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Iran and Pan Am 103/Lockerbie claims: the return of a serial fabricator

By Cyrus Safdari | Iran Affairs | March 12, 2014

I am having a nice chuckle at the latest bit of rubbish promoted by the Telegraph which was recycled through al Jazeera about Iran: that Iran was secretly behind the Pan Am 103 downing, according to a “former Iranian intelligence official.” Of course, this is just a rehash of a claim that is 14 years old.

What the Telegraph — and all the news outlets that repeated the story, often adding their own bit of dramatic flourish to the tale — don’t mention is that the witness in question, Abolghasem Mesbahi, is considered to be a serial fabricator who has a long history of making outrageous claims about secret Iranian shenanigans, which never quite pan out.

This is the same ‘Witness C’ who claimed that Iran was behind the Mykonos assassinations, but then withdrew his testimony, then claimed that Iran was behind the Argentina bombings, and 9-11, and now Pan Am 103 too. I’m sure I forgot a few more in there.

Gareth Porter noted this about Mesbahi:

“But in a November 2006 interview, the former head of the FBI’s Hezbollah Office, James Bernazzani, said that U.S. intelligence officials had concluded Mesbahi did not have the access to Iranian intelligence officials that he had claimed in his affidavits to Argentine officials. Bernazzani said intelligence analysts regarded Mesbahi as someone who was desperate for money and ready to ‘provide testimony to any country on any case involving Iran’.”

Do you think it is entirely a coincidence that this assertion gets rehashed now, along with the capture of yet another “Iranian arms shipment”? I don’t.

March 12, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Deception over Lockerbie

By Maidhc Ó Cathail | September 24, 2009

By way of deception, shalt thou wage war. – motto of Mossad, Israel’s Intelligence Service

The scenes of flag-waving Libyans welcoming home Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the man known as the Lockerbie bomber, further discredited Muslims in the minds of many. For those whose knowledge of the story is derived mainly from TV news, it appeared to be a callous celebration of mass murder, lending credence to the belief that “Islam” and “terrorism” are virtually synonymous. A closer look at the facts surrounding the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, however, reveals a pattern of deception by those who have most to gain from making Muslims look bad.

While the news reports dutifully recorded the protestations of outrage by Barack Obama, Gordon Brown and others at what appeared to be an unseemly hero’s welcome for a convicted terrorist, they neglected to mention that Libyans were celebrating the release of a countryman whom they believe had been wrongfully imprisoned for eight years. Also omitted from the reports was any indication that informed observers of Megrahi’s case in Britain and elsewhere are likewise convinced of his innocence.

Robert Black, the University of Edinburgh law professor who was the architect of the trial at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands, says that “no reasonable tribunal could have convicted Megrahi on the evidence led,” and calls his 2001 conviction “an absolute and utter outrage.” Prof. Black likens the Scottish trial judges to the White Queen in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass who “believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” Hans Köchler, a UN-appointed observer at the trial, states that “there is not one single piece of material evidence linking the two accused to the crime,” and condemns the court’s verdict as a “spectacular miscarriage of justice.” And Dr. Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora was one of the 270 killed on December 21, 1988, dismisses the prosecution’s case against Megrahi and fellow Libyan Lamin Khalifa F’hima as “a cock and bull story.”

According to that “cock and bull story,” Megrahi, the head of security for Libyan Arab Airlines (LAA), conspired with Lamin Khalifa F’hima, the station manager for LAA in Malta (who was acquitted), to put a suitcase bomb on a flight from Malta to Frankfurt. At Frankfurt, the lethal suitcase had to be transferred to another flight bound for London Heathrow. Then in Heathrow Airport, it would have to be transferred for a second time onto the ill-fated Flight 103 destined for New York.

But for that rather implausible scenario to be true, the Libyans would have to have had an inordinate faith in the reliability of baggage handlers in two of Europe’s busiest airports at one of the busiest times of the year. Less optimistic would-be bombers would surely have slipped the bomb-laden suitcase on board in London. Fueling suspicions that this is indeed what happened, investigating police were told by a security guard at Heathrow that the Pan Am baggage storage area had been broken into on the night of the bombing.

The reported break-in at Heathrow was part of 600 pages of new and deliberately suppressed evidence that Megrahi’s defense could present at an appeal, which in 2007 the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, after a three-year investigation, recommended he be granted.

But before that appeal could be heard, the compassionate release of Megrahi, suffering from terminal prostate cancer, conveniently spared the potential embarrassment of all those involved in his dubious conviction. More significantly, it also averted awkward questions being raised, in the likely event of the Libyan being acquitted, about who actually planted the bomb, and why.

Reel Bad Muslims

Many of those who doubt Libya’s responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing, perhaps not surprisingly in the current climate, tend to suspect other Muslim countries of involvement. The most popular theory is that Iran hired the Syrian-based Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command (PFLP-GC) led by Ahmed Gibril to avenge the “accidental” shooting down by the USS Vincennes on July 3, 1988 of Iran Air Flight 655, which killed all 288 civilians on board.

Others believe that Abu Nidal, the founder of the infamous Black September terrorist group, may have been involved. If they’re right, it raises disturbing questions about who was ultimately responsible for the Lockerbie atrocity. In his fine biography of Nidal, A Gun for Hire, British journalist Patrick Seale confirms long-held suspicions that many in the Middle East have had about the “Palestinian terrorist” who did more than anyone to discredit the Palestinian cause. “Abu Nidal was undoubtedly a Mossad agent,” Seale asserts. “Practically every job he did benefited Israel.”

Interestingly, one theory which has the PFLP-GC collaborating with Abu Nidal on behalf of Iran, has been espoused by a former Mossad staffer, Yuval Aviv, whose New York-based investigative agency, Interfor, prepared a report for Pan Am’s insurers on the Lockerbie bombing.

Writing under the pen name Sam Green, Aviv also authored Flight 103, a fictional account of the Lockerbie tragedy he claims is “based solidly on real-life facts,” in which the vengeful Iranians enlist a Palestinian terrorist, Ahmed ‘The Falcon’ Shabaan, to do their dirty work. Aviv, who inspired Steven Spielberg’s Munich, hopes his director friend will convert his Lockerbie tale into another Hollywood blockbuster.

Hardly any mainstream commentators, however, have questioned the trustworthiness of a former Mossad agent, who retains close ties with the intelligence service, fingering Palestinians and Iran for a terrorist attack which killed 189 Americans, thereby blackening the reputation of two of Israel’s greatest foes in the minds of those it wishes to convince that the U.S. and Israel face a common enemy.

Dirty Tricks

Not everyone in the media has been as naive about Israeli machinations though. Writing in the Guardian just before the trial of the two Libyans, veteran American journalist Russell Warren Howe, in an excellent article titled “What if they are innocent?” analyses whether the Iranian government, Palestinian terrorists or Israeli intelligence were more likely perpetrators. Howe concludes, “Even if Megrahi and F’hima are found guilty of the most serious charges, there would still be a need for a new investigation: to decide what was Israel’s possibly major role in mass murder and deception of its main benefactor, the US.” Howe is suggesting that even if the Libyans, or other Arabs, had actually planted the bomb, they may still have been duped into doing so by Israeli agents.

Intriguingly, Howe cites a reference in Gordon Thomas’ book on Mossad, Gideon’s Spies,to a Mossad officer stationed in London who showed up in Lockerbie the morning after the crash to arrange for the removal of a suitcase from the crime scene. The suitcase, said to belong to Captain Charles McKee, a DIA officer who was killed on the flight, was later returned “empty and undamaged.”

Moreover, the idea of Libyan responsibility, Howe notes, seems to have originated in Israel. Again, he quotes Thomas, who says that a source at LAP, Mossad’s psychological warfare unit, informed him that “within hours of the crash, staff at LAP were working the phones to their media contacts urging them to publicise that here was ‘incontrovertible proof’ that Libya, through its intelligence service, Jamahirya, was culpable.”

It may also have been Mossad disinformation, Howe suspects, that induced the U.S. government to believe the Libyans were guilty. The day after the Lockerbie bombing, U.S. intelligence intercepted a radio message from Tripoli to a Libyan government office in Berlin that effectively said, “mission accomplished.”

Two years earlier, a similar message intercept had induced Ronald Reagan to order air strikes against Libya, killing over a hundred people, including Qaddafi’s two-year-old adopted daughter. But the message had been faked by Israel, according to Victor Ostrovsky, a former Mossad case officer, who described the operation in The Other Side of Deception, the second of two exposés he wrote about the Mossad after leaving the service.

Operation Trojan began in February 1986 when the Mossad secretly installed a communications device known as a “Trojan” in an apartment in Tripoli. The Trojan received messages broadcast by Mossad’s LAP on one frequency and automatically transmitted them on a different frequency used by the Libyan government. “Using the Trojan,” Ostrovsky writes, “the Mossad tried to make it appear that a long series of terrorist orders were being transmitted to various Libyan embassies around the world.” U.S. intelligence, as anticipated by the Israelis, intercepted the bogus messages, and believed them to be authentic — especially after receiving confirmation from the Mossad.

Within weeks of the Trojan being installed, two American soldiers were killed in an explosion at La Belle Discothèque, a nightclub in West Berlin frequented by U.S. servicemen. Assuming that Libya was responsible, nine days later the U.S. dropped 60 tons of bombs on Tripoli and Benghazi. Few suspected that the Americans had been tricked into the “retaliation” by Israel, whose subterfuge had punished Qaddafi for his support of the Palestine Liberation Organization, and further alienated the U.S from the Arab world.

Not all Americans are oblivious to Israeli wiles, however. Commenting on the Israeli intelligence service’s penchant for deception, Andrew Killgore, a former U.S. ambassador to Qatar, wrote in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, “Mossad’s specialty was dirty tricks… Its modus operandi had always been the same: pull off a dirty trick but make it appear somebody else had done it.”

As part of any new investigation to establish whether or not the Lockerbie bombing was another one of the Mossad’s “dirty tricks,” detectives might want to interview Issac Yeffet, the former chief of security for the Israeli airline, El Al, who in 1986 was commissioned by Pan Am to survey its security at a number of airports worldwide. As Killgore, in a separate article for the Washington Report, suggestively noted: “Yeffet may have been successful in maintaining perfect security for El Al at Ben-Gurion Airport. But his efforts at Heathrow Airport in London, one of the airports he surveyed for Pan Am, and to which he and his employees had full rein, failed to save Pan Am Flight 103.”

Still protesting his innocence, the dying Megrahi told reporters on his release, “The truth never dies.” That may be so. But as long as the Western media continue to believe that only Israel’s enemies would blow up a civilian airliner, the truth about Lockerbie is unlikely to ever reach a very wide audience.

August 17, 2012 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Lockerbie, Hariri Case and the Perversion of the International Justice

Yusuf Fernandez – Al-Manar – September 24, 2010

The case against the Libyan citizen Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi has served to remind the world that it should not have illusions about the workings of the international justice system. Megrahi was condemned by a tribunal but that does not mean he was guilty of the attack which destroyed the Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, on 21 December 1988. His compassionate release -he suffers from terminal prostate cancer- conveniently spared the potential embarrassment of all those involved in his unjust conviction.

Megrahi, the former head of security for Libyan Arab Airlines (LAA), and another Libyan citizen, Lamin Khalifa Fhima, the station manager for LAA  at the Malta airport, were prosecuted at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands but before Scottish judges, and under Scottish law. The two Libyans had been formally indicted in the United States and the United Kingdom in 1991. London and Washington then blamed Libya, saying that its leader, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, wanted revenge for the US bombing of Tripoli in 1986. “This was a Libyan government operation from start to finish,” declared a State Department spokesman. Both accused persons chose not to give evidence in court. On 31 January 2001, Megrahi was convicted of murder by a panel of three Scottish judges and sentenced to 27 years in prison. Fhimah was acquitted.

The sentence was not a surprise for many experts, who denounced the injustice of this verdict. Robert Black, a law professor of the University of Edinburgh, said that “no reasonable tribunal could have convicted Megrahi on the evidence led,” and called his conviction “an absolute and utter outrage.” Hans Köchler, a UN-appointed observer at the trial, stated that “there is not one single piece of material evidence linking the two accused to the crime,” and condemned the court’s verdict as a “spectacular miscarriage of justice.” In fact, the verdict was issued although there was no evidence to support the accusation that Megrahi had put a suitcase with the lethal bomb in an Air Malta plane in Malta, so it would eventually be transferred to Flight 103 in London.

A piece of evidence presented by US and British Investigators was the MST-13 timer used in the bomb. Discovery of a fragment of the timer helped in the construction of a circumstantial chain that implicated him. This was the basis for Megrahi’s conviction. It was supposed to have been discovered months after the crash, in a shirt found many miles from the wreckage.

According to the investigation, 20 of these timers were sold to Libya by the Swiss electronics company MeBo. MeBo owner Edmund Bollier has consistently claimed that the MST-13 fragment could not have been part of the batch he sold to Libya on account of its coloring and the type of soldering employed. Evidence that emerged at the trial indicated that the CIA itself had a version of the MST-13 before 1988. More importantly, before the trial commenced, Bollier said that from their own research, they had concluded the bomb had not been located in the luggage container in a Samsonite suitcase, as the prosecution team claimed, but was jammed against the aircraft wall.

THE “MAGIC SUITCASE”

According to the investigators, the suitcase was somehow put aboard Air Malta flight KM180 to Frankfurt without an accompanying passenger and then the suitcase would been transferred in Frankfurt to the Pan Am 103A flight to London without an accompanying passenger and then transferred in London to the Pan Am 103 flight bound for New York without an accompanying passenger. However, according to the newspaper The Guardian, Air Malta itself made an exhaustive study of this matter and categorically denied that there was any unaccompanied baggage on KM180 or that any of the passengers transferred in Frankfurt to London flight. And a report sent by the FBI from Germany to Washington in October 1989 and quoted by Time also revealed profound doubts about this thesis. The report concluded: “There remains the possibility that no luggage was transferred from Air Malta 180 to Pan Am 103.”

In January 1995, more than three years after the indictment of the two Libyans, the FBI was still of the same mind. A confidential Bureau report stated: “There is no concrete indication that any piece of luggage was unloaded from Air Malta 180, sent through the luggage routing system at Frankfurt airport, and then loaded on board Pan Am 103.” The report added that the baggage records are “misleading” (The Independent). Moreover, “according to the international airline rules, baggage unaccompanied by passengers should not be allowed onto aircraft without being searched or x-rayed. Actual practice is, of course, more lax, but how could serious professional terrorists count on this laxness occurring three times in a row for the same suitcase?,” said William Blum, author of “Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II”.

FALSE WITNESSES

Some tests indicated that the suitcase in question contained several items of clothing manufactured in Malta. According to Blum, the US and British version of events led the world to believe that Megrahi had been identified by the shopkeeper of a particular shop on the island, Tony Gauci, as the purchaser of the clothing. However, Megrahi was never presented to Gauci in person and the latter had previously made several erroneous “positive” identifications, including one of a CIA asset. Furthermore, after the world was assured that these items of clothing were sold only on Malta, it was learned that at least one of the items was actually “sold at dozens of outlets throughout Europe, and it was impossible to trace the purchaser,” indicated the Sunday Times.

Alex Duval Smith, a journalist for The Observer pointed out in 2007 one of the witnesses, whose testimony was crucial to condemn Al Megrahi, Swiss engineer Ulrich Lumpert, had apparently confessed that he lied about the origins of the above-mentioned timer.  Moreover, CIA spy Abdul Majid Giacka, the so-called “star witness” at Luqa airport in Malta, also saw how his testimony collapsed in court.

On October 30, 1990, NBC News reported that “Pan Am flights from Frankfurt, including 103, had been used a number of times by the DEA as part of its undercover operation to fly informants and suitcases of heroin into Detroit as part of a sting operation to catch dealers in Detroit.” The TV network reported that the DEA was looking into the possibility that a young man who lived in Michigan and regularly visited the Middle East may have unwittingly carried the bomb aboard Flight 103. His name was Khalid Jaafar. “Unidentified law enforcement sources” were cited as saying that Jaafar had been a DEA informant and was involved in a drug-sting operation based out of Cyprus.

Filmmaker Allan Francovich made a documentary film about the Lockerbie case, The Maltese Double Cross, which presents Jaafar as an unwitting bomb carrier with ties to the DEA and the CIA. He claims that the bombing was a consequence of a CIA controlled drug running operation utilized to spy on Palestinian, Lebanese and Syrian armed political groupings and factions. Francovich told The Guardian in 1994 he had learned that five CIA operatives had been sent to London and Cyprus to discredit the film while it was being made, his office phones were tapped and staff cars sabotaged.

According to Steve James, who has written several articles published in the World Socialist Web Site (wsws.org) about this issue, “journalists John Ashton and Ian Ferguson suggest in their book “Cover-Up of Convenience” that responsibility for Lockerbie may lie primarily with the intelligence services of several Western governments, particularly the United States. They point out that Charles McKee, a US Army Special Forces Major, and Matthew Gannon, the CIA’s Beirut deputy station chief, were amongst US officials who allegedly changed their plans to fly on PA103 at the last minute. One suggestion by some media is that these individuals were the target of a successful assassination attempt in which intelligence agencies themselves played a role.”

The authors suggest that “from as little as two hours after the crash, US intelligence officers were at the southern Scottish site. They were not looking for explanations as to the cause of the crash. They did not cooperate with local rescue services. Instead, they were searching for particular pieces of debris, luggage and particular corpses. Ashton and Ferguson quote finds of large quantities of cash, cannabis and heroin on the flight, as well as intelligence papers owned by McKee, whose luggage was removed and replaced. There were reports of helicopter-borne armed groups guarding and then removing a large box, and an unidentified body.”

Furthermore, a retired Scottish police officer claimed that the CIA planted evidence on the crash site that led to the conviction of Megrahi. On 28 August 2005, the daily Scotland on Sunday revealed that a member of the Association of Chief Police Officers Scotland (ACPO) had told the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission that a fragment of an MST-13 timer circuit board central to al Megrahi’s conviction was “planted by CIA agents in order to implicate Libya for the atrocity.

James claims that those who have made allegations of possible CIA involvement include an ex-Mossad spy, Juval Aviv, hired by Pan Am to investigate the destruction of its aircraft, an erratic ex-US spy Lester Coleman, who at one point sought political asylum in Sweden, William Chasey, a Washington DC lobbyist, and Time journalist Roy Rowan.

LIBYA… AND NOW LEBANON

All these revelations suggest that the case against Libya was fabricated for political reasons bound up with US policy in the Middle East. Despite all the evidence, Megrahi was condemned. These same facts are now repeating themselves in Lebanon. Of all the possible scenarios, the international probe of the murder of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri has proved to be misguided by political considerations and has ignored sound evidence linking Israel with that crime. As it happened with the Lockerbie court, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon will probably choose to accuse some Hezbollah members on the basis of false witnesses and evidences in order to get a verdict that provides Israel and the US with the necessary propaganda tool to weaken the Lebanese Resistance, stir up sedition in Lebanon, exert maximum pressure on the country to accede to its demands, and thereby strengthen Israel and the US´s grip on the entire Middle East region.

September 25, 2010 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism | , , , | 13 Comments

‘Flaws’ in key Lockerbie evidence

“I do find it quite it extraordinary and I think highly improbable and most unlikely that you would find a fragment like that – it is unbelievable”

– UN European consultant on explosives, John Wyatt

BBC | January 6, 2010

An investigation by BBC’s Newsnight has cast doubts on the key piece of evidence which convicted the Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi.

Tests aimed at reproducing the blast appear to undermine the case’s central forensic link, based on a tiny fragment identified as part of a bomb timer.

The tests suggest the fragment, which linked the attack to Megrahi, would not have survived the mid-air explosion.

Two hundred and seventy people died in the 1988 attack on Pan Am flight 103.

Megrahi was jailed for the attack in 2001, but he was controversially released from prison in Scotland by Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill in August 2009 on compassionate grounds.

Megrahi is said to be dying from terminal cancer and, according to reports from Libya, his condition continues to deteriorate.

But his release also scuppered Megrahi’s planned appeal and any hopes of challenging the evidence on which he had been jailed.

Newsnight has been reviewing that evidence, and has exposed serious doubts about the forensics used to identify the fragment as being part of a trigger circuit board.

The fragment was found three weeks after the attack. For months it remained unnoticed and unremarked, but eventually it was to shape the entire investigation.

Malta link

The fragment was embedded in a charred piece of clothing, which was marked with a label saying it was made in Malta.

So the focus turned to Malta and the question of who had bought the clothes.

A shopkeeper on the island identified Megrahi, but this came only years later after he saw him pictured in a magazine as a Lockerbie suspect.

Newsnight has discovered that the fragment – crucial to the conviction – was never subjected to chemical analysis or swabbing to establish whether it had in fact been involved in any explosion.

And the UN’s European consultant on explosives, John Wyatt, has told Newsnight that there are further doubts over the whether the fragment could have come from the trigger of the Lockerbie bomb.

Obliterated

He has recreated the suitcase bomb which it is said destroyed Pan Am 103, using the type of radio in which the explosive and the timer circuit board were supposedly placed, and the same kind of clothes on which the fragment was found.

In each test the timer and its circuit board were obliterated, prompting Mr Wyatt to question whether such a fragment could have survived the mid-air explosion.

He told Newsnight: “I do find it quite it extraordinary and I think highly improbable and most unlikely that you would find a fragment like that – it is unbelievable.

“We carried out 20 tests, we didn’t carry out 100 or 1,000, but in those 20 tests we found absolutely nothing at all – so I found it highly improbable that you would find anything like that, particularly at 10,000 feet when bits are dropping into long wet grass over hundreds of miles.

Background –

The Lockerbie Bombing Seen as an Expression of a “Strenuous Disagreement”

January 6, 2010 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism | , , , , | Comments Off on ‘Flaws’ in key Lockerbie evidence