Pan Am Flight 103 conspiracy theories

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Pan Am Flight 103 conspiracy theories suggest a number of possible explanations for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 on 21 December 1988. Some of the theories preceded the official investigation by Scottish police and the FBI; others arose from different interpretation of evidence presented at Libyan agent Abdelbaset al-Megrahi's 2000/2001 trial; yet others have been developed independently by individuals and organisations outside the official investigation.[1]

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command (PFLP-GC) was the first suspect, in light of a threat it issued against U.S. and Israeli interests before the bombing. The state of Iran was also in the frame very early, with its motive thought to be revenge for the July 1988 shooting down of Iran Air Flight 655 by USS Vincennes.[2] This theory was later reinforced by Abolghasem Mesbahi, former head of Iranian intelligence operations in Europe, who stated after defecting to Germany that Iran had asked Libya and Abu Nidal, a Palestinian guerrilla leader, to carry out the attack on Pan Am 103.[3] In his 1994 film The Maltese Double Cross, Allan Francovich suggested that rogue CIA agents were implicated in a plot that involved them turning a blind eye to a drug running operation in return for intelligence. Evidence presented at Megrahi's trial, together with concerns about the reliability of his conviction, spawned a theory that Libya was framed. Abu Nidal allegedly confessed to the bombing before his death, thereby triggering another theory, while Joe Vialls put forward his own explanation that relied on the bomb being detonated remotely. Finally, in December 1989, Patrick Haseldine suggested that the bombing was an assassination by South Africa's apartheid government of United Nations Commissioner for Namibia, Bernt Carlsson.

PFLP-GC[edit]

For many months after the bombing, the prime suspects were the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command (PFLP-GC), a Damascus-based rejectionist group led by former Syrian army captain Ahmed Jibril, sponsored by Iran.[4][5] In a February 1986 press conference, Jibril warned:

"There will be no safety for any traveler on an Israeli or U.S. airliner" (Cox and Foster 1991, p28).[6]

Secret intercepts were reported by author, David Yallop, to have recorded the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (Pasdaran) in Baalbeck, Lebanon making contact with the PFLP-GC immediately after the downing of the Iran Air Airbus. Israeli intelligence allegedly intercepted a telephone call made two days after PA 103 by Mohtashemi-Pur, Interior Minister in Tehran, to the chargé d'affaires at the Iranian embassy in Beirut, instructing the embassy to hand over the funds to Jibril and congratulating them on the success of operation 'Intekam' ('equal and just revenge').[7] Jibril is alleged to have received $11 million from Iran – although a banking audit trail to confirm the payment has never been presented.

Jibril's right-hand man, Hafez Dalkamoni, set up a PFLP-GC cell which was active in the Frankfurt and Neuss areas of West Germany in October 1988, two months before PA 103.[1] During what Germany's internal security service, the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (BfV), called Operation Herbstlaub (Operation "Autumn Leaves"), the BfV kept cell members under strict surveillance. The plotters prepared a number of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) hidden inside household electronic equipment. They discussed a planned operation in coded calls to Cyprus and Damascus: oranges and apples stood for detonating devices; medicine and pasta for Semtex explosive; and, auntie for the bomb carrier. One operative had been recorded as saying: "auntie should get off, but should leave the suitcase on the bus" (Duffy and Emerson 1990). The PFLP-GC cell had an experienced bomb-maker, Jordanian Marwan Khreesat, to assist them. Khreesat made at least one IED inside a single-speaker Toshiba Bombeat 453 radio cassette recorder, similar to the twin speaker model RT-SF 16 Bombeat that was used to blow up PA 103. However, unlike the Lockerbie bomb with its sophisticated timer, Khreesat's IEDs contained a barometric pressure device that triggers a simple timer with a range of up to 45 minutes before detonation.

Unbeknown to the PFLP-GC cell, its bomb-maker Khreesat was a Jordanian intelligence service (GID) agent and reported on the cell's activities to the GID, who relayed the information to Western intelligence and to the BfV. The Jordanians encouraged Khreesat to make the bombs but instructed him to ensure they were ineffective and would not explode. (A German police technician would however be killed, in April 1989, when trying to disarm one of Khreesat's IEDs). Through Khreesat and the GID, the Germans learned that the cell was surveying a number of targets, including Iberia Flight 888 from Madrid to Tel Aviv via Barcelona, chosen because the bomb-courier could disembark without baggage at Barcelona leaving the barometric trigger to activate the IED on the next leg of the journey. The date chosen, Khreesat reportedly told his handlers, was 30 October 1988. He also told them that two members of the cell had been to Frankfurt airport to pick up Pan Am timetables.

Acting upon this intelligence, the German secret police moved in to arrest the PFLP-GC cell on 26 October, raiding 14 apartments and arresting 17 men, fearing that to keep them under surveillance much longer was to risk losing control of the situation. Two cell members are known to have escaped arrest including Abu Elias, a resident of Sweden who, according to Prime Time Live (ABC News November 1989), was an expert in bombs sent to Germany to check on Khreesat's devices because of suspicions raised by Ahmed Jibril. Four IEDs were recovered, but Khreesat stated later that a fifth device had been taken away by Dalkamoni before the raid, and was never recovered.[8] The link to PA 103 was further strengthened when Khreesat told investigators that, before joining the cell in Germany, he had bought five Toshiba Bombeat cassette radios from a smugglers' village in Syria close to the border with Lebanon, and made practice IEDs out of them in Jibril's training camp 20 km (12 mi) away. The bombs were inspected by Abu Elias, who declared them to be good work. What became of these devices is not known.[9]

Some journalists such as Private Eye's Paul Foot[10] and a PA 103 relative, Dr Jim Swire, believed that it was too stark a coincidence for a Toshiba cassette radio IED to have downed PA 103 just eight weeks after the arrest of the PFLP-GC cell in Frankfurt.[citation needed] Indeed, Scottish police actually wrote up an arrest warrant for Marwan Khreesat in the spring of 1989, but were persuaded by the FBI not to issue it because of his value as an intelligence source.[11] In the following spring, King Hussein of Jordan arranged for Khreesat to be interviewed by FBI agent, Edward Marshman, and the former head of the FBI's forensic lab, Thomas Thurman, to whom he described in detail the bombs he had built. In the 1994 documentary film Maltese Double Cross,[12] the author David Yallop speculated that Libyan and Iranian-paid agents may have worked on the bombing together; or, that one group handed the job over to a second group upon the arrest of the PFLP-GC cell members. The former CIA head of counter-terrorism, Vincent Cannistraro, who previously worked on the PA 103 investigation, was interviewed in the film and said he believed the PFLP-GC planned the attack at the behest of the Iranian government, then sub-contracted it to Libyan intelligence after October 1988, because the arrests in Germany meant the PFLP-GC was unable to complete the operation. Other supporters of this theory believed that whoever paid for the bombing arranged two parallel operations intended to ensure that at least one would succeed; or, that Jibril's cell in Germany was a red herring designed to attract the attention of the intelligence services, while the real bombers worked quietly elsewhere.

Iran[edit]

A number of journalists considered that the Iranian revenge motive (retaliation for the shooting down of the Iran Air Airbus by USS Vincennes) was prematurely dismissed by investigators.[4] They drew attention to a comment by former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher in her 1993 memoirs, where she seemed to discount the Libya revenge motive (for the 1986 bombing of Tripoli and Benghazi by the United States air force):

"It turned out to be a more decisive blow against Libyan-sponsored terrorism than I could ever have imagined. ...There were revenge killings of British hostages organized by Libya, which I bitterly regretted. But the much-vaunted Libyan counter attack did not and could not take place... There was a marked decline in Libyan-sponsored terrorism in succeeding years" (Thatcher 1993, pp448-9).[13]

Additionally, Abolghasem Mesbahi, former head of Iranian intelligence in Europe, eventually defected and "told [German] investigators that Iran had asked Libya and Abu Nidal, a Palestinian guerrilla leader, to carry out the attack on Pan Am 103." [3]

The US Defense Intelligence Agency alleges that Ali Akbar Mohtashamipur (Ayatollah Mohtashemi), a member of the Iranian government, paid US$ 10 million for the bombing:

Ayatollah Mohtashemi: (...) and was the one who paid the same amount to bomb Pan Am Flight 103 in retaliation for the US shoot-down of the Iranian Airbus.[2]

Part of report, which is dated 1989-09-24, cites information acquired at Ft. Meade, MD:

The mission was to blow up a Pan Am flight that was to be almost entirely booked by US military personnel on Christmas leave. The flight was supposed to be a direct flight from Frankfurt, GE, to New York, not Pan Am flight 103 which was routed through London, UK. The suitcase containing the bomb was labeled with the name of one of the US passengers on the plane and was inadvertently placed on the wrong plane possibly by airport ground crew members in Frankfurt. The terrorist who last handled the bomb was not a passenger on the flight.[2]

and

The bomb was designed by Mu'Ay Al-Din ((Mughanniya)), a Lebanese national who lives in IR and who is supposedly Iran's expert on aircraft bombing and high-jacking operations. The bomb was constructed in LY and then shipped to GE for placement on the aircraft (NFI).

CIA drug smuggling[edit]

This theory suggests that U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agents had set up a protected drug route from Europe to the United States—allegedly called Operation Corea—that allowed Syrian drug dealers, led by Monzer al-Kassar (who was involved with Oliver North in the Iran-Contra scandal) to ship heroin to the U.S. using Pan Am flights, in exchange for intelligence on Palestinian groups holding hostages in Syria.[14] The CIA allegedly protected the suitcases containing the drugs and made sure they were not searched. On the day of the bombing, as the theory goes, terrorists exchanged suitcases: one with drugs for one with a bomb.

Time introduced another version of this theory, claiming that the American intelligence officers on PA 103 – Matthew Gannon of the CIA and Maj. Charles McKee of the DIA – had found out about the drug operation, and were headed to Washington to raise their concerns about its impact on their hostage rescue plans.[15][16]

Juval Aviv introduced a variation of this story in October 1989. Aviv was the owner of Interfor Inc, a private investigation company based on Madison Avenue, New York. Aviv claimed to be a former Mossad officer[17] who led the Operation Wrath of God team that assassinated members of Black September who were believed to have been responsible for the Munich Massacre in 1972. According to his theory, the CIA knew in advance that the baggage exchange would take place, but let it happen anyway, because the protected drugs route was a rogue operation, and the American intelligence officers on PA 103 – Matthew Gannon and Maj. Charles McKee – had found out about it, and were on their way to Washington to tell their superiors.

After PA 103, Aviv was employed by Pan Am as their lead investigator for the bombing. He submitted a report (the Interfor report[18][19]) in October 1989, blaming the bombing on a CIA-protected drugs route (Barrons December 17, 1989). This scenario provided Pan Am with a credible defense against claims for compensation by relatives of victims, since, if the U.S. government had helped the bomb bypass Pan Am's security, the airline could hardly have been held liable. The Interfor report alleged inter alia that Khalid Jafaar, a Lebanese-American passenger with links to Hezbollah, had unwittingly brought the bomb on board thinking he was carrying drugs on behalf of Syrian drug dealers he supposedly worked for. However, the New York court, which heard the civil case lodged by the U.S. relatives, rejected the Interfor allegations for lack of evidence. Aviv was never interviewed by either the Scottish police or the FBI in connection with PA 103. The theory of the CIA-protected suitcase was detailed as well in Patrick Pesnot's Rendez-vous avec X radio program on June 1998.[20]

In 1990 the protected suitcase theory was given a new lease of life by Lester Coleman in his book Trail of the Octopus.[21][22] Coleman was a former journalist-turned-intelligence agent working with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) while employed by Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) in Cyprus. Coleman claimed to have seen Khalid Jafaar in the DEA office in Nicosia, Cyprus once again implying that Jafaar was a drugs mule, but this time for the DEA instead of Syrian drug dealers. In 1997, Coleman pleaded guilty to five counts of perjury in a Federal court after admitting that he submitted a false testimony in a civil litigation brought on behalf of the families of passengers killed in the bombing.[23]

Coleman's theory gained impetus when British journalist Paul Foot wrote a glowing review of Coleman's book for the London Review of Books.[24] But on March 31, 2004—four months before his death—Foot reverted to the orthodox Iran/PFLP-GC theory in an article he wrote for The Guardian entitled "Lockerbie's dirty secret".[25]

The previously mentioned 1994 documentary film The Maltese Double Cross – Lockerbie, which included interviews with Lester Coleman and Juval Aviv, seemed to favour a hybrid version embracing both the CIA-protected suitcase and the drugs mule versions of the theory. Shortly after the film was broadcast by Channel 4 television on 11 May 1995, Aviv was indicted on fraud charges. Aviv was quick to claim that these were trumped-up charges, and in due course they were dropped. The film can be viewed on the internet here [26] by scrolling down to Allan Francovich – The Maltese Double Cross.[27]

Alleged framing of Libya[edit]

This conspiracy theory is based on the premise that key evidence presented at the trial (e.g. timer fragment, parts from a specific radio cassette model, clothing bought in Malta, bomb suitcase originating at Luqa Airport) could have been fabricated by the U.S. and Britain for the "political" purpose of incriminating Libya.[28]

Recent Libyan history[edit]

Muammar al-Gaddafi's regime in Libya had a long and well-documented history of support for rebel and paramilitary groups. During the 1970s and 1980s, Gaddafi supplied large quantities of Libyan weapons and explosives to the Provisional Irish Republican Army. Other incidents that have been attributed to Libya are not so clear cut:

  • The 1984 murder of police constable Yvonne Fletcher outside the Libyan embassy in London was blamed on Libya and led to a long-term rupture of diplomatic relations. No prosecution has taken place, but Libya has paid compensation to WPC Fletcher's family and recently allowed Scotland Yard to interview suspects in that country.[29]
  • US president Ronald Reagan was convinced that Libya was responsible for the 1986 Berlin discotheque bombing – in which two American servicemen were killed and another 50 injured – and, in retaliation, ordered the bombing of Tripoli in Operation El Dorado Canyon. In 2001, a Libyan and two Palestinians were convicted and imprisoned by Berlin's Supreme Court, and in 2004 Gaddafi agreed to pay $35 million in compensation to the non-American victims of the Berlin bombing.
  • A French court convicted six Libyans nationals (some members of Libyan Intelligence) in absentia of the 1989 bombing of French UTA Flight 772. The bomb bore remarkable similarities to the one that brought down Pan Am 103, since it was also consisted of PETN (Semtex) carried in a Samsonite suitcase and detonated by a timing device. France at the time supported Libya's neighbour Chad in a border dispute. With remarkable parallels to the Lockerbie trial, the Paris court heard that UTA Flight 772 was brought down by a bomb triggered by a sophisticated timing device.[30]
  • Libya supplied the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) with tonnes of Semtex — amongst other weapons.[31][32] See also Provisional IRA arms importation#Libyan arms.

At the end of the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing trial an international observer appointed by the United Nations, Hans Köchler, called the verdict a "spectacular miscarriage of justice".[33] Even though Libya never formally admitted responsibility for Pan Am Flight 103 or UTA Flight 772, Libya "accepted responsibility for the actions of its officials" and agreed to pay compensation to the relatives of the victims.[34] In October 2008 Libya paid $1.5 billion into a fund which will be used to compensate relatives of the

  1. Lockerbie bombing victims with the remaining 20% of the sum agreed in 2003 ($2.7 billion);
  2. American victims of the 1986 Berlin discotheque bombing;
  3. American victims of the 1989 UTA Flight 772 bombing; and,
  4. Libyan victims of the 1986 US bombing of Tripoli and Benghazi.[35]

Lord Advocate's comment[edit]

In an address to a conference of law officers in August 2001 (seven months after the PA 103 verdict) the Scottish Lord Advocate, Lord Boyd, rejected any suggestion that Libya had been framed and denied that this was a politically driven prosecution, instead blaming conspiracy theorists for such allegations:

"Conspiracy theorists have alleged that the investigators' move away from an interest in the PFLP-GC was prompted by political interference following a re-alignment of interests in the Middle East. Specifically it is said that it suited Britain and the United States to exonerate Syria and others such as Iran who might be associated with her and to blame Libya, a country which we know trained the IRA. Accordingly, evidence was 'found' which implicated Libya. This is best answered by looking at the evidence."[36]

The Lord Advocate went on to list the various pieces of evidence found to prove that the PA 103 investigators' interest in Libya was "as a result of the evidence which was discovered and not as a result of any political interference in the investigation". He reiterated: "There is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that there was political interference. The investigation was evidence-led." Lord Boyd dealt with each piece of evidence, as follows:

  • Toshiba radio cassette fragment:
"evidence was obtained from Toshiba [by DERA's Alan Feraday] which showed that during October 1988 20,000 black Toshiba RT-SF 16 radio cassettes, the type used in the Pan Am bomb, were shipped to Libya. Of the total world-wide sales of that model 76% were sold to the General Electric Company's subsidiary in Libya, whose chairman was Said Rashid.[information added]"
  • Mebo timer fragment:
"In June 1990, with the assistance ultimately of the CIA and FBI, Alan Feraday of the Explosives Laboratory was able to identify the fragment as identical to circuitry from an MST-13 timer. It was already known to the CIA from an example seized in Togo in 1986 and photographed by them in Senegal in 1988. That took investigators to the firm of Mebo in Zurich. It was discovered that these timers had been manufactured to the order of two Libyans Ezzadin Hinshin, at the time director of the Central Security Organisation of the Libyan External Security Organisation and Said Rashid, then head of the Operations Administration of the ESO."
  • Clothing material:
"In September 1989 Tony Gauci, the shopkeeper, was interviewed by Scottish police officers. He convincingly identified a range of clothing which he had sold to a man sometime before Christmas 1988. Among the items he remembered selling were two pairs of Yorkie trousers, two pairs of striped pyjamas, a tweed jacket, a blue babygro, two slalom shirts collar size 16 and a half, two cardigans, one brown and one blue and an umbrella. He described the man, and subsequently identified him as Megrahi. More importantly at the time he was in no doubt that he was a Libyan."

Reliance on forensic science[edit]

Warning against over-reliance upon forensic science to secure convictions, one of Britain's foremost criminal lawyers, Michael Mansfield QC, in the BBC Scotland Frontline Scotland TV programme Silence over Lockerbie, broadcast on 14 October 1997, said he wanted to make just one point:

"Forensic science is not immutable. They're not written in tablets of stone, and the biggest mistake that anyone can make—public, expert or anyone else alike—is to believe that forensic science is somehow beyond reproach: it is not! The biggest miscarriages of justice in the United Kingdom, many of them emanate from cases in which forensic science has been shown to be wrong. And the moment a forensic scientist or anyone else says: 'I am sure this marries up with that' I get worried."

A number of news media also investigated the bombing and the various theories that were put forward to explain it. One news team headed by Pierre Salinger accused the prosecution of disinformation, and of attempting to steer the investigation toward Libya.[37]

Iran and the London angle[edit]

Towards the end of the bombing trial, lawyers for Megrahi argued that the PA 103 bomb could have started its journey at Heathrow, rather than at Luqa Airport in Malta. The Boeing 747 that was destined to carry the 259 passengers and crew on the London-New York leg had arrived from San Francisco at noon on 21 December 1988, and stood unguarded on the tarmac for much of the period before PA 103's passengers began to board the aircraft after 17:00 (scheduled departure 18:00). The Iran Air terminal in Heathrow was adjacent to the Pan Am terminal, and the two airlines shared tarmac space. The lawyers invoked the 1990 Scottish Fatal Accident Inquiry and the evidence it heard that the baggage container AVE 4041, into which the bomb suitcase had been loaded, was left unsupervised at Heathrow for about forty minutes that afternoon.

Libya and Abu Nidal[edit]

Abu Nidal in the early 1980s

Abu Nidal was widely regarded as the most ruthless international terrorist until that mantle was assumed by Osama bin Laden. Nidal (aka Sabri al-Banna) was reported to have died in a shoot-out in Baghdad on 16 August 2002. A former senior member of his group, Atef Abu Bakr, told journalists that shortly before his death Abu Nidal had confided to Bakr that he had orchestrated the PA 103 bombing.[38]

After settling in Tripoli in 1985, Nidal and the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi allegedly became close, Gaddafi sharing what The Sunday Times called "Abu Nidal's dangerous combination of an inferiority complex mixed with the belief that he was a man of destiny."[39]

According to Atef Abu Bakr, Gaddafi asked Nidal to coordinate with the head of Libyan intelligence, Abdullah al-Senussi, an attack on the U.S. in retaliation for the 1986 bombing of Benghazi and Tripoli.[citation needed] Nidal then organized the hijacking of Pan Am Flight 73 in Karachi on September 5, 1986 killing 22 passengers and wounding dozens of others. In August 1987, Abu Nidal allegedly tried again, this time using an unwitting bomb mule to carry a device on board a flight from Belgrade (airline unknown), but the bomb failed to explode.[citation needed] For PA 103, Senussi allegedly told Nidal to supply the bomb, and Libyan intelligence would arrange for it to be put on a flight.[40] No evidence has been produced in support of these theories.

Radio detonation[edit]

According to conspiracy theorist and self-styled private investigator Joe Vialls, who died in July 2005, the bomb on PA 103 was triggered not by a simple timing device, but by a more complex technique of radio detonation.[41] The Vialls theory relies on the assumption that the aircraft was handed over to a different air traffic control center when it passed over the Dean Cross navigational beacon, requiring it to communicate on one of the 22 frequencies used by Shanwick Oceanic Control. Maid of the Seas would then have been flying at about 500 mph between Dean Cross beacon and where it crashed on the town of Lockerbie, an overall distance of 30 miles (48 km) representing a point-to-point flight time of barely four minutes. As PA 103 passed overhead the Dean Cross beacon, a light would have flashed on in the cockpit alerting the pilots to change frequency in order to obtain permission for the Atlantic crossing from Shanwick Oceanic Control at Prestwick, Scotland.[dubious ] Using standard reaction times, according to Vialls, it would have taken between three and five minutes for the crew to be ready to communicate on the new frequency. In its PA 103 report, the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) stated:

"At 18.58 hrs the aircraft established two-way radio contact with Shanwick Oceanic Control on frequency 123.95 MHz. At 19.02:44 hrs the clearance delivery officer at Shanwick transmitted to the aircraft its oceanic route clearance. The aircraft did not acknowledge this message and made no subsequent transmission." The AAIB report continued: "The cockpit voice recorder tape was listened to for its full duration and there was no indication of anything abnormal with the aircraft, or unusual crew behaviour. The tape record ended, at 19.02:50 hrs ± 1 second, with a sudden loud sound on the cockpit area microphone channel followed almost immediately by the cessation of recording whilst the crew were copying their transatlantic clearance from Shanwick ATC."[42]

The Vialls radio detonation theory puts forward two different triggering mechanisms:

  • A remotely controlled bomb in the aircraft that was triggered by a radio signal sent from outside the aircraft
  • A sophisticated device on board the aircraft that monitored multiple variables including time and the use of specific air-traffic control frequencies by the aircraft.

Vialls cited the following example of how the Israelis used the technique of radio detonation: In the late 1996, Israeli intelligence managed to obtain the cellular phone of Yahya Ayyash by fooling him into believing that his phone had a fault; the phone was booby-trapped with explosives when he brought it in for repairs, then subsequently detonated by a signal sent over the Israeli-controlled mobile phone network when he answered it.[43]

According to Vialls, the inside of a Boeing 747 is a Faraday cage, which would ensure that secondary emissions—from the captain's radio message to Shanwick Oceanic Control, for example—would be sufficient to activate the radio trigger of the bomb.[clarification needed] Thus, the PA 103 bomb could have been triggered by an internally generated command radio signal transmitted to or received from Shanwick. However, Vialls believed that the extent of the damage caused to the aircraft meant that the bomb was probably positioned close to the fuselage, rather than—as the prosecution maintained at the trial—being wrapped in clothing, packed in a suitcase and loaded inside a baggage container.[44]

Vialls himself blamed the Israeli Mossad for the PA 103 bombing. This fitted with the general theme of Vialls's investigations: he blamed Israel and Mossad for a variety of international disasters and events, including the 2004 Asian Tsunami and the death of Diana, Princess of Wales.[45]

South-West Africa (Namibia)[edit]

Reuters: S. Africa Minister Denies Knowing of Lockerbie Bomb

According to another theory, suggested by UK's Patrick Haseldine, apartheid South Africa was responsible for the sabotage of Pan Am Flight 103.[46] The theory is rooted in an allegation made in the film The Maltese Double Cross and by Die Zeit that the United States government knew of the bomb and warned staff from its embassies in Helsinki and Moscow, as well as a high-level South African delegation, to avoid the flight.[47] Someone allegedly contacted the US embassy in Helsinki, Finland 16 days before the bombing, warning of a bomb on a Pan Am aircraft departing Frankfurt for the US; none of the staff at the Moscow embassy took the flight, despite it being a popular route for them over Christmas.[1] The allegation prompted a strong statement in November 1994 from the private secretary of Pik Botha, then South African Foreign Minister, stating that "Had he known of the bomb, no force on earth would have stopped him from seeing to it that flight 103, with its deadly cargo, would not have left the airport."[1][48]

Review by American RadioWorks[edit]

In a special pre-trial report by American RadioWorks, the strengths and weaknesses of the case against Libya were explored. The report also examined in detail the evidence for and against the other main suspects in the first five alternative theories of this article.[49] The report did not consider either the radio detonation or the South-West Africa (Namibia) theory.

References[edit]

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  13. ^ Thatcher, Margaret. (1993) The Downing Street Years, pp448-9
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  20. ^ Also broadcast on October 2007
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  41. ^ Radio detonation theory
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  45. ^ Joe Vialls (2002-02-12). "Pulsed-Strobe "Less Than Lethal" Weapon at The Ritz". Archived from the original on 2003-04-06. Retrieved 2009-02-25. 
  46. ^ Patrick Haseldine (1989-12-07). "Finger of suspicion". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-05-25. 
  47. ^ Guy Arnold (1996). The Maverick State: Gaddafi and the New World Order. Cassell. ISBN 0-304-33366-2. Retrieved 2009-02-25. 
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  49. ^ "Shadow over Lockerbie – Mass Murder Over Scotland". Americanradioworks.publicradio.org. Retrieved 2010-06-05. 

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See also[edit]