AMP ZEIST, the Netherlands, Sept. 27 In an
atmosphere so hostile that the witness's fear could be heard
even in the voices of his translators, the testimony of the most
important witness in the Lockerbie trial was systematically torn
to pieces by defense lawyers today.
Two defense lawyers spent the day battering every important
point made on Tuesday by Abdul Majid Giaka, a Libyan double
agent who has been in a United States federal witness protection
program for the last decade.
Mr. Abdul Majid's tentative performance today, coupled with
his failure on Tuesday to link the two defendants firmly to the
bomb, seemed seriously to undermine his usefulness to the
prosecution and its effort to prove beyond a reasonable doubt
that the two Libyans on trial, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi
and Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, blew up Pan Am 103 in 1988, killing
Today the defense lawyers called Mr. Abdul Majid a liar at
least 30 times, and only once the whole day did a prosecutor
rise to object.
To question after question, Mr. Abdul Majid flailed for a
response and often was reduced to answering: "I do not
remember," "I am not lying," "These things were many years ago,"
"I did not see what the C.I.A. wrote," or "Maybe I said it, or
maybe I forgot."
Quoting from Central Intelligence Agency cables describing
its many interviews with Mr. Abdul Majid from 1988 to 1991,
William Taylor, a defense lawyer, raised serious doubts that Mr.
Abdul Majid had ever seen the defendants carrying a brown
Samsonite suitcase through the Malta airport, that they ever
stored 25 pounds of TNT in a desk, that Mr. Abdul Majid had ever
prepared a report for Libyan intelligence on how to slip an
unaccompanied suitcase onto a plane, or that one of the
defendants had ever referred to that report and warned him,
"Don't rush things."
Mr. Taylor elicited a pattern: Each time the C.I.A., which
was paying Mr. Abdul Majid $1,000 a month, threatened to cut him
off as a worthless informant, he argued, Mr. Abdul Majid would
come up with a new bit of information.
Mr. Taylor's questions also implied a darker subtext and
became, in effect, a scathing indictment of the behavior of the
C.I.A. and Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The C.I.A. emerged as an agency that knew Mr. Abdul Majid was
a worthless informant but deliberately unloaded him on F.B.I.
investigators trying to crack the Lockerbie case by advising Mr.
Abdul Majid that he could realize his dream of getting to
America if the Justice Department accepted him as a witness.
It then concealed, from 1988 until just last month, under the
claim of national security, cables that made clear just how
grave its doubts were about Mr. Abdul Majid's veracity.
If the prosecution fails, questions will no doubt be raised
about the $200 million spent arranging this special trial in the
Netherlands, as well as about the decade of international
sanctions that Libya claims cost it $30 billion.
For its part, the F.B.I. has protected Mr. Abdul Majid, who
is now an American citizen, for a decade despite his C.I.A.
record and the extravagant claims he made before a grand jury in
Washington in October 1991, such as that he was relative of
former King Idris of Libya, and that the presidents of Malta and
Libya were secretly part of a Masonic plot.
The prosecution is expected to call some of Mr. Abdul Majid's
former low-level C.I.A. handlers as part of its case. Oddly,
neither the head of the F.B.I.'s Lockerbie investigation nor the
C.I.A.'s are on the witness list.
The C.I.A. cables read out by Mr. Taylor today showed a slow
progress from excitement in 1988 about Mr. Abdul Majid's
potential as a double agent to barely concealed disgust for him
Mr. Taylor repeatedly referred to the cables as "concealed
from the defense until the trial started" or "obscured until
By 1991, the C.I.A. was describing Mr. Abdul Majid as "a
shattered person" who "does not want to be part of the security
apparatus and is certainly milking any of his contacts,
including us, for whatever he can get."
By then his handlers knew that he had never been an important
member of Libyan intelligence, and his procrastination about
penetrating it was "testing his case officer's patience." He had
been taken off the payroll but was still getting some cash. He
had even "wondered aloud if it would be possible to get $2,000
to buy bananas for his return to Libya, where they sell for 2 to
3 times the Maltese price." He had "burned all his bridges," his
wife was pregnant, and he was afraid of assassination.
The most damning element concerned the bomb-loaded suitcase.
From 1988 to mid-1991, Mr. Taylor said, while giving the C.I.A.
many details of minor Libyan intelligence activities, Mr. Abdul
Majid had never mentioned seeing the two defendants with a brown
Samsonite suitcase the same kind that contained the Lockerbie
bomb and the kind that he testified on Tuesday the defendants
had carried through the Malta airport on Dec. 7, 1988.
After his case officers, eager to get rid of him, explained
how important his shipboard meeting with the F.B.I. would be,
"this deafening silence on the subject ends the very next day,
when you come up with a brown Samsonite suitcase and this
rubbish about Customs," Mr. Taylor said snidely. "What do you
have to say?"
Mr. Abdul Majid answered weakly that the Justice Department
had very good investigators. In one of the day's more theatrical
touches, Mr. Taylor suggested the court break for lunch.
In the afternoon, cross-examination was taken over by Richard
Keen, lawyer for Mr. Fhimah.
His questions were simpler: What made you tell an American
grand jury that the Libyan leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, his
foreign minister and the president of Malta were all Masons and
part of a Masonic conspiracy? Why did you claim you were a
relative of King Idris? When you approached the C.I.A., did you
lie about your career to make them think you were more important
than you were?
Mr. Abdul Majid refused to answer about Colonel Qaddafi and
claimed he had said nothing about a Masonic conspiracy. He
denied being related to King Idris or ever claiming to be, and
blamed a translator. He denied inflating his importance, or
concealing the fact that he started at the Libyan intelligence
service as an auto mechanic. He conceded that he had claimed
friendship with important Libyans he barely knew, but would not
concede that this amounted to lying.
Mr. Keen accused Mr. Abdul Majid of embellishing his stories
as late as Tuesday. His suggestion that Mr. Fhimah had been
involved in a sexual harassment complaint was absent from his
first descriptions of the incident 10 years ago.
Like Mr. Taylor, Mr. Keen was soon ending each line of
questioning with: "That's a complete lie," or "Either now you're
lying or you lied before. Which is it?"
Mr. Keen, too, capped his questioning with a flourish. He
asked Mr. Abdul Majid if he remembered going through Gatwick,
the London airport. Getting an affirmative response, he ended
with the question, "Do you remember trying to sell yourself to
As Mr. Abdul Majid spluttered, "What do you mean?" Mr. Keen
said he had no more questions, and the court adjourned for the