaka, arguing that they were irrelevant. When finally reluctantly produced they were not irrelevant, but showed the CIA’s own low opinion of Giaka. The Times did have a news article or two that described Giaka’s poor record and malperformance on the stand, but none of the 15 editorials mentioned him or allowed this phase of the proceeding to limit their admiration for police and prosecution.

--Neither the U.S. nor UK governments nor the Zeist court was willing to explore alternative models, several of which were more plausible than the one involving Libya. The one already mentioned, featuring the PFLP-Syria-Iran connection, was compelling: PFLP’s German members were found in possession of radio cassettes and workable timers; they had already used these in bombing attacks; they were known to have cased the Frankfurt airport just before the day of the bombing; one of their operatives had visited Malta and the shopkeeper who sold the clothes found in the Pan Am-103 debris first identified this individual (Abu Talb) as the purchaser; and there was evidence of this group’s link to Iran and claims of a paid contract, among other points.

In a related scenario, the bomb was introduced by the PFLP into the suitcase of Khalid Jaafar,, an agent in a drug-running operation, protected by the CIA as part of its hostage-release program. The CIA involvement in this drug-running operation may have been one reason for the hasty and aggressive CIA takeover of the search at the crash site; and it, and the closely related desire to avoid disturbing negotiations with Syrian and Iranian terrorists holding Western hostages, may also help explain why President Bush and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher apparently agreed in March 1989 to prevent any uncontrolled investigation of the bombing.

--Not only were these governments unwilling to look at alternatives, they actually blocked other inquiries and pursued and tried to damage individuals who did so (see Ashton and Ferguson, Cover-Up, chap 8, “The Knives Come Out”). The Zeist court conformed to this program, with the result that actors for whom the “circumstantial evidence” was far more compelling than in the case of the Libyans were excluded from consideration.

The Times found the original U.S.-British charges and the Scottish court’s decision satisfying, although based only on “circumstantial evidence.” They provided no serious analysis of this evidence, and both Robert Black and Hans Kochler, among many others, found the evidence completely inadequate to sustain a conviction except in a court where a conviction was a political necessity. Consider the following:

--Although the case was built on the argument that the two Libyans carried out the operation together as a team, only one was convicted. As Kochler said: “This is totally incomprehensible for any rational observer when one considers that the indictment in its very essence was based on the joint action of the two accused in Malta.” This result can best be explained by the need to have somebody found guilty.

There is no evidence that the convicted Libyan, Abdel Basset Ali Al-Megrahi, put a suitcase on the connecting flight from Malta to Frankfurt, where it was supposedly transferred to Pan Am 103. Air Malta is notable for its close checking of baggage, and when UK’s Granada Television claimed that the death bag had gone through it to Pan Am 103, Air Malta sued. Its evidence that only 55 bags with ascribed passengers—none of whom went on to London--were on that flight was so compelling that Granada settled out-of-court, paying damages and costs. This of course never made it into the New York Times, and had little effect on the Zeist court, which eventually said that how the unaccompanied bag was put on the plane “is a major difficulty for the Crown case,” but it didn’t interfere with the finding of guilt.

--The identification of al-Megrahi as the Malta purchaser of the clothing whose remnants were found in the wreckage was a travesty of judicial procedure. The selling storekeeper, Tony Gauci, originally said the buyer was six feet tall and 50 or more years old—al-Megrahi is 5-8 and was 37 years old in 1988. Gauci then identified Talb as the man, but eventually latched on to al-Megrahi after having seen his picture in the paper. There were many other weaknesses in this identification, including the timing of the purchase, so that like the disposition of the suitcase this also was another beyond-tenuous “circumstantial.”

--The logic of the official scenario also suffers from the fact that putting a bomb-laden bag through from Malta that had to go through a second inspection and two stopovers in the delay-frequent Christmas season, would be poor planning as it risked either apprehension or a badly timed explosion; and including clothing that could be traced to Malta and with the alleged bomber (al-Megrahi) making his purchase openly would be extremely unprofessional. On the other hand, a timer frequently used by the PFLP was estimated by a German expert to explode 38 minutes after takeoff, and Pan Am 103 exploded 38 minutes after takeoff.

--As noted earlier, the timer with the MEBO insignia came forth belatedly. It was gathered in a crash scene effort that violated all the rules and was then worked over in questionable circumstances by people who had an established record of creating and massaging evidence. These lags and problematics should have ruled out the acceptance of this evidence in a criminal trial by a non-political court. But even taking it at face value it fails to prove Libyan involvement in the bombing attack as this timer was available to others, and may have been stolen from the MEBO factory in the 1988-1989 break-ins.

--The Times notes that “prosecutors credibly linked him [al-Megrahi] to bomb-making materials and presented persuasive testimony that he worked for Libya’s intelligence services.” Yes, this goes beyond his Libyan.citizenship, and the man was also sometimes in Malta! Imagine how the Times would treat an accusation against a CIA agent based on the fact that the accused had “access to weapons” and was in fact a member of the CIA! The Times doesn’t ask for much in the way of “evidence” when in the patriotic mode.

In its low-keyed news article on the Scottish Review Commission’s repudiation of the Zeist court’s decision ( “Lockerbie Ruling Raises Questions on Libyan’s Guilt,” June 29, 2007), Times reporter Alan Cowell does a creditable job of protecting his paper for failing to question another “lie that wasn’t shot down.”

The Review Commission apparently leaned over backwards to avoid charging the Zeist court with judicial malpractice, so Cowell latches on to the fact that the Review stresses “new evidence that we have found and new evidence that was not before the trial court,” as well as their denial that there was proof of fabricated evidence. But much of that new evidence was deliberately excluded by the trial court, and some of it was hidden by the prosecution and its U.S. and UK political and intelligence sponsors. And while there is perhaps no hard proof of fabricated evidence, there is solid documentation of its questionable handling and possible fabrication, which should have precluded its acceptance by the trial court.

Instead of citing Hans Kochler or Robert Black, Cowell quotes Dan Cohen, whose daughter went down with Pan Am 103, who expresses regret that al-Megrahi might go home a hero. Possibly more honorable would have been a Times apology and expression of sympathy for the Libyan victim, who will have spent 6 or 7 years in prison on the basis of manipulated and laughable evidence in another show trial, but which the Times repeatedly claimed was justice in action.

In her 1993 memoir The Downing Street Years, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher wrote that after the 1986 U.S. bombing of Libya, which used British airbases and in which Kaddaffi’s two-year old daughter was killed, “There were revenge killings of British hostages organized by Libya, which I deeply regretted. But the much vaunted Libyan counter-attack did not and could not take place.”

Ms. Thatcher seems to have forgotten Pan Am 103, or could she have momentarily forgotten that Libya was supposed to have been guilty of this act, and, writing honestly but carelessly for the historical record implicitly acknowledged here that this was a fraud that she had helped perpetrate. This nugget was reported in South Korea’s OhMyNews, but was somehow overlooked by the Paper of Record.

Edward S. Herman

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Thursday, September 20, 2007


An article in The Sunday Express has pointed the finger of blame of the Lockerbie disaster at the PFLP-GC, Ahmed Jibril, Abu Talb, Abu Elias, Mobdi Goben and Hafez Dalkamoni. Nothing new you might think. However, one of the named, Abu Elias is an American citizen, living in Washington under a new identity.

By Derek Lambie

AN AMERICAN citizen living close to the White House has emerged as the real Lockerbie bomber, the Sunday Express can reveal.

In a sensational twist, Abu Elias, currently living near Washington DC, will be named with others believed to be in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command (PFLP-GC) as part of a terror cell behind the Pan Am disaster.

Lawyers claim the radical Palestinian organisation was hired for $10million to avenge the shooting down of an Iranian airliner by the US five months earlier. Two weeks ago Libyan Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, 55, was given the right to appeal his conviction. Elias - who has a new identity the Sunday Express cannot divulge - is the nephew of the terror group's leader, Ahmed Jibril, the man believed to be the mastermind of the bombing.

The Sunday Express understands new documents - likely to form the basis for al-Megrahi's appeal - show the American was described as "the primary target" early in the investigation. They also state he conspired with Mohammed Abu Talb, an Egyptian named by Dumfries and Galloway Police as the initial chief suspect.

Lockerbie relatives last night said they are more convinced than ever that the PFLP-GC are the perpetrators of the atrocity. Dr Jim Swire, who lost daughter Flora in the disaster, said: "My view has always been that Abu Talb was involved but that he was not the actual bomber. This development is encouraging and opens new avenues."

Pan Am Flight 103 was just 38 minutes into its journey from London to New York when it was blown up. Investigators concluded a Semtex bomb was in a cassette player rigged with a Swiss electronic timing device. Al-Megrahi was convicted in 2002 following a £75million trial at a Scottish Court, at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands, although his co-accused Al-Amin Khalifa Fahima was cleared.

But the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) has identified six grounds where it believes a miscarriage of justice may have occurred, with its main focus on the evidence from Tony Gauci, who said al-Megrahi had come into his shop in Malta and bought clothes found at the scene of the disaster.

With the decision, the finger of blame is once again being pointed at the PFLP-GC. Jibril was suspected of organising the bombing on behalf of Iran as revenge on the US for shooting down Iran Air 655 over the Persian Gulf in 1988.

Evidence submitted to the SCCRC named Jibril, now 79, as the mastermind, with his nephew working with Abu Talb, a member of a splinter group and later jailed for life in Sweden for a bomb attack that left one person dead.

The defence case included a US Defence Intelligence Agency cable from September 24, 1989, which states: "The bombing of the Pan Am flight was conceived, authorised and financed by Ali-Akbar (Mohtashemi-Pur), theformer Iranian Minister of Interior."The operation was contracted to Ahmad Jabril (sic)... for $1million. The remainder was to be paid after successful completion of the mission."

Documents viewed by the Sunday Express allege the plot began when a man named Mobdi Goben supplied material for the bomb to Hafez Dalkamoni, the leader of the PFLP-GC's European cell. He was then introduced to the alleged bomb maker Marwan Khreesat, by Elias, who has both Syrian and American passports. Very little is known about Elias, but the defence insists he was paid in travellers' cheques by terror leader Dalkamoni in Cyprus, before he took delivery of the bomb in Frankfurt. Elias was identified as the key suspect although it was never explored in court, even after documents about his role suddenly emerged during the trial.

The Goben Memorandum, said to have been written by a dying member of the PFLP-GC, was handed to the Lord Advocate detailing the group's activities and a confession about Elias. Elias was concerning the FBI before the bombing and was quizzed about cheques deposited in his bank. In August 1988 he met with agents, who knew he was Jibril's nephew. While the SCCRC said there is dubiety over whether Gauci had correctly identified al-Megrahi, documents show the shopkeeper had no such problems identifying Abu Talb.

Despite the evidence, the investigation took an unexpected twist and the Syrian terror group's suspected role in the disaster was dropped. Meanwhile, it emerged Talb could be brought to trial in Scotland because he does not have lifetime immunity from prosecution as had been believed. During al-Megrahi's trial there was a widespread belief he had been given Crown protection for giving evidence. However, the Crown Office yesterday confirmed he does not have immunity.

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Monday, September 17, 2007

Maltese Double Cross

The Maltese Double Cross by Alan Francovich.

This film has been prohibited in the UK and US under threat of legal action since it was made in 1994. Ch4 did show it in 1996, ignoring the threats. It has never been shown in the US. The reluctance of these country's to show the film and cast doubt on it's credibility is obvious as you watch the film, as it clearly contradicts the 'official' version of events leading up to the Lockerbie tragedy.

Much of the details and persons featured in the film have been virtually ignored by the official investigators and subsequent Camp Zeist court case in 2000. All governments lie, some more than others, and the bigger the lie becomes, the harder it is to keep the story straight. The Lockerbie investigation and the version we're all supposed to believe is so full of holes, it merely adds credibility to this film.

Sadly the quality is not great, but I have a better copy on video which I plan to upload shortly.....

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Friday, September 14, 2007

The Cloak of 'National Security' Hangs Over Lockerbie.

[They] have eyes to see but do not see, ears to hear but do not hear …--Ezekiel 12:2

The Lockerbie Affair has taken yet another extraordinary twist.

Last Friday I received from Edwin Bollier, head of the Zurich-based company MeBo AG, a copy of a German original of an affidavit.

The document is dated July 18, 2007, and signed by Ulrich Lumpert, who worked as an electronic engineer at MeBo from 1978 to 1994. I have scrutinized the document carefully and concluded that I have no reason to doubt its authenticity or the truthfulness of its content.

Lumpert was a key witness (No. 550) at the Camp Zeist trial, where a three-judge panel convicted a Libyan citizen of murdering the 270 people who died in the bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie.In his testimony, Lumpert stated that "of the three pieces of hand-made prototypes MST-13 timer PC-boards, the third MST-13 PC-board was broken and [he] had thrown it away."In his affidavit, certified by Officer Walter Wieland, Lumpert admits having committed perjury."

I confirm today on July 18, 2007, that I stole the third hand-manufactured MST-13 timer PC-board consisting of eight layers of fiber-glass from MEBO Ltd. and gave it without permission on June 22, 1989, to a person officially investigating in the Lockerbie case," Lumpert wrote. (The identity of the official is known.)"It did not escape me that the MST-13 fragment shown [at the Lockerbie trial] on the police photograph No. PT/35(b) came from the nonoperational MST-13 prototype PC-board that I had stolen," Lumpert added."I am sorry for the consequences of my silence at that time, for the innocent Libyan Mr. Abdelbaset Al Megrahi sentenced to life imprisonment, and for the country of Libya."

In just seven paragraphs, the Lumpert affidavit elucidates the longstanding mysteries surrounding the infamous MST-13 timer, which allegedly triggered the bomb that exploded Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie on Dec. 21, 1988.

The Discovery of the MST-13 Timer Fragment

In the months following the bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, someone discovered a piece of a gray Slalom-brand shirt in a wooded area about 25 miles away from the town. According to a forensics expert, the cloth contained a tiny fragment -- 4 millimeters square -- of a circuit board. The testimony of three expert witnesses allowed the prosecutors to link this circuit board, described as part of the bomb trigger, to Megrahi.

There have been different accounts concerning the discovery of the timer fragment. A police source close to the investigation reported that it had been discovered by lovers. Some have said that it was picked up by a man walking his dog. Others have claimed that it was found by a policeman "combing the ground on his hands and knees."At the trial, the third explanation became official. "On 13 January 1989, DC Gilchrist and DC McColm were engaged together in line searches in an area near Newcastleton. A piece of charred material was found by them, which was given the police number PI/995 and which subsequently became label 168."

The Alteration of the Label

The officer had initially labeled the bag "cloth (charred)" but had later overwritten the word "cloth" with "debris."

The bag contained pieces of a shirt collar and fragments of materials said to have been extracted from it, including the tiny piece of circuit board identified as coming from an MST-13 timer made by the Swiss firm MeBo."

The original inscription on the label, which we are satisfied, was written by DC Gilchrist, was 'cloth (charred).' The word 'cloth' has been overwritten by the word 'debris.' There was no satisfactory explanation as to why this was done."

The judges said in their judgment that Gilchrist's evidence had been "at worst evasive and at best confusing."Yet the judges went on to admit the evidence. "We are, however, satisfied that this item was indeed found in the area described, and DC McColm, who corroborated DC Gilchrist on the finding of the item, was not cross-examined about the detail of the finding of this item."

It has long been rumored that a senior former Scottish officer who worked at the highest level of the Lockerbie inquiry had signed a statement in which he claimed that evidence had been planted. U.K. media have confirmed the story. Thus, the Scottish officer has confirmed an allegation previously made by a former CIA agent.

The identity of the officer remains secret and he is only known as "Golfer.""Golfer" has told Megrahi's legal team that Gilchrist had told him that he had not been responsible for changing the label.

The New Page 51

According to documents obtained by the Scotland on Sunday, the entry of the discovery is recorded at widely different times by U.K. and German investigators.

Moreover, a new page 51 has been inserted in the record of evidence.During the Lockerbie investigation Thomas Hayes and Allan Feraday were working at the Defense Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) forensic laboratory at Fort Halstead in Kent.Hayes was employed at the Royal Armament Research Development Establishment (RARDE).

In 1995, RARDE was subsumed into the DERA. In 2001, part of DERA became the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL).Hayes testified that he collected the tiny fragment of the circuit board on May 12, 1989. He testified that the fragment was green. (Keep in mind that the board stolen from Lumpert is brown.)

His colleague, Alan Feraday, confirmed his story at the Zeist trial.The record is inserted on a loose-leaf page with the five subsequent pages re-numbered by hand. Hayes could not provide a reasonable explanation for this rather strange entry, and yet the judges concluded that: "Pagination was of no materiality because each item that was examined had the date of examination incorporated into the notes."

The argument of the court is illogical as the index number Hayes gave to the piece is higher than some entry he made three months later.And there is more. In September 1989 Feraday sent a Polaroid photograph of the piece and wrote in the attached memorandum that it was "the best he could do in such short time." So, are we supposed to believe that it takes forensic experts several months to take a Polaroid picture?Hayes could not explain this. He merely suggested that the person to ask about it would be the author of the memorandum, Feraday.

This, however, was not done. At the young age of 43, Hayes resigned just a few months after the discovery of the timer fragment.Based on the forensic evidence Hayes had supplied, an entire family (the Maguire Seven) was sent to jail in 1976. They were acquitted in appeal in 1992. Sir John May was appointed to review Hayes' forensic evidence."The whole scientific basis on which the prosecution in … [the trial of the alleged IRA Maguire Seven] was founded was in truth so vitiated that on this basis alone, the Court of Appeal should be invited to set aside the conviction," said May.

In Megrahi's case, Hayes did not even perform the basic test that would have established the presence of explosive residue on the sample. During the trial, he maintained that the fragment was too small, while it is factually established that his laboratory has performed such tests on smaller samples.

Had he performed such a test, no residue would have been found. As noted by Lumpert, the fragment shown at the Zeist trial belongs to a timer that was never connected to a relay. In other words, that timer never triggered a bomb.Feraday's reputation is hardly better. In three separate cases where men were convicted on the basis of his forensic evidence, the initial ruling was overturned in appeal.

After one of these cases in 2005, a lord of justice said that Feraday should not be allowed to present himself as an expert in the field of electronics.According to forensic scientist Michael Scott, who was interviewed in the documentary "The Maltese Double Cross -- Lockerbie," Feraday has no formal qualifications as a scientist.

The Identification of the MeBo Timer

Thomas Thurman worked for the FBI forensics laboratory in the late '80s and most of the '90s. Thurman has been publicly credited for identifying the fragment as part of a MST-13 timer produced by the Swiss company MeBo."When that identification was made, of the timer, I knew that we had it," Thurman told ABC in 1991. "Absolute, positively euphoria. I was on cloud nine."Again, his record is far from pristine.

The U.S. attorney general has accused him of having altered lab reports in a way that rendered subsequent prosecutions all but impossible. He has been transferred out of the FBI forensic laboratory."He's very aggressive, but I think he made some mistakes that needed to be brought to the attention of FBI management," said Frederic Whitehurst, a former FBI chemist who filed the complaints that led to the inspector general's report."We're not necessarily going to get the truth out of what we're doing here," Whitehurst concluded.The story shed some light on his formation.

The report says, "Williams and Thurman merit special censure for their work. It recommends that Thurman, who has a degree in political science, be reassigned outside the lab and that only scientists work in its explosives section."And the legal experts were just as fake as their scientific counterparts.

In late 1998 Glasgow University set up the Lockerbie Trial Briefing Unit (LTBU) to provide impartial advice to the world media on the legal aspects of the complex and unique trial.Andrew Fulton, a British diplomat, was appointed as a visiting law professor to head the Unit.

Fulton has no legal experience whatsoever. Prior to his appointment as head of LTBU, Fulton was MI6 station chief in Washington, D.C.

The Modification of the MST-13 Timer Fragment

Forensic analysis of the circuit board fragment allowed the investigators to identify its origin. The timer, known as MST-13, is fabricated by a Swiss company named MeBo, which stands for Meister and Bollier.

The company has indeed sold about 20 MST-13 timers to the Libyan military (machine-made nine-ply green boards), as well as a few units (hand-made eight-ply brown boards) to a Research Institute in Bernau known to have acted as a front to the Stasi, the former East German secret police.

The two batches are very different but as early as 1991 Bollier told the Scottish investigators that he could not identify the timer from a photograph alone. Yet, the Libyans were indicted in November 1991 -- without Bollier ever having been allowed to see the actual fragment -- on the ground that the integrity of the evidence had to be protected.But in 1998 Bollier obtained a copy of a blown-up photograph that Thurman had shown on ABC in 1991.

Bollier could tell from certain characteristics that the fragment was part of a board of the timers made for East Germany and definitely not one of the timers delivered by him to Libya.In September 1999 Bollier was finally allowed to see the fragment. Unlike the one shown by Thurman on ABC, this one was machine-made, like the one sold to Libya.

But it was obvious from the absence of traces of solder that the timer had never been used to trigger a bomb."As far as I'm concerned, and I told this to … [Scottish prosecutor Miriam Watson], this is a manufactured fragment," Bollier says. "A fabricated fragment, never from a complete, functional timer."The next day Bollier was shown the fragment once more. You may have already guessed that it now had the soldering traces. "It was different. I'm not crazy. It was different!" says Bollier.

Finally, at the trial Bollier was presented a fragment of a circuit board completely burnt down. Thus, it was no longer possible to identify to which country that timer had been delivered. When he requested to explain the significance of the issue, Lord Shuterland told him that his request was denied.

How did the judges account for all the mysterious changes in the appearance of the fragment? They simply dismissed Bollier as an unreliable witness."We have assessed carefully the evidence of these three witnesses about the activities of MeBo and in particular their evidence relating to the MST-13 timers, which the company made. All three, and notably Mr. Bollier, were shown to be unreliable witnesses. Earlier statements which they made to the police and judicial authorities were at times in conflict with each other and with the evidence they gave in court.

On some occasions, particularly in the case of Mr. Bollier, their evidence was self contradictory." (§ 45)A Scenario Implausible on Its Face"The evidence which we have considered up to this stage satisfies us beyond reasonable doubt that the cause of the disaster was the explosion of an improvised explosive device … and that the initiation of the explosion was triggered by the use of an MST-13 timer," wrote the three fudges. (§ 15)

Lockerbie experts, such as former CIA employee Robert Baer, have suspected that the MST-13 timer could have been given by the Stasi to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command [PFLP-GL], a terrorist group based in Syria, funded by Iran and led by the terrorist Ahmed Jibril.

The allegation deserves attention as it is well known that the two organizations had strong ties. Moreover, the archives of the Stasi reveal that the agency had infiltrated the Swedish government, and it is well documented that Jibril's close collaborators were operating from Sweden. Yet I never believed for a moment that the Lockerbie bomb had been triggered by a timer.

No terrorist would ever attempt to bomb an airliner with a timer-triggered bomb, and definitely not during the winter season, let alone at Christmas time, where the timetables are absolutely useless as delays are the norm rather than the exception.

Don't take my word for it. Terrorists such as Jibril and counter-terrorists such Noel Koch have stated that much."Explosives linked to an air pressure gauge, which would have detonated when the plane reached a certain altitude or to a timer would have been ineffective," Jibril said."I know all about the science of explosives. I am an engineer of explosives. I will argue this with any expert that the bomb went on board in London. I do not think the Libyans had anything to do with this."

Noel Koch headed the U.S. Defense Department's anti-terrorism office from 1981 to 1986. Koch ridiculed the idea that terrorists would gamble on the likelihood that unaccompanied luggage would be successfully transferred twice, first from Malta to Frankfurt, and then from Frankfurt to London."

I can tell you this much that I know about terrorism: it's simple," Koch says. "You don't complicate life. Life's complicated enough as it is. If you've got a target you want to get as close as you can to it and you don't go through a series of permutations that provide opportunities for failure and that provide opportunities for discovery. It doesn't work that way."

The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission

On Nov. 13, 1991, two Libyans were indicted for the murder of 270 people who died in the Lockerbie bombing. The indictment was the outcome of a three-year U.S.-U.K. joint investigation.Although Libya never acknowledged responsibility in the matter, decade-long U.N. sanctions forced Col. Muammar al-Gaddafi to handover the two men accused of the worst act of terrorism in the U.K.

On April 5, 1999, they were transferred to Camp Zeist in the Netherlands, where they were judged under Scottish Law.On Jan. 31, 2001, a panel of three Scottish Judges acquitted one of them. They convicted the other for murder and sentenced him to life. Megrahi is serving his sentence in a prison near Glasgow.

Megrahi's appeal was rejected on March 14, 2002. The European Court of Human Rights declared his application inadmissible in July 2003.In September 2003, he applied to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission [SCCRC] for a legal review of his conviction. His request was based on the legal test contained in section 106(3)(b) of Scotland's Criminal Procedure Act of 1995.

The provision states that an appeal may be made against "any alleged miscarriage of justice, which may include such a miscarriage based on … the jury's having returned a verdict which no reasonable jury, properly directed, could have returned."On June 28, 2007, the SCCRC decided to grant Megrahi a second appeal and to refer his case to the High Court.

An impressive 800-page long document stating the reasons for the decision has been sent to the High Court, the applicant, his solicitor and the Crown Office. Although the document is not available to the public, the commission has decided "to provide a fuller news release than normal."

Is it too much to ask why the "fuller news release than normal" lists only four of the six grounds that justify the commission's conclusion that a miscarriage of justice might have occurred?As recently pointed out by Hans Koechler, who was an international observer appointed by the United Nations at the Lockerbie trial, we may also wonder "why a supposedly independent judicial review body [the SCCRC] would try to exonerate 'preventively' officials in a case which is being returned to the High Court for a second appeal because of suspicions of a miscarriage of justice."

Indeed, the SCCRC's statement that "the commission undertook extensive enquiries in this area but found nothing to support that allegation or to undermine the trial court's conclusions in respect of the fragment [of the MST-13 MeBo timer]" is rather difficult to justify.

Toward a Criminal Investigation?

Jim Swire, who lost his daughter in the tragedy, describes the ruling on Megrahi as one of the most disgraceful miscarriages of justice in history, blaming both the Scottish legal system and U.S. intelligence."

The Americans played their role in the investigation and influenced the prosecution," Swire told The Scotsman.Top-level U.K. diplomats tend to agree with him, such as Oliver Miles, a former British ambassador to Libya."

No court is likely get to the truth, now that various intelligence agencies have had the opportunity to corrupt the evidence," Miles told the BBC.The spectacular decision of the SCCRC is certain to give a second life to the dozen of alternative theories of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. Nearly two decades later, the case is back to square one.

Back to Square One

Let us give Lord Sutherland, Lord Coulsfield and Lord Maclean some credit. After hearing 230 witnesses and studying 621 exhibits during 84 days of evidence, spread over eight months, the three judges of the Lockerbie trial almost got the date of the worst act of terror in the U.K. correct.In the first line of the first paragraph of the most expensive Michael Scharf is an international law expert at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio.

Scharf joined the State Department's Office of the Legal Adviser for Law Enforcement and Intelligence in April 1989. He was also responsible for drawing up the U.N. Security Council resolutions that imposed sanctions on Libya in 1992."

It was a trial where everybody agreed ahead of time that they were just going to focus on these two guys, and they were the fall guys," Scharf wrote."The CIA and the FBI kept the State Department in the dark. It worked for them for us to be fully committed to the theory that Libya was responsible. I helped the counter-terrorism bureau draft documents that described why we thought Libya was responsible, but these were not based on seeing a lot of evidence, but rather on representations from the CIA and FBI and the Department of Justice about what the case would prove and did prove.""

It was largely based on this inside guy [Libyan defector Abdul Majid Giaka]. It wasn't until the trial that I learned this guy was a nut-job and that the CIA had absolutely no confidence in him and that they knew he was a liar."The Magic LuggageAccording to the Lockerbie verdict, the bomb was hidden in a Toshiba radio, wrapped in clothes and located in luggage that was mysteriously boarded in Malta.The court has examined this allegation in depth and the matter occupies 24 paragraphs of the final verdict (§ 16 to § 34).

After reviewing all the evidence and testimonies, the three judges came to the following conclusions:

Luqa airport had a relatively elaborate security system. All items of baggage checked in were entered into the airport computer as well as being noted on the passenger's ticket. After the baggage had passed the sniffer check, it was placed on a trolley in the baggage area to wait until the flight was ready for loading.

When the flight was ready, the baggage was taken out and loaded, and the head loader was required to count the items placed on board. The ramp dispatcher, the airport official on the tarmac responsible for the departure of the flight, was in touch by radiotelephone with the load control office.

The load control had access to the computer and, after the flight was closed, would notify the ramp dispatcher of the number of items checked in. The ramp dispatcher would also be told by the head loader how many items had been loaded; and if there were a discrepancy, the ramp dispatcher would take steps to resolve it.

In addition to the baggage reconciliation procedure, there was a triple count of the number of passengers boarding a departing flight, that is there was a count of the boarding cards, a count by immigration officers of the number of immigration cards handed in, and a head count by the crew.

The records relating to KM180 on 21 December 1988 show no discrepancy in respect of baggage. The flight log (production 930) shows that 55 items of baggage were loaded, corresponding to 55 on the load plan.On the face of them, these arrangements seem to make it extremely difficult for an unaccompanied and unidentified bag to be shipped on a flight out of Luqa.

If therefore the unaccompanied bag was launched from Luqa, the method by which that was done is not established, and the Crown accepted that they could not point to any specific route by which the primary suitcase could have been loaded.The absence of any explanation of the method by which the primary suitcase might have been placed on board KM180 is a major difficulty for the Crown case.

An internal 1989 FBI memo indicates that there is no indication that unaccompanied luggage was transferred from Air Malta to Pan Am. Law authorities from Malta and Germany came to the same conclusion.And yet, without any explanation, the judges wrote in the conclusion of the verdict that: "the absence of an explanation as to how the suitcase was taken into the system at Luqa is a major difficulty for the Crown case, but after taking full account of that difficulty, we remain of the view that the primary suitcase began its journey at Luqa." (§ 82)

The Maltese StorekeeperAccording to the verdict, Megrahi bought the clothes in which the bomb was wrapped in Sliema, a small town of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea, including the "cloth" in which the fragment was "discovered" by Hayes. At first sight, the "cloth" appears to be part of a Slalom shirt sold in a little shop -- Mary's House -- located on the island.

However, upon closer examination, the "cloth" raises a series of issues. Firstly, the color of the label is incorrect. A blue Slalom shirt label should have blue writing, not brown.Secondly, the breast pocket size corresponds to a child shirt, not the 16-and-a-half-sized shirt allegedly bought by Megrahi, for the pocket would have been 2 centimeters wider.

Thirdly, German records show the shirt had most of the breast pocket intact, while the evidence shown at Zeist had a deep triangular tear extending inside the pocket.Lastly, the storekeeper initially told the investigators he never sold such shirts to whoever visited him a few weeks before the Lockerbie tragedy.

Storekeeper Tony Gauci's testimony was pivotal in the case against Megrahi. Gauci gave a series of 19 statements to the police that are fully inconsistent. Yet, the judges found him trustworthy. Allow me to disagree.

On Jan. 30, 1990, Gauci stated, "That time when the man came, I am sure I did not sell him a shirt." Then, on Sept. 10, 1990, he told the investigators, "I now remember that the man who bought the clothing also bought a Slalom shirt." And to make things worse, two of his testimonies have disappeared.

When Were the Clothes Bought?

According to the verdict, Megrahi bought the clothes on Dec. 7, 1989. Gauci remembered that his brother had gone home earlier to watch an evening football game (Rome vs. Dresden), that the man came just before closing time (7 p.m.), that it was raining (the man bought an umbrella) and that the Christmas lights were on.

The game allows for only two dates: Nov. 23 or Dec. 7. The issue is critical for there is no indication that Megrahi was in Malta on Nov. 23, but he is known to have been on the island on Dec. 7.

The chief meteorologist of Malta airport testified that it was raining on Nov. 23 but not on Dec. 7. Yet the judges determined the date as Dec. 7. This rather absurd conclusion from the judges raises two other issues.

The Dec. 7 Rome-Dresden game was played at 1 p.m., not in the evening. What is more, Gauci had previously testified that the Christmas lights were not up, meaning that the date had to be Nov. 7.On Sept. 19, 1989, Gauci stated, "The [Christmas] decorations were not up when the man bought the clothing."

Then, at the Lockerbie trial, Gauci told the judges that the Christmas lights were on. "Yes, they were … up."Who Was the Mysterious Buyer?"We are nevertheless satisfied that his identification, so far as it went, of the first accused as the purchaser was reliable and should be treated as a highly important element in this case," wrote the judges.

In fact, Gauci never identified Megrahi. He merely stated that Megrahi resembles the man to whom he had sold the clothes, but only if he were much older and two inches taller. Gauci, however, had identified another man: Abu Talb.Talb was a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GL), the terrorist group led by Jibril.

In late October 1988 the senior bomb maker of the PFLP-GC, Marwan Khreesat, was arrested in Frankfurt in the company of Hafez Dalkamoni, the leader of the organization's German cell.Dalkamoni had met Talb in Cyprus and Malta the week before. In the car the two men used, police found a bomb hidden in a Toshiba radio. Khreesat told the police that he had manufactured five similar improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

Each device Khreesat had built was triggered by a pressure gauge that activated a timer -- range 0 to 45 minutes -- when the plane reached a cruising altitude of 11,000 meters. The timers of all recovered bombs were set on 30 minutes. It takes about 7 minutes for a 747 to reach cruising altitude. Pan Am 103 exploded 38 minutes after take-off from London.German police eventually recovered four of the IEDs Khreesat had built.

No one seems to know what happened to the fifth one, which was never recovered. When police raided Talb's apartment in Sweden, they found his appointment notebook. Talb had circled one date: Dec. 21.Contrary to Jibril's statement, and surely he must know better, a bomb triggered by a pressure gauge set at 11,000 meters would not have detonated during the Frankfurt to London flight as the airliner does not reach cruising altitude on such a short flight.

Then again, such a device would not have detonated at all if it had been located in the luggage area, as the hold is at the pressure of the passengers' zone and never drops below the pressure equivalent of 2,400 meters.This is why when the judges were presented with the undisputable and undisputed evidence that a proper simulation of the explosion -- taking proper account of the Mach stem effect -- would locate the explosion outside the luggage hold they simply decided to dismiss the existence of a scientifically well-established fact.

"We do not consider it necessary to go into any detail about Mach stem formation," the judges wrote.Had the judges deemed it "necessary to go into the details regarding Mach stem formation," they would have been forced to acknowledge that the position of the bomb was fully incompatible with the indictment. That magic unaccompanied luggage went mysteriously through airport security was "plausible." That it jumped on its own out of the luggage hold at London airport was a little too much to believe.

In truth, a proper simulation of the explosion locates the bomb just a few inches away from the skin of the plane, a position fully consistent with the very specific damages left by the explosion.The truth was inconvenient. The three judges had to dismiss it in order to justify a verdict that had been decided more than a decade before the first day of the Zeist trial.

Shame on those who committed this horrific act of terror. Shame on those who have ordered the cover-up. Shame on those who provided false testimony and those who suppressed and fabricated the evidence needed to frame Libya. And shame on the media, whose silence made it an accomplice.

And to those who seek the truth, I advise them to follow the drug trail on the road to Damascus.

Ludwig De Braeckeleer has a Ph.D. in nuclear sciences. He teaches physics and international humanitarian law. He blogs on The GaiaPost.

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