The Pan Am 103 Verdict (Part 3) (fwd from marxism-international)

David Welch david.welch at SPAMst-edmund-hall.oxford.ac.uk
Sat Feb 3 08:31:07 MST 2001



                       Drugs Revelation
     A year later, 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.  The DEA was investigating whether the
PFLP-GC had tricked Jaafar into carrying a suitcase containing the
bomb instead of [or in addition to?] the drugs he usually
carried.
     The report added that "Informants would put [suit]cases of
heroin on the Pan Am flights apparently without the usual
security checks ... through an arrangement between the DEA and
German authorities."{28}
     These revelations were enough to inspire a congressional
hearing, held in December, entitled, "Drug Enforcement
Administration's Alleged Connection to the Pan Am Flight 103
Disaster".
     The chairman of the committee, Cong. Robert Wise (Dem., W.
VA.), began the hearing by lamenting the fact that the DEA and
the Department of Justice had not made any of their field agents
who were most knowledgeable about flight 103 available to
testify; that they had not provided requested written
information, including the results of the DEA's investigation
into the air disaster; and that "the FBI to this date has been
totally uncooperative".
     The two DEA officials who did testify admitted that the
agency had, in fact, run "controlled drug deliveries" through
Frankfurt airport with the cooperation of German authorities,
using U.S. airlines, but insisted that no such operation had been
conducted in December 1988.
     The officials denied that the DEA had had any "association
with Mr. Jaafar in any way, shape, or form."  However, to
questions concerning Jaafar's background, family, and his
frequent trips to Lebanon, they asked to respond only in closed
session.  They made the same request in response to several other
questions.  (NBC News had reported on October 30 that the DEA had
told law enforcement officers in Detroit not to talk to the media
about Jaafar.)
     The hearing ended after but one day, even though Wise had
promised a "full-scale" investigation and indicated during the
hearing that there would be more to come.  What was said in the
closed sessions remains closed.{29}
     One of the DEA officials who testified, Stephen Greene, had
himself had a reservation on flight 103, but he canceled because
of the warnings.  He has described standing on the Heathrow
tarmac, watching the doomed plane take off.(30}
     There have been many reports of heroin being found in the
field around the crash, from "traces" to "a substantial quantity"
found in a suitcase.{31}  Two days after the NBC report, however, the
New York Times quoted a "federal official" saying that "no hard
drugs were aboard the aircraft."
     The DEA of course knew of its sting operation in Frankfurt
two years earlier when the tragedy occurred, but they said
nothing, not even to the President's Commission on Aviation
Security and Terrorism which held hearings in the first months of
1990 in response to the 103 bombing.

                    The Whistleblowers
     Lester Coleman, author and radio talk-show host, who spent
several years with the Defense Intelligence Agency and the DEA,
beginning in the mid-1980s, has revealed that when he was working
with the DEA station in Cyprus, he met Khalid Jaafar several
times, that Jaafar was working for the DEA, and that the young
man had run two or three controlled deliveries of heroin into
Detroit.{32}
     Because Coleman did not keep what he knew to himself, but
repeated his story in an affidavit for Pan Am's action against
the U.S. government, and then co-authored a highly revealing
book, he was hounded for several years, across continents, and
severely punished by various institutions of that same
government, including being imprisoned on phony charges to damage
his credibility.  His tale reads like something out of Les
Miserables with the U.S. government as Inspector Javert.
     At one point, a federal judge warned Coleman: "If you attack
the government on the radio, I will take that very, very
seriously."{33}
     Several other individuals who have raised questions about a
U.S. government role in the 103 disaster have also paid a heavy
price, including Juval Aviv, the head of Interfor.  His office
suffered a series of break-ins; the FBI visited his clients; his
polygrapher was harassed, as mentioned; and a contrived
commercial fraud charge was brought against him.  Even though
Aviv eventually was cleared in court, it was a long, expensive,
and painful ordeal.{34}
     There was also Allan Francovich, who made a documentary
film, "The Maltese Double Cross", which presents Jaafar as an
unwitting bomb carrier with ties to the DEA and the CIA.
Showings of the film in Britain were canceled under threat of law
suits, venues burglarized or attacked with arson.  When Channel 4
agreed to show the film, the Scottish Crown Office and the U.S.
Embassy in London sent press packs to the media, labeling the
film "blatant propaganda", and attacking some of the film's
interviewees, including Coleman and Aviv.{35}  Additionally,
Francovich said he had learned that five CIA operatives had been
sent to London and Cyprus to discredit the film while it was
being made; that his office phones were tapped, and staff cars
sabotaged; and that one of his researchers narrowly escaped an
attempt to force his vehicle into the path of an oncoming truck.{36}
     Lockerbie investigators went so far as to ask the FBI to
investigate the film.  The Bureau later issued a highly
derogatory opinion of it.{37}
     The film's detractors made much of the fact that the film
was initially funded jointly by a UK company (two-thirds) and a
Libyan government investment arm (one-third).  Francovich said
that he was fully aware of this and had taken pains to negotiate
a guarantee of independence from any interference.
     On April 17, 1997, Allan Francovich suddenly died of a heart
attack at age 56, upon arrival at Houston Airport.{38}  His film has
had virtually no showings in the United States.

                            Abu Talb
     The DEA sting operation and Interfor's baggage-handler
hypothesis both predicate the bomb suitcase being placed aboard
the plane without going through the normal security checks.  In
either case, it eliminates the need for the questionable
triple-unaccompanied baggage scenario.  They don't eliminate the
clothing purchased in Malta, but we don't need the Libyans for
that.
     Mohammed Abu Talb fits that and perhaps other pieces of the
puzzle.  The Palestinian had close ties to PFLP-GC cells in
Germany which were making Toshiba radio-cassette bombs, similar,
if not identical, to what was used to bring down 103.  In October
1988, two months before Lockerbie, the German police staged
several raids against these cells, uncovering all but one of
their known five bombs.  In May 1989, Talb was arrested in
Sweden, where he lived, and was later convicted of taking part in
several bombings of the offices of American airline companies in
Scandinavia.  In his Swedish flat, police found large quantities
of clothing made in Malta.
     Police investigation of Talb disclosed that during October
1988 he had been to Cyprus and Malta, at least once in the
company of Hafez Dalkamoni, the leader of the German PFLP-GC, who
was arrested in the raid.  The men met with PFLP-GC members who
lived in Malta.  Talb was also in Malta on November 23, which was
originally reported as the date of the clothing purchase before
the indictment of the Libyans, as mentioned earlier.
     After his arrest, Talb told investigators that between
October and December 1988 he had retrieved and passed to another
person a bomb that had been hidden in a building used by the
PFLP-GC in Germany.  Officials declined to identify the person to
whom Talb said he had passed the bomb.  A month later, however,
he recanted his confession.
     Additionally, Talb was reported to possess a brown Samsonite
suitcase, and have circled December 21 in a diary seized in his
Swedish flat.  After the raid upon his flat, his wife was heard
to telephone Palestinian friends and say: "Get rid of the
clothes."
     In December 1989, Scottish police, in papers filed with
Swedish legal officials, made Talb the only publicly identified
suspect "in the murder or participation in the murder of 270
people".{39}  Since that time, the world has scarcely heard of Abu
Talb, who was sentenced to life in prison in Sweden, but never
charged with anything to do with Lockerbie.
     In Allan Francovich's film, members of Khalid Jaafar's
family -- which long had ties to the drug trade in Lebanon's
notorious Bekaa Valley -- are interviewed.  In either halting
English or translated Arabic, or paraphrased by the film's
narrator, they drop many bits of information, but which are
difficult to put together into a coherent whole.  Amongst the
bits ... Khalid had told his parents that he'd met Talb in Sweden
and had been given Maltese clothing ... someone had given Khalid
a tape recorder, or put one into his bag ... he was told to go to
Germany to friends of Ahmed Jabril who would help him earn some
money ... he arrived in Germany with two kilos of heroin ... "He
didn't know it was a bomb.  They gave him the drugs to take to
Germany.  He didn't know.  Who wants to die?" ...
     It can not be stated with certainty what happened at
Frankfurt airport on that fateful day, if, as seems most likely,
that is the place where the bomb was placed into the system.
Either Jaafar, the DEA courier, arrived with his suitcase of
heroin and bomb and was escorted through security by the proper
authorities, or this was a day he was a courier for Manzer al-Kassar,
and the baggage handlers did their usual switch.

                   International Law
     Contrary to what American officials and the media have
stated on numerous occasions, the 1992 U.N. resolutions do not
demand that Libya turn the two men over to the United States or
Scotland.  No specific venue is mentioned.{40}
     In 1992, Gaddafy declared that if the U.S. could demand that
Megrahi and Fhimah be turned over for trial, he could ask for the
surrender of the American airmen who bombed two Libyan cities,
killing 37 people, including his daughter.
     The United States refuses to accede to the request of Costa
Rica for the extradition of John Hull, an American who was a
major player in Iran-Contra, and who is wanted in Costa Rica for
drug trafficking and other crimes.  Similar requests from Cuba
over the years for the terrorists harbored by the U.S. in
Washington have also been ignored.
     It is surprising that Gaddafy has agreed to subject the two
Libyans to a Scottish judge and Scottish law, without a jury.
Even though it would take place in the Netherlands, there's no
reason to assume that the Scottish judges would be any less
biased than in Scotland.  To return home after acquitting the men
could not be a pleasant thing to face.
     At the same time, it's unlikely that any U.S. or British
official really believes that Libya played a significant role, if
any.  And for that reason they probably do not actually want to
see the trial of the two men take place.{41}  Not only would the
paucity of their evidence be exposed for all the world to see,
but they might be obliged to reveal information they'd rather not
see the light of day, perhaps touching upon the role played by
one or more US agencies.
                       *****************
     On February 16, 1990, a group of British relatives of
Lockerbie victims went to the American Embassy in London for a
meeting with members of the President's Commission on Aviation
Security and Terrorism.  After the meeting, Britisher Martin
Cadman was chatting with two of the commission members.  One of
them said to him: "Your government and our government know
exactly what happened at Lockerbie.  But they are not going to
tell you."{42}

NOTES

1. The Times (London), May 11, 1992, p.11.

2. "God Bless America -- A Personal View", paper written by Dr.
Jim Swire, spokesman for the bereaved UK families of Pan Am 103
victims, Oct. 20, 1995.  Copy in author's possession.  Swire met
with Gaddafy in Libya.

3. Grand Jury indictment, US District Court for the District of
Columbia, 1991.

4. Der Spiegel (Germany), April 18, 1994, pp.92-7; Sunday Times
(London), December 19, 1993, p.2; The Times (London), December
20, 1993, p.11; Los Angeles Times, December 20, 1993.

5. Mark Perry, Eclipse: The Last Days of the CIA (Wm. Morrow, New
York, 1992), pp.342-7.  See also Time, April 27, 1992, p. 27 for
another example of the unreliability of the shopkeeper's
identification.

6. See, e.g., Sunday Times, Nov. 12, 1989, p. 3.

7. See The Independent (London), Jan. 24, 1995, p.3 for more on
this matter.

8. Sunday Times, December 17, 1989, p. 14.  Malta is, in fact, a
major manufacturer of clothing sold throughout the world.

9. The Independent, October 30, 1989, p.2.

10. The Guardian (London) July 29, 1995, p.26.

11. Time, April 27, 1992, p. 28

12. The Independent, Jan. 30, 1995, p. 3.  The newspaper said it
was a five-page official briefing paper that had been leaked to
it.  It is possible that this is the same 1989 report referred to
in note 11.  Time magazine also said it was a five-page document.

13. Donald Goddard with Lester Coleman, Trail of the Octopus:
Behind the Lockerbie Disaster (London: Penguin Books, 1994),
p.420

14. Margaret Thatcher, The Downing Street Years (New York, 1993),
pp.448-9.

15. New York Times, November 15, 1991, p.1

16. Los Angeles Times, November 15, 1991, p.25

17. New York Times, April 13, 1989, p.9; David Johnston,
Lockerbie: The Tragedy of Flight 103 (New York, 1989), pp.157,
161-2.  Johnston says investigators believed that the person who
put the bomb into Jaafar's bag was Abdul Dalkamoni, the brother
of Hafez Dalkamoni, whom we shall meet later.

18. Washington Post, May 11, 1989, p. 1

19. New York Times, December 16, 1989, p. 3.

20. Department of the Air Force -- Air Intelligence Agency
intelligence summary report, March 4, 1991, released under a FOIA
request made by lawyers for Pan Am.  The intercept appears to
have taken place in July 1988, shortly after the downing of the
Iranian plane.  Reports of the intercept appeared in the press
long before the above document was released; see, e.g., New York
Times, Sept. 27, 1989, p.11; October 31, 1989, p.8; Sunday Times,
October 29, 1989, p.4.  But it wasn't until Jan. 1995 that the
exact text became widely publicized and caused a storm in the UK,
although ignored in the U.S.

21. The Times, September 20, 1989, p. 1

22. New York Times, November 21, 1991, p. 14.  It should be borne
in mind, however, that Israel may have been influenced because of
its hostility toward the PFLP-GC.

23. Reuters dispatch, datelined Tunis, Feb. 26, 1992

24. The Guardian, Feb. 24, 1995, p. 7

25. National Law Journal,  Sept. 25, 1995, p.A11, from papers
filed in a New York court case.

26. Barron's (New York), December 17, 1990, pp.20, 22

27. Barron's, p. 18.

28. Goddard/Coleman, p.205; Washington Times, October 31, 1990,
p. 3; The Times, November 1, 1990, p.3

29. Government Information, Justice, and Agriculture Subcommittee
of the Committee on Government Operations, House of
Representatives, December 18, 1990, passim.

30. The film, "The Maltese Double Cross" (see below).

31.  Sunday Times, April 16, 1989 (traces); Johnston, p.79
(substantial).  "The Maltese Double Cross" mentions other reports
of drugs found, by a Scottish policeman and a mountain rescue
man.

32. Goddard/Coleman, pp.40-3.

33. Goddard/Coleman, passim, and conversations with Coleman by
the author in 1998.  Coleman was eventually compelled to plead
guilty to a contrived perjury charge in order to be released from
detention while seriously ill.

34. Article by John Ashton, The Mail on Sunday (London), June 9,
1996; Wall Street Journal, December 18, 1995, p.1, and December
18, 1996, p.B2

35. Ashton article and Financial Times (London), May 12, 1995,
p.8

36. The Guardian, April 23, 1994, p.5

37. Sunday Times, May 7, 1995.

38.  Francovich's former wife told the author that he had not had
any symptoms of a heart problem before.  However, the author also
spoke to Dr. Cyril Wecht, of JFK "conspiracy" fame, who performed
an autopsy on Francovich.  Wecht stated that he found no reason
to suspect foul play.

39. Re Abu Talb, all 1989: New York Times, Oct. 31, Dec. 1, Dec.
24; Sunday Times, Nov. 12; The Times, Dec. 21; and The Times, Feb.
9, 1990

40. UN Resolution 731, Jan. 21, 1992 and Resolution 748, Mar. 31,
1992

41. See The Guardian, June 8, 1995, p.1, "Clinton ends fight to
try Lockerbie suspects"; and The Times, Sept. 20, 1997, p.9,
"Britain gives up fight over Lockerbie".

42. Cadman in "The Maltese Double Cross".  Also see The Guardian,
July 29, 1995, p.27






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