Lockerbie — A Parallel
On December 21, 1988, in the tiny town of Lockerbie, Scotland, 270 lives came to a traumatic and fiery end when Pan Am flight 103 was blown out of the skies. Two hundred and fifty-nine people plunged to their deaths, and 11 more died on the ground.
Several minutes before flight 103 took off from London's Heathrow airport, FBI Assistant Director Oliver "Buck" Revell rushed out to the tarmac and pulled his son and daughter-in-law off the plane.
How did he know?
Perhaps Revell's intimate knowledge derived from his relationship with Lt. Colonel Oliver North. In March of 1986, North advised Attorney General Edwin Meese to head off the FBI's ensuing investigation into Iran-Contra. Meese informed Revell. Consequently, North managed to keep abreast of the FBI's investigation by conveniently receiving copies of all FBI files.
Widely known for his inestimable and illegal support of the Contras, North (along with General Richard Secord and Iranian Albert Hakim) was a business associate of Syrian arms and drug runner Monzer al-Kassar. For his role in shipping Polish arms to North's mercenary army, al-Kassar became the recipient of North's undying gratitude [and laundered drug proceeds].
Like so many criminals, drug-dealers, and mass-murderers the CIA had cozied up to over the years, al-Kassar enjoyed the highly valued status of CIA "asset."
Al-Kassar was also closely aligned with Rifat Assad, brother of Syrian dictator Hafez Assad. Assad's daughter Raja was Kassar's mistress, and had once been married to Abu Abbas, a colleague of the notorious terrorist Abu Nidal. Rifat himself was married to the sister of Ali Issa Dubah, chief of Syrian intelligence, who, along with the Syrian army, controlled most of the opium production in Lebanon's Bekka Valley. The drug profits financed various terrorist groups, including the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC), run by former Syrian army officer Ahmed Jibril.
Al-Kassar also acted as middleman in the ransom paid by the French to effect the release of two hostages held in Beirut. Given his assistance in securing the release of those hostages, the CIA believed al-Kassar would prove invaluable in negotiating the release of the six American hostages then being held in Lebanon.*
In return for this favor, al-Kassar's drug pipeline to the United States would be protected by the CIA. This would not prove difficult, as the DEA was already using Pan Am flights out of Frankfort, Germany for "controlled delivery" shipments of heroin. Realizing they couldn't halt the flow of drugs coming out of Lebanon, the DEA utilized the controlled shipments, escorted through customs by DEA couriers, as part of a sting operation, with the intention of catching the dealers in the U.S.
Negotiation with individuals like Monzer al-Kassar had only one drawback: al-Kassar was closely linked, not only with the terrorist-sponsoring Syrian government, but with groups such Ahmed Jibril's PFLP-GC. Jibril, was also aligned with the Iranian-backed Hezbollah, which had a somewhat different agenda than al-Kassar.
On July 3, 1988, less than six months before the Pan Am 103 bombing, the U.S.S. Vincennes shot down an Iranian airliner over the Straits of Hormuz, killing all 290 people on board. Assuming the plane was a hostile craft, the captain of the Vincennes, Will Rodgers III, gave the command to fire.
While the people of Iran grieved, the officer responsible for the fatal mistake was awarded a medal.†
Under Islamic law, the crime had to be avenged. As Juval Aviv of Interfor stated in his report, "It was known at the time that the contract was out to down an American airliner."
That contract — $10 million dollars — was given to Ahmed Jibril. Jibril had already established a base of operations in Neuss, Germany, not far from Frankfort. Central to his cell was one Marwan Abdel Razzack Khreeshat. Khreeshat's specialty was in building small, sophisticated bombs incorporating timing mechanisms capable of detonating at pre-determined altitudes.
By mid-October 1988, Jibril was ready. Khreeshat had assembled five bombs, built into Toshiba radio-cassette players. However, the German police were watching Khreesat. On October 26, Khreesat and 14 other PFLP-GC suspects were rounded up in an operation code-named "Autumn Leaves." One of the bombs was seized. Yet four more remained at large.
While in custody, Khreesat demanded to make a phone call, then refused to answer any questions. Within hours, he was mysteriously released.
The incident is strikingly similar to the arrest of "neo-Nazi terrorist" Andreas Strassmeir on traffic charges in February of 1992. "Boy, we caught hell over that one," recalled tow-truck driver, Kenny Pence. "The phone calls came in from the State Department, the Governor's office, and someone called and said he had diplomatic immunity.…"
Similar calls were made on behalf of Khreesat. Former CIA agent Oswald Le Winter, who investigated the case, stated, "…pressure had come from Bonn… from the U.S. Embassy in Bonn… to release Khreesat."
It seems that both Strassmeir and Khreesat were operatives of U.S. intelligence. "I had spoken to a German reporter who refuses to go on camera," adds Le Winter, "but who is very close to federal intelligence sources in Germany, who assured me that Khreesat was an agent of the Jordanian service, and an asset of the Central Intelligence Agency."
Given the close relationship between the Jordanians and the CIA, this is not surprising. Yet it appeared Khreesat wasn't only reporting to the Jordanians and the Americans; he was also reporting to Ahmed Jibril.
Two months before the bombing, Jibril and al-Kassar were spotted by a Mossad agent dining at a Lebanese restaurant in Paris. Jibril was hoping to use al-Kassar's controlled drug shipments through Frankfort to effect the delivery of a bomb. The problem: how to protect the drug shipments while at the same time extract revenge on the Americans? Al-Kassar preferred the former option, but, due to political pressure, he grudgingly agreed to the latter.
While a CIA team in Wiesbaden, code-named "COREA," was negotiating its secret deal with al-Kassar for release of the hostages (and protecting his drug route), a second team, led by Major Charles McKee of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), and Matthew Gannon, the CIA's Deputy Station Chief in Beirut, had traveled to Lebanon to assess the odds for a military-style rescue operation.
According to Aviv's report, McKee's team had, while reconnoitering for the release of the hostages, stumbled onto the first team's illegal drug operation. McKee refused to participate. When he and Gannon contacted their control in Washington, they received no reply. Against orders, they decided to fly home to blow the whistle. According to Aviv:
They had communicated back to Langley the facts and names, and reported their film of the hostage locations. CIA did nothing. No reply. The team was outraged, believing that its rescue and their lives would be endangered by the double dealing.
By mid-December the team became frustrated and angry and made plans to return to the U.S. with their photos and evidence to inform the government, and to publicize their findings if the government covered up.
They never arrived. That night, Pan Am flight 103 was blown out of the skies.
Was the death of McKee, Gannon, and five others on their team an unfortunate coincidence, or did someone want to ensure that they didn't reveal the carefully guarded secrets of the Octopus?
Given the ample and specific warnings received by the U.S. Government from the BKA, the Mossad, and a Palestinian informant named Samra Mahayoun, it would seem the latter.*
Whatever the case, it is indisputable that U.S. authorities were warned of the attack, and failed to stop it.
Was their failure deliberate?
"Do I think the CIA was involved?" asked a government Mideast Intelligence specialist quoted in the financial weekly, Barron's. "Of course they were involved. And they screwed up. Was the operation planned by the top? Probably not. I doubt they sanctioned heroin importation — that came about at the more zealous lower levels. But they knew what was going on and didn't care." The expert added that his agency has "things that support Aviv's allegation, but we can't prove it. We have no smoking gun. And until the other agencies of the government open their doors, we will have no smoking gun."
The Lockerbie bombing was not the first time authorities were warned in advance of a pending terrorist attack. The situation would repeat itself five years later in New York City, and seven years later in Oklahoma.
It was an all too eerie coincidence.
Typically, U.S. authorities disingeniously denied receiving any warnings, as they would later do in New York and Oklahoma. Yet, as in those cases, evidence of prior knowledge would eventually become known. "It subsequently came to me on further inquiries that they hadn't ignored [the warnings]," said a Pan Am security officer. "A number of VIPs were pulled off that plane. A number of intelligence operatives were pulled off that plane."
Due to the warnings posted in U.S. embassies by the State Department (but not forwarded to Pan Am), many government employees avoided the flight. In fact, the large 747 was only two-thirds full that busy holiday evening. South African president Peter Botha and several high-ranking officials were advised by state security forces to change their reservations at the last hour. The South African State Security forces have a close relationship with the CIA.
Just as they would do in Oklahoma, government officials promised a complete and thorough investigation. Stated Oliver "Buck" Revell, who headed up the Bureau's investigation: "All of us working on the case made it a very, very personal priority of the first order."
Fronting for the CIA, Vince Cannistraro chimed in: "I had personal friends on that plane who died. And I assure you that I wanted to find the perpetrators of that disaster as much as anyone wanted to."
As in Oklahoma City, this would become the catch-all phrase that would set everything right and prove the government had no involvement. Of course, this would be somewhat difficult in Revell's case, since he pulled his son and daughter-in-law off the plane minutes before it took off. (This was suspiciously reminiscent of the ATF agents who were paged not to come into work on April 19.)
Interestingly, Revell was the FBI's lead investigator in the crash of an Arrow Air DC-8 which exploded on December 12, 1985 in Gander, Newfoundland, with the loss of all 248 personnel. As in Oklahoma City, that site was quickly bulldozed, destroying crucial forensic evidence, with an Army official maintaining a watchful eye at all times.
Hiding behind the cover-up was the same cast of characters — Oliver North, Duane "Dewy" Clarridge, and Vince Cannistraro — who was North's deputy at the NSC during Iran-Contra, and would later appear in Lockerbie. The same cast of characters that lurked behind the scandals in Nicaragua and Iran, and would appear like ghostly apparitions in the smoldering ruins of Oklahoma City.
It was also an act that the U.S. Shadow Government, responsible for precipitating, was anxious to cover up. Had the true cause of the crash — North's double-dealing with the Iranians — been revealed, the Iran-Contra scandal would have surfaced two years before it did.
Oliver "Buck" Revell would be on hand to make sure it didn't.
Three years later, in Lockerbie, the government was still claiming it's hands were clean. Yet it vigorously protested Pan Am's attempts to subpoena warning memos and other documents that would have revealed the government's foreknowledge, just as it did in Oklahoma.
Simply stated, the attack on Pan Am 103 was in retaliation for the downing of the Iranian airbus. The reason for targeting Pan Am was simple: the airline was regularly used by al-Kassar's operatives to ferry drugs. It would be a simple matter to switch a suitcase containing drugs for one containing a bomb.
That appears to be just what happened. According to Lester Knox Coleman, III, a former DIA agent in Cyprus seconded to the DEA: "I knew from the conversations around me in '88, that he (Lebanese drug courier Khalid Jaffar) was involved in the controlled deliveries. There's no doubt in my mind about that at all. When I found he was on 103 and was killed, and there was a controlled delivery going through at the time, and I knew the security problems the DEA had, and the relationships they had with the people in Lebanon, with the issues involving security, it was very simple for me to put one and one together and get the big two — that the DEA's operation had a role in all this."
According to Juval Aviv, the drug suitcase was switched at Frankfort, where Turkish baggage handlers working for al-Kassar had been regularly switching bags for those containing heroin.* As the Interfor report stated:
On December 21, 1988, a BKA surveillance agent watching the Pan Am flight's loading noticed that the "drug" suitcase substituted was different in make, shape, material and color from that used for all previous drug shipments. This one was a brown Samsonite case. He, like the other BKA agents on the scene, had been extra alert due to all the bomb tips. Within an hour or so before takeoff he phoned in a report as to what he had seen, saying something was very wrong.
The BKA reported this to the CIA team in Wiesbaden, who, strangely, did not reply. According to Aviv, "[The CIA unit] reported to its control. CONTROL REPLIED: DON'T WORRY ABOUT IT, DON'T STOP IT, LET IT GO." *
Apparently, the CIA team "did not want to blow its surveillance operation and undercover penetration or to risk the al-Kassar hostage release operation," wrote Aviv. It seemed the CIA figured the BKA would intercept the terrorists, keeping the CIA out of the picture, thereby maintaining its cover.
Yet this explanation hardly seems credible. The BKA had informed the CIA about the threat — a threat to one of its own planes. They also knew the Americans were running a sensitive undercover operation, and must have assumed the Americans would want to handle the situation themselves.
Moreover, there is no indication that the CIA had instructed the BKA or any other German authorities to stop the bombing. The question is: why not? Certainly the CIA wouldn't blow its cover by asking the BKA to intercede, as they were already aware of the CIA/DEA operation.
This raises even more disturbing questions. Had the CIA "control" in Washington, monitoring the situation, purposely allowed the bombing to occur? Was the McKee team, about to blow the whistle on the Octopus, specifically targeted for elimination? Had Middle Eastern terrorists knowingly or unknowingly conspired with the Octopus in eliminating a group of pesky whistle blowers?†
Strangely, after the crash, large numbers of American "rescue" personnel began showing up rather quickly. As one searcher, a member of a mountain rescue team recalled: "We arrived within two hours [of the crash]. We found Americans already there."
The first to appear was an FBI agent. According to George Stobbs, a Lockerbie police inspector, "[I] started to set up a control room, and [between] eleven o'clock and midnight, there was a member of the FBI in the office who came in, introduced herself to me, and sat down — and just sat there the rest of the night. That was it."*
Was this so-called FBI agent there to observe the Scottish police's investigation, and report any conflicting findings back to her superiors?
Tom Dalyell, a member of British Parliament, remarked: "…Absolutely swarms of Americans [were] fiddling with the bodies, and shall we say tampering with those things the police were carefully checking themselves. They weren't pretending, saying they were from the FBI or CIA, they were just 'Americans' who seemed to arrive very quickly on the scene."
The scenario was eerily similar to that in Oklahoma City, where rescue workers and bomb squad technicians seemingly appeared out of thin air.
Recall that Oklahoma City eyewitness Debra Burdick, who was near ground zero when the bomb went off, said: "And right after that, here comes the Bomb Squad, before the ambulances and the Fire Department."
"They would have had to have had some kind of warning to respond that quick, said Burdick's husband, "because they would have had to get in their gear and everything."
As mentioned previously, Burdick wasn't the only one who saw federal agents and rescue personnel arrive a bit too quickly. J.D. Reed, who was in the County Office Building when the bomb went off, later wrote: "The paramedics and firemen were already at work. How could they move so quickly? They were there by the time we got down to the street!"
Then there was Sergeant Yeakey's ominous letter to his friend Ramona McDonald, which stated: "Everyone was behind you until you started asking questions as I did, as to how so many federal agents arrived at the scene at the same time.…"
In Lockerbie, a number of American agents — some wearing Pan Am jumpsuits — were desperately searching for something. As Dalyell recalled: "It was… odd and strange that so many people should be involved in moving bodies, looking at luggage, who were not members of the investigating force. What were they looking for so carefully? You know, this was not just searching carefully for loved ones. It was far more than that. It was careful examination of luggage and indeed bodies."
Dr. David Fieldhouse, the local police surgeon, identified Major McKee early on. "I knew that [the identification of] McKee was absolutely correct because of the clothing which correlated closely with the other reports and statements, and the computers that were linked up to Washington."
This would subsume that Washington knew exactly what McKee — who hadn't told Control he was coming — was wearing. In other words, it means he was under surveillance by the Octopus.
Fieldhouse also tagged over 58 bodies. "I later learned that when the bodies were taken to the mortuary, all the labels which had been put on them had been removed with the exception of two," said Fieldhouse, "but all the rest had been removed and discarded."
A similar incident would occur in Oklahoma City. After nurse Toni Garret took a break from tagging dead bodies, she walked back to the makeshift morgue that had been set up in a nearby church. "When we came back in, there was a cold, callous atmosphere," said Garret. "I found out later that the FBI had taken over.…"
Not only had the FBI taken over, but for some reason, they were suppressing the body count, which they originally claimed as only 22 dead. This enraged Garret, who had personally tagged over 120 bodies. While giving a news interview, FBI agents rushed over and told her to stop. Garret recalled the scene: "He said, 'Well, we're down here now, and we're taking over the building. It would be advisable and recommendable that you keep your mouth shut."
In Lockerbie, police officers and military personnel would be prohibited under the Official Secrets Act from talking about what they had witnessed.
Just what had they seen that was so sensitive?
Jim Wilson knows. A local farmer, Wilson told relatives of Pan Am victims that he was present "when the drugs were found." The Tundergarth farmer had discovered a suitcase packed with heroin in one of his fields. Worried that it might harm his sheep, he informed local police, who notified the Americans, who then raced to the scene in an all-terrain vehicle. Wilson noted that the Americans seemed extremely angry that the drugs had not been discovered earlier by their own personnel.
One Scottish police officer who did speak out said that his department had been told to keep an eye out for the drugs early on. He also overheard American personnel say that there was a drug courier on the plane — Khalid Jaffar — one of the Lebanese informants used by the DEA.
Had the heroin belonged to Jaffar? Since the drug suitcase had been switched at Frankfort, it would seem unlikely. A more probable explanation is that it belonged to Gannon or McKee — evidence of the illegal operation being run by the Octopus.
It would certainly explain why U.S. officials were so desperate to find the suitcase before the Scottish authorities did. Once located, the heroin was removed, and the bag placed back in its original position like nothing had happened.
In Oklahoma City, 10 hours after the blast(s), federal agents halted rescue efforts to remove files from the building. While limited numbers of rescue workers were constrained to the lower right side of the building, between 40 and 50 federal agents began carting away boxes of files from the ATF and DEA offices.
"You'd think they would have let their evidence and files sit at least until the last survivor was pulled out," one angry rescue worker told the New York Daily News.
Then, approximately 10 days after the blast, two white trucks pulled up to the postal annex across from the Murrah Building that was being used to store emergency supplies. A dozen men in black unmarked uniforms, wearing ski masks and carrying submachine guns, jumped out and formed a protective corridor to the building. Others, wearing blue nylon windbreakers and carrying hand-held radios, formed an outer perimeter. As a witness watched, he observed "box after box of what appeared to be files or documents in boxes [that] were loaded on the unmarked trucks that looked like Ryder rental trucks, but were white."
The witness, a Tulsa Fire Captain who was filming the site of the explosion, was told by one of the agents to put down his camera. His film was later confiscated.
What were in the boxes — boxes that were originally stored in the Federal Building — that over a dozen mysteriously anonymous federal agents armed with submachine guns were so anxious to secrete into hiding? Were they files that were being taken away to be destroyed… or to be protected? And by whom?
The public would never learn of this bizarre incident, just as they would never learn of the Mid-Eastern connection, the numerous John Does, the prior warnings of Cary Gagan and Carol Howe, and the elaborate cover-up. The government had convicted their man — Timothy James McVeigh — just as they had done with Lee Harvey Oswald 34 years ago. The victims who subscribed to the government's version of the case could now begin to experience a sense of "closure," whether they had learned the truth or not.
Five years before, the government had attempted to provide "closure" to the Pan Am bombing by announcing its newly discovered "evidence" — a tiny piece of microchip allegedly linked to the bomb. This new evidence, discovered in a remote field ten months after the crash, would conclusively prove, the government claimed, that Libyan terrorists had destroyed the plane.
Like the evidence of McVeigh's racing fuel purchases which suddenly came to light 18 months after the bombing, or the startling new "revelations" of Eldon Elliott, Thomas Manning, and Daina Bradley, this "new evidence" would help the government divert attention from the true perpetrators of the crime.
Interestingly, Tom Thurman, the FBI lab technician who matched the chip — a tiny charred fragment that had miraculously survived two Scottish Winters — would later be accused of perjury in unrelated cases.
Nevertheless, the discovery was hailed as a major find. Vince Cannistraro, the CIA Counter terrorism Chief on the National Security Council, was the front-man for new "Libyan" theory.
"The principle avenues that led to identification of a foreign role in an act of terrorism," Cannistraro quipped with mock assurance, "was forensic evidence recovered by the Scottish police at Lockerbie themselves. Investigators and townspeople on their hands and knees, crawling along the countryside, picking up minute bits of debris. And one of those bits of debris turned out to be a microchip, which was analyzed microscopically that led to the Libyan connection."
Like the Ryder truck axle in Oklahoma City that was allegedly discovered by several different people, so the microchip would have a confusing and contradictory bevy of claimants. "Three of his people (FBI agents) had sworn that they had found this piece in a piece of a coat and had signed a paper to this effect," stated Bollier. "I later heard that it was the Scottish police who had found the piece in a shirt that came from Malta." Yet in spite of this, the Scotts would attempt to have a townsperson sign a statement that he had found the chip.
Yet the townsperson whom the FBI claimed had discovered the chip could not even recall finding it. The man, named "Bobby," said "I got a call from a policeman asking if he could come down to my home, and would I sign to say that I picked those [items] up. He brought with him three small bags about the size of an eight-by-five piece of paper, one of which contained an item of cloth, one of which contained a brown piece which looked very much like a piece of plastic, the third piece I couldn't tell what it was."
Had the chip been planted by the FBI? The Bureau admitted that it already possessed two such timers, confiscated from two Libyans in Dakar and Senegal in 1986. The incident was remarkably similar to the Oklahoma City bombing witnesses who were coerced into signing statements that differed from what they actually saw.
Yet British authorities would willingly cooperate with the U.S. as the result of a phone call made by President Bush to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. According to Washington Post syndicated columnist Jack Anderson, the two heads of state agreed that the investigation should be "limited" in order to avoid compromising the two nations' intelligence communities.
For his part, Cannistraro had developed, along with NSC staffers Howard Teicher and Oliver North, the Reagan-inspired propaganda policy of destroying the Libyan regime of Colonel Muammar al-Qaddafi. As Bob Woodward wrote in the Washington Post:
Vincent M. Cannistraro, a veteran CIA operations officer and director of intelligence on the National Security Council staff, and Howard R. Teicher, the director of the office of political military affairs in the NSC, supported the disinformation and deception plan….
"I developed the policy toward Libya," said Cannistraro. "In fact, I even wrote the draft paper that was later adopted by the President."
In spite of the obvious propaganda ploy, the evidence against Libya was dubious at best. Even more dubious was the government's theory of how the bomb got on board. According to "Buck" Revell, the bomb, built by two Libyan intelligence agents — Abdel Basset al-Megrahi and Lamin Khalifah Fhima — was placed inside a suitcase and smuggled into the airport at Malta, and tagged for its final destination to JFK airport in New York. It then flew, unaccompanied, to Frankfort, where it changed planes, also unaccompanied, then flew to London, where it managed to change planes again, only to explode over Lockerbie.
Like the specter of two lone amateurs with a fertilizer bomb, the government actually expects the public to believe that a sensitive altitude-triggered time-bomb managed to pass through three countries unaccompanied, pass through security and customs checks, change planes twice, then detonate at precisely the right moment over its target destination!
Such a suggestion, even to the uninitiated, is ridiculous.
And there was no evidence to support it. According to Dennis Phipps, former head of security for British Airways: "…the records of handling of that fight were made available for me to see. There was no evidence of any unaccompanied bags. All of the bags that were carried as passenger baggage on that flight, had to be checked in by a passenger who actually traveled on the flight."
Said Michael Jones, Pan Am's London Security Chief: "I've never seen any documentation whatsoever, produced by Pan Am or anybody else, showing there was any interlying baggage to Pan Am from the Air Malta flight…"
Even the FBI's own telex, dated October 23, 1989, stated:
To Director, FBI, Priority — Records there is no concrete indication that any piece of luggage was unloaded from Air Malta 100 sent through the luggage routing at Frankfort airport then loaded on board Pan Am 103.
In fact, it is absurd to suggest that trained intelligence agents or even clever terrorists would opt for such a far-fetched and risky plan. Especially given the security measures regarding unaccompanied bags, which would have surely aroused suspicion. This premise becomes even more ludicrous considering the unexpected delays inherent in Winter holiday flights. How had the bomb, after passing through three countries, managed to arm itself and detonate at precisely the right moment?
Miraculously, eight months after the bombing, a baggage print-out was obtained by the BKA showing an unaccompanied bag that had been transferred from Air Malta.
The government finally had its "evidence."
Just as they had suddenly dropped the Middle Eastern lead in Oklahoma, the government was now switching tracks and blaming the Libyans for the Pan Am bombing. But why? Why, after two years of solid evidence pointing to Syrian and Iranian involvement, was the government now blaming Libya — and on such flimsy pretenses?
Naturally, like the theory of McVeigh's "revenge for Waco," the government had a handy explanation: Libya's motive for the attack stemmed from the April, 1986 U.S. air-raid on Tripoli and Benghazi, in which over 37 civilians, including Qaddafi's infant daughter, were killed. That raid was in retaliation for the bombing of the La Belle Discotheque in Berlin a year earlier, in which two U.S. servicemen and a Turkish woman were killed.
In fact, the involvement of Libya in the disco bombing was highly questionable. It is also curious why Qaddafi would wait two-and-a-half years to extract his revenge on the Americans for the Benghazi attack.
Essentially, government's desire to implicate Libya for the bombing of Pan Am 103 was no different than its desire to implicate the militia for the bombing in Oklahoma City. In that case, they claimed, the motive was revenge for the government's atrocities at Waco.
In fact, President Bush knew perfectly well who had bombed flight 103. Six months after the bombing, Secretary of State James Baker visited with Syrian Foreign Intelligence Minister Farouk al-Sharaa. Baker asked:
"What are you doing about the GLC group?"
"What are you talking about," asked al-Sharaa.
"Jibril," answered Baker. "We know they are responsible for Lockerbie. What are you doing about them?"
"How do you know that?"
"We have the evidence," Baker replied. "And the evidence is irrefutable."
Nevertheless, the government lied to the American people. The investigation had turned political. In July of 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait. President Bush began forming his Gulf War coalition. Syria, formerly viewed as a terrorist state, was now seen as a necessary ally.
Interestingly, Bush had been quietly making overtures to Syrian President Assad for years. Assad was a bitter enemy of President Saddam Hussein of Iraq. In order to bring Syria into the coalition, all evidence pointing to them was dropped. And, in November of 1991, the Libyan theory became the "official" version of the bombing.
The real story appears somewhat different.
On December 20, an intercept of a call made to the Iranian embassy in Beirut confirmed that an American operative named David Lovejoy (AKA: Michael Franks, Michael Schafer) had spoken to Iranian Chargé d'Affaires Hussein Niknam, and advised him that the McKee team had changed its travel plans and booked passage on flight 103. The next day, Niknam called the Interior Ministry in Teheran and passed on Frank's information.
The DEA was also monitoring McKee, and separately informed the CIA in Washington, British MI6, and the CIA team in Wiesbaden.
Al-Kassar's operatives had also observed Gannon making travel arrangements in Nicosia, and reported this to their CIA handlers in Wiesbaden. This wasn't difficult, as the DEA's "controlled delivery" operation, run by DEA Station Chief Michael T. Hurley in Cyprus, utilized Arab informants, some of whom, according to Coleman, were reporting back to Ahmed Jibril.
As one source familiar with the case said, "Every spook in Europe knew that McKee and Gannon were flying home on flight 103."
Yet while the McKee team was obviously compromised, the question begging to be answered is, who is Michael Franks? And why did Franks inform the Iranian embassy, a bitter enemy of the U.S., of McKee's travel plans?
An associate of Oliver North, Franks worked for Overseas Press Service (OPS) a television consultancy firm run by W. Dennis Suit. A former CIA operative in Central America, Suit was an associate of North, William Casey, Jack Singlaub, Jack Terrell, and Contra leaders Adolfo and Mario Calero. Lester Coleman aptly described him as a representative of North's "Georgia Mafia."
In other words, Franks worked for the Octopus.
Sent to Cyprus by OPS as a "cameraman," Franks was in a perfect position to monitor the activities of the DEA.
The other question begging to be answered is: who at the CIA Control in Washington (not their headquarters in Langley) told the CIA team in Wiesbaden: "DON'T WORRY ABOUT IT, DON'T STOP IT, LET IT GO"?
It has been argued by apologists for the CIA that the Agency didn't stop the bombing because it didn't want to compromise its hostage-rescue mission — an operation being run by the Octopus in collusion with Monzer al-Kassar. Essentially, we are asked to accept the idea that the CIA was ready to sacrifice the lives of 270 people so as not to risk the opportunity to free six people.
A more plausible explanation is that the Octopus didn't want to compromise its profitable drug and gun running operation — an operation that traces its roots from the Corsican Mafia, through the Hmong tribesman in Laos, to the Mujahadeen in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and finally to the cartels in Columbia and Mexico. It is an enterprise run by many of the same spooks that ran the Cold War, channeling billions of taxpayer dollars into the military/industrial establishment, while funneling thousands of tons of heroin and cocaine into our cities' streets.
As intelligence analyst Dave Emory notes, "When federal intelligence agencies in the United States decide to move in a particular direction — or when a faction of them decides to move in a particular direction — they do so when to move in that direction would scratch a number of different itches at different levels simultaneously."
By passing on the travel plans of the McKee team to the Iranians, Franks allowed Ahmed Jibril to bomb the plane, eliminating McKee and Gannon in the process, and preventing exposure of the Octopus. At the same time, the Iranians got revenge for the shootdown of their airliner, and the drug dealers kept their operation relatively intact.
Using the Iranians as proxies permitted the Octopus to maintain "plausible deniability."
Describing how proxies or "cut-outs" are used in assassination work, 25-year DEA veteran Mike Levine said, "…when you say 'they wouldn't do it,' surely you don't think that the Sicilian Mafia (to use an example) sends out a couple of Italians to do a hit on a U.S. Attorney that they could link directly back? No, absolutely not. What they might do is use what's left of [August] Record's organization (a drug dealer in South America), they might talk to an Italian who lives in Paraguay or Monte Madeo, he then talks to the son of a German who lives in Paraguay. An arrangement is made. They want them hurt. This organization finds out that this guy's wife is flying on a plane. Not that that's happened. I'm giving you a scenario… that's the way it's done. We're living in a world where murder has become very, very high-tech, very convoluted, with cut-outs…
"TWA, Pan Am 103 — this is the perfect M.O. of this organization," adds Levine. "Not that they (Ricord) did it, but when they did things, there was no way it would ever go back to them, because they would do it for someone else."
In the case of Pan Am 103, it appeared that the Octopus was more interested in covering up its involvement with drug smugglers than in securing the release of American hostages. And it was willing to sacrifice 270 lives to do so.