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Tags Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi , Lockerbie bombing , Scotland cases

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Old 30th January 2015, 07:09 AM   #41
Rolfe
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Interesting post on Bob Black's blog this morning. Megrahi petition on Justice Committee agenda.

The public petition (calling for an independent inquiry into the case) set up by Justice for Megrahi has been in front of the Justice Committee for aeons. The committee have repeatedly expressed displeasure with the way the Justice Department and the Crown Office are dealing with the matter as a whole, and seem to be keeping the petition open as a way of trying to keep them honest. (The convener of the Justice Committee is a member of JFM, but nobody seems to think that's a problem.)

The petition is again up for reconsideration on Tuesday of next week. The secretary of JFM has taken the opportunity to have another pop at the Crown Office and the Lord Advocate for the prejudicial public pronouncements made on 20th December. "Investigators [have] confirmed beyond doubt that the Libyan was the man responsible for the deaths of 270 people on December 21, 1988 [....] there is “not a shred of evidence” to support claims that Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was wrongly convicted."

Quote:
It is quite clear that yet again these authorities, despite being aware of the ongoing police enquiry, are publicly stating that they have no doubts about the guilt of Mr Megrahi and that any who do not share that view are conspiracy theorists.

In making these statements it seems to JFM that the Crown Office and Lord Advocate have effectively prejudged the police enquiry, dismissed the criminal investigation as irrelevant and severely compromised that investigation.

Given that this is the Crown’s second public rejection of our allegations we cannot see how we, the Justice Committee or public can have any confidence that when the police report is delivered to the Crown Office and Lord Advocate it will be dealt with in a fair and objective manner.

The Lord Advocate, as Scotland’s independent prosecutor in the public interest and a member of the Scottish Government, has severely compromised his constitutional position by making these comments when the enquiry is going on.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Frank Mulholland is painting himself into a corner here. He seems to be announcing in public what he would like the criminal investigation to decide, before it has concluded its investigations. His statements are grossly misleading and indeed false, and the fact that they're being reported by Magnus Linklater whom he seems to have in his pocket doesn't give him much wiggle-room.

I'm not sure what the Justice Committee can actually do about it though. A reshuffle that sacked Mulholland and appointed someone with actual principles beyond covering the Crown Office's backside would be a better bet. (*Goes off to send Nicola a wee present.*)
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Old 30th January 2015, 07:18 AM   #42
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Has the SNP got a position on Megrahi?
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Old 30th January 2015, 07:27 AM   #43
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How long have you got?

"The Scottish government does not doubt the safety of the conviction."

David Torrance, Salmond's biographer, says he believes Salmond genuinely thinks Megrahi is guilty. I could see that being possible, because he would have taken his briefings from the Crown Office and we all know what the Crown Office would be saying about it. However, Salmond has said that Torrance, whose biography was unofficial, "doesn't know me at all". On the other hand, people within the SNP have privately told me they know for a fact that both Salmond and MacAskill (both no longer in position of course) know perfectly well that he's innocent. I can't say how reliable this information is.

Pretty much everybody with whom I have struck up a conversation seems to take the knee-jerk position that Megrahi was set up, almost always without knowing anything much about the details of the case. It's my impression that many or most SNP party members at rank and file level believe the conviction was a miscarriage of justice.

The SNP, as a political party, of course has no position on the matter at all. I did however buy my first book about the case on a stall at an SNP conference about 14 years ago. An SNP member published the book with a nationalist small-press publisher.

There is a high level of suspicion within and outwith the SNP that Salmond and MacAskill were subject to outside pressures to support the conviction. I have no idea if that's true or not.
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Last edited by Rolfe; 30th January 2015 at 07:28 AM.
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Old 30th January 2015, 07:39 AM   #44
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Thanks. Very rum.
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Old 30th January 2015, 07:45 AM   #45
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Anglo, on a scale of 1 to 10, how unprofessional is Mulholland's behaviour?

In September of 2012, JFM wrote to the Justice Secretary giving only basic outlines of six allegations of criminality we intended to lodge against people involved in the Lockerbie investigation and subsequent trial, and inquired from him what the correct procedure was and to whom should these allegations be submitted. Mulholland immediately went to the press and denounced the allegations as deliberate lies, malicious, and wholly defamatory. That's nearly a quote, though I don't have it in front of me. We didn't actually submit the allegations until November. He hadn't read them when he went to the press.

He followed this up with a number of other misleading press statements, including one where his tame journalist said that independent counsel had been commissioned to assess the safety of the conviction and had reported that it was sound. This was presented in such a way as to imply that the assessment was specifically in relation to the allegations JFM had made in 2012. In fact, when pressed, the Crown Office was forced to admit that the reference was to an assessment made in 2007 for the previous Lord Advocate Eilish Angiolini, at the time Megrahi's second appeal was coming to court. It had nothing to do with the JFM applications, although the Crown Office represented it to the press as being a refutation of the allegations.

It is a fact that the first SCCRC investigation in 2004-07 found six grounds on which it believed the applicant might have suffered a miscarriage of justice, and gave leave to appeal. These grounds were never tested in court, because Megrahi abandoned that appeal to improve his prospects of being allowed to go home to die.

It is a fact that nine (we added three more) specific allegations of criminal misconduct have been made to the police against people involved in the original investigation and the 2000-01 trial. These are currently the subject of a major police inquiry which has yet to report. (And they contain material which is absolutely exculpatory to Megrahi, by the way.)

It is a fact that a formal application has been made to the SCCRC for leave to mount a third appeal against the conviction, and the commission is still in the early stages of dealing with this application.

That the Lord Advocate should run to the press with prejudicial (and in fact defamatory) statements demonstrating that his mind is entirely closed on the issue, is a bit of a facer to me. I thought they were supposed to hide the prejudice and put on a public façade of impartiality.
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Old 30th January 2015, 07:58 AM   #46
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SOP for a political figure with reputations at stake. I cannot think myself into his shoes because I am only a lawyer. Law and politics are a difficult mix. Look at poor old Lord Goldsmith. He was asked to advise on the lawfulness of war in Iraq in light of the wording of a particular UN resolution. He gave equivocal, lengthy and considered advice that was not what the government wanted to hear. The government shrugged and went to work to get a second resolution that would remove any doubt. They encountered the French veto. Goldsmith was flown to Washington and spoken to, no doubt impressed with some red carpet treatment and the awesome enormity of the issue, and at the same time the government got an ultimatum from the army saying they needed legal cover before they would fight. So Goldsmith settled a second, much shorter opinion, which said the war would be fine (note: nothing material had changed since the earlier opinion) and this was shown to parliament (which did not know about the earlier advice).

60 barristers (not the most revolutionary body in the kingdom) complained to the Bar Council about Goldsmith's unprofessional conduct but the Bar Council (not the most courageous or principled body n the kingdom) decided that it was prohibited on constitutional grounds from looking into the matter.

Beat that!
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Old 30th January 2015, 08:01 AM   #47
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Uncle!
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Old 30th January 2015, 08:01 AM   #48
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Pfft ! Move to conspiracy theories ! (just kidding)
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Old 30th January 2015, 08:19 AM   #49
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Though of course your example is specifically constitutional. My case is on the face of it purely a criminal justice matter. Technically, this is simply a murder conviction under Scots law, and it is being contested on factual grounds. For the Lord Advocate to make such prejudicial statements is astonishing. Imagine if he were to be saying the same thing about the David Gilroy appeal, which is at much the same stage in the process at the moment!

He's treating a simple murder conviction as if it were a constitutional issue. Which it probably is, and that's interesting too.
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Old 30th January 2015, 08:24 AM   #50
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
Though of course your example is specifically constitutional. My case is on the face of it purely a criminal justice matter. Technically, this is simply a murder conviction under Scots law, and it is being contested on factual grounds. For the Lord Advocate to make such prejudicial statements is astonishing. Imagine if he were to be saying the same thing about the David Gilroy appeal, which is at much the same stage in the process at the moment!

He's treating a simple murder conviction as if it were a constitutional issue. Which it probably is, and that's interesting too.
In some sense, although it is better that you guys don't think this way but just keep ploughing on, it is a little disingenuous or, if not that, simplistic, to characterise this as just a murder case. Like Iraq, it has and has had a major international dimension that goes far beyond narrow questions of guilt. But, as I said, its best to ignore that and just plough on.
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Old 30th January 2015, 08:58 AM   #51
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There's no doubt that the massive ramifications are what's driving the Crown Office reaction. Not just international either. At its most basic, the biggest murder hunt ever mounted in Scotland was off the rails from the very beginning (more accurately, it was never on the rails in the first place), pursued a red herring down a blind alley in flagrant disregard for valid clues that were practically waving themselves in its face, and railroaded an innocent man.

When you consider how much time and money was spent on the original investigation, that's a shocker. When you consider how much time and money was spent on the trial of the first instance, it's another shocker. And when you consider that in the course of that trial the Crown concealed many items of exculpatory evidence from the defence, and then ran a false scenario it almost certainly knew was false in order to achieve the conviction - hell, you don't even need international ramifications to see why they're crapping themselves.
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Old 30th January 2015, 10:15 AM   #52
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Originally Posted by anglolawyer View Post
In some sense, although it is better that you guys don't think this way but just keep ploughing on, it is a little disingenuous or, if not that, simplistic, to characterise this as just a murder case. Like Iraq, it has and has had a major international dimension that goes far beyond narrow questions of guilt. But, as I said, its best to ignore that and just plough on.

I'm glad the new appeal has been submitted, and greatly hope it gets all the way to the Court of Appeal - there are beyond doubt things which need to be re-examined and reevaluated.

Maybe I should be whispering this, but isn't it possible that Megrahi (and maybe also Fhimah) might have been involved in conspiracy to plan the bombing, yet not involved in the actual execution of the act? I believe there's decent evidence that there was a "grand meeting" of like-minded parties in Malta in 1988, at which Mehrahi and Fhimah may have been present alongside representatives of PFLP-GC, the Syrians and the Iranians. If such a meeting did take place, then isn't it possible that Libya - via Megrahi and Fhimah - agreed to supply input and some materials, including the timer? If so, this would explain the provenance of the circuit board fragment - it is, after all, a pretty big step to accuse to US (presumably with UK complicity) to have willfully planted this evidence.

I just wonder whether the actual truth might lie somewhere in the middle here. I wonder if Megrahi might actually have borne some guilt for the planning of the attack and the design of the device (and perhaps the purchasing of the clothes), yet might have had nothing whatsoever to do with the construction of the bomb and its planting on the aircraft (I think it's immensely persuasive that the bomb was planted at LHR).
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Old 30th January 2015, 10:22 AM   #53
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PS: the above might also place into a more understandable context the way in which the investigation suddenly switched to Libya. If Megrahi (and maybe Fhimah) was indeed involved in the way in which I suggest - and if therefore the timer circuit board fragment and clothes were actually reliable pointers to Megrahi's (and thus Libya's) involvement - then this would have been something of a godsend to US and UK investigators. After all, the political situation of the day meant that it would have been inconvenient (at best) to have been pointing the finger at Iran or even the Palestinians. By contrast, they were (as we all know) more than happy to blame Libya, which was at that time an international pariah, but one with which the US and UK were very keen to make industrial inroads.

In other words, perhaps Libya DID deserve some of the blame, but it ended up bearing all of the blame since this was the optimum political solution for the US and UK. I hope perhaps the full story comes out in time.......
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Old 30th January 2015, 02:12 PM   #54
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John, I don't believe there's any reliable evidence for the meeting you mention.

Also, metallurgical analysis proves that the timer fragment, whether or not it was in any way part of the IED that brought down Pan Am 103, was not one of those sold to Libya. So there's no link there.

And Megrahi most certainly did not buy the clothes from Mary's House - the findings of the SCCRC underline that point. The evidence (some of it uncovered since the original trial, some of it known at the time by the Crown but withheld from the defence) shows clearly that the clothes were purchased on a day Megrahi was not on Malta.
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Old 30th January 2015, 05:04 PM   #55
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Hi Pete, long time no see. Hope you stick around this time.

It would be nice if people presented evidence for wild assertions, or even tried to get up to speed on the case before pontificating, don't you think? As you say, anyone still trying to assert that Megrahi bought those clothes after all that's been written and uncovered, has a pretty uphill struggle on their hands.
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Old 30th January 2015, 10:09 PM   #56
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The problem with the timer fragment - an amalgam of production and custom work, with some characteristics that make no sense for either - is that it defies a coherent explanation, not just of who might have used or planted it, but what it even is. A truthful investigator must admit to being stumped. That, unfortunately, can be construed as a vague conspiracy theory in which "something else happened," but no one knows what.
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Old 30th January 2015, 10:24 PM   #57
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Originally Posted by Charlie Wilkes View Post
The problem with the timer fragment - an amalgam of production and custom work, with some characteristics that make no sense for either - is that it defies a coherent explanation, not just of who might have used or planted it, but what it even is. A truthful investigator must admit to being stumped. That, unfortunately, can be construed as a vague conspiracy theory in which "something else happened," but no one knows what.
As a onetime electronics manufacturing engineer, I agree. The fragment and it's apparent assembly methods do not appear to match the timer lot supplied to Libya.
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Old 31st January 2015, 02:39 AM   #58
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Originally Posted by anglolawyer View Post
SOP for a political figure with reputations at stake. I cannot think myself into his shoes because I am only a lawyer. Law and politics are a difficult mix. Look at poor old Lord Goldsmith. He was asked to advise on the lawfulness of war in Iraq in light of the wording of a particular UN resolution. He gave equivocal, lengthy and considered advice that was not what the government wanted to hear. The government shrugged and went to work to get a second resolution that would remove any doubt. They encountered the French veto. Goldsmith was flown to Washington and spoken to, no doubt impressed with some red carpet treatment and the awesome enormity of the issue, and at the same time the government got an ultimatum from the army saying they needed legal cover before they would fight. So Goldsmith settled a second, much shorter opinion, which said the war would be fine (note: nothing material had changed since the earlier opinion) and this was shown to parliament (which did not know about the earlier advice).

60 barristers (not the most revolutionary body in the kingdom) complained to the Bar Council about Goldsmith's unprofessional conduct but the Bar Council (not the most courageous or principled body n the kingdom) decided that it was prohibited on constitutional grounds from looking into the matter.

Beat that!
Not only that, but the government claimed its actions were legal on the grounds that Goldsmith had "ruled" them to be legal, but continued to refuse to publish Goldsmith's reasoning on the grounds that legal advice between counsel (Goldsmith) and client (the UK government) should remain confidential.

Imagine a gangster up in court claiming that his actions were legal, and telling the judge, "but my lawyer told me it was OK."
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Old 31st January 2015, 04:06 AM   #59
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Originally Posted by Charlie Wilkes View Post
The problem with the timer fragment - an amalgam of production and custom work, with some characteristics that make no sense for either - is that it defies a coherent explanation, not just of who might have used or planted it, but what it even is. A truthful investigator must admit to being stumped. That, unfortunately, can be construed as a vague conspiracy theory in which "something else happened," but no one knows what.

I'm stumped and I admit it. You can speculate all day about the thing and still come to no rational conclusion. I've basically parked it pending more information showing up.

I get a bit impatient sometimes when people keep on and on about it, and in particular when people seem to imply that if it can be proved not to have been a plant, then Megrahi has been proved to be guilty. I don't know whether it fell out of the sky or not, either answer would be extraordinarily interesting, but I do know that entirety separate suitcase evidence proves Megrahi's innocence.

I've taken to treating this as a problem with sequential levels. Deal with level one first, before moving on. It turns out that the suitcase jigsaw is level one. The timer fragment is not.
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Old 31st January 2015, 05:05 AM   #60
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
I'm stumped and I admit it. You can speculate all day about the thing and still come to no rational conclusion. I've basically parked it pending more information showing up.

I get a bit impatient sometimes when people keep on and on about it, and in particular when people seem to imply that if it can be proved not to have been a plant, then Megrahi has been proved to be guilty. I don't know whether it fell out of the sky or not, either answer would be extraordinarily interesting, but I do know that entirety separate suitcase evidence proves Megrahi's innocence.

I've taken to treating this as a problem with sequential levels. Deal with level one first, before moving on. It turns out that the suitcase jigsaw is level one. The timer fragment is not.
It seems to suggest the possibility of a secondary timer, so the bomb could be flown without exploding. In other words, it could be set such that a barometric fuse could only charge the capacitor after the timer had run down. But even if the bomb was designed that way, it doesn't mean it was used that way. And I don't know enough about electronics to know if this is realistic or even possible. It is just a thought that occurred to me.

I fully accept the evidence as proving that the bomb was introduced at Heathrow, and further that Malta is the least likely airport for a terrorist to choose for introducing a bomb. It would be like a burglar coming down a chimney even though he knew the front door was unlocked.
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Old 31st January 2015, 05:30 AM   #61
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Originally Posted by pete2 View Post
John, I don't believe there's any reliable evidence for the meeting you mention.

Is there not some evidence that such a meeting took place in around March 1988 in a Maltese bakery that was owned by a PFLP-GC commander?



Quote:
Also, metallurgical analysis proves that the timer fragment, whether or not it was in any way part of the IED that brought down Pan Am 103, was not one of those sold to Libya. So there's no link there.

And Megrahi most certainly did not buy the clothes from Mary's House - the findings of the SCCRC underline that point. The evidence (some of it uncovered since the original trial, some of it known at the time by the Crown but withheld from the defence) shows clearly that the clothes were purchased on a day Megrahi was not on Malta.

Then I accept that (and it's why it was a parenthetical addition). But I still think it's at least possible that Megrahi (and possibly also Fhimah) might have been involved as a Libyan representative in a "coalition" of interests, and that he might have been involved in strategy and planning to some extent.

In other words, it may perhaps not be as black and white as either a) Megrahi is totally innocent of any involvement whatsoever or b) Megrahi masterminded the execution and planted the device.
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Old 31st January 2015, 05:31 AM   #62
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
Hi Pete, long time no see. Hope you stick around this time.

It would be nice if people presented evidence for wild assertions, or even tried to get up to speed on the case before pontificating, don't you think? As you say, anyone still trying to assert that Megrahi bought those clothes after all that's been written and uncovered, has a pretty uphill struggle on their hands.

Pontificating?? I wonder who that was aimed at

(PS speculating is not the same as pontificating......)
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Old 31st January 2015, 05:48 AM   #63
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If the appeal succeeds, I hope they have the decency to give Libya a refund.
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Old 31st January 2015, 09:05 AM   #64
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Originally Posted by marplots View Post
If the appeal succeeds, I hope they have the decency to give Libya a refund.

In this context, who's "they"?
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Old 31st January 2015, 12:37 PM   #65
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
In this context, who's "they"?
And what is 'Libya'?
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Old 31st January 2015, 12:50 PM   #66
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
In this context, who's "they"?
Whoever got the money.

Originally Posted by anglolawyer View Post
And what is 'Libya'?
It's where Gaddafi used to hang out.
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Old 31st January 2015, 01:19 PM   #67
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Originally Posted by marplots View Post
Whoever got the money.

So you don't know, then.
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Old 31st January 2015, 01:30 PM   #68
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
So you don't know, then.
Specifically, no. I wasn't involved in the deal.

It's from 2008:
"Libya has paid $1.5bn into a US compensation fund for relatives of victims of terror attacks blamed on Tripoli, the US state department says.

The fund was agreed in August to settle remaining lawsuits in the US."

That's from the BBC: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7703110.stm
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Old 31st January 2015, 01:54 PM   #69
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Originally Posted by Charlie Wilkes View Post
It seems to suggest the possibility of a secondary timer, so the bomb could be flown without exploding. In other words, it could be set such that a barometric fuse could only charge the capacitor after the timer had run down. But even if the bomb was designed that way, it doesn't mean it was used that way. And I don't know enough about electronics to know if this is realistic or even possible. It is just a thought that occurred to me.

Yes, that would be a logical deduction. There are quite a few problems with it though.

First is that while Khreesat was known to be playing around with the capacitors to lengthen the delay over and above that provided by the altimeter alone, and he had made several other devices like that, he's not known to have used countdown timers at all.

Second, the MST-13 timer as produced wouldn't fit inside the radio. The forensics guys postulated that its innards had been taken out of the box and squirrelled, still working, in between the components of the radio. This is a pretty odd thing to do though.

Third, the asymmetrical packing of the bomb suitcase really convinces me it was meant to be placed in the container by one of the terrorist gang. If you're going to wave goodbye to it at any other airport, maybe as interline luggage directly into Heathrow, and leave it to Bedford (or Kamboj) to place in the container, why put the radio in such an unintuitive position in the case?

All the evidence points to one of the terrorist gang putting the suitcase in the container right there in Heathrow. The bomb exploded 38 minutes after the wheels left the tarmac. That's absolutely consistent with a Khreesat device as they were known to exist and there's no role for a countdown timer.

Anyone using a countdown timer for a device to be placed on Pan Am 103, would use it to cause the plane to explode four or five hours later than it did. The plane would have vanished over the Atlantic, and we wouldn't be having this conversation.

There's also the paradox you referred to earlier. It seems to be, not a part of an MST-13 timer, but an almost perfect copy of one. Nine-ply fibreglass? Check. Pointless green solder resist coating brushed on the wrong side of the board? Check. Tracking pattern exact in comparison with the slightly irregular Letraset template? Check. 70/30 tin/lead tinning? Oh no, we just dunked it in liquid tin. What the hell is that all about?

Originally Posted by Charlie Wilkes View Post
I fully accept the evidence as proving that the bomb was introduced at Heathrow, and further that Malta is the least likely airport for a terrorist to choose for introducing a bomb. It would be like a burglar coming down a chimney even though he knew the front door was unlocked.

If you could actually get an unaccompanied suitcase on to KM180, and you could be sure it wouldn't be spotted by the x-ray screen at Frankfurt, it's not as daft an idea as all that. The twin problems are first that the Maltese security was tighter than a duck's arse and while it's always possible to imagine ways it could have been circumvented, nobody has been able to figure out a way it could have been circumvented without leaving any evidence to show it had been done, and second that Maier really should have seen that thing if it had passed in front of his x-ray monitor at Frankfurt.

There was an obvious way to get round the Maltese security. Make a booking for New York on KM180 changing to PA103 at Frankfurt. Check the bomb suitcase in at Malta as your own luggage, and hope the sniffer device used by the Maltese military to detect explosives in luggage was one of these dud scam devices (which it might have been for all I know). Get on the bloody plane and hold your nerve. You're an international terrorist dammit, you should be willing to take that risk even if you're not a suicide bomber. Then slope off at Frankfurt and don't board PA103. Pan Am relied on the x-ray screen for security and didn't reconcile cases with passengers actually on the flight. Hope Maier didn't think the radio was suspicious (maybe you don't know Maier has been alerted to the risk of bombs disguised as radios).

There's only one problem with that. It didn't happen. No such booking was made, no such passenger existed. We know exactly who flew on KM180 that morning and they were all genuine passengers who picked up their luggage at their destinations.

And there's another problem too. If you're using a countdown timer, you definitely set it for much later than 7.03, in case the plane is late. If the plane had missed its takeoff slot (which it didn't, it took off on time), it would still have been on the tarmac at 7.03.

I can't figure out a rational role for an MST-13 timer in the scenario as we know it happened. And that wasn't an MST-13 component anyway, it was actually a very good but not perfect copy of one. At this point I park the problem and wait for sunrise.
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Old 31st January 2015, 01:55 PM   #70
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Originally Posted by marplots View Post
Specifically, no. I wasn't involved in the deal.

It's from 2008:
"Libya has paid $1.5bn into a US compensation fund for relatives of victims of terror attacks blamed on Tripoli, the US state department says.

The fund was agreed in August to settle remaining lawsuits in the US."

That's from the BBC: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7703110.stm

That's right. Now who do you think should give how much money to whom?
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Old 31st January 2015, 02:19 PM   #71
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
That's right. Now who do you think should give how much money to whom?
They hire lawyers to answer those questions, not me.

IF al-Megrahi didn't do it, AND compensation was made based on the false premise that he did, THEN the payments were made in error, opening up the question of reimbursement.

One assumes we are interested in justice, right?
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Old 31st January 2015, 02:52 PM   #72
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
Yes, that would be a logical deduction. There are quite a few problems with it though.

First is that while Khreesat was known to be playing around with the capacitors to lengthen the delay over and above that provided by the altimeter alone, and he had made several other devices like that, he's not known to have used countdown timers at all.

Second, the MST-13 timer as produced wouldn't fit inside the radio. The forensics guys postulated that its innards had been taken out of the box and squirrelled, still working, in between the components of the radio. This is a pretty odd thing to do though.

Third, the asymmetrical packing of the bomb suitcase really convinces me it was meant to be placed in the container by one of the terrorist gang. If you're going to wave goodbye to it at any other airport, maybe as interline luggage directly into Heathrow, and leave it to Bedford (or Kamboj) to place in the container, why put the radio in such an unintuitive position in the case?

All the evidence points to one of the terrorist gang putting the suitcase in the container right there in Heathrow. The bomb exploded 38 minutes after the wheels left the tarmac. That's absolutely consistent with a Khreesat device as they were known to exist and there's no role for a countdown timer.

Anyone using a countdown timer for a device to be placed on Pan Am 103, would use it to cause the plane to explode four or five hours later than it did. The plane would have vanished over the Atlantic, and we wouldn't be having this conversation.

There's also the paradox you referred to earlier. It seems to be, not a part of an MST-13 timer, but an almost perfect copy of one. Nine-ply fibreglass? Check. Pointless green solder resist coating brushed on the wrong side of the board? Check. Tracking pattern exact in comparison with the slightly irregular Letraset template? Check. 70/30 tin/lead tinning? Oh no, we just dunked it in liquid tin. What the hell is that all about?




If you could actually get an unaccompanied suitcase on to KM180, and you could be sure it wouldn't be spotted by the x-ray screen at Frankfurt, it's not as daft an idea as all that. The twin problems are first that the Maltese security was tighter than a duck's arse and while it's always possible to imagine ways it could have been circumvented, nobody has been able to figure out a way it could have been circumvented without leaving any evidence to show it had been done, and second that Maier really should have seen that thing if it had passed in front of his x-ray monitor at Frankfurt.

There was an obvious way to get round the Maltese security. Make a booking for New York on KM180 changing to PA103 at Frankfurt. Check the bomb suitcase in at Malta as your own luggage, and hope the sniffer device used by the Maltese military to detect explosives in luggage was one of these dud scam devices (which it might have been for all I know). Get on the bloody plane and hold your nerve. You're an international terrorist dammit, you should be willing to take that risk even if you're not a suicide bomber. Then slope off at Frankfurt and don't board PA103. Pan Am relied on the x-ray screen for security and didn't reconcile cases with passengers actually on the flight. Hope Maier didn't think the radio was suspicious (maybe you don't know Maier has been alerted to the risk of bombs disguised as radios).

There's only one problem with that. It didn't happen. No such booking was made, no such passenger existed. We know exactly who flew on KM180 that morning and they were all genuine passengers who picked up their luggage at their destinations.

And there's another problem too. If you're using a countdown timer, you definitely set it for much later than 7.03, in case the plane is late. If the plane had missed its takeoff slot (which it didn't, it took off on time), it would still have been on the tarmac at 7.03.

I can't figure out a rational role for an MST-13 timer in the scenario as we know it happened. And that wasn't an MST-13 component anyway, it was actually a very good but not perfect copy of one. At this point I park the problem and wait for sunrise.
I understand. It is an insoluble loose end of the kind I see often. It does not alter an overall sound conclusion. It can be exploited to vex and harry in the ways we both understand too well, and that is certainly not my intent. I am speculating because it is an important loose end, and I am wondering what a possible (as opposed to definitive) answer could be.

My speculation is that you may have to look beyond Khreesat and the technologies he was known to use. If he and his group were involved, it may have been because they accepted an Iranian commission, in which case an Iranian agent may have also contributed technology that has no paradigm in any files consulted by investigators. You may be looking at a timer with a component based on the MST-13 template, supplied by a Khreesat collaborator who used eccentric materials and methods. It may be a timer with capabilities that were not fully utilized in this particular plot, perhaps because opportunities or problems arose that changed the plan.
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Old 31st January 2015, 03:02 PM   #73
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Originally Posted by marplots View Post
They hire lawyers to answer those questions, not me.

IF al-Megrahi didn't do it, AND compensation was made based on the false premise that he did, THEN the payments were made in error, opening up the question of reimbursement.

One assumes we are interested in justice, right?

I'm attempting to establish who it is you believe should pay how much money to whom.
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Old 31st January 2015, 03:09 PM   #74
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
I'm attempting to establish who it is you believe should pay how much money to whom.
I don't know. Libya paid. Here are some who got the payments (from the article I linked to):
"Libya has already paid the families of Lockerbie victims $8m (£4m) each, but it owes them $2m more."

Maybe they kept the check stubs?

Now, suppose it was funded by Iran instead of Libya? Gaddafi is dead, but one assumes his estate went somewhere. I'm just guessing the government of Libya as both the payor and the owed.
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Old 31st January 2015, 03:15 PM   #75
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Originally Posted by Charlie Wilkes View Post
I understand. It is an insoluble loose end of the kind I see often. It does not alter an overall sound conclusion. It can be exploited to vex and harry in the ways we both understand too well, and that is certainly not my intent. I am speculating because it is an important loose end, and I am wondering what a possible (as opposed to definitive) answer could be.

I take your point entirely. I've racked my brains over that annoying item of evidence until they're practically addled, and failed to come up with anything reasonably coherent. (That doesn't involve deliberate fabrication, that is.)

It's more than a loose end. It has been described as the most important item of evidence in the case. I don't agree with that assessment, I think Bogomira Erac's computer printout takes that honour. Either that or the checked trousers with the "Yorkie Clothing" label. But it's a major clue, and it's frustrating as all get out not to know where it fits.

It's not the only one, though. Bogomira Erac's computer printout is another.

Originally Posted by Charlie Wilkes View Post
My speculation is that you may have to look beyond Khreesat and the technologies he was known to use. If he and his group were involved, it may have been because they accepted an Iranian commission, in which case an Iranian agent may have also contributed technology that has no paradigm in any files consulted by investigators. You may be looking at a timer with a component based on the MST-13 template, supplied by a Khreesat collaborator who used eccentric materials and methods. It may be a timer with capabilities that were not fully utilized in this particular plot, perhaps because opportunities or problems arose that changed the plan.

If Khreesat was involved, then we know it was because his group accepted an Iranian commission. However, there's no evidence the Iranians had any interest in interfering with the minutiae of how the mission was accomplished. They hired a group with a track record in blowing up airliners in flight, precisely for that expertise.

But it's not a matter of who. We can postulate that anyone in the world might have got hold of a good-but-not-perfect MST-13 facsimile, but the problem remains of where such an item fits within the events we know occurred, that is the bomb being placed by the terrorist in the baggage container in London, and the plane blowing apart 38 minutes after takeoff.

But really, while it would be nice to know (and that's putting it mildly), I don't need to know at this stage. The bomb was in the container an hour before the feeder flight landed. That fact alone destroys the Crown case beyond all possible redemption. It didn't come from Malta. They were wrong. They convicted a guy who had been on Malta that day, when they should have been looking for someone who was in London.

It's a big enough job to try to get the authorities to recognise that, and act on it. Once they have recognised it, I kind of feel it's up to them to make restitution for their gross errors by initiating a new investigation into what happened. That's the "sunrise", when I hope for more information to allow a better hypothesis to be constructed.
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Old 31st January 2015, 03:16 PM   #76
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Originally Posted by marplots View Post
They hire lawyers to answer those questions, not me.

IF al-Megrahi didn't do it, AND compensation was made based on the false premise that he did, THEN the payments were made in error, opening up the question of reimbursement.

One assumes we are interested in justice, right?
At this point, given the enormity of this attack, the main public interest is to establish how the investigation veered so badly off track, so LEA can learn from the experience, and improve their capabilities to track down terrorists and keep us all safe.

If you as a diligent investigator have a service worker on the tarmac who says, "I loaded a mystery suitcase just like the one the bomb was in," you don't say, "ooh, but that doesn't fit our half-baked theory, so we'll just ignore that crucial piece of information."

That is exactly what happened here.

Investigators need to do far, far better. We the airplane-flying public should not coddle them and protect them, or allow them to protect themselves, when they **** up on that scale.
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Old 31st January 2015, 03:17 PM   #77
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Quote:
I don't know. Libya paid. Here are some who got the payments (from the article I linked to):
"Libya has already paid the families of Lockerbie victims $8m (£4m) each, but it owes them $2m more."

Maybe they kept the check stubs?

So, you think the families of the Lockerbie victims, who were paid a great deal of money many years ago, should personally return this money. I think you should take that up with them, in that case.
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Old 31st January 2015, 03:56 PM   #78
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Originally Posted by LondonJohn View Post
Is there not some evidence that such a meeting took place in around March 1988 in a Maltese bakery that was owned by a PFLP-GC commander?

I don't know. You tell me.

Originally Posted by LondonJohn View Post
But I still think it's at least possible that Megrahi (and possibly also Fhimah) might have been involved as a Libyan representative in a "coalition" of interests, and that he might have been involved in strategy and planning to some extent.

In other words, it may perhaps not be as black and white as either a) Megrahi is totally innocent of any involvement whatsoever or b) Megrahi masterminded the execution and planted the device.

It's possible just about anyone in the world might have been involved with this atrocity at some level, because we don't know exactly how it was accomplished. Normally, though, we require some actual evidence before speculating about the involvement of particular individuals.

This sort of nasty, pernicious innuendo has bedevilled the case for years. As doubts about the safety of the conviction grew stronger, a whispering campaign was instituted to the effect that Megrahi "was involved in some way" even if he wasn't the actual bomber. At one level, it was reduced to assertions that even if he had nothing to do with Lockerbie, he was a bad guy anyway who "had blood on his hands".

You know, it's a bit like the demonisation of a certain student who got into trouble in Italy. Except it's a lot easier to smear a middle-aged Libyan man who was probably a bit of a spiv and was cheating on his wife, than a pretty 20-year-old American girl. People just don't leap to his defence in the same way, for some reason.

One thing to bear in mind about the Lockerbie investigation is that although Megrahi and Fhimah were indicted in 1991, in about 1994 the US Department of Justice issued a reward notice, offering $4 million for evidence against them. This resulted in a bit of a rash of kite-flying. Shady characters made dodgy allegations based on what they thought they knew about the circumstances of the atrocity, and hoped to get lucky. Some of these allegations appear in CIA cables, but the ones I've seen are all patent fabrications.

The acid test is, did any of this evidence make it to court? The prosecution were desperate for more evidence against the accused men, because they knew their case was shaky. Giaka did make it to court, but was unmasked as a money-grabbing fantasist. None of the random informants who fancied their chances at a slice of the $4 million bucks produced anything that could be used in evidence.

In the end the money (or most of it) was given to the Gauci brothers.
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Old 31st January 2015, 04:46 PM   #79
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
I don't know. You tell me.

Well that's what the people who made the Al-Jazeera documentary (of which you're well aware) claimed:

The latest documentary sheds light on events in Malta months before the actual bombing. According to documentation gathered for the film, in March 1988, intelligence officers from Iran, Syria and Libya met at the Miska Bakery, in Qormi. The place was used by a cell of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) that operated in Malta.

Foreign intelligence agencies knew of the cell’s presence on the island and were monitoring the bakery.

However, the information was not accurate enough for action to be taken.

The Iranian, Syrian and Libyan intelligence officers had agreed to a general campaign “against Israeli and American targets” but Pan Am 103 was not yet in the picture. Things changed three months later when, on July 3, the USS Vincennes, a military ship patrolling the Persian Gulf, shot down an Iranian passenger plane killing all 290 people on board, including 66 children.


http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles...ie-plot.510266


So if the "documentation gathered for the (Al Jazeera documentary)" was reliable and accurate, there was a meeting in March 1988 of a coalition of interests, at which Libya had representation. Who would have been Libya's representative(s) in such a scenario?



Quote:
It's possible just about anyone in the world might have been involved with this atrocity at some level, because we don't know exactly how it was accomplished. Normally, though, we require some actual evidence before speculating about the involvement of particular individuals.

This sort of nasty, pernicious innuendo has bedevilled the case for years. As doubts about the safety of the conviction grew stronger, a whispering campaign was instituted to the effect that Megrahi "was involved in some way" even if he wasn't the actual bomber. At one level, it was reduced to assertions that even if he had nothing to do with Lockerbie, he was a bad guy anyway who "had blood on his hands".

You know, it's a bit like the demonisation of a certain student who got into trouble in Italy. Except it's a lot easier to smear a middle-aged Libyan man who was probably a bit of a spiv and was cheating on his wife, than a pretty 20-year-old American girl. People just don't leap to his defence in the same way, for some reason.

One thing to bear in mind about the Lockerbie investigation is that although Megrahi and Fhimah were indicted in 1991, in about 1994 the US Department of Justice issued a reward notice, offering $4 million for evidence against them. This resulted in a bit of a rash of kite-flying. Shady characters made dodgy allegations based on what they thought they knew about the circumstances of the atrocity, and hoped to get lucky. Some of these allegations appear in CIA cables, but the ones I've seen are all patent fabrications.

The acid test is, did any of this evidence make it to court? The prosecution were desperate for more evidence against the accused men, because they knew their case was shaky. Giaka did make it to court, but was unmasked as a money-grabbing fantasist. None of the random informants who fancied their chances at a slice of the $4 million bucks produced anything that could be used in evidence.

In the end the money (or most of it) was given to the Gauci brothers.

Look, I'm trying to ask honest questions. If you tell me that either the apparent evidence of Libya's involvement in that March 1988 meeting (or if that meeting ever even happened) is wrong, or that Libya did have representation but that Megrahi was not involved, then that will answer my question, will it not?

And don't get me wrong: I've long been convinced that the grounds upon which Megrahi were convicted were grossly improper and incorrect, and that an injustice was done. It's clear to me (as of course it is to you) that Megrahi had nothing to do with the execution of the atrocity - which was, after all, what he was essentially convicted of. But I am asking - speculating - in an honest fashion whether there's any possibility that Megrahi might have had some peripheral involvement in the strategy and/or planning? If you argue that there's no evidence of this either (and/or that the apparent evidence unearthed by Al Jazeera is wrong, or that I've misinterpreted it, etc), then I will be interested to hear it with a totally open mind. But I do think it's a tad unfair (and, dare I say, a little defensive) to react so *ahem* brusquely to this sort of speculation, and to dismiss it entirely out of hand........
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Old 31st January 2015, 05:16 PM   #80
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Originally Posted by LondonJohn View Post
Well that's what the people who made the Al-Jazeera documentary (of which you're well aware) claimed:

The latest documentary sheds light on events in Malta months before the actual bombing. According to documentation gathered for the film, in March 1988, intelligence officers from Iran, Syria and Libya met at the Miska Bakery, in Qormi. The place was used by a cell of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) that operated in Malta.

Foreign intelligence agencies knew of the cell’s presence on the island and were monitoring the bakery.

However, the information was not accurate enough for action to be taken.

The Iranian, Syrian and Libyan intelligence officers had agreed to a general campaign “against Israeli and American targets” but Pan Am 103 was not yet in the picture. Things changed three months later when, on July 3, the USS Vincennes, a military ship patrolling the Persian Gulf, shot down an Iranian passenger plane killing all 290 people on board, including 66 children.

http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles...ie-plot.510266

So if the "documentation gathered for the (Al Jazeera documentary)" was reliable and accurate, there was a meeting in March 1988 of a coalition of interests, at which Libya had representation.

That documentary was a tissue of reheated gossip and speculation. Tragic, really. I was persuaded to take part because I was told that the researchers had definitely traced one of the PFLP-GC gang (they hinted Abu Talb, although he wasn't actually PFLP-GC) to Heathrow airport on the afternoon of 21-12-88. (I protested that Abu Talb was a very unlikely candidate for the person who put the bomb on the plane, because he had a severe limp which would have made him a bit conspicuous if he was carrying suitcases around an airport pretending to be a baggage handler, and got the reply "But he was a warrior!", which I thought was a bit peculiar.)

Anyway, there was nothing like that in the finished documentary. It was nothing but cauld kale re-het. It was a bit of a waste of celluloid really (except they used memory cards). I don't know why I bothered.

Originally Posted by LondonJohn View Post
Who would have been Libya's representative(s) in such a scenario?

I have absolutely no idea, do you? Malta is only half an hour by air from Tripoli. It was open doors. Libyan officials flew in and out all the time. If the meeting happened at all, then I assume the people there would be intelligence officers.

Originally Posted by LondonJohn View Post
Look, I'm trying to ask honest questions. If you tell me that either the apparent evidence of Libya's involvement in that March 1988 meeting (or if that meeting ever even happened) is wrong, or that Libya did have representation but that Megrahi was not involved, then that will answer my question, will it not?

I have no idea if it happened or not. The people making these Aljazeera documentaries are not exactly known for their critical faculties when they see something that looks like a juicy tit-bit. John Ashton, who has researched this aspect a lot but who pulled out of involvement in that documentary because he thought they were up a gum tree, says most of it was a pack of nonsense.

And even if it did happen, nobody but you seems to be suggesting that Megrahi and Fhimah were there. You're making it up out of nothing.

Originally Posted by LondonJohn View Post
And don't get me wrong: I've long been convinced that the grounds upon which Megrahi were convicted were grossly improper and incorrect, and that an injustice was done. It's clear to me (as of course it is to you) that Megrahi had nothing to do with the execution of the atrocity - which was, after all, what he was essentially convicted of. But I am asking - speculating - in an honest fashion whether there's any possibility that Megrahi might have had some peripheral involvement in the strategy and/or planning? If you argue that there's no evidence of this either (and/or that the apparent evidence unearthed by Al Jazeera is wrong, or that I've misinterpreted it, etc), then I will be interested to hear it with a totally open mind. But I do think it's a tad unfair (and, dare I say, a little defensive) to react so *ahem* brusquely to this sort of speculation, and to dismiss it entirely out of hand........

You can think what you like. I get exasperated when people simply make things up, don't you?

You seem to be labouring under the impression that because I took part in the Aljazeera film, I endorsed all its material and can indeed vouch for its veracity. Nothing could be further from the truth. I took part because I was assured that they had traced a possible terrorist culprit to London that day, and this would tie in with what I had uncovered. They hadn't.

I spent about four hours filming, with the objective that the director would be able to cut a sequence of a few minutes which would visually demonstrate exactly how the forensic evidence shows the bomb went on at Heathrow. There was talk of an animation. In the finished film (which was finished after the producer I had dealt with died suddenly), no explanation was given - I was allowed only an assertion, and some handwaving (literally). And I got to play The Rowan Tree on a tenor recorder. That was nice. They said it was a Gaelic song, even though I told them it wasn't. That's about the standard of accuracy of the whole thing.

We're talking about terrorist states here. Murky goings-on happen. Spooks meet other spooks, spooks meet bad guys. Not my speciality. However, I know of no evidence linking Libya to Lockerbie other than what has been discredited.
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