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Tags Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi , Abdul Giaka , Lockerbie bombing , Pan Am 103 , Tony Gauci

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Old 2nd June 2011, 06:53 AM   #41
Rolfe
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Still on the timeline topic, but changing the subject.

I've always been a fairly firm believer that the Claiden chip was legit, because of the provenance, and the very early time-stamp. The provenance also argues against any sort of switcheroo on the chip that was found, because Claiden photographed it himself when he found it. However, if we forget the early time-stamp for a minute, it makes a twisted sort of sense for it to have been a plant.

Thurman arrived in Lockerbie on 22nd December, and he yo-yoed back and forward across the Atlantic several times over the following six weeks or so. If we accept, for the moment, that this was not too early for someone to have decided they wanted to lay a trail that led to Libya's door, it's quite possible for that chip to have been put there for Claiden to find.

Quote:
Mr. Turnbull: Can I turn to a different matter, Mr. Claiden, and ask you to look with us again at Label Number 270.11, which you described as the data plate on the aluminium container.
A Yes. [....]
Q Thank you. You told us when you described it initially that it was not attached to the panel when you first examined it?
A No. I had more or less finished reconstruction of both containers during the period when I was at CAD Longtown, and this data plate did not appear to belong to any of the other containers we were looking at, and it was put to one side in the area of 4041 that we were working. And it was right towards the end of this period, we decided we'd put it on the container, on the reconstruction. And in doing so, well, I picked it up and began to think about how we were going to attach it.
Q And did you discover something as you were doing that?
A Well, as I think is quite natural, what you do, you look at the pieces you have, almost without -- not without thinking, but you pick them up, and you naturally want to look at them and turn them over. In doing so, I saw there was something wedged in the fold, at the top of the plate.
Q And you explained to us earlier that the plate is folded over at the top --
A Along the top edge, it is folded over.
Q And are you telling us now that you became aware of something wedged into that fold?
A Yes, just in the -- fairly cursory examination of the plate. And I saw something, a bit of debris wedged in the fold. [....]
Q And what do we see in that photograph?
A We see one side of the piece of debris that I found wedged in the data plate.
Q And what did you do with the piece of debris, having found it wedged in the data plate?
A Well, when I first saw it wedged, I didn't know what it was. It just looked like a bit of debris, rubbish basically. So I just flexed the plate a little bit and it fell out onto the floor. So I picked it up, put it on the table, and could see quite clearly what was to be a fragment of a circuit board.
Q And can we see that in the photograph?
A Yes, it's the browny-coloured object with the white lettering on it.
Q Thank you. And having come to the view you've just explained, what did you do?
A Well, I picked it up and I looked at it, as you do. And the circuit-board fragment appeared to be bound up with a sort of a carbonised softish piece of material, so that it did not appear to be metallic. Now, I didn't know, obviously, what it was. It had the potential to be associated maybe with a device.
Q Yes.
A But it could have been out of somebody's shaver, or computer, or anything. But bearing in mind this was two weeks after I started work, and I did have information relaying back to me from Mr. Charles that evidence of a detonating high explosive had been found, so at the top of one's priority, you had to assume that it might have been part of such a device.

This is said to be about two weeks after Claiden started work at Lockerbie, and he started work very early in January. So, mid-January, maybe three to four weeks after the disaster. And Thurman was right there. It's certainly possible.

It would explain the miraculous survival of a fragment large enough to have sufficient lettering still visible to trace the thing. It would also explain why they rather delicate white lettering wasn't blasted off. It would also explain something that puzzled Caustic Logic, which is that the preservation of the lettering seems to imply that the radio's PCBs had been taken out and then replaced upside-down - because otherwise the lettering would have been face-on to the Semtex and surely couldn't have been preserved.

Perhaps that PCB fragment was supposed to lead the Brit investigators directly to the RT-SF16. But instead, Feraday identified the white RT-8016 as the model implicated, because it had the same PCB in it. Oops. But then in April, in Maryland, it was "suggested" to Feraday that he try again on that one, hence his trip to Japan and his discovery of the list of seven radios that it could have been, and the Libyan connection attached to the RT-SF16. And then he "found" another miraculous survival of the fireball, the front page of the manual with the model number helpfully legible.

I don't like this CT, but it's possible. The timing corresponds with Bollier's "catch-letter", which is a very early flag that someone wanted the investigation to go in a particular direction. Supposing Francovich's theory is essentially true, that the disaster happened because a US security forces operation went spectacularly wrong, and those in the know and in the chain of responsibility didn't want that to come to light, there could have been some pretty quick appraisal of the opportunities going on.

If the Claiden fragment was fabricated, then I don't think there's a snowball's chance in hell the Erac printout is on the level. Where does it end?

Rolfe.
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Old 2nd June 2011, 10:13 AM   #42
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Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
That is odd. Could it simply be that the stamp wasn't picked up in the photocopy or just changed by the blogger? I don't know.

I asked that blogger and s/he said s/he got it via a Google Images search and didn't manipulate it. I note actually that the version on the Plane Truth page discussing the 1998 interview with Megrahi, which is different in that Fhimah's image is also there and the border isn't, is also lacking the stamp. And that page seems to date from 1998, too.

I suppose it would be possible to remove the stamp digitally, though if that has been done there's no sign of it that I can see. I wonder if a digital image expert would be able to tell?

I would have expected a stamp in that position in a passport to have been applied when the passport was issued, to validate the photo. Which suggests the black-and-white copy is either from before the image was validated into the passport, or from a different print that wasn't used for the passport (do they keep file copies in passport offices?), or the stamp has been digitally removed.

I wonder if there are any copies of the colour photo out there that don't have the stamp?

I've always wondered about the quality of the images Bell was playing with in 1991. The Czech picture looks like a photocopy of a photocopy. The Abdusamad one almost looks as if it has been copied on a photocopier set (or meant) for document copying rather than pictures. One presumes these were the best versions they had at the time. I suppose if the Czech one was a routine copy from an immigration office, that was that. But it's interesting that the Abdusamad one showed up in its colour form relatively soon afterwards.

It will be interesting to see when the earliest appearance of the colour version can be traced to. And if there's any sign of a colour version without the stamp. In the light of Marquise saying the passport itself remained in Megrahi's possession until 1999.

Rolfe.
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Old 2nd June 2011, 03:55 PM   #43
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I think I'm in love with Google images.

I've managed to establish a few things, though not the source of the black-and-white version. Principally, that there ARE two different versions of the Abdusamad photo, and one of them doesn't have the rubber stamp.

There are copies of the usual version, with the passport stamp, all over the net, however none of them dates back before the trial. The earliest one I found was in a BBC report on the failure of the first appeal in June 2002. One of the newspaper reports using it recorded that it had been issued by the Crown Office.

There is however another version which appears in only a few places, and dates back to before the trial.

BBC report dated 21st March 1999
This picture is again in colour and very similar to the usual version, but it has no rubber stamp. It's quite clearly a different print of the same picture, to my mind.

Plane Truth web site, apparently also 1999
Same thing. There is also a similar picture of Fhimah, again looking like a passport photo, with both shown in colour. Both pictures are also made into a composite black-and-white image which is at the head of the page, and the part of this which is Megrahi's image looks like the other black-and-white version I found.

Plane Truth web site, page dated October 1998
Buncrana found this page, which doesn't have the colour version but does have the composite Megrahi/Fhimah black-and-white version.

And the earliest of all....
Syracuse University Pan Am 103 archives
Buncrana's find again. It's a copy of one of the US reward posters, which according to TMDC date to 1993. The resolution isn't great but I blew it up and I'm as certain as I can be that once again it's the same Abdusamad photo without the stamp. (It's a different poster from the one shown on TMDC, but I'm pretty sure they're all the same date.)

And then the 2007 blog using the black-and-white version of Megrahi's picture alone, whose source I can't trace, just for completeness.

But (ta-da!) here's the money shot. Article in the Daily Mail from the day the verdicts were announced, 31st January 2001. It uses both pictures, Megrahi and Fhimah, with no stamp visible on Megrahi's picture. And the pictures are less cropped, and staples can be seen as if they are fixing them to some other sort of document, not a passport. There's a Reuters copyright notice on the image, but this link goes directly to it.
http://img.dailymail.co.uk/img/pix/l...01_450x302.jpg

So maybe this is legit. Maybe Megrahi used prints of the same photo for the Abdusamad passport, and something else under his own name, and it was the latter the authorities got hold of in 1991 or before. And we still don't know where the black-and-white version came from.

I'd sure like to tease this out properly though.

Rolfe.
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Old 3rd June 2011, 03:23 AM   #44
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What I'd like to figure out now is the provenance of the stapled photos of Megrahi and Fhimah. If the wanted poster dates to 1993, and I think it does, then the authorities obviously had both pictures by then. The one of Megrahi, which (confusingly it seems) is also the photo he used when acquiring the Abdusamad passport, also seems to be the image Bell describes in his diary as the one they chose not to show to Tony in early 1991.

The pictures seem to be a pair - similar poses, similar quality, similar sizes, similar backgrounds and similar staples. Where could they have come from? Some other sort of identity documents, such as LAA passes or driving licences? How did the investigating authorities get hold of them?

If the authorities really did have that colour photo with the staples in it at the time of the photospread, and it was attached to Megrahi's own name (rather than Abdusamad), what on earth were they thinking of, using the Czech photo? Even if they only had a black-and-white photocopy of it, that would still have been a far better image for all sorts of reasons. (Except, it looks nothing like Tony's photofit.)

And as an aside, this "false" passport gets weaker and weaker as some sort of terrorist front, if Megrahi simply used a print of a photo he had already used for other identity documents in his own name, when he was applying for it.

What on earth is going on here?

Rolfe.
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Old 3rd June 2011, 04:20 AM   #45
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Oh, that is interesting Rolfe. I hadn't really looked at Claiden's testimony that closely. If the Claiden fragment could be a plant then I fear we could probably dispense with just about any feint hope of the other evidence produced being all-above-board.

Perhaps, it could even be argued that to initiate any planting of evidence that early after the disaster might even imply prior knowledge. Which, of course, is something else Francovitch alluded to.

Even allowing for my extreme cynicism, I must admit I too hadn't given any real possibility to the agenda implicating Libya being set into motion so early into the investigation until, as you say, CL explained the implausible survival of the white lettering on this fragment - unless the PCB had been (for some completely unexplained reasoning) reversed and put back into the radio.

I also remember one of the policemen giving evidence at Zeist who commented on how a number of items recovered, bagged and labelled, went missing from Langholm, only to reappear later. I can imagine given the spread of 103 debris, and the various methods that pieces of evidence were collected and by whom, may well result, certainly in it's initial stages, to be somewhat disorganised and a proper system still emerging.

Those photo's you've sourced are fantastic Rolfe. In all the years I've been trawling over articles, I'd never seen some of those photo's of Megrahi and Fhimah - notably the one's with the visible staples.

It's quite apparent that the blurry b&w Czech photo, hesitantly chosen by Gauci, is about the only time that particular photo carried any significance in the investigation, while the Abdusamad photo from 1987 was clearly recognised as the truest likeness to him at the time of the incident, and used in every other representation of the man 'wanted'.

The whole time omitting the fact that the photo Gauci initially picked out was about 12 years old, was of someone nowhere near 50 years old (even allowing for Gauci's 10/15 yrs too young) and even the Abdusamad photo, so widely circulated, refers to someone still about 15 years too young to match Gauci's original recollection of the buyer in 1988.
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Old 3rd June 2011, 02:58 PM   #46
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Bingo! I finally got an exact date for the photo with the big specs and the Libyan goons.

18th February 1992. Score yet another one for pete2.

That makes Megrahi 39, not 40, in that picture. It was taken just over three years after the alleged date he allegedly purchased the clothes.

This is all making better sense now. The Abdusamad photo really does look too young to be contemporary with the date of issue of the passport. He doesn't look all that much older in it than he does in the Cardiff picture, quite honestly. I went with it because I thought the next-oldest one was of him at 47, suggesting he was generally very youthful-looking in the early years of his life, but now we've pegged that one as aged 39, it's a different story.

One thing I could never quite get my head round was the idea that the man shown in the Abdusamad picture was Head of Airline Security for LAA. He just didn't have that senior executive look, which he does have in the 1992 photo, even with the goon escort. Maybe using an old photo for the Abdusamad passport was part of the dissimulation of the false name, though as he seems to have used the same photo for another identity document in his own name that would seem to be of limited effectiveness.

OK, it was an easy point, to show the Abdusamad photo as dating to 1987 and ask how come if Tony sold clothes to that guy, could he possibly have estimated his age at fifty? But let's be realistic, I doubt if he was over 30 when that picture was taken.

A more reasonable point is to show the 1992 photo, pointing out that Megrahi was three years younger at the time of the clothes purchase, but to ask how come, if Tony sold clothes to that guy, could he possibly have picked out the Czech photo as resembling the purchaser? And by the way, he's 39, three years on from the purchase, and he still doesn't look 50.

Sigh. I can see the article needs another re-write. Never mind, accuracy is king.

I'd give a minor body part to know when that Abdusamad photo was really taken, what the document was that it was stapled to in its earlier incarnation, and how and when the US spooks got hold of it.

Rolfe.

ETA: I wonder if Reuters would be able to tell me when and how they got hold of it?
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Old 22nd July 2011, 06:37 PM   #47
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Libya was a target for the USA before Lockerbie. Reagan was perhaps a little disappointed that unilateral flattening of overseas territories is frowned upon:

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id...3629%2C1076252 - US Faces Diplomatic Battle, Thurs 5th January, 1989 - The Age

About a month later there is:

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id...=3898%2C668238 - Libyan Links To Lockerbie Blast, Fri 3rd February, 1989 - Herald Glasgow


The Lord Advocate of Scotland says cool it on the speculation:

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id...2404%2C1174988 Sat 4th February, 1989 - Herald Glasgow


With so many enemies somebody eventually takes the rap. It could easily appear that vengeance, not justice is all that matters.


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Old 23rd July 2011, 02:08 PM   #48
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Thanks for those, CTB. I'm not keeping up these days, but I can hardly resist a new photo or a good early '89 article with weird insights.
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Old 23rd July 2011, 02:16 PM   #49
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The thing is, Libya was seriously persona non grata from way back. Even before Yvonne Fletcher was killed. They were also a handy scapegoat. And the US government was keen to make Gadaffi out as even worse than he was. Vincent Cannistraro has been described as "Reagan's 'make up about Gadaffi' expert".

Vinnie was of course in charge of the CIA side of the Lockerbie inquiry from the get-go until mid-1990. Mission accomplished, perhaps?

Rolfe.
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