The Lockerbie Bombing: 21/12/88

dirk diggler

First Class Player
Jan 15, 2007
In his latest column for the New Statesman, John Pilger describes the suppression of facts behind the furore over the "compassionate" release of the so-called Lockerbie bomber, Libyan Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi. He writes that Megrahi was "in effect blackmailed by the governments of Scotland and England" so that it would not be revealed in his appeal that he had been framed for a crime he did not commit.

The hysteria over the release of the so-called Lockerbie bomber reveals much about the political and media class on both sides of the Atlantic, especially Britain. From Gordon Brown’s “repulsion” to Barack Obama’s “outrage”, the theatre of lies and hypocrisy is dutifully attended by those who call themselves journalists. “But what if Megrahi lives longer than three months?” whined a BBC reporter to the Scottish First Minister, Alex Salmond. “What will you say to your constituents, then?”

Horror of horrors that a dying man should live longer than prescribed before he “pays” for his “heinous crime”: the description of the Scottish justice minister, Kenny MacAskill, whose “compassion” allowed Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi to go home to Libya to “face justice from a higher power”. Amen.

The American satirist Larry David once addressed a voluble crony as “a babbling brook of ********”. Such eloquence summarises the circus of Megrahi’s release.

No one in authority has had the guts to state the truth about the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 above the Scottish village of Lockerbie on 21 December 1988 in which 270 people were killed. The governments in England and Scotland in effect blackmailed Megrahi into dropping his appeal as a condition of his immediate release. Of course there were oil and arms deals under way with Libya; but had Megrahi proceeded with his appeal, some 600 pages of new and deliberately suppressed evidence would have set the seal on his innocence and given us more than a glimpse of how and why he was stitched up for the benefit of “strategic interests”.

“The endgame came down to damage limitation,” said the former CIA officer Robert Baer, who took part in the original investigation, “because the evidence amassed by [Megrahi’s] appeal is explosive and extremely damning to the system of justice.” New witnesses would show that it was impossible for Megrahi to have bought clothes that were found in the wreckage of the Pan Am aircraft – he was convicted on the word of a Maltese shopowner who claimed to have sold him the clothes, then gave a false description of him in 19 separate statements and even failed to recognise him in the courtroom.

The new evidence would have shown that a fragment of a circuit board and bomb timer, “discovered” in the Scottish countryside and said to have been in Megrahi’s suitcase, was probably a plant. A forensic scientist found no trace of an explosion on it. The new evidence would demonstrate the impossibility of the bomb beginning its journey in Malta before it was “transferred” through two airports undetected to Flight 103.

A “key secret witness” at the original trial, who claimed to have seen Megrahi and his co-accused al-Alim Khalifa Fahimah (who was acquitted) loading the bomb on to the plane at Frankfurt, was bribed by the US authorities holding him as a “protected witness”. The defence exposed him as a CIA informer who stood to collect, on the Libyans’ conviction, up to $4m as a reward.

Megrahi was convicted by three Scottish judges sitting in a courtroom in “neutral” Holland. There was no jury. One of the few reporters to sit through the long and often farcical proceedings was the late Paul Foot, whose landmark investigation in Private Eye exposed it as a cacophony of blunders, deceptions and lies: a whitewash. The Scottish judges, while admitting a “mass of conflicting evidence” and rejecting the fantasies of the CIA informer, found Megrahi guilty on hearsay and unproven circumstance. Their 90-page “opinion”, wrote Foot, “is a remarkable document that claims an honoured place in the history of British miscarriages of justice”. (Lockerbie – the Flight from Justice by Paul Foot can be downloaded from the Private Eye website for £5).

Foot reported that most of the staff of the US embassy in Moscow who had reserved seats on Pan Am flights from Frankfurt cancelled their bookings when they were alerted by US intelligence that a terrorist attack was planned. He named Margaret Thatcher the “architect” of the cover-up after revealing that she killed the independent inquiry her transport secretary Cecil Parkinson had promised the Lockerbie families; and in a phone call to President George Bush Sr on 11 January 1990, she agreed to “low-key” the disaster after their intelligence services had reported “beyond doubt” that the Lockerbie bomb had been placed by a Palestinian group contracted by Tehran as a reprisal for the shooting down of an Iranian airliner by a US warship in Iranian territorial waters. Among the 290 dead were 66 children. In 1990, the ship’s captain was awarded the Legion of Merit by Bush Sr “for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service as commanding officer”.

Peversely, when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1991, Bush needed Iran’s support as he built a “coalition” to expel his wayward client from an American oil colony. The only country that defied Bush and backed Iraq was Libya. “Like lazy and overfed fish,” wrote Foot, “the British media jumped to the bait. In almost unanimous chorus, they engaged in furious vilification and op en warmongering against Libya.” The framing of Libya for the Lockerbie crime was inevitable. Since then, a US defence intelligence agency report, obtained under Freedom of Information, has confirmed these truths and identified the likely bomber; it was to be centrepiece of Megrahi’s defence.

In 2007, the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission referred Megrahi’s case for appeal. “The commission is of the view,” said its chairman, Dr Graham Forbes, “that based upon our lengthy investigations, the new evidence we have found and other evidence which was not before the trial court, that the applicant may have suffered a miscarriage of justice.”

The words “miscarriage of justice” are missing entirely from the current furore, with Kenny MacAskill reassuring the baying mob that the scapegoat will soon face justice from that “higher power”. What a disgrace.
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There is alot of controversy of the whole matter.

But i doubt there will be any light shed on the subject for some time imo.
Apart from anything else, how does a lone individual get hold of explosives, timers, detonaters along with acquiring knowledge in bypassing the security systems in at least three international airports (Malta, Frankfurt, London)?
And to cap it all, a fragment, the size of a finger nail, from an electronic circuit board, 'happened' to be discoverd in a field even though the explosion took place tens of thousands of feet high, with the debris scattered over many tens of square miles.

Reminds me of how the unscathed passport visa of one of the hijackers was found, amongst thousands of tons of rubble, very shortly after the Twin Towers came down on 9/11, even though the plane which he was piloting burned to such an extent as to cause the steel girders to melt causing the Tower to collapse?

Miracles, miracles, miracles.
Friday will be 30 years on from the Lockerbie bombing. Come on, who really believes it was Megrahi ?

Gaddafi only admitted to it to get sanctions relief. The investigations were a farce.

I'm going with Paul Foot who did a brilliant investigation on this for Private Eye and his theory. It was a Syrian based Palestinian group that were backed by the Iranians in retaliation for the USS Vincennes shooting down the Iranian airliner that same year.

It was covered up by President George HW Bush who made a rapprochement with Syria around this time. The US and Syria were working together to implement the peace deal in Lebanon at the end of the Civil War. Syria also assisted the US Coalition in the 1991 Persian Gulf War against Saddam.
<b>Lockerbie bombing suspect in US custody</b>

A Libyan man accused of making the bomb which destroyed Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie 34 years ago is in United States custody, Scottish authorities have said.

The US announced charges against Abu Agila Masud two years ago, alleging that he played a key role in the bombing on 21 December, 1988.

The blast on board the Boeing 747 left 270 people dead.

It is the deadliest terrorist incident to have taken place on British soil.

All 259 passengers and crew on board the jumbo jet bound to New York from London died while another 11 people were killed in Lockerbie when wreckage destroyed their homes.

Last month it was reported that Masud had been kidnapped by a militia group in Libya, leading to speculation that he was going to be handed over to the American authorities to stand trial.

In 2001 Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was convicted of bombing Pan Am 103 after standing trial at a specially-convened Scottish court in the Netherlands.

He was the only man to be convicted overt the attack.

Megrahi was jailed for life but was released on compassionate grounds by the Scottish government in 2009 after being diagnosed with cancer.

He died in Libya in 2012.

Megrahi, who always proclaimed his innocence, launched two appeals against his 27-year sentence. One was unsuccessful and the other was abandoned.

A spokesperson for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) said:

"The families of those killed in the Lockerbie bombing have been told that the suspect Abu Agila Mohammad Mas'ud Kheir Al-Marimi ("Mas'ud" or "Masoud") is in US custody.

"Scottish prosecutors and police, working with UK government and US colleagues, will continue to pursue this investigation, with the sole aim of bringing those who acted along with Al Megrahi to justice."

Lockerbie bombing suspect will not face death penalty

A man accused of making the bomb that downed Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, 34 years ago was told he would not face the death penalty as he appeared in a US court.

The US alleges that Abu Agila Masud was a Libyan intelligence operative and played a key role in the 1988 attack, which left 270 people dead.

Scottish and US officials announced on Sunday that Mr Masud was in US custody.

He is the first person charged on US soil in connection with the attack.

A device on board the Boeing 747 exploded as the flight was flying over the English-Scottish border, killing 243 passengers, six crew and 11 local residents on the ground - including a family of four.

The dead were citizens of 21 different countries, including 190 Americans and 43 Britons.

It remains the deadliest terrorist incident to have taken place on British soil.

At Monday's hearing, US Magistrate Judge Robin Meriweather elected to delay the formal reading of charges until after Mr Masud secures legal representation for his trial. He did not enter any plea.

He spoke his full name into the record, and was informed by the judge that a translator was present to interpret court proceedings into Arabic for him. He was ordered to remain in custody at least until a detention hearing on 27 December.

Mr Masud is facing multiple charges, including destruction of aircraft resulting in death. Prosecutors said at Monday's hearing that they would not seek the death penalty and Mr Masud could face life imprisonment if convicted.

Wearing a teal prison jumpsuit, he lightly limped into court with a medical mask covering his white beard.

As the judge read out the three charges, he interrupted to say in Arabic: "I can't talk until I've spoken to my attorney."

He is currently seeking legal counsel, which the judge said was his right after Mr Masud rejected the offer of free representation from the public defender's office.

Some of the families of the victims were in court - they told the BBC beforehand they were nervous. They sat silently as the hearing got under way.

Each of the charges he faces include a possible sentence of life in prison, the death penalty or a fine of up to $250,000 (£203,000).

But US prosecutors told the court they would not seek death, as they believe the punishment was not legally available at the time of his alleged crime.

The US justice department first announced criminal charges against Mr Masud in December 2020. At the time, US prosecutors alleged that he had worked for Libyan intelligence in a number of roles between 1973 and 2011, including as an explosives expert.

The case against Mr Masud partly rests on an interview he gave to Libyan officials in 2012 after he was taken into custody following the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi's government. In the interview, he admitted building the bomb used in the attack and setting its timer to explode while the aircraft was in flight. Mr Masud also claimed that Gaddafi had thanked him and two co-conspirators "for their successful attack" on the US.

A number of observers have voiced concerns that the confession may have been coerced in the chaotic months following the regime's fall, when Libya did not have a fully functioning legal system.

At a news conference on Monday, Victoria Cummock - whose husband John died in the bombing - called the US prosecution a "major milestone" for the families of the victims.

She added that the apprehension of Mr Masud was the "first tangible step" by US authorities to hold anyone accountable for the bombing after what she described as a "decades-long miscarriage" of justice.

It remain unclear how Mr Masud came to be in US custody. In late November, it was reported that he had been kidnapped by armed militia members in Tripoli.

In 2001, one of the other co-conspirators identified by US and Scottish officials - Abdelbaset al-Megrahi - was convicted by a Scottish court convened in the Netherlands for his role in the attack. The Scottish government released him on compassionate grounds in 2009, and he died in Libya three years later.

To date, Megrahi - who always maintained his innocence - has been the only person convicted in connection with the attack.

Scotland's Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain, who is the most senior Scottish law officer in the government, said in a statement that she would travel to Washington DC next week to meet prosecutors and attend commemoratives events with victims' families.

In a statement on Monday, she called the US prosecution of Mr Masud a "legal breakthrough", adding that Scottish authorities welcomed the American inquiry.

"The recent developments demonstrate that there can be no time limits placed on the pursuit of justice," Ms Bain said.