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

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Old 23rd October 2015, 12:21 PM   #321
Captain_Swoop
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Plus as we have seen with other famous miscarriages of justice like the Birmingham Six or the Carl Bridgewater murder it's better to have someone behind bars even if it's the wrong person than no one.
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Old 23rd October 2015, 12:30 PM   #322
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Originally Posted by Captain_Swoop View Post
Plus as we have seen with other famous miscarriages of justice like the Birmingham Six or the Carl Bridgewater murder it's better to have someone behind bars even if it's the wrong person than no one.
It's a universal pattern everywhere. A huge number of supposedly difficult investigations get to that place. Many not even difficult, Knox, David Bain and so on when the killer is in plain sight.

Good to see Rolfe out of exile. I now see more clearly how this case belongs on a long list of cases where many esteemed public figures should be put in village stocks.
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Old 23rd October 2015, 12:34 PM   #323
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Originally Posted by Guybrush Threepwood View Post
Is not simple fear that if you take one of the foundation cards out of a house of cards it is almost inevitably going to collapse into nothing?
Yes. It reminds me a bit of the UK Establishment's attempt to create a narrative for the Rillington Place murders that included Tim Evans being guilty, to avoid admitting an innocent man had been hanged.
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Old 23rd October 2015, 12:35 PM   #324
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Originally Posted by Captain_Swoop View Post
Plus as we have seen with other famous miscarriages of justice like the Birmingham Six or the Carl Bridgewater murder it's better to have someone behind bars even if it's the wrong person than no one.
Also true.
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Old 23rd October 2015, 02:18 PM   #325
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Originally Posted by Guybrush Threepwood View Post
Is it not simple fear that if you take one of the foundation cards out of a house of cards it is almost inevitably going to collapse into nothing?

I suppose I was really addressing LondonJohn. He's been posting this for some time, and at one point I wondered if he was just trying to provoke me.

Imagine someone coming into the Amanda Knox thread that's been going for six years and announcing that he still believes Knox was involved in the murder somehow. She has guilty knowledge. She knows things she's not telling us. Cartwheels. Bleach receipt. Standing outside the cottage holding mops. Called the carabinieri after the postal police arrived. Look at all the lies she told!

The regulars would lose the will to live. All these things have been debunked to hell and back, several times. But still it happens - someone joins the thread and is so wedded to the idea of Knox as the she-devil that he trots it all out again.

It's one thing coming in late to the party and asking questions. But coming in very late to the party with categorical assertions that "I think" this or that, all based on long-debunked factoids like "the plane was late", is just annoying.

So come on, LondonJohn, why are you so keen to cling to Megrahi as somehow involved in some back-room role, when there's bugger-all evidence to implicate him? Do you know of any actual evidence? You'd get pretty testy if someone did the same thing in relation to the case you know all about.
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Old 23rd October 2015, 02:56 PM   #326
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Originally Posted by pete2 View Post
There's a lot more to it than this, of course - read the book!

It's less than a fiver for the eBook.... Seriously, some of this is difficult to explain clearly and in sufficient detail in a forum post. I wrote the book for a reason, so that it was all in one place and didn't have to be constantly, repeatedly explained. It's not particularly long and the actual denouement (the Bedford case being conclusively identified as the bomb) comes in about the middle.

Originally Posted by pete2 View Post
Two obvious questions arise:

(1) Why didn't the RARDE people do all this in 1989? The answer seems to be, at least in part, that they were only given item (a), the physical evidence. Items (b) and (c), the documentary evidence, were kept by the police. Nobody thought they might be helpful to the forensic scientists.

(2) The Bedford bag is obviously a huge lead. Why wasn't it followed up vigorously? The answer to this is unclear. It seems everybody had made their mind up that the bomb had arrived from Frankfurt, and nothing could persuade them otherwise.

It's not quite that simple though. In 1989 the RARDE people were lining up to declare their utter certainty that the bomb wasn't in the case on the bottom of the stack. Why were they doing this? Their very enthusiasm for the conclusion suggests they knew that the bottom case had a different provenance from the others in the frame. And why were so many people so very certain (each for his own particular reasons) when it only takes a moderately careful look at the physical evidence they had right in front of them to see that the bomb was indeed the one on the bottom of the stack?

A second, related point is important. The amount of effort expended to eliminate the bottom case also demonstrates that the investigators knew, in 1989, that the Heathrow interline cases weren't moved when the Frankfurt luggage was added on top. If the luggage had been rearranged, the exercise would have been pointless, as the cases would no longer be defined by their position. But then, in 2000, the court decided that they had been moved. "Any case could find itself in any position." So how, now, do you eliminate the Heathrow-origin suitcase, since logically it could have been moved to the position advocated for the bomb suitcase?

As regards the non-follow-up of Bedford's (and Manly's) evidence. What Pete says is true, but it's still virtually impossible to explain. Looking at the statements and the internal police memos and so on, that case is an entire herd of African elephants thundering through the room. These were trained and experienced investigators. It beggars belief that they simply walked past it as if it had an SEP field round it.

Putting the two aspects together, it almost makes you wonder if the police indicated to the RARDE people that when analysing the debris it would be really constructive if they could rule out the case on the bottom of the stack. But surely nobody would do such a thing? Not just to save an airport from embarrassment and possible loss of revenue? Would they?
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Old 23rd October 2015, 03:14 PM   #327
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Well, why not?

Hi Rolfe. Nice to see you again.
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Old 23rd October 2015, 03:30 PM   #328
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
I suppose I was really addressing LondonJohn. He's been posting this for some time, and at one point I wondered if he was just trying to provoke me.

Imagine someone coming into the Amanda Knox thread that's been going for six years and announcing that he still believes Knox was involved in the murder somehow. She has guilty knowledge. She knows things she's not telling us. Cartwheels. Bleach receipt. Standing outside the cottage holding mops. Called the carabinieri after the postal police arrived. Look at all the lies she told!

The regulars would lose the will to live. All these things have been debunked to hell and back, several times. But still it happens - someone joins the thread and is so wedded to the idea of Knox as the she-devil that he trots it all out again.

It's one thing coming in late to the party and asking questions. But coming in very late to the party with categorical assertions that "I think" this or that, all based on long-debunked factoids like "the plane was late", is just annoying.

So come on, LondonJohn, why are you so keen to cling to Megrahi as somehow involved in some back-room role, when there's bugger-all evidence to implicate him? Do you know of any actual evidence? You'd get pretty testy if someone did the same thing in relation to the case you know all about.

Ah, ye olde straw man raises its ugly head once more......

If you believe that I wrote words to the effect that "I still believe Megrahi was involved somehow" (to reverse your Knox analogy), then I suggest you re-read my post from the previous page, taking care first to remove your jaded spectacles.

In fact, I wrote that I believed it was possible that Megrahi MAY have been involved somehow in some element of the planning and/or financing. I also write that I categorically (and explicitly) believed that Megrahi had nothing whatsoever to do with the execution of the plot.

What's more, my aim was to make two points: 1) that this doesn't NECESSARILY have to be a binary choice of either a) Megrahi was a murdering bomb-planter or b) Megrahi had zero culpability in the whole affair; and 2) either way, while there was clearly no credible, reliable evidence upon which to convict Megrahi of anything related to the bombing (plot or execution), that's not to say that factually he might not have had some (smaller) level of involvement.

If you want to go back to the Knox/Sollecito comparator, I've long held the view (which I have repeatedly expressed in writing) that 1) there is zero credible, reliable evidence of Knox's/Sollecito's guilt, and that 2) I am very confident that Knox and Sollecito are actually factually innocent. I have NEVER expressed an unequivocal certain belief in Knox's/Sollecito's factual innocence - however, I strongly believe that the available, reliable evidence strongly supports a thesis in which neither Knox nor Sollecito could have played a part.

In the Lockerbie matter, however, I find there to be more nuance. As I've already stated, I believe Megrahi played zero role in the execution of the plot, and I also of course believe therefore that there's zero credible, reliable evidence of his involvement in the execution of the plot. However, it's on the planning/funding/supporting side that my view becomes more nuanced. I believe there's no credible, reliable evidence (to a court's satisfaction) that Megrahi was involved in the planning/funding/support of the Lockerbie bombing. But I think it's difficult to say that Megrahi was certainly NOT factually involved in any of this side of things (regardless of the lack of available evidence), since he was in Malta at lots of key times (including the alleged "grand council" meetings of Iranians, Syrians, Libyans and PFLP-GC), and because he held a position which might reasonably have some links to these sorts of activities.

So I'm saying that I believe it's POSSIBLE that Megrahi might have factually played some form of wider role in the plot. Note carefully, however, what I am NOT saying: I'm not saying that there's any actual evidence of Megrahi's involvement in such a wider context; I'm not saying that I believe Megrahi should ever have been charged (far less convicted) with any offence related in any way to the Lockerbie bombing; I'm not saying that Megrahi didn't deserve to be fully legally exonerated.

And Rolfe, if you could care to leave out the stuff like "why are you so keen to cling to Megrahi as somehow involved in some back-room role...?", it might make the dialogue a little more personable. I am not "keen to cling to" an idea of Megrahi's involvement in any way. Instead, I'm saying that my believe is that it's difficult to categorically factually (as opposed to legally/judicially) conclude that Megrahi had zero involvement in anything at the planning/strategy/financing stage of the operation. Once again (obviously I've either not made myself clear, or there's some form of will to misinterpret and misrepresent my position......), I am not saying Megrahi DID have some involvement. I'm saying nothing more than that it's difficult to conclude with certainty that he did NOT.
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Old 23rd October 2015, 04:12 PM   #329
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There's as much evidence that I was involved in the planning/funding/supporting side of the Lockerbie bombing as there is that Megrahi was so involved. And I don't even have an alibi for 4.30 pm on 21st December 1988 for Heathrow airport.

What has Malta got to do with the price of fish, anyway? The clothes were sourced from there, certainly, but we know they weren't bought on the only day Megrahi could have visited the shop, and the purchaser didn't look anything like him. Malta is only a half-hour hop from Tripoli. It was at that time the most common and natural route into Europe for anyone from Libya who was travelling there. Megrahi's occupation was such that he was in and out a lot, and there were probably plenty other people in the same category. Of course, the fact that he was cheating on his wife with a Maltese woman might have had something to do with that as well.

So really, I fail to see what Megrahi's fairly frequent trips in and out of Malta contribute to the story. The clothes are the only Malta connection, and he didn't buy them. He wasn't anywhere near the actual introduction of the bomb. It's POSSIBLE that Megrahi might have been involved in some back-room role in the plot? You could say that about almost anyone. Why pick on Megrahi in particular?

Sorry, this is doing my head in.

There's no evidence Libya had anything to do with the bombing. There's no evidence Malta had anything to do with the bombing beyond the fact that the bombers seem to have picked up some clothes there which were subsequently put in the case with the bomb. There's no evidence to connect Megrahi with any terrorist activity of any kind, Lockerbie or anywhere else, hands-on or in the planning/funding/supporting side.

Megrahi was dragged into this on a series of entirely false pretences. His only "crime" appears to be that he flew to Malta quite often, for rather understandable reasons. And yet you still want to keep on insisting that we can't PROVE he wasn't somehow involved in the planning/funding/supporting side.

There must be several billion people in that category. Why pick on Megrahi?
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Old 23rd October 2015, 04:18 PM   #330
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Oh, and while youre there, I noticed you didn't mention the timing of the explosion in relation to the plane not being late. Could you clarify why you think a countdown timer was used and set for only 45 minutes after the plane's earliest-possible take-off time?
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Old 23rd October 2015, 04:25 PM   #331
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Originally Posted by anglolawyer View Post
Well, why not?

Hi Rolfe. Nice to see you again.

Hi to you too. I probably won't stay for long, but never say never again.
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Old 23rd October 2015, 06:49 PM   #332
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"PM" for Rolfe (because her PM inbox is full):
Can you make some space in your PM inbox, please?
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Old 24th October 2015, 01:10 AM   #333
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
Oh, and while youre there, I noticed you didn't mention the timing of the explosion in relation to the plane not being late. Could you clarify why you think a countdown timer was used and set for only 45 minutes after the plane's earliest-possible take-off time?

I overlooked it - it was not deliberate.

And on the switch issue, then your view has merit. Firstly, note once again that I originally said that I believed a timer MAY have been used - not that I thought a timer HAD been used. Secondly, I think it's entirely possible that a member of the German cell (or an associate) might have flown that route as a practice run some weeks or months earlier, and might have noted the time at which the aircraft passed over the west coast of Ireland, and used that as a basis for timings.

And as an overarching point, again I was intending to suggest that once might not be able to conclusively rule out the use of a timer as opposed to a barometric switch. I agree that certain evidence tends to support the use of a barometric switch, but I would still contend that it is unreasonable to make a sweeping dismissal of the use of a timer. That's my point.


By the way, on the Malta angle that you addressed in a different reply to my post, you didn't mention the evidence of the "grand coalition" meeting(s) in Malta - as claimed in the very Al Jazeera documentary in which you appeared. That documentary claimed - with reasonable sources - that representatives of Iran, Syria, PFLP-GC and Libya met at least once in Malta to strategise, discuss and plan the bombing. That's why I think that Malta may play a significant role in all this. Again, to clarify, I don't think the bomb itself originated in Malta. However, the clothes around the bomb most certainly did - although I think it's clear that Megrahi was not the purchaser. So Malta IMO has clear links to the bombing.

And when you put together 1) the Malta connection and the allegations that Libyan representatives contributed to planning/strategy meetings for the bombing plot; 2) Megrahi's presence in Malta (including, IIRC, at the time of at least one alleged "grand coalition" meeting); and 3) Megrahi's job title and possible links to the Libya state apparatus; then I think it's entirely reasonable to wonder whether Megrahi did indeed personally play some role in the planning.
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Old 24th October 2015, 05:43 AM   #334
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Do you also recognise that the flight wasn't delayed as you asserted?
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Old 24th October 2015, 10:57 AM   #335
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1. I'm hoping you'll tell us all about this "evidence of the "grand coalition" meeting(s) in Malta" you've referred to. Maybe you have something to contribute. Educate us. (I only saw the AlJazeera documentary once, under very adverse conditions. I was very disappointed in the rest of the content because it was nothing like what the producer had represented to me when he asked me to take part. Basically a reheat of stuff even the defence gave up on in 1999. The experts in the middle-east shenanigans aspect of Lockerbie basically shook their heads over it.)

2. This is all pure speculation. Every single piece of evidence produced in court to link Megrahi to the Lockerbie bombing has since been discredited. Dredging around for a completely different case against the guy, based on "well it might have happened", seems singularly pointless.

3. My interest is in the modus operandi and the failings of the forensic and police investigations, in particular the baggage transfer records. It has now been proved that the original investigation was up the proverbial gum tree from about day 10. They got the wrong modus operandi. My interest now moves on in two directions. First, explaining some of the other evidence, as in how much really ties in to the actual plot and how much was simply misleading coincidence. Second, does any of that illuminate the question of who actually carried out the bombing. First anf foremost, I'm concerned by the failings of the Scottish criminal justice system.

I'm interested in evidence. Not speculation based on nothing very much.
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Old 24th October 2015, 02:36 PM   #336
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Originally Posted by LondonJohn View Post
Secondly, I think it's entirely possible that a member of the German cell (or an associate) might have flown that route as a practice run some weeks or months earlier, and might have noted the time at which the aircraft passed over the west coast of Ireland, and used that as a basis for timings.

I just noticed this.

It's a version of what Caustic Logic described some time ago as "there's this huge picture window there, so they aim at the window frame and miss."

First, why on earth would anyone choose the time at which an on-time flight passed the west coast of Ireland as the detonation time? Several hours of Atlantic lie ahead of that, surely even with an on-time flight one would be wanting to get a bit further out over the ocean? And doing that would in any case leave no leeway for a delayed flight, when flight delays are a common hazard. The place to aim for is shortly before North American landfall in an on-time flight.

Secondly though, if they did that, they got it wrong. At 38 minutes out of Heathrow on the flight path indicated, the plane probably wouldn't have got as far as the east coast of Ireland. The best you can manage in that department is suggest that the flight was intended to go down in the Irish Sea. Which it might have done, on the great circle route, but why shoot for the small and tricky target of the Irish Sea when you have the whole Atlantic ocean to aim for? It's like trying to hit a bullseye on the side of the hen-house when the barn door is right there and will do just as well (if not better).

Just as an aside, it's possible on the great circle route that the plane might have come down on Dublin, at a stretch. That's about as far west as it could possibly have gone. Gaddafi was a supporter of a united Ireland and was arming the IRA at the time. Maybe he was fine about crashing a plane on the capital city of Ireland, I don't know.

Having said that, I can't find any primary-source confirmation that 103 normally flew the great circle route and was only diverted to the Daventry departure that night because of the weather. I can't exclude the possibility that the Daventry departure was standard, in which case somewhere near Lockerbie would have been predictable from the start. If anyone cared. Of course, actually hitting a very small town surrounded by so much countryside was pure rotten luck.

I won't repeat what I heard an American lady who lost her son say about this at Lockerbie while waiting for the courtesy bus to the 25th anniversary service. I was that close to flying into a rage with her.
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Old 24th October 2015, 03:11 PM   #337
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This is of course the paradox of PT/35b. It appears to be a piece of a countdown timer. However, a countdown timer simply has no place in a narrative where an on-time transatlantic flight blows apart only 38 minutes after its wheels have left the runway. As soon as you postulate a device with the capability of running for hours, you inevitably introduce the possibility of timing the crash to give virtual certainty of disappearing the plane over the western Atlantic. Why would any terrorist not go for that?

Khreesat's original devices from the 1960s detonated as soon as the internal pressure had fallen to the barometer setting, which was usually within the first 10 minutes of flight. Success was variable, with nothing suffering explosive decompression (the planes simply weren't high enough) and at least one flight making it back to the airport with a hole in the side of its cargo hold. In 1988 he was discovered to have modified the construction by adding a capacitor so that the detonation would be delayed until the capacitor had discharged.

This had two advantages. First, it would probably have fooled the pressure chambers some airports (including Heathrow) had installed to screen suspect luggage - luggage wasn't held in these chambers for any length of time once the low pressure had been achieved. Second, it allowed the aircraft to climb to cruising altitude before the bomb went off, so increasing the chance of explosive decompression and decreasing the chance of the plane making an emergency landing. We know all this because four such devices were seized in Germany and examined - one in October 1988 before Lockerbie and three in April 1989 after Lockerbie.

If Lockerbie (December 1988) was actually a completely different sort of device, then the modified Khreesat mechanism (with added capacitor) was never used against an aircraft. All that effort, right at that time, but it was never put into practice.

In using the capacitors, Khreesat still didn't seem to care whether the planes came down over land or sea. They would be in the air, at cruising height, and that seemed to be his objective. Why didn't he use an electronic timer instead? Nobody appears to have asked him when he was interviewed. I suspect the answer might have been that these were too bulky to get inside the consumer electronics he was using to conceal the booby-traps. If he had used an electronic timer (such as an MST-13), again the purpose would have been to allow a longer delay before detonation - he wouldn't have set it for the same time delay as the simple capacitor provided.

Bear in mind there was no way an MST-13 could possibly have fitted inside a Toshiba RT-SF16 radio, and yet the forensics guys believed that was exactly what had been done. They solved this by taking the guts of the timer out of its case and squirrelling the circuit boards themselves in between the radio components. This is a bloody odd thing to do, and I still don't understand quite how the thing was set in that condition. In contrast the simple capacitor mechanism takes up very little space and would have fitted in quite easily.

Logically, a piece of an MST-13 timer has no business in the Lockerbie wreckage, irrespective of who set the bomb. But there it is. And while it looks like a plant and walks like a plant and smells like a plant, I can't prove it's a plant. But it is a fake. PT/35b wasn't part of one of the production run of MST-13 timers made in 1985. It appears to have been deliberately made to look like one of these, but the maker made a crucial error with the tinning layer. (In fact Ludwig de Braeckeleer now maintains he has found two more discrepancies, somewhat more subtle than the tinning layer.)

So even if it did fall out of the sky on 21st December 1988, it was a fake. And it doesn't make any sense in the context of the 38-minute explosion, or indeed of the known activities of Marwan Khreesat and his associates at that time.

I wish I knew the answer to all this.
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Old 24th October 2015, 03:17 PM   #338
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Good to see you back Rolfe.
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Old 24th October 2015, 03:41 PM   #339
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Thanks. Probably not for long. But here I am for now.
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Old 24th October 2015, 05:24 PM   #340
LondonJohn
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Originally Posted by Captain_Swoop View Post
Do you also recognise that the flight wasn't delayed as you asserted?

Nope.

It pushed back from the gate at 18.04. This had led some (*cough* mentioning no names *cough*) to rather aggressively assert that the flight wasn't delayed, since the scheduled departure was 18.00 (a variant put-down on this issue is the sarcastic remark along the lines of "...unless you think a 4 minute delay is a delay....").

But....

The flight's take-off WAS delayed. It left the ground at 18.25 - some 21 minutes after it pushed back from the gate. This is a considerably longer time from push-back to take-off than would be considered normal: something between 5 and 10 minutes is standard.

So....

If one puts together the small delay to push-back from the gate and the longer delay between push-back and take-off, one arrives at a total delay in the wheels leaving the ground of something between 15 and 20 minutes. Not a massive delay, but a delay nonetheless. Had the aircraft pushed back at 18.00 and had taken off something between 5 and 10 minutes later, it would have taken off somewhere between 18.05 and 18.10.
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Old 24th October 2015, 05:44 PM   #341
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And to correlate the delay issue with the potential flight path over the middle of Ireland:

Distance from LHR to Lockerbie = 450km (approx)

Distance from LHR to point on West coast of Ireland that the aircraft would have crossed had it been on that flight path = 625km (approx)

Differential in distance = 175km (approx)

Economical cruising speed of 747-100 = 907km/h*

Time taken to cover 175km at economic cruising speed = 19 mins (approx)


Therefore, if the flight had taken off at 18.05, and if it had flown on the flight path taking it across Ireland (i.e. not the "Daventry Departure"), it would have passed over the West coast of Ireland just before 19.03.

All that being said, I do agree that the smarter money is on a switch with at least some barometric element. However, I don't think it's possible to entirely rule out a simple timer device.


* http://www.airliners.net/aircraft-data/stats.main?id=97
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Old 24th October 2015, 05:46 PM   #342
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
I won't repeat what I heard an American lady who lost her son say about this at Lockerbie while waiting for the courtesy bus to the 25th anniversary service. I was that close to flying into a rage with her.

Erm......wow.

(my highlighting for emphasis)
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Old 24th October 2015, 06:00 PM   #343
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Originally Posted by LondonJohn View Post
Erm......wow.

(my highlighting for emphasis)
Emphasis of what? You've no idea what the woman said, for all you know it might be something that would push you close to anger too.
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Old 24th October 2015, 06:21 PM   #344
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Originally Posted by Strawberry View Post
Emphasis of what? You've no idea what the woman said, for all you know it might be something that would push you close to anger too.
Presumably anger at Megrahi deliberately dropping the plane on Lockerbie??
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Old 24th October 2015, 06:28 PM   #345
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Originally Posted by Samson View Post
Presumably anger at Megrahi deliberately dropping the plane on Lockerbie??
Why would you presume that? I'm sure Rolfe is well used to hearing sentiments like that about the Lockerbie case, would that really push her close to anger?
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Old 24th October 2015, 06:42 PM   #346
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Originally Posted by LondonJohn View Post
And to correlate the delay issue with the potential flight path over the middle of Ireland:

Distance from LHR to Lockerbie = 450km (approx)

Distance from LHR to point on West coast of Ireland that the aircraft would have crossed had it been on that flight path = 625km (approx)

Differential in distance = 175km (approx)

Economical cruising speed of 747-100 = 907km/h*

Time taken to cover 175km at economic cruising speed = 19 mins (approx)


Therefore, if the flight had taken off at 18.05, and if it had flown on the flight path taking it across Ireland (i.e. not the "Daventry Departure"), it would have passed over the West coast of Ireland just before 19.03.

All that being said, I do agree that the smarter money is on a switch with at least some barometric element. However, I don't think it's possible to entirely rule out a simple timer device.


* http://www.airliners.net/aircraft-data/stats.main?id=97
I think the only reason to speculate on why the timer went off when it did is to try and introduce the barometric timer idea instead. Why not just stick to the facts? The plane blew up because of an IED. Any evidence of Barometric timer? No. Any evidence of timer timer? Yes. Oh, wait, that evidence was just planted by some mysterious dark force ...
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Old 24th October 2015, 07:14 PM   #347
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Originally Posted by Elagabalus View Post
I think the only reason to speculate on why the timer went off when it did is to try and introduce the barometric timer idea instead. Why not just stick to the facts? The plane blew up because of an IED. Any evidence of Barometric timer? No. Any evidence of timer timer? Yes. Oh, wait, that evidence was just planted by some mysterious dark force ...

^This.

A discussion about "what the heck was this terrorist thinking?" is so pointless.
It'll be Barnacles again soon.
Maybe he'd had a bad day and set the timer wrong?
Maybe he was right handed but had hurt his thumb in a farming accident so had to use his left hand when setting the timer?
You can't guess these things!

When I drive past Lockerbie my brain doesn't think about arguing with a victims relative. Call me old fashioned but that is odd behaviour.

Nice to see you back Rolfe.
Take care.
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Old 24th October 2015, 09:23 PM   #348
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I am really quite astonished at the level of detail Rolfe goes into pertaining to the Pan Am 103 case.

She's the one who convinced me of al-Megrahi's innocence. I thought reading the NIST reports was overwhelming.
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Old 25th October 2015, 02:52 AM   #349
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Originally Posted by LondonJohn View Post
And on the switch issue, then your view has merit. Firstly, note once again that I originally said that I believed a timer MAY have been used - not that I thought a timer HAD been used. Secondly, I think it's entirely possible that a member of the German cell (or an associate) might have flown that route as a practice run some weeks or months earlier, and might have noted the time at which the aircraft passed over the west coast of Ireland, and used that as a basis for timings.
There were several tracks that aircraft going from LHR to JFK took in 1988. ATC routed planes depending on other traffic, and weather, so if a cell had flown a number of practise routes they likely would have taken different routes on some of those flights. Different weather conditions like the prevailing direction and strengths of winds will change the timings as the aircraft passes set points on the ground.

It's still a simple fact that if you want the plane to go down over the sea then you wait till midway into the flight, where delays to take off, adverse weather and such aren't going to stop that from happening.

If you want the plane to crash over land then it's a lottery whether or not you can make this happen *unless* you use a altitude based timer. (Don't forget, this is the middle of winter at LHR so weather delays are very possible)
Using a normal timer leaves you with a large risk of the bomb going off on the ground before the plane takes off. To hit the ground you need the aircraft to be airbourne above the ground, for a LHR to JFK flight that's a very small % of the actual flight time.

While you can't completely rule out a normal timer set to ~60 mins after scheduled take off, it makes little sense to use one in that way, so it remains much more likely that an altitude timer was used, given the evidence we see. Occam gets us to that pretty reliably.


Quote:
So Malta IMO has clear links to the bombing.
The PFLP-GC was based in Libya at the time of the attack. Malta was a gateway from Libya to the west, this would be entirely unsurprising.

To link Megrahi to the plotting means there needs to be evidence he was involved. The fact that his job title sounds shady isn't that evidence.

How many people in the US or the UK or <insert any country> work for the 'government security services', while having a really boring normal job.

I agree that it's plausible that Megrahi might have been involved. That's as far as it goes though. There's no evidence that he was. He died as a convicted terrorist, and the whole argument of 'hey he was probably guilty anyway' means that re-opening the case to perhaps, actually discover who was in fact responsible, gets less and less likely.
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Old 25th October 2015, 03:14 AM   #350
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Originally Posted by IIIClovisIII View Post
I am really quite astonished at the level of detail Rolfe goes into pertaining to the Pan Am 103 case.

She's the one who convinced me of al-Megrahi's innocence. I thought reading the NIST reports was overwhelming.
Me too. I was openly sceptical of her position until I purchased and read her book. Anyone who thinks al-Megrahi is guilty is an idiot.

Welcome back, even if for a short time Rolfe.
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Old 25th October 2015, 03:15 AM   #351
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Originally Posted by Elagabalus View Post
I think the only reason to speculate on why the timer went off when it did is to try and introduce the barometric timer idea instead. Why not just stick to the facts? The plane blew up because of an IED. Any evidence of Barometric timer? No. Any evidence of timer timer? Yes. Oh, wait, that evidence was just planted by some mysterious dark force ...
There's no evidence of any timer.

The fragment of circuit board known as PT/35b was not proved to be part of the IED that brought down the plane. It was never even tested for explosives residue for example.

In more recent times it's been proved using chemical analysis that the fragment did not come from a batch of timers with a similar board that were supplied to Libya.

Where did that fragment come from? - Noone knows. What was it part of? - the closest match to the board is an MST-13 timer, but it's by no means a conclusive match. The fragment itself bears hallmarks of both professional level (for 1988) manufacturing processes, *and* amateur level processes.



The chain of evidence for it is questionable, the prosecution claims it was found embedded in a shirt collar shown to have been in the primary case, but it still remains possible that it was placed into the evidence chain at some other time as the cataloguing procedures for evidence were generally poor, and in this specific pieces case, terrible.

[it was described in detail on an examiners notes, which were loose leaf, and which had page numbers altered. There seems to be no primary evidence photo taken contemporaneously on 35mm film. If there had been a roll of film with this fragment pictured on it, in sequence with other pictures, then all of the doubt about it's provenance goes away, if the forensic examiners notes didn't have the page numbers altered, or were in a bound notebook, likewise.]

We can't say for sure what this fragment is. It's probably not part of the IED but it can't be proved one way or the other, I wish it could.
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Old 25th October 2015, 03:18 AM   #352
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Originally Posted by LondonJohn View Post
The flight's take-off WAS delayed. It left the ground at 18.25 - some 21 minutes after it pushed back from the gate. This is a considerably longer time from push-back to take-off than would be considered normal: something between 5 and 10 minutes is standard.
Anyone who's ever flown more than a couple of times would know that wheels-up 20 minutes after the published take-off time is not at all unusual.
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Old 25th October 2015, 03:25 AM   #353
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Originally Posted by LondonJohn View Post

If one puts together the small delay to push-back from the gate and the longer delay between push-back and take-off, one arrives at a total delay in the wheels leaving the ground of something between 15 and 20 minutes. Not a massive delay, but a delay nonetheless. Had the aircraft pushed back at 18.00 and had taken off something between 5 and 10 minutes later, it would have taken off somewhere between 18.05 and 18.10.
Where can I read about this?

AIUI the planes published Departure time, the one that's posted on airport screens for passengers to get to the boarding gate, is the Push Back time, the time the aircraft is supposed to leave the gate.

Then the plane has to taxi to the allocated runway, wait it's turn in the queue and then it takes off.

How long the difference is between push back time varies lots depending on the airport. I'm pretty sure all the long haul flights I've taken from LHR have been longer than 15 mins to get from pushback to take off.

Is there a source I can read that shows the average times for this? For 1988?

PA103 was a flight on December 21st, 1988. It was the middle of winter, so would be very possibly subject to weather delays, or delays from late passengers as it's close to Christmas as well.

I think the earliest you could reasonably expect the plane to be airbourne was 18:15.
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Old 25th October 2015, 08:32 AM   #354
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Originally Posted by zooterkin View Post
Anyone who's ever flown more than a couple of times would know that wheels-up 20 minutes after the published take-off time is not at all unusual.
Indeed. The FAA threshold for listing a flight as delayed starts at 15 minutes but the penalties only start after 3 or 4 hours. Likewise in the EU the threshold for compensation is 3 hours.
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Old 25th October 2015, 02:50 PM   #355
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Originally Posted by zooterkin View Post
Anyone who's ever flown more than a couple of times would know that wheels-up 20 minutes after the published take-off time is not at all unusual.

I've flown more than a couple of times.

(Not appreciating the unilateral condescension though )

Last edited by LondonJohn; 25th October 2015 at 03:05 PM.
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Old 25th October 2015, 02:51 PM   #356
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Originally Posted by Ambrosia View Post
There were several tracks that aircraft going from LHR to JFK took in 1988. ATC routed planes depending on other traffic, and weather, so if a cell had flown a number of practise routes they likely would have taken different routes on some of those flights. Different weather conditions like the prevailing direction and strengths of winds will change the timings as the aircraft passes set points on the ground.

It's still a simple fact that if you want the plane to go down over the sea then you wait till midway into the flight, where delays to take off, adverse weather and such aren't going to stop that from happening.

If you want the plane to crash over land then it's a lottery whether or not you can make this happen *unless* you use a altitude based timer. (Don't forget, this is the middle of winter at LHR so weather delays are very possible)
Using a normal timer leaves you with a large risk of the bomb going off on the ground before the plane takes off. To hit the ground you need the aircraft to be airbourne above the ground, for a LHR to JFK flight that's a very small % of the actual flight time.

While you can't completely rule out a normal timer set to ~60 mins after scheduled take off, it makes little sense to use one in that way, so it remains much more likely that an altitude timer was used, given the evidence we see. Occam gets us to that pretty reliably.




The PFLP-GC was based in Libya at the time of the attack. Malta was a gateway from Libya to the west, this would be entirely unsurprising.

To link Megrahi to the plotting means there needs to be evidence he was involved. The fact that his job title sounds shady isn't that evidence.

How many people in the US or the UK or <insert any country> work for the 'government security services', while having a really boring normal job.

I agree that it's plausible that Megrahi might have been involved. That's as far as it goes though. There's no evidence that he was. He died as a convicted terrorist, and the whole argument of 'hey he was probably guilty anyway' means that re-opening the case to perhaps, actually discover who was in fact responsible, gets less and less likely.

I hope you're not representing my position as "hey he was probably guilty anyway". Because that's absolutely not my position.
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Old 25th October 2015, 02:58 PM   #357
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Originally Posted by catsmate View Post
Indeed. The FAA threshold for listing a flight as delayed starts at 15 minutes but the penalties only start after 3 or 4 hours. Likewise in the EU the threshold for compensation is 3 hours.

What does that have to do with whether or not the flight was materially delayed? To take your argument to its logical conclusion, you could argue that a take-off 2.5 hours after the published push-back time might not be classified as a "delay"........


And, once again, my original point has totally been lost in a semantic argument about the definition of "delay". My actual point was that in my opinion it was impossible to rule out the possibility that a timer had been used, since had the aircraft taken off at roughly the expected wheels-up time, and had it flown out over Ireland, the detonation time would roughly have corresponded with the time the aircraft passed over the West coast of Ireland. I have also agreed that it's more probable, all things considered, that a switch with a barometric element was used. But my point is that I don't think it's possible to conclude that a barometric-based switch MUST have been used. As you were.....
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Old 25th October 2015, 03:04 PM   #358
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Originally Posted by Ambrosia View Post
Where can I read about this?

AIUI the planes published Departure time, the one that's posted on airport screens for passengers to get to the boarding gate, is the Push Back time, the time the aircraft is supposed to leave the gate.

Then the plane has to taxi to the allocated runway, wait it's turn in the queue and then it takes off.

How long the difference is between push back time varies lots depending on the airport. I'm pretty sure all the long haul flights I've taken from LHR have been longer than 15 mins to get from pushback to take off.

Is there a source I can read that shows the average times for this? For 1988?

PA103 was a flight on December 21st, 1988. It was the middle of winter, so would be very possibly subject to weather delays, or delays from late passengers as it's close to Christmas as well.

I think the earliest you could reasonably expect the plane to be airbourne was 18:15.

Well, if you were interested in "reading about this", and you had a basic level of research skill, it probably wouldn't be hard to find something like this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6h88gB4hBw

Which is a video from a passenger's seat showing the push-back, taxi and takeoff of a United Airlines transcontinental flight from LHR. This flight most likely departed from LHR T3, so the gate-to-runway journey would have been similar to that of Pan Am 103.

The time from push-back to wheels off the ground is approx 6 min 15 seconds.

If you need any more help finding out information, let me know....

(And yes, of course I know that the published departure time is the push-back time)
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Old 25th October 2015, 03:10 PM   #359
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Oh and also for the record, in 1988 LHR was a far, far less crowded airport than it is now (or was in 2010 when the above video was made). There is the same runway space now that there was in 1988. It's therefore not at all unreasonable to suppose that in 1988, the average times from push-back to wheels up was lower than it would have been in 2010 or 2015.
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Old 25th October 2015, 03:10 PM   #360
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Originally Posted by LondonJohn View Post
Well, if you were interested in "reading about this", and you had a basic level of research skill, it probably wouldn't be hard to find something like this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6h88gB4hBw

Which is a video from a passenger's seat showing the push-back, taxi and takeoff of a United Airlines transcontinental flight from LHR. This flight most likely departed from LHR T3, so the gate-to-runway journey would have been similar to that of Pan Am 103.

The time from push-back to wheels off the ground is approx 6 min 15 seconds.

If you need any more help finding out information, let me know....

(And yes, of course I know that the published departure time is the push-back time)

Could you explain what you think this proves?
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