Interesting stuff from the University of Dundee.

Craig Murray

The weblog of Craig Murray, former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan

June 29, 2007


Reading through Richard Dawkins' "The God Delusion", and accepting his definitions, confirms that I am a Deist rather than a Theist, Atheist or Agnostic. Except I have days when I go agnostic. I will blog about Dawkins another day.

I mention God because I have no way to prove what I am going to tell you now. I would swear any oath to its truth, but that might not convince you. Actually, I have nothing much left to me now but my reputation for honesty, and nothing to gain by sticking my neck into this one.

From late 1989 to 1992 I was the Head of the Maritime Section of the FCO and No 2 in the Aviation and Maritime Department (for those into FCO arcana, the Maritime Section was headed by a Grade 5 First Secretary and the Aviation Section by a Grade 6 First Secretary). This was the period of the invasion of Kuwait and first Gulf War, in which the Maritime Section, including me, mostly got picked up and deposited in an underground bunker as the FCO part of the Embargo Surveillance Centre. We did intelligence analysis on Iraqi attempts at weapons procurement and organised interdiction worldwide.

In this period I mostly lived in my underground bunker, quite literally, and didn't get back to the FCO much to keep an eye on the rest of my section. On one occasion when I did, I was told something remarkable by a colleague in Aviation section.

At this time we suddenly switched from blaming Iran and Syria for the Lockerbie bombing to blaming Libya. This was part of a diplomatic drive to isolate Iraq from its neighbours in the run-up to the invasion. Aviation section were seeing all the intelligence on Lockerbie, for obvious reasons. A colleague there told me, in a deeply worried way, that he/she had the most extraordinary intelligence report which showed conclusively that it was really Syria, not Libya, that bombed the Pan Am jet, and that the switch was pure expediency.

I asked if I could see the report, and my colleague declined, saying this was too sensitive and dangerous; the report was marked for named eyes only. That in itself was extremely unusual - normally we would pass intelligence reports freely to each other, signing the register for them.

That is all I know. I never saw the report myself, and I do not know what it said, or why it was so conclusive. I am sorry to say it was such an incredibly busy time, we never discussed it again. I do not know, for instance, whether the intelligence contained an actual admission the charge aganst Libya was fake, or merely evidence that proved Syria did it (a communications intercept, for example). I suspect it will never be made public.

But the knowledge has remained with me ever since, and I was extremely sorry at the conviction of al-Magrahi. I do hope his appeal is successful. I am particularly impressed at the upright stand of Dr Swire and other victims' representatives on this issue.

Posted by craig on June 29, 2007 7:56 AM in the category UK Policy


A heavy burden to carry. Not only the unhealing wound of a likely wrongful conviction, but the additional understanding that others - such as the families - have all been artfully deceived. Then there is the even wider deception of the public (here and abroad) and the consequences of international actions and warfare. It must be worse for your former colleague who, if still living, will find it difficult to sleep peacefully.

Those who actively or passively participated in this plot will, naturally, have found some means of self-justification. But I prefer to face up to and live with my conscience, rather than to simply stifle it. In the end, truth will out and the deceivers will be judged. It's just a matter of time.

Posted by: Chuck Unsworth [TypeKey Profile Page]at June 29, 2007 9:15 AM


I remember the doubts over the original conviction - the evidence never looked totally convincing and I am very glad to see another appeal. Of course it could well fail but it will at least give the evidence another airing. In this sort of situation there seems to be great pressure to get a conviction - any conviction - to take the pressure off the security services and draw a line under the affair.

But could you explain a bit more why it would have seemed useful to blame Libya, rather than Syria?

Posted by: Tode [TypeKey Profile Page]at June 29, 2007 9:19 AM


"In the end, truth will out and the deceivers will be judged. It's just a matter of time."

Would that it were so; but I fear such simple honest faith may be sorely misplaced when it comes to the dark recesses of 'The Affairs of State'. There are some such 'Affairs' that quite simply override any considerations of truth, honesty and justice for a mere individual. Seems to me that ME policy, ruled by the absolute Western Alliance imperative of maintaining a measure of control over what remains of the planets oil endowment, is the daddy of them all.

I do not know where the truth lies but the shannigans surrounding that Lockerbie conviction certainly render it suspect . It is refreshing that a tainted Scottish legal system has conceded as much and that the evidence will be re-aired; but I won't hold my breath on a different outcome if it requires light to be shed on those dark recesses. My guess is that TPTB will move heaven and earth to have that conviction upheld. In their world certain ends justify any means; the truth is what you (or rather 'they') make it and the public are simply lied to. It is one of the reasons why, at Privy Council level, the term 'Honest Politician' is an oxymoron.

Posted by: Sabretache [TypeKey Profile Page]at June 29, 2007 10:32 AM


Sabretache: "Would that it were so; but I fear such simple honest faith may be sorely misplaced when it comes to the dark recesses of 'The Affairs of State'."

I'd tend to agree, but maybe that's a good enough reason to hope there is an afterlife, eh?

And I also agree that the instinct will be to mask the truth again - by whatever means. But history has shown that it is almost impossible to ensure complete eradication of the realities. At least, I live in hope that is so. In the meantime it's up to people like us to make sure that these operators are kept extremely uncomfortable.

Posted by: Chuck Unsworth [TypeKey Profile Page]at June 29, 2007 10:47 AM



I understand why they wanted to take the heat off Iran and Syria at that point. If there was any particular motive for blaming Libya, other than that they had to fit up someone in order to clear Syria and Iran, I really don't know.

As I say, I didn't actually see any of the papers personally.

Posted by: Craig [TypeKey Profile Page]at June 29, 2007 10:51 AM


From remembering back I think the switch from Iran/Syria/some tiny Palestinian splinter faction to Libya was quite openly exposed in the British press (more than just Private Eye, I think) at the time - not least by some of the relatives - and the trial of the Libyans was often reported in "inverted commas".

I assumed that part of the deal of handing over al-Magrahi from Libya was an understanding he'd only serve a short term, and as a professional intelligence agent he was obeying orders to take the rap, presumably with the promise of a rich reward later. The fact that his first appeal came in 2002 - a few months after 9/11 - meant that no such quick release could be countenanced. I presume its coming now - especially since Libya is now our pet Muslim State.

Posted by: johnf [TypeKey Profile Page]at June 29, 2007 11:18 AM


Funnily enough, when I saw the news item about the Lockerbie appeal my first thought was: I expect they will take the opportunity to pin it on Iran now, since there is obviously a major campaign to throw everything that has even half a chance of leaving a mark, let alone sticking, at Iran as part of the standard pre-attack demonisation.

Syria, I would have thought, is less likely to be officially implicated, because so far as I can tell, it doesn't seem any longer to be directly in the cross-hairs. I may be wrong on that, obviously, and certainly Syria is still a major target for those who most strongly influence US foreign policy. If they can't find any way to stick it on Iran, they will be happy to throw it at Syria.

It was touch and go a couple of years ago whether Syria or Iran would get hit first, imo. Most probably it is only the surprisingly strong resistance of Iraq to pacification that has saved both Syria and Iran from attack so far.

I don't think it's at all surprising that this thing was pinned on Libya. If you recall, at the time Libya was a big troublemaker, but one which could be safely bullied without risking core ME stability.

"But the knowledge has remained with me ever since, and I was extremely sorry at the conviction of al-Magrahi."

Personally, I'm sceptical enough about our capacity to convict the right person in the majority of ordinary criminal trials - anything that involves "security" is more likely a wrongful detention or conviction than not, imo, given the kind of "evidence" that gets used and the instinctive deference to authority of ordinary people (jurors, judges) in such situations.

This is something that people need to understand and bear in mind in debates on the death penalty, as well as government powers of detention. The state is both malign and incompetent, in general.

Also worth bearing in mind that the vast majority of those suffering Abu Ghraib-like treatment in Iraq and around the US' global archipelago of detention sites are just ordinary people unlucky enough to be picked up by the US state machinery, and not "terrorists" at all - at least, before they go in.

Posted by: Randal [TypeKey Profile Page]at June 29, 2007 1:07 PM


Oh, lookee what I just found:
Lockerbie: The awkward questions
By Roger Hardy
BBC Middle East analyst

"Was Libya implicated out of political expediency, when all along the main suspect was Iran"

Here we go.

"The initial suspicion was that Iran had exacted revenge for the shooting-down of an Iranian civil airliner over the Gulf a few months before.

A US warship had mistakenly believed it was under attack from the plane, when in fact it contained pilgrims on their way to Mecca.

Iran offered a $10m reward to anyone who avenged the attack.

It looked as if the offer had been taken up by a radical Palestinian group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command.

The Syrian-based PFLP-GC was led by Ahmed


"Oliver Miles, former British ambassador to Libya, has his doubts.

"No court is likely get to the truth, now that various intelligence agencies have had the opportunity to corrupt the evidence," he told the BBC. "

Many a true word spoken by "former British ambassadors", in my experience.

"The review board, however, insisted it had "found no basis for concluding that evidence in the case was fabricated by the police, the Crown, forensic scientists, or any other representatives of official bodies or government agencies". "

Well, there's a surprise!

It must be truly inspiring for all you true believers in democracy to watch "the people" getting led around by the nose from one war to another. As if "democracy" means anything when people are so easily kept in the dark.

Posted by: Randal [TypeKey Profile Page]at June 29, 2007 2:56 PM


I was under the impression that the Iranians were quite likely to have been the culprit, that the bombing was in retaliation for the downing of the Iranian airliner by USS Vincennes, and that one reason for pinning it on the Libyans was that the US wanted people to forget that they'd blown a civilian airliner out of the sky.

Posted by: Mike [TypeKey Profile Page]at June 29, 2007 2:58 PM


listen again to Lesley Riddoch in conversation again today with Jim Swire

Posted by: felix [TypeKey Profile Page]at June 29, 2007 3:04 PM


Mike. What better way for the US to make people {i.e. people in the US and UK} forget that they deliberately killed almost 300 on an Iranian civillian aircraft by they themselves blowing up Pan Am 101 and blaming it on others. It's not the first black-op they've done and certainly would have been the last!

Posted by: Tonys Akiller [TypeKey Profile Page]at June 29, 2007 3:20 PM


"one reason for pinning it on the Libyans was that the US wanted people to forget that they'd blown a civilian airliner out of the sky"

The Independent is suggesting the reason was so as not to rock the coalition-building boat against Saddam.

Blame shifted after Saddam invaded Kuwait

For me, the bottom line is that the only reason even to suspect that Iran might have an involvement is the possible connection with the Vincennes incident - and only the timing supports that, circumstantally.

Only a fool would believe the unsupported word of the proven liars in the US and UK governments on anything regarding the ME, and most especially when it's bad-mouthing an "axis of evil" member.

I keep an open mind on the Lockerbie perpetrator's identity.

The only thing that is reasonably safe to assume at the moment, though, is that this is being reopened now in order to facilitate a desired attack on Iran by contributing to the ongoing demonisation campaign.

Posted by: Randal [TypeKey Profile Page]at June 29, 2007 6:12 PM


Dr Jim Swire (