Note: At the end of the transcript, there is a copy of
a complaint against CBS 60 Minutes, mailed to them by a relative of one
of PA 103's victims the day after the program went on the air in the USA.
Also, the transcripts has been created from the program itself, dialogue
has been written down in handwriting. Thus 5 words in this transcript are
marked xxxxx, as I have not been able to decipher the handwriting of those
US attorney: We charge that 2 Libyan officials, acting as operatives of the Libyan Intelligence Service, planted and detonated the bomb that destroyed Pan Am flight 103.
Scottish Lord Advocate: The two accused are: Abdelbasset Ali Mohammed al Megrahi and Al Lameen Khalifa Fhima.
Ed Bradley: According to the indictment Megrahi prepared a suitcase containing a bomb hidden in a Toshiba radio cassette player, and Fhima, who worked for the Libyan Arab Airlines on the island of Malta, used his knowledge of security at the airport there to plant that suitcase on an Air Malta plane to Frankfurt, Germany. In Frankfurt the unaccompanied suitcase was loaded on to a Pan Am flight to London. At London Heathrow Airport it was finally transferred to the New York-bound Pan Am 747 which made that fatal flight to Lockerbie. Half an hour after take-off at a hight of 31000 feet, Pan Am 103 exploded over the Scottish town.
Scottish Lord Advocate: 259 passengers andcrew and 11 people of Lockerbie were killed and they did murder them.
Ed Bradley: But will they be found guilty of that murder ? Robert Black, who heads the law department of the University of Edinburgh, devised the plan to have the two suspects tried under Scottish law in a neutral country. Professor Black used to be a leading trial lawyer in the Scottish courts. He now has serious doubts about the evidence the prosecution will present to the 3 Scottish judges, who will try the case.
Robert Black: I think it is likely that the Scottish judges will say: "You have not established the chain, the chain of Malta suitcase ******** bomb going from Malta to Frankfurt, going from Frankfurt to Heathrow, then being laiden on Pan Am 103." And if they fail to establish that or any link in that chain, then the case collapses.
Ed Bradley: But this wasn't an ordinary case of murder. This was a deliberat act of international terrorism, in which 270 people died. Doesn't that make a difference ?
Robert Black: It ought not to. It is the largest murder trial that there ever has been in Scotland, but never the less, under our system, it is still murder. And the requirements for a prosecution to be brought for that crime ought to have been satisfied in the case. I am not satisfied.
Ed Bradley: In the immedeate aftermath of the bombing, suspicion fel not on Libya, but on this man. Ahmed Jibril, Syrian based leader of a Palestinian terrorist group called the People's Front for Liberation of Palestine General Command (PFLP-GC). 2 months before Lockerbie, German police raided an apartment in Frankfurt belonging to members of PFLP-GC and found an arsenal of weapons, including a Toshiba radio cassette player, converted into a bomb like the one used at Lockerbie. Inexplicably, the Germans released most of the Palestinians involved, and it was widely believed that they had re-grouped in time to strike Pan Am 103. Vincent Cannistraro, who was in charge of the Lockerbie investigation of the CIA, told Morley Safer in early 1991:
Vincent Cannistraro: We believe - and I think this is been accepted by the President's Commission on Aviation Security - that Jibril ulimately orchestrated the operation which led to the destruction of Pan Am 103 in December 1988.
Bradley (at Tundergarth) : But then the direction of
the Lockerbie investigation suddenly changed. Investigators searching through
items that had been recovered from the wreckage, found a key piece of evidence
which made them focus on a new suspect for the disaster of that Pan Am
plane. After months of searching through the debris, some 10000 items spread
over 850 square miles, the Lockerbie investigators had the breakthrough
they'd been looking for. They found a small fragment of the circuit board
from an electronic timer that had triggered the explosion aboard Pan Am
103 causing it to fall to earth here. Although that fragment was hardly
bigger than a thumb nail, the FBI quickly identified it as coming from
some timers sold to Libya. The FBI matched the Lockerbie fragment to a
circuit board of a timer seized from Libyan agents from West Africa. They
then traced those timers to Zurich, Switzerland, to a small electronics
company called MEBO. Edwin Bollier is MEBO's director.
(Addressed to Edwin Bollier): In 1985 the Libyans commisioned you to make some special electronic timers for them. Is that correct ?
Edwin Bollier: Yes.
Ed Bradley: How many of those timers did you sell them ?
Edwin Bollier: We sold them about 20 pieces of timers.
Ed Bradley: Among the wreckage at Lockerbie investigators found a fragment of a circuit board, which the FBI claims exactly matched the circuit board of those timers you sold to Libya. Do you agree with that ?
Edwin Bollier: No. The FBI showed me in this time a photography. (sic)
Bradley: Bollier says that in that picture he can see that the Lockerbie
fragment was roughly soldered as if it was made by hand, but those timers
he sold to Libya had circuit boards that were all smoothly printed by machine
in one production line.
(Addressed to Edwin Bollier): And you can tell, clearly tell the difference ? (sic)
Edwin Bollier: Absolutely, yes. This fragment is not from the Libyan timers.
Bradley: But Bollier's company still has close ties to with Libya.
His reliability as a witness could easily be challenged in court. We asked
Major Owen Lewis, a former British army explosive expert and now an independent
security consultant, to compare the Lockerbie fragment to the timer known
to have been in Libyan hand. Remember, if the Lockerbie fragment came from
one of those timers sold to Libya, those fragments should match each other
like two postage stamps, but Major Lewis says, they don't.
Addressed to Major Lewis): So, in your opinion, the Lockerbie fragment does not come from the same batch as the ones taken from the Libyan agents in West Africa ?
Owen Lewis: I can't see any way that they can.
Ed Bradley: So, you disagree with the FBI forensic expert, who said that these two circuit boards were identical ?
Owen Lewis: I cannot see how he arrives at that conclusion.
Ed Bradley: The FBI forensic expert, who's conclusion pointed the investigators towards the Libyans, was Thomas Thurman. Seen here on ABC News in 1991 talking about how he made that discovery:
Thomas Thurman: I knew at that point -uh - the timer for the device that caused the explosion had been identified to the exclusion of - uh - anything else.
Ed Bradley: But a justice department inquiry into the explosive unit which Thurman headed, later found that in a series of cases unrelated to Lockerbie, he had allowed xxxxxxxxx to overstate conclusions in favor of the prosecution. That report recommended that since Thurman had no formal scientific qualifications, that he should be assigned to a job outside the crime lab. Thurman is no longer with the FBI.
Robert Black: Given the information and the evidence that can be led about mr. Thurman's practices while in the employment of the FBI, I would be very surprised if a Scottish court were willing to accept his evidence as credible and reliable, unless it were backed up by evidence from a genuine, independent, scientificly qualified and reputable source. (sic)
Ed Bradley: But if the Lockerbie fragment wasn't from one of the timers Edwin Bollier sold to the Libyans, then where could it have come from ? Bollier originally told investigators that he had sold those timers only to Libya. But he told us, that he also sold 2 handmade timers to the Stasi, the East German secret police. (Addressing Bollier): And those timers had circuit boards that matched the fragments that were found at Lockerbie in Scotland ?
Edwin Bollier: Exactly.
Ed Bradley: In the 1980'ies, the East German police was known to have supplied weapons - explosives to Palestinian terrorist groups. In particular Ahmed Jibril's PFLP-GC - xxxxxx Lockerbie suspects. Which means the Libyans weren't the only ones to have had access to that kind of timer which triggered the bomb aboard that Pan Am plane. And then there's another piece of evidence from Edwin Bollier that the Scottish judges will have to consider. Bollier says that in 1988, he reported to Swiss police a break-in in his office. What was stolen, was a photographic blueprint like this one. From which circuit boards to fit those timers could be made. (Addressing Bollier): Whoever stole that blueprint was in a position to make those circuit boards ?
Ed Bradley: - and make those timers ?
Edwin Bollier: Yes.
Ed Bradley: Exactly as you would make them ?
Edwin Bollier: Yes.
Robert Black: If that be the case, then the nescessary connection between this circuit board and Lockerbie is broken. And without that connection, much of the other evidence against the 2 accused must be seen in a different light.
Ed Bradley: Much of that other evidence is centered in Malta - an island in the Mediterranean. We'll go there, when we'll return.
Bradley: Whatever can be proved of that timer, found in the wreckage
at Lockerbie, the succes of the prosecution will rest on linking the explosion
of Pan Am 103 to the activities of the 2 accused men on the island of Malta.
Abdel Basset al Megrahi, who was the head of security for Libyan Arab airlines,
was known for visiting the island frequently, and Al Lameen Khalifa Fhima
worked for the Libyan airline at the airport in Malta. But the prosecution
will allege that their jobs was just a cover for their activities for the
Libyan Intelligence Service on Malta, which they allege included preparing
and planting the bomb. Malta lies in the Mediterranean, just 225 miles
north of Libya with which it maintains close ties. Scottish police first
established a link between Malta and the Lockerbie disaster when they discovered
that clothes which were packed into the suitcase around the bomb were bought
on the island.
There is no doubt that the clothes and the suitcase containing the bomb were bought at this shop, called Mary's house, here in Malta. The question is - who bought them ? The prosecution claims the owner of this shop - Tony Gauci - will testify that it was one of the accused; Abdel Basset al Megrahi. Mr. Gauci won't talk to reporters, but judging from the numerous statements he has given to the Scottish police, his identification of al Megrahi is anything but convincing.
Questioned nearly a year later, it is not surprising that Gauci's accounts of that person who bought the clothes were inconsistent. But with the eye of a man who daily measures customers, Gauci told the police that he was about 50 years of age, 6 feet tall and heavily built. Yet in 1988 al Megrahi was only 36 years old and just 5' 8'' tall.
Professor Robert Black, who head the law department at Edinburgh University and who devised the plan to have the two suspects tried under Scottish law in the Netherlands, says: "That's not all!"
Robert Black: Even after he made the identification, he subsequently said that someone else was in fact more like the person, who bought the clothes from him.
Ed Bradley: That someone
else was Mohammed Abu Talb, now serving a life sentence in Sweden for other
terrorist offenses. He was a close associate of Ahmed Jibril's PFLP-GC,
the terrorist group that investigators first suspected was responsible
for the bombing. Maltese police have confirmed that Mohammed Abu Talb visited
Malta in the week leading up to Lockerbie. All of which professor Black
says, makes the shopkeepers xxxxxx identification of al Megrahi worthless.
But what about the next link in the chain of evidence on which the indictment depends ? The allegation that the bomb started its fatal journey at Malta Airport ?
In any trial of the two Libyans, American and British authorities are expected to rely heavily on the eye witness-testimony of a former Libyan intelligence agent, who used to work for Libyan Arab Airlines here at Malta Airport. Now living in the United States under Witness Protection Prrogram, the Libyan defector is expected to say that he saw al Megrahi and Fhima at the airport on that day of the explosion, and to claim that they put the suitcase containing the bomb aboard the Air Malta flight to Frankfurt. (Addressing dr. Black): So, wouldn't that be compelling evidence ?
Robert Black: Yes, that would be compelling evidence. But it is also evidence which is open to challenge. Does this witness have a motive to tell something other than the plain, unwarmished truth ? This particular witness has many such motives.
Ed Bradley: What is he stand to gain ?
Robert Black: Well, at the very minimum he stands to gain probably 4 million dollars which is the reward that has been put up for evidence which heads to a conviction of Magrahi and Fhima.
Ed Bradley: Would his evidence have to be currarobated by another witness ?
Robert Black: Yes, it would. Under the Scottish system, the essential facts in any crime prosecution require to be supported by evidence from a source other than the eye witness.
Ed Bradley: But far from supporting that Libyan defectors evidence, Malta Airlines, which obviously is anxious to distance itself from the Lockerbie tragedy, claims that an un-acompanied suitcase could not have been put aboard their flight to Frankfurt that day. And Wilfred Borge, head of ground operation at Malta Airport, says they have the documents and evidence to prove it.
Wilfred Borge: From the documents that we hold from that flight, we have no un-acompanied baggage on that aircraft, and all the baggage which we had on that aircraft belonged to the passengers travelling on that same flight.
Ed Bradley: Borge says, that unlike most other airlines, Air Malta baggage handlers physically count the bags loaden onto the aircraft and compare that total with the numbers of bags checked in by the passengers. And Air Malta doesn't leave, says Borge, until all the nags in the hull have been accounted for. And that applied to the flight to Frankfurt on that day of the Pan Am-explosion. (Addressed to Borge): So you had 39 passengers on that flight, 55 pieces of luggage ?
Wilfred Borge: Correct.
Ed Bradley: And they cross-checked the numbers of bags that were checked in with the number of bags at one in the hull ?
Wilfred Borge: Correct.
Ed Bradley: - and they matched ?
Wilfred Borge: Correct.
in a government office in Malta, there is a copy of a weekly planner and
diary that belonged to one of the accused Libyans, which the prosecution
will claim shows how they smuggled the bomb aboard that Air Malta plane.
In his diary, just 6 days before the bombing, Lameen Khalifa Fhima wrote partly in arabic, partly in mis-spelled english: "Get the taggs from Air Malta" (sic).
It is alleged that Fhima used one of these tags to route the suitcase with the bomb from Malta via Frankfurt and London to New York. But Air Malta argues that, if Fhima with the help of his Libyan Airline security pass had substituted the suitcase for one belonging to a passenger on the flight, they would have had a claim for a lost bag when the passengers reached Frankfurt. They didn't.
Wilfred Borge: All the passengers on our flight to Frankfurt were each individually interviewed by the investigating authorities and each confirmed that they had received their bags and the number of bags that they had carried with them tallied with our records.
Ed Bradley: Which leaves another possibility: It's been suggested that one or more of the baggage handlers, who worked there at the Malta Airport, might have been induced by the Libyans to slip in an extra bag into the hull. (Addressed to Dennis Phipps): You don't think that was possible ?
Dennis Phipps: It is a possible scenario, but I discount it myself.
Ed Bradley: Dennis Phipps is the former head of security for British Airways, who after Lockerbie carried out an investigation into the security at Malta Airport.
Dennis Phipps: It's a small island. Everybody knows everybody else. The people who carried out the operations are still there. They've made statements that they've signed. They were questioned by their own people and then, when I spoke to them and asked them in detail how they work, I can only say that I was impressed by the straight forward, frank way that they were able to give me a detailed explenation of everything they've done.
Ed Bradley: But at Frankfurt Airport, investigators found that incomplete baggage records from that day, which suggests that about at the same the Air Malta flight was being offloaded, a bag was routed through Frankfurt Aiport's computerized baggage system to the Pan Am xxxxx flight to London and Pan Am 103. So, what does the former head of security for British Airways think of that ?
Dennis Phipps: There is no direct evidence. We've got a gap in the, in the chain of travel of that bag (sic) . What we have is: a bag appeared at Frankfurt, but we have no real evidence where it came from.
Ed Bradley: (Addressing Phipps): It doesn't show that it came from Air Malta ?
Dennis Phipps: No, it does not show it came from Air Malta. Doesn't show where it came from. (sic)
Ed Bradley: Phipps
says, that from all that the records show, that mystery bag could just
as easily have been slipped into the baggage system at the Frankfurt Aiport,
where the security, he says, was far more relaxed that at Malta. Where
the Lockerbie investigators originally expected the bomb began its journey
on that December evening.
(Addressing Phipps): So, when Air Malta says that another unaccompanied bag could not have travelled undetected on that flight to Frankfurt, as the prosecution alleges, you would agree with them ?
Dennis Phipps: I would agree with Air Malta.
Bradley: So, why would Fhima, a Libyan Airline employee have an entry
in his diary about getting tags from Air Malta ? People here, who knew
Fhima, say he wanted to get his airline's baggage tags printed in Malta
for less than it cost to print them in Libya. That way he could make a
comission on the deal. They say he wanted the Air Malta tags as a sample
to show the printer.
And there are other notations in his diary that support that story. On December 10th, Fhima wrote: "Go to the printer.", another note in the back of the diary says: "Contact the printer."
By the way, this man, who is accused of planting a bomb on Pan Am 103 and killing 270 people, made just 2 brief notations in his diary on the day after the explosion. One refers to some dresses for a woman named Ayada, and the other is a reminder to get some shampoo.
(Addressing Robert Black): If there is no convincing proof that the bomb started in Malta. what happens to the case against the Libyans ?
Robert Black: In that eventuality, I am afraid that the case against the Libyans collapses at the first hurdle. because this is the basis upon which the prosecution has been brought. If it cannot be stablished that the bomb that blew up Pan Am 103 started in Malta, then the evidence is worthless.
Ed Bradley: Professor Black, who has been born and raised in Lockerbie, says that had the Scottish prosecution been faced with such evidence in an ordinary murder case in Scotland, they wouldn't have brought the case to trial. So, why did they press charges against the Libyans ? Scottish authorities do not comment on pending criminal charges, but professor Black says, the United States and Britain were desperate to be seen solving this crime.
Robert Black: This was the largest ever criminal investigation undertaken in Scotland. It involved investigators in 30 different countries, it involved the interview of thousands of witnesses, it involved the jigsaw puzzle in trying to put together again Pan Am flight 103. And in those circumstances my suspicion is, that the Scottish prosecution authorities allowed themselves to be bounced into the charges against the 2 named Libyans, who may very well have been Libyan Intelligence agents, known to the intelligence services of Britain and the United States. It became tempting to bring closure to the Lockerbie incident by bringing charges against them. (sic)
Ed Bradley: And you think these two will not be convicted ?
Robert Black: I don't think they will be convicted. It will be so difficult for the prosecution to establish, by the tests required by the laws of Scotland, that they are guilty beyond reasonable doubt, that they will walk free.
Ed Bradley: And that's gotta be a big propaganda coup for Colonel Qadhafi ?
Robert Black: Indeed it is, and I should suspect that Colonel Qadhafi is only well aware of that fact.
April 13, 1999
Dear Mr. Hewitt:
My husband Tony Hawkins was one of the 270 people murdered by the bomb which blew up Pan Am Flight 103 ten years, three months, three weeks and two days ago. Consequently, the recent journey of the two indicted Libyans from Tripoli to the Hague was not merely a fascinating news story but an event which both thrills and frightens me.
It represents the achievement of hundreds of people-from the Lockerbie police who painstakingly combed over 800 square miles of Scottish countryside hunting for clues to identify those respon-sible for this heinous act, to our Department of Justice which named and indicted two Libyan operatives over seven years ago, to the men and women of the United Nations who imposed unprecedented sanctions against the government of Libya as long as it refused to turn these men over for trial, to Secretary of State Albright, Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, the Scottish Lord Advocate and the men and women in the Netherlands government who fashioned a compromise to enable a trial to take place in a neutral country under Scottish law administered by Scottish judges. That compromise was a year in the making before it was announced to the world almost a year ago. It then required the personal efforts of Kofi Annan and Nelson Mandela and Mubarek and Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia to coax Gadhafi to finally live up to the promises he had made them and release Fhimah and Megrahi. Above all, it represents the persistence of the families whose loved ones were torn from their lives, who would not let the world forget. Our collective achievement thrills me but I am frightened that justice-which has eluded us for so long-will not in the end, be served. The outcome of a trial is never certain.
When Jack Schultz, the Chairman of The Victims of Pan Am Flight 103, called to notify me about your scheduled program, 1 assumed it would focus on what I've just outlined in the previous paragraph: the history of the international Cupertino it took to bring these men to the Hague, and what to expect at the trial. 1 did not expect to see a rehash of a documentary first aired on October 14th, 1997 -Silence Over Lockerbie-produced by Frontline, Scotland.
Every single argument made in your program was made FIRST in Silence Over Lockerbie. For example, Michael Mansfield, Q. C. (One of Britain's top barristers) doesn't believe that the evidence is solid. "If I could show that there were serious flaws and gaps in the chain, then I would have to say there isn't a case for the people I represent to face.
He then proceeds to punch holes in the case, beginning with problems of identi-fying the man who supposedly purchased the clothing in Mary's House in Malta used to wrap the bomb, to the forensic identification of the circuits board fragment from a Swiss batch sold to the Libyans. The FBI agent who first identified the circuit board is declared unreliable for the same reasons you gave.
Your chief spokesman for
the defense, Mr. Black, is not merely a lawyer who helped to arrange for
a trial in a neutral country. He is not a neutral person. He and Dr. Swire
who represents the British families of the victims, have been arguing Libya's
innocence for seven years.
The main difference between your program and Silence Over Lockerbie, is that Frontline Scotland at least permitted our state to rebut their arguments. whereas you tore apart our case without presenting any defense.. In Silence Over Lockerbie, Michael Mansfield is rebutted by Vincent Cannistraro, former CIA head of counter-terrorism who declares, "I think the evidence available to the Department of Justice in their case, which they're keeping under wraps its overwhelming ... it's conclusive. it's mind boggling in the amount of detail that they have ... there is a tremendous amount of evidence that will allow the prosecutors to present the chronology of the operation from its very inception..."
It is mind boggling to believe that the Scots police and the Department of Justice would work so hard for a trial at which their evidence will be thrown out of court for being so pathetically inadequate. It is difficult to believe that the government of Great Britain is prepared to spend millions of pounds for a trial that will make them the laughing-stock of the civilized world. It is incomprehensible that Gadhafi would have permitted his nation to suffer the world's censure and endured seven years of sanctions when there isn't sufficient evidence to find his two operatives guilty.
Your report went further-it
implied that they aren't guilty at all-that we should have continued to
pursue Ahmed Jibril and his Palestinian gang.
Why would the Scottish Lord Advocate have agreed to let three judges (representing one fifth of all the senior judges of Scotland), go to The Hague for what will probably be as long as two years, unless he believed that the trial was winnable? "The first thing the Scottish Lord Advocate needed to know was, 'Is there enough to put these people away ? I will not try a case with one hand tied behind my back!" A strict review of the evidence convinced him that the guilt of the two suspects is clear and compelling. Only when the Lord Advocate was convinced of this, did he agree to go ahead with the trial" ( As quoted in Truth Quest, Volume 10 Issue 4, 1998 the newsletter I edit for The Victims of Pan Am Flight 103)
When Silence Over Lockerbie was first aired a year and a half ago, the Permanent Mission of the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya mailed me a transcript of this program six days later. Not all the American families related to people killed on Pan Am 103 received one, just those suing Libya in a civil case as soon as our Congress exempted Libya from the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act two years ago. As soon as we filed suit, they embarked on a propaganda campaign to break our resolve, to demoralize us. They mailed us envelope after envelope filled with "facts" to support their claim that they have been unjustly accused. They accompa-nied the transcript by a letter imploring me to urge my government to drop the sanctions against Libya.
The largest mass murder on British soil, the worst terrorist atrocity in aviation history, the biggest murder investigation in British history, the most extensive cooperation between the police forces of different nations is about to be resolved in a court of law. What was 60 Minutes trying to accomplish by airing such a one sided pro-Libyan interpretation of the facts on the eve of what is undoubtedly going to be one of the most significant trials of the century?
Whether you intended to or not, you caused the families further grief. Many people were deeply disturbed and fright-ened by your program, fearing now, we do not have a case that will stand up in court. I look forward to your reply.
Helen Engelhardt Hawkins
(As of May 18th, I haven't
received a reply.)
This letter appeared in
Volume 11, Issue 2 - May 7999
Truth Quest is the quarterly newsletter of Victims of Pan Am 103 Inc.