Introduction to Pan Am Flight 103
Pan Am Flight 103 was a scheduled flight from Frankfurt to Detroit. In December 1988 the plane was destroyed by a bomb, killing all 243 passengers.The explosion took place over Scotland after taking off from London, and thus Europe had jurisdiction over the explosion. In 1999 Two Lybian nationals were handed over by General Gadaffi (the then leader/dictator of Lybia) for trial in a Scottish court in the Netherlands. The bomb was said to have been made out of Semtex plastic. Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi was jailed for life in connection with the bombing, released by the Scottish government in 2009 on compassionate grounds due to a diagnosis of prostate cancer. There was a significant lack of protest in the wake of his release, suggesting that many of the family of the victims do not believe him to be behind the bombing. Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al-Megrahi died in 2012.
Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, the other Libyan handed over for the case, was found not guilty. Gadaffi accepted responsibility for the bombings in 2003. The CIA and the FBI worked with intelligence officers in Europe when processing the case. Over 15,000 people were questioned in over 30 countries. The explosion of Pan Am Flight 103 is also known as the Lockerbie bombing.
It is almost certain that the Libyan convicted had little to do with the Lockerbie bombing and that the real players are unknown. Just about only thing that remains uncontested is that a bomb went off in a suitcase and killed 243 passengers and 16 crew members. In a Report on and evaluation of the Lockerbie trial conducted by the Special Scottish Court in the Netherlandat Kamp Van Zeist, Dr. Hans Köchler, University Professor, International Observer of the International Progress Organization stated that:
“ It was a consistent pattern during the whole trial that – as an apparent result of political interests and considerations – efforts were undertaken to withhold substantial information from the Court. “
The Opinion of the Court is exclusively based on circumstantial evidence and on a series of highly problematic inferences. As to the undersigned knowledge, there is not one single piece of material evidence linking the two accused to the crime.
On the basis of the above observations and evaluation, the undersigned has – to his great dismay – reached the conclusion that the trial, seen in its entirety, was not fair and was not conducted in an objective manner. Indeed, there are many more questions and doubts at the end of the trial than there were at its beginning”
Conspiracy Theory #1 – Revenge
One theory contends that it was an act of revenge stemming from Iran. Over 290 passengers were killed when US forces shot down an Iran Airbus over the Strait of Hormuz, including over 66 children. This was less than 6 months before Pan Am Flight 103. Investigative reporter Paul Foot believes that this is the most likely scenario and that Libya was actually framed by the British and Americans, with political factors coming into play: Libya openly backed Saddam Hussein and Iran were needed during the first Gulf War. A number of journalists have drawn attention to the fact that Margaret Thatcher dismissed the idea in her memoirs that the Lockerbie bombing an act of Iranian revenge.
Conspiracy Theory #2 – CIA drug smuggling cover up
Not the first and most definitely not the last link between the U.S Central Intelligence Agency and illegal substances. This theory is backed up through Lester Coleman, a former member of the U.S Drug Enforcement Agency. Allegedly there was a route of drug smuggling between the U.S and Europe through Syrian drug dealers, who were allowed keep the ring going in return for CIA intelligence. The agency managed to ensure that the suitcases were not checked so the regime could continue; however, the scheme backfired when a bomb was put into the suitcase instead of the narcotics. In the 1994 film “The Maltese Double Cross”, it was suggested that the CIA agents were to blame for turning a blind eye to the drug smuggling ring between Europe and the US in return for information.
Conspiracy Theory #3 – Abu Nidal on behalf of Gadaffi
Abu Nidal was an internationally renowned terrorist around the time of the Lockerbie bombing. U.S bombings in 1986 killed large numbers of Libyan civilians and Gadaffi’s response was to engage the services of Abu Nidal. Nidal moved his organization to Libya in 1987. It is also contended that Abu Nidal warned U.S intelligence that a flight on route to Detroit would be blown up. Abu Nidal allegedly confessed to the bombing on his deathbed. The former head of Iranian intelligence was reported to have told German intelligence that Iran asked Libya/Gaddafi and Abu Nidal for help in bombing the American airline. Part of that report states:
The mission was to blow up a Pan Am flight 103 that was to be almost entirely booked by US military personnel on Christmas leave. The flight was supposed to be a direct flight from Frankfurt, GE, to New York, not Pan Am Flight 103 which was routed through London, UK. The suitcase containing the bomb was labeled with the name of one of the US passengers on the plane and was inadvertently placed on the wrong plane possibly by airport ground crew members in Frankfurt. The terrorist who last handled the bomb was not a passenger on the flight.
Conspiracy Theory #4 – PFLP-GC & Pan Am Flight 103
In the aftermath of the bombing, the prime suspects in the Lockerbie bombing were the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine—General Command. These were a warlike revolutionary group led by a former Syrian military officer. Mohammed Abu Talb was the head of the Swedish cell of the PFLP-GC and was one of a number of suspects before the focus shifted to Al Megrahi. PFLP-GC had a bomb maker at their disposal who was meant to be investigated by Scottish police until the FBI persuaded them to call off the warrant for the purposes of intelligence information. Khreesat was a Jordanian intelligence officer unknown to the PFLP-GC and relayed intelligence back to HQ, which relayed it to Western Intelligence. Allegedly, Khreesat relayed information that there would be a bomb planted on a Pan Am flight in October 1988, around 6 months before the actual crash. German intelligence raided the PFLP-GC acting on this information but did not progress further with regard to the bombing.
Conspiracy Theory #5 – Bernt Carlsson & Apartheid South Africa
A more recent theory emerged from Wikispooks editor and former British diplomat Patrick Haseldine suggesting that the Lockerbie bombing was a clandestine assassination attempt on Bernt Carlsson. Carlsson was the highest ranked official on the plane and was the chief administration officer of the United Nations Council for Namibia. Haseldine wrote to the Scottish police commissioner in May 2015 asking that an inquiry be launched into the murder of Bernt Carlsson. He was en route to New York in order to attend the signing ceremony of Namibian independence from South Africa, who were in violation of United Nations Resolution with an illegal occupation of Libya. When the Tripart Accords was signed by the South African Foreign Minister instead of the diseased Bernt Carlsson, control of Namibia was given to South-African attorney Louis Pienaar. An official delegation of 22 South African diplomats changed their flight reservations from Pan Am 103 at the last minute, including South African Minister Pik Botha.
Conclusion to the Pan Am Flight 103 Explosion
It is certain at this stage that the official story of a lone Libyan civilian conducting the bombing is false. He did not bring down Pan Am Flight 103 alone. However, no-one is any the wiser to what actually happened. There are simply too many conflicting theories, too many intelligence agencies, too many countries involved and too many variables to construct a credible theory as to what went on. Even the theories listed above tend to blend and mix together with different variants. It is possible that the PFLP-GC, Gadaffi and Abu Nidal all had a role in some fashion, but separating what happened exactly and who is responsible is just impossible. One theory is that Iran asked Libya/Gadaffi and Abu Nidal to bomb Pan Am 103 in revenge, a mixing of two theories. It gets more complex the more that it is investigated with all the difference information from the intelligence agencies and reports from investigative journalists.
Most probable is theory number one as proposed by Paul Foot – US officials shot down an Iranian plane and the Iranians retaliated. And most unlikely is theory Five, whatever the links made and evidence proposed by Patrick Haseldine. To bomb an entire plane to get rid of a single diplomat just does not make sense or add up in any way. For the tens of millions spent over the years on investigations and related activities, surely there is a more efficient and subtle way of removing someone than bombing an entire plane?
Lockerbie Bombing Documentaries
Pan am flight 103 (Lockerbie Bombing) is one topic where you will find a lot of documentaries on. The very known ones are listed below.