Saturday, November 28, 2009


Two Scientists, a Purple Bag, and a Possible Clue
[Pan Am 103 Series]
Adam Larson / Caustic Logic
November 29 2009

Going through the court transcripts of the Lockerbie trial at Camp Zeist, one point of interest that I ran across concerns the testimony of RARDE scientist Allen Feraday. This was on June 15 2000, day 21 of the trial (read the LTBU daily report in .doc format, outlining some of the controversies). The witness himself reportedly has little in the line of formal qualifications, citing a “higher certificate in applied physics” as his qualifications; He’s still conceivably capable of brilliant professional work; but judging by some previous high-profile anti-terrorism cases he’s been involved in, he could be seen as more of a “manager” of evidence than a reasonable assessor of it.

Feraday’s scientific findings relating to the Lockerbie investigation are inextricably linked and confused with those of his underling, Dr. Thomas Hayes, who has a proper PhD. I don’t know the arrangement, but Ferraday mentions analysis of the luggage and clothing that “was essentially done relatively early on, by Dr. Hayes, and then, obviously, checked by me.” (p 3328) The two are more famous for their handling of the miraculous timer fragment PT/35(b); Hayes found it in a shirt collar and alerted Feraday, who passed the news on to Williamson, and thence to Henderson, Marquise, Thurman, “Orkin” and the history books. In testimony Feraday also clarified the interchangeable nature of their collaboration “I did not always, when I was looking at [evidence], make any difference between myself and Hayes” (p. 3332)

The prosecution generally seemed to feel the same way; their habit of asking questions of Feraday better suited for the earlier witness led Mr. Keen to lodge for private audience with the judges. Once Feraday was sent from the room, Keen argued in part:
According to the evidence of this witness, he prepared the final report on the basis of his examination of certain matters, and by considering Dr. Hayes' notes. What my learned friend appears to be inviting is hearsay evidence […] I object to the Crown canvassing hearsay evidence, even in the context of what is referred to as a joint report, in respect of such a matter. If they wish to take direct evidence on this issue, then they had ample opportunity of doing so with Dr. Hayes. And in my submission, it is not competent for them to take hearsay evidence on this matter from Mr. Feraday. (pp 3215-3216)

Nonetheless the questioning continued in a similar line, a hundred pages later coming to my point of interest, the unusual collaboration on another piece of evidence: a damaged piece of luggage, described as “a purple-coloured holdall” and labeled PH/137. This bag, Feraday had wrtten in his final report of 1989, had within it two metal fragments “which both originate from the primary IED suitcase,” so it should be of some interest. Mr. Keen for the Defense addressed Dr. Hayes' draft report during his questioning of Feraday. He cited page 23 as listing categories including "Likely Explosion Damaged Luggage,” and noted that one item listed in that heading is PH/137. Feraday confirmed these facts while comparing with his own copy.
Q So from Dr. Hayes' draft report -- and I think you just told us he prepared this part of the report -- we can see that he designated this as explosion-damaged luggage?
A I think it was lightly --
Q Lightly explosion-damaged luggage?
A Yes.
(pp 3330-3331)

This attitude would help explain Feraday’s own notes, Production 1498, in which Keen noted “that nowhere in the index” and in fact “nowhere in your examination notes does the item PH/137 appear.” The witness confirms to both “that's correct, sir. Yes.” Of course lightly blast-damaged was a fudging statement and further probing shows him to believe it wasn’t in the explosion damage at all. Next Mr, Keen pulled up a photograph of this item. (Production 181, photograph 91)
Q It is apparent, is it not, Mr. Feraday, that you have not signed the label as it is photographed in photograph 91?
A That's correct, sir. Yes.
Q But your signature now appears on the label PH/137 in court?
A Yes, sir.
Q When did you sign that label, Mr. Feraday?
A When I had the bag back to write this -- the final report.
Q And what date was that, Mr. Feraday?
A I can't tell you without looking it up again on a list, I'm afraid.
Q Are you saying that that was before December 1991?
A I think it must be, yes. I finished the report by then, so yes.
Q And are you saying that you examined PH/137 before you finished the report?
A Yes, sir.
Q Where are the notes of that examination, Mr. Feraday?
A Well, there aren't any, because as I said, I did not always, when I was looking at them, make any difference between myself and Hayes -- although in this instance I did, and I told him so, that in my opinion you couldn't necessarily put that in the explosion damage. I couldn't convince myself that it was explosion damage. Prior to that, Hayes had written this preliminary report for another purpose -- I think the Fatal Accident Inquiry --
(pp 3331-3333)

So if I’m reading this right, he disagrees with the actual PhD scientist, but did no detailed, documented, admissible examination of his own to back this up. He couldn't recall when he made his divergent inspection, but did immediately recall that he made no notes for it. His lack of notes in turn is justified "because" they agree on things, "although" not in this case. Got it.

Notes or not, the reason for Feraday’s divergence seems to be an unexplained lack of conviction, with which Hayes lodged no disagreement:
Q And you recall --
A Sorry, I'm waiting for the --
Q I don't think you had finished, Mr. Feraday, so do finish your answer if you wish.
A Sorry. I came to the conclusion that I couldn't myself put it in the explosion – necessarily in the explosion-damaged baggage. I'm not saying it isn't, but I couldn't convince myself. And I still can't. And for that reason, I had a word with Hayes, and we agreed to put it in the second section.
Q So you -- you recall discussing this with Dr. Hayes, do you?
A At some stage I discussed it with Dr. Hayes, but I can't remember exactly when or if, in fact, it was when the -- I wrote the final report. And then Hayes certainly came in, obviously, and read it all and then signed, and we went through each item then. We through the report, if you like, line by line.
Q Line by line, Mr. Feraday?
A Well, he read through it, obviously, line by line.
(pp 3333-3334)

This implies no disagreement; Hayes was able to check Feraday’s findings and found no problem with the exclusion of PH/137 that Feraday had already decided on and reported. Next, Mr. Keen turned to Feraday’s given reasoning, in that report, to support his agnosticism.
Q If you would like to turn for a moment, Mr. Feraday, to your report 181 at page 51.
A Yes, sir.
Q Now, we can read this section for ourselves, but I'd like to look in particular at the third paragraph on that page, which you corrected during your examination in chief chief [a meeting just before his questioning - ed] by proposing the insertion, after the fourth word in the first line, of the word "other"?
A Yes, sir.
Q Now, taking the paragraph, of course, in its context, can we read that corrected paragraph. It states: "As there are no other penetration holes in either the holdall or the plastics bag, it appears most likely that these two fragments, which both originate from the primary IED suitcase, were picked up and placed inside the plastics bag, which was then itself
placed inside the purple holdall for convenience of carriage."
A Yes, sir.
Q Now, I have to suggest, Mr. Feraday, that if you insert the word "other" into that paragraph in the context of this section, the paragraph is deprived of sense or content.
A Is ... ?
Q Deprived of any sense or content. It tells us absolutely nothing if you correct it in that way. What do you say to that?
A I am not sure what you mean. But what it would then say is as there are no other penetration -- at the top of the page, I am talking about the ragged horizontal cuts which, obviously, one can see as penetrations. I see them as cuts. Now, in dealing with, first of all, the holdall, there are no other penetration holes in it, other than those that I've already said about the cuts. And in the plastics bag, there were none, the plastics bag which contained the two fragments of metal from the suitcase. So I was left scratching my head as to how they can get inside there, in a plastics bag, if they didn't come through any part of the bag.
Q Do you --
A I can't convince myself they come through the ragged cuts.
Q You recollect the label attached to the plastics bag, Mr. Feraday, having said "two pieces of metal, charred, found within baggage."
A Yes, I do, sir.
Q And you recollect finding penetrations in the side of the bag that went right through to the interior of the bag?
A Horizontal cuts, yes, sir.
Q But you felt it pertinent to remind us that there were no other penetrations in the bag, Mr. Feraday; is that right?
A Not big enough for the -- for anything to do with the two pieces of metal. That's correct, sir, yes.
Q But the penetrations you'd already found were big enough for the penetration of the two bits of metal?
A Oh, yes, sir.

Q Well, that might be an appropriate point, My Lords, if there is to be a short adjournment.
LORD SUTHERLAND: Yes, very well. We'll adjourn for 15 minutes.

I can only paraphrase Michael Palin in The Holy Grail “what a strange person.” Mr. Feraday’s stated reasoning then seems to be that even though these shards could fit through the penetrations if explosively hurled there, he couldn't convince himself this was what happened and chose to think of them as surface "cuts." Who knows what caused these cuts - perhaps the hold-all fell through a tree before landing. And the two unrelated IED suitcase bits were found elsewhere and simply put in the bag far carrying, with no note about being found elsewhere. His report first supported this saying there were "no penetrations" in the bag, corrected only in his examination in chief (a meeting just before his questioning) to "no other pentrations," aside from the "cuts" that they probably did enter through.

His references to the plastic bag is curious. This would clearly seem an ad hoc evidence bag (probably not a proper one or he’d teerm it as such), into which the shards were placed after being found. This would be a careless and illogical move, but I don't see anything else making sense. Transferring these also into a bag they weren’t found in makes this faux pas worse – something Mr. Feraday should have reported rather than just using it as he did to remove the explosion from PH/137. A lack of damage to this evidence bag is also cited as a clue these didn't fly in thru the cuts: “[T]here are no other penetration holes […] in the plastics bag […] which contained the two fragments of metal from the suitcase. So I was left scratching my head as to how they can get inside there, in a plastics bag, if they didn't come through any part of the bag.” This in particular is a ridiculous non-sequitur, but another clue to Feraday this was not explosion damage.

In the most rational explanation for this thought process, perhaps he just meant, "obviously, the bomb didn't put these metal shards in the plastic bag, one of our people did. Therefore, they probably got the scraps from somewhere else, but threw them in there instead." And perhaps if we could see the evidence we'd see why he felt the shards did not just enter through the tears. But for whatever intention, he effectively erased this piece of evidence from the bomb site picture – where Dr. Hayes had already placed it - based on his unexplained solution.

Although he comes across looking incompetent – nearly always looking at the wrong exhibit and frequently befuddled - I suspect Feraday is not actually an idiot. Therefore, if he seems like one, he may be playing dumb and that's often a clue. However I simply don't have the information to know just what this might mean. Detailed information on loading procedures at Heathrow could tip us off to where this bag might have wound up. Was the location of this item relative to, say, the Bedford suitcase, troubling in some way? Considering Feraday's strained logic over this issue, I suspect we may be looking at a valuable clue, if just another on the pile indicating he was not playing on the level with this investigation.

Monday, November 23, 2009


Camp Zeist, Netherlands, 30 August 2000
[Pan Am 103 Series]
Adam Larson / Caustic Logic
November 22 2009

The following is the first online posting of the full testimony, before the special Scottish Court at Camp Zeist , Netherlands, of Frankfurt Airport employee Bogomira Erac. Her importance to the Lockerbie investigation was previously explained in another post. This somewhat short discussion is extracted from Day 47 (of 86 days) of the full digital transcripts I just received copies of. Transcripts: Day 47, 30 August 2000, pages 6659-6671 (re-formatted with page numbers marking page breaks)

MR. TURNBULL: The next witness, My Lords, is number 787 on the list, Bogomira Erac, who will give evidence in German.
THE MACER: Witness number 787 on the Crown list, Your Lordship, Bogomira Erac.
LORD SUTHERLAND: Advocate Depute.
Q Are you Bogomira Erac?
A Yes.
Q And do you live in Germany?
A Yes.
Q What age are you?
A 57.
Q Where were you born, please?
A In Crnomelj, Slovenia, in ex-Yugoslavia.
Q And did you live there for some time before living in Germany?
A I lived in Slovenia until '66.
Q Thank you. Do you now work at Frankfurt Airport?
A Since the 1st of January 2000, I am no longer working at Frankfurt Airport.
Q When did you begin working at Frankfurt

A On the 1st of May 1974 I started to work for a firm, and then in '75, I started to work for the Frankfurt Airport directly.
Q When you worked -- I'm sorry, was the firm you mentioned called ISI?
A Yes. The first firm was ISI from Berlin, and the one which I now work for is the FAG, Frankfurt.
Q What was your job when you worked with ISI at Frankfurt?
A I was a programmer when I worked for ISI. I also did some operating. And when I started out with FAG, I started out as a programmer, and later I did operating.
Q Did the firm ISI develop the software that was used to control the baggage conveyancing system at Frankfurt Airport?
A Yes.
Q So from your first involvement with Frankfurt Airport, have you worked with the baggage

conveyancing system?
A Yes.
Q And were you working at Frankfurt Airport in December of 1988?
A Yes.
Q And did you work as an operator in the computer system at that time?
A Yes. Yes.
Q Was that the same department as Kurt Berg?
A Yes.
Q Was he your supervisor?
A Yes, he was my supervisor.
Q In December of 1988, was it possible to ask the computer to print out information about the baggage sent to a particular flight?
A Could you please repeat the question once again?
Q Was it possible to ask the computer to print out details of the baggage sent to an outgoing flight?
A Yes, that was possible.
Q And for how long would that information be kept in the computer?
A The information was kept in the computer

for a few days; however, for various appraisal processes, we copied the data onto two boards. We switched between one and the other.
Q All right. Were you working in the computer department on the 21st of December of 1988?
A Yes, I was on the late shift.
Q And what time did you finish?
A Officially, we stopped at 22.00 hours, but we finished around about a quarter of an hour earlier, and so we were allowed to leave earlier, if we had finished our work earlier.
Q When did you hear about the crash of flight 103?
A I heard about it in my car when I was driving away from the airport.
Q And did you realise that that was a flight that had been handled during your shift?
A On the news it said the plane came from Frankfurt, and actually, I didn't know anything further about it. I thought it was a direct flight. I didn't know anything more than that.
Q And did you think that it had been one of the flights that had been dealt with during your shift?
A I was sure about that time, the

afternoon we had dealt with all of the planes which were leaving Frankfurt in the afternoon.
Q Were you working the next day?
A Yes, I was doing the late shift the next day as well.
Q And did people at the airport speak about the crash?
A Yes, we talked a lot about this crash. In fact, that was virtually all that people talked about.
Q Did you decide to do something with the computer?
A Well, actually, it was quite late on. We've got -- we had a television in our unit. It's the news, I saw the images.
Q And did you then decide to make an inquiry in the computer system?
A Well, I was actually curious about that flight. A day earlier there had not been any problems, so I was interested to see how much luggage there had been. And so it was really because I was curious that I made a printout.
Q What did you make a printout of?
A I've got a KIK computer, and I made a

printout of the plane from the day before, on the 21st of December.
Q Would you look at the screen with me, to Production 1060, image 1, please. Can we magnify to the top, please. Thank you. Do you recognise this document, Mrs. Erac?
A One moment, please. I've got to put my spectacles on.
Q Can we see the flight number?
A Yes. Yes, you can see the flight number.
Q And is it flight Pan Am 103?
A Yes, it's flight Pan Am 103, 1988, from December 21st was the date. It indicates the counter where the luggage for Pan Am 103 was checked in.
Q And is this the information that you asked the computer to print out?
A Yes, that's the information I wanted about the luggage which went through the luggage transportation system for that flight.
Q What did you do with the computer printout?
A Well, I took a look at it, and I was really surprised that so few pieces of luggage had been checked in whilst there were so many passengers on

board. Generally, at that time of the year -- at that time, anyway -- Americans had much more luggage. I took a look to see whether all of the items of luggage came out of the system, the ones that had been checked in, and whether they were on time. And I saw that as far as the computer was concerned, nothing remained in Frankfurt.
Q Did you realise at the time that the Frankfurt flight had connected with a larger aircraft in London?
A No, I only found out about that later on.
Q All right. So once you had finished looking at the computer printout, did you give it to anyone?
A No. No. I didn't see anything problematic.
Q What did you do with the computer printout, then?
A No one instructed me to make this computer printout. I just did it for myself because I was curious about the way in which the flight had been dispatched, so I took a look at it, and then I kept it as a souvenir, one might say. I hung it up in my cupboard.

Q Were you due to take some holiday leave about this time?
A A few days later, I went to Slovenia. That was what I did every year; I went to Slovenia for the New Year.
Q Do you recollect when you returned to Frankfurt?
A I think it would have been around about the 15th of January, perhaps one day before that.
Q Did there come a stage when you told Mr. Berg that you had the printout?
A That was around a week later. When I went to Frankfurt again, I was on the early shift. It was sometime between the 20th and the 25th of January.
Q Thank you. Did you give the printout to Mr. Berg at that time?
A Yes, I gave Mr. Berg this printout, because I'd realised that there was actually no other documentation available.
Q Did he ask you to check the computer at that stage to see if there was any more information available?
A In the computer -- well, there was -- the data was there for one week, and after that they were written over. Mr. Berg just asked me to take a

look in the archive in order to see whether there were teletype printouts. These were the things which came automatically from the computer. But I couldn't find anything.
Q Would there be any record of the baggage sent to flight 103 if you hadn't made this printout?
A Not so far as I know.
Q Thank you.
MR. TAYLOR: I think Mr. Davidson is leading on this issue, My Lord, but I have no questions.
MR. BURNS: I have a number of questions, My Lord.
LORD SUTHERLAND: Very well, Mr. Burns.
Q Mrs. Erac, can I ask you, please, something about the procedure in relation to the computers.
A Yes, go ahead.
Q In 1988, am I right in thinking that at the beginning of each day the baggage conveyancing system computers needed to be switched on?
A The computers were all switched on. We didn't switch them off at all, but every day we started

anew, working with the standardized state, so that was with the baggage -- I believe it was a KIK computer where the data were stored. They were stored in that computer for a few days, and it would be possible then to copy the data onto disks.
Q All right. What I really am interested in knowing is whether, at the beginning of each day, the time needed to be entered into the computer system.
A Yes, at the start, the date and the time had to be put into the computer.
Q And the time would be taken, would it, from the person's watch, or an office clerk, at the time when the time was entered into the computer?
A I'm afraid I haven't quite understood what you mean with this question. Could you please repeat the question?
Q Where would the operator get the time which was entered into the computer at the stage we are talking about?
A You get the time from the main clock in the computer, or from one's own watch, or from another clock.
Q Now, during the course of the day, would the time that the computer showed start to deviate from the time that the clock showed, for instance?

A Yes, that's correct, but it's a physical phenomenon. Computer time, after about 4.00 or 5.00 in the afternoon, one would note differences of two or three minutes, let's say. It's a physical phenomenon. We were aware of this. It's because of the frequencies.
Q All right. So because of the electrical frequencies that powered the computer --
A Yes.
Q -- the computer time would deviate from other times shown on, for instance, clocks or watches; is that the position?
A Yes, there were small deviations.
Q Do you know whether the power company had been -- by December 1988 had been contacted about these problems in the power -- in the electrical frequencies?
A Well, I wasn't actually in charge of that. I didn't deal with the hardware side of things. I don't know whether they had been contacted.
Q Could the deviation between computer and clock time increase beyond three minutes?
A Well, you have to know which time you are referring to; not in such general terms, but at what time are you referring to?

Q Well, you've told us that by 4.00 or 5.00, the time difference would be two or three minutes. What I am interested to know is whetherit's -- the difference ever became more than three minutes.
A Well, I didn't really pay much attention to these differentials, because I was in charge of the luggage side of things for the software, not of the hardware.
Q Thank you very much indeed.
MR. DAVIDSON: No questions, My Lord.
LORD SUTHERLAND: Advocate Depute.
Q Can I ask you one more thing, please,
Mrs. Erac. Whose job was it to set the time on the computer in the morning?
A Well, it was the operators when we started the computers.
Q Did you sometimes do it?
A Yes, almost every morning, either my colleague or myself.
Q When you were doing it, where did you get the time to enter into the computer?
A Well, from the clock in the computer, or

sometimes from my watch. But that was identical, really. I presume, anyway.
Q Was there another computer, then, apart
from the one that you were setting the time for?
A Well, I'd like to know exactly what computer you are referring to when you refer to this other computer.
Q You mentioned, I think, getting the time from the clock in the main computer; is that correct?
A Well, in the central computer we entered the time, and the central computer then transmitted the time to the KIK computer, or the other computers.
Q I see. Thank you.
LORD SUTHERLAND: Thank you, Mrs. Erac. That's all.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


[Pan Am 103 Series]
Adam Larson / Caustic Logic
rough draft posted November 16 2009

One of the stranger patterns I’ve seen recently in connection to the Lockerbie case is the tight web of alleged movements of the two accused - and of Mebo co-founder Edwin Bollier - in the days preceding the PA103 attack. To start with, the close connection between the first accused, al Megrahi, and Mr. Bollier’s company is no secret. From the Camp Zeist Opinion of the Court [hereafter "verdict", paragraphs 54 and 88]:
[54] We also accept Mr Bollier’s evidence, supported by documentation, that MEBO rented an office in their Zurich premises some time in 1988 to the firm ABH in which the first accused and one Badri Hassan were the principals. They explained to Mr Bollier that they might be interested in taking a share in MEBO or in having business dealings with MEBO. …
[88] [Megrahi] also appears to have been involved in military procurement. He was involved with Mr Bollier, albeit not specifically in connection with MST timers, and had along with Badri Hassan formed a company which leased premises from MEBO and intended to do business with MEBO.

The questionable choreography begins when the Libyans had just finished employing the Mebo MST-13 in a carefully packed Malta-themed gift bag they had set to drop bits all across western Great Britain. In case the trail wasn’t obvious enough, they decided then to bring the talkative Mr. Bollier back to remind him with a new attempt to purchase a double order of the same nifty gadgets. The court cited Bollier’s evidence that Badri Hassan, Megrahi’s partner in ABH, “came to MEBO’s offices in Zurich at the end of November or early in December 1988 and asked the firm to supply forty MST-13 timers for the Libyan Army.” [verdict, para 46] Megrahi was apparently on a visit to Zurich at the same time, and from there the dance begins. Below is a timeline, compiled from a variety of sources, to illustrate how strange the patterns are.

> Nov 20 – Dec 20 Megrahi and Fhimah “did between 20 November and 20 December 1988, both dates inclusive, at the said premises occupied by MEBO AG, in Zurich aforesaid, … order and attempt to obtain delivery of 40 further such timers from the said firm of MEBO AG [indictment, para J]
> Around Dec 1 – Hassan’s order, in Zurich, for forty MST-13 timers. [Verdict, para 88]
> Early December - Megrahi had “traveled to Zurich in early December.” [Wallace]
> Dec 7-9 - Megrahi stays at the Holiday Inn in Silema, Malta. December 7 is the date the court decided he bought the Maltese clothes from talkative shopkeeper Tony Gauci at nearby Mary's House. [verdict, para 88]
> Dec 5 and 15 – Having no MST-13 timers on hand, Bollier buys 40 of the Olympus make instead, in two batches, on the open market. [verdict, para 88]
> Dec 15 – Fhimah diary entry “Abdelbaset coming from Zurich” []
> Dec 16 Bollier books a flight to Tripoli to bring the wrong timers [Verdict, para 88]
> Dec 17 – Megrahi returns to Malta on the 17th “and then on to Tripoli Libya, where Lamen Fhimah joined him.” [Wallace]
> Dec 18 - Bollier flies to Tripoli, meets no one, leaves timers at office of one Ezzadin Hinshiri [Verdict, para 88]
> Dec 19 - Hinshiri said that he wanted MST-13 timers and that the Olympus timers were too expensive. “Nevertheless, he retained the timers and directed Mr Bollier to go to the first accused’s office in the evening in order to get payment for them. From about 6.00pm Mr Bollier sat outside that office for two hours,” but “did not see the first accused,” being of course Megrahi. [Verdict, para 88]
> Dec 18-20 “in Tripoli aforesaid, and elsewhere in Switzerland and Libya,” Megrahi and Fhimah did “order and attempt to obtain delivery of 40 further such [MST-13] timers from the said firm of MEBO AG.” [indictment, para J]
> Dec 18-20 “we accept that Mr Bollier visited Tripoli between 18 and 20 December in order to sell timers to the Libyan army, because that is substantially vouched by documentary evidence and it was not challenged in evidence.” [Verdict, para 88]
> Dec 20 – “Al Megrahi was instructed by his boss Ibrahim Bishari to travel to Malta on December 20, 1988 for a security order (not in connection with the bombing of PanAm 103)” [Bollier]
> Dec 20 – “Abdel Baset and Lamen Fhimah returned to Malta on 20 December” with an alias for Megrahi and the bomb suitcase. [Wallace]
> Dec 20 – After a final dispute with Hinshiri, Bollier returns home with his Olympus timers, “flying by direct flight to Zurich rather than via Malta (as he had expected) where he would have had to spend that night.” [Verdict, para 88]
> Dec 20 (presumably) – “On his return to Zurich Mr Bollier claimed to have discovered that one of the timers had been set for a time and a day of the week which were relevant to the time when there was an explosion on board PA103.” Herr Meister confirmed this to the court. Libyans had been fiddling with them, absent-mindedly… the court dismissed Mebo’s claims as “so inconsistent that we are wholly unable to accept any of it.” [verdict, para 46]
> Dec 20: Upon returning to Zurich, Bollier is said to have testified in 2000 "a suitcase which had been in the Mebo office prior to Mr Bollier's departure, which the witness understood belonged to Mr Badri Hassan, was not seen again after Mr Bollier left on this trip." [LTBU]
> Dec 20: [indictment, (m)] (both accused) “did on 20 December 1988 at Luqa Airport, Malta enter Malta” with Megrahi under alias Abdusamad, and both “did there and then cause a suitcase to be introduced to Malta.”
> Dec 20-21: [Indictment, (n)] Megrahi “did on 20 and 21 December 1988 reside at the Holiday Inn, Sliema, aforesaid under the false identity of Ahmed Khalifa Abdusamad.

Bollier has added to this tight web of movements across the Mediterranean in those fateful days, in response to recent comments by myself and others at Professor Black’s Lockerbie case blog (this post, in comments beneath). His messages there are a complex mix of German and mixed English; one relevant part in German renders roughly as “today we know that the new order at the end of 1988 "to produce for the Libyan army, immediately further 40 pieces of MST-13 timers from a person; H.B." on behalf same western security services one made!” H.B. could be Badri Hassan, but this seems to imply that a Western agency placed the order (through him?). Perhaps these were the same folks who compelled Hinshiri or whoever to program PA103’s explode time into one of his Olympuses. And what ever DID happen to that suitcase, Mr. Bollier?
Documents indicate that originally the CIA and an other western intelligence service planned also to involve Edwin Bollier (MEBO Ltd.) together with Mr. Abdelbaset Al Megrahi into the PanAm 103 plot!

Edwin Bollier was told at the check-in at Tripoli airport that his already booked direct flight with Swissair to Zurich on December 20,1988 was fully booked and he should travel via Malta to Switzerland on the same day - the same flight on which Abdelbaset Al Megrahi was booked (*flight KM 107, on December 20, 1988 from Tripoli to Malta). According to a new statement Megrahi did not know that Bollier was planned to travel on the same flight as he was !

Bollier was suspicious because he didn't see many people on the airport and went to the Swissair Station Manager who told him that there were many empty seats on the Swissair flight to Zurich. So he took the direct flight to Zurich on December 20, 1988. Only Abdelbaset Al Megrahi (alias Ahmed Khalifa Abdusamad) traveled with flight KM 107 from Tripoli to Malta on December 20, 1988.

Therefore Bollier was not in Malta on the same day as Abdelbaset Al Megrahi. The CIA was confronted with a new situation and the same intelligence people decided to involve the station manager of 'Libyan Arab Airways' , Mr. Lamin Khalifa Fhimah, into the complot.

*Al Megrahi was instructed by his boss Ibrahim Bishari to travel to Malta on December 20, 1988 for a security order (not in connection with the bombing of PanAm 103) ...
On September 14, 1997 former foreign minister, Ibrahim Bishari, died in a car crash in Egypt ...

Strangely for someone so nearly “framed” in the web set for Libya, Bollier was the first to try implicating Libya for the bombing of Flight 103 at all, with a letter delivered to American authorities in January 1989, well before they started finding any clues pointing that way. [see for example, verdict, para 47] This he claims he was compelled to write by - gasp! - Western agencies acting then through him to implicate Libya, a claim he’s made before and elaborates on in the same comments (worth a read for serious scholars). This letter and the claims around it will deserve their own post eventually, but something is entirely not level here, and Bollier is entirely too at the center of it. Somehow this whole byzantine Mediterranean waltz leaves me with the words and mood of the 80s poets Wham in Careless Whispers:
"Now I'm never gonna dance again, guilty feet have got no rhythm. Though it's easy to pretend, I know you're not a fool..."

[Wallace] Rodney Wallace Lockerbie the story and the lessons 2001 page 62
[Indictment] Actually I think that's a verdict
[LTBU] Lockerbie Trial Briefing Unit: report 78554 - 16th June 2000. Original site:
text doc direct link:

Friday, November 6, 2009


[Pan Am 103 Series]
Adam Larson / Caustic Logic
November 6 2009
rough draft

In a previous post I outlined the publicly available records and lack thereof for the crucial Frankfurt link in the (alleged) Malta-Lockerbie bomb route. Previously I'd missed a major resource, Lester Coleman and Daniel Goddard's's epic 1993 book Trail of the Octopus. It was just published for the first time in the US, apparently on shortened form, so that may differ from the previous online posting of the relevant chapter 7. In this, he starts with the investigative shift from the PFLPGC to Libya, in conjunction with the earlier decision that the bomb had probably come from Frankfurt.
The first requirement was to get the Germans to cooperate, and the only way to do that was to show that the bomb had gone aboard Flight 103 in Frankfurt due to circumstances beyond their control. A possible solution was to show that the bronze Samsonite suitcase containing the bomb had been fed into the system at some other airport, and that it was therefore a failure on Pan Am's part which had allowed it to go aboard Flight 103 in Frankfurt without an accompanying passenger. If this could be 'proved', then the German authorities would be no more to blame than the British at Heathrow, who had also allowed the bag to be transferred from one aircraft to another for the trans-Atlantic leg of the flight. [emph mine]

The German federal police (BKA) were taken to task for some slowness; "After Detective Chief Superintendent John Orr had taken them to task in March 1989, for dragging their feet, the BKA in April sent him the files on the PFLP-GC cell they had broken up some eight weeks before the disaster..." At that time, or so I've heard, the BKA were already sitting on something that would eventually cut the previous PFLP-GC line off at the knees. This is of course the Erac printout supposedly held in private hands until at least mid-January, then handed to the BKA who didn't hand it over to the Scottish police until sometime in August. The foot-dragging had only just started in March, and their first slow moves - failing to try and get the records themselves before the airport people brought them a copy, is of the most interest to me.

What was needed to divert attention away from Frankfurt into politically safer channels was some 'new' evidence, preferably linked to the hard forensic evidence that had already been established and which, by association, would lend credibility to it. And as the police officers engaged in the field investigation could not be counted upon to cooperate in a political fix, that evidence had to be 'found' in a plausible way, even at the cost of further inter-agency bickering.

On 17 August 1989, eight months after the disaster, Chief Detective Superintendent John Orr received from the BKA what was said to be a computer print-out of the baggage-loading list for Pan Am Flight 103A from Frankfurt to London on the afternoon of 21 December 1988. Attached to this were two internal reports, dated 2 February 1989, describing the inquiries that BKA officers had made about the baggage-handling system at the airport. Also provided were two worksheets, one typewritten, the other handwritten, that were said to have been prepared on 21 December by airport workers at key points on the conveyor-belt network.

In the margin of the computer print-out, a penciled cross drew particular attention to bag number B8849 - that is the 8849th bag to be logged into the computerized system at Terminal B that day. By reference to the worksheets, B8849 could be shown to have arrived in Frankfurt by a scheduled Air Malta flight from Luqa airport and to have been 'interlined' through to Flight 103. But neither the Air Malta nor the Pan Am passenger lists showed anybody who had booked a through flight from Luqa to New York that day. In other words, bag B8849 had arrived from Malta unaccompanied but tagged for New York and had been loaded aboard Flight 103 without being matched with a passenger. And as the job of matching bags with passengers is the responsibility of the airline, not of the airport authorities or of the host government, Pan Am had plainly been guilty of lax security amounting to 'wilful misconduct'.

This tied in nicely with the forensic evidence, which had already shown that the bomb had been hidden in a Samsonite suitcase filled with an assortment of clothing made in Malta, including a baby's blue romper suit. [...] Two weeks after the BKA released the Frankfurt baggage print-out, two of Detective Chief Superintendent John Orr's men returned to Malta and, with the help of the manufacturers, traced the clothing to a shop in Sliema.

And from Silema to the Gaucis' shop and from there to history. Fishing for data points, 17 August is the date of the police report about the Malta-pointing printout. Attached were "two internal reports, dated 2 February 1989, describing the inquiries that BKA officers had made about the baggage-handling system at the airport." These I'd love to read. The date seems to be after they had the printout handed over. Any records of any earlier efforts, fruitful or not, remain under wraps. This new development sparked investigations of the airport by FBI and Scots through September and October, pretty much just as their German counterparts did months earlier, and as neither apparently bothered to do before being rung up with the news.

On the two worksheets from December 21, the handwritten one would have to be the station 206 log, with KM180's coding signed for by Mr. Koca. The "typrewritten" one is new to me, and would be interesting to learn more about. It wouldn't be included unless it had some relevance to item 8849, and probably not typed unless it was part of the computer system. And on the numbering, it seems this was not a sequentially-generated number system, but permanent ID for physical trays scattered at random. It was simply tray no. 8849 that this bag was (allegedly) put in. But I'm really no expert.

Coleman followed closely both the Lockerbie investigation and the liability cases against Pan Am that led to its downfall, almost concurrent with the Libyan indictment in late-1991. Along the way, he got a good look at what records the airline did and didn't keep at Frankfurt, as well as raising questions about the umber of of insidious unaccompanied bags thereon:
More particularly, there were problems with the computer records and worksheets from Frankfurt. For one thing, they did not tally with Pan Am's own baggage records, which although questionable as to their accuracy, were at least compiled in good faith. To this day no one knows exactly how many pieces of luggage there were aboard the doomed flight or consequently whether they have all been recovered or accounted for. Nobody even knows exactly how many suitcases were in the luggage pallet that contained the one with the bomb -- it was 45 or 46 -- or how many of these were brought in by the feeder flight from Frankfurt. (The number was also thought to include not one but four unaccompanied bags.)

The BKA estimate that 'about' 135 bags were sent through to the baggage room below the departure gate of Flight 103A, …. There were no records of luggage sent directly to the departure gate, nor of interline luggage taken directly from one aircraft to another, nor of bags belonging to first-class passengers.

Of the 135 bags mentioned by the BKA, 111 had been logged on the Frankfurt computer and about 24 taken directly to the aircraft from three other connecting Pan Am flights. The list compiled by Pan Am at its check-in desks, however, showed not 111 but 117 items of luggage, and the discrepancy has not been convincingly cleared up to this day.

The book evidences exactly my own incredulity over this alleged episode:
If the new Malta/Libyan theory was to replace the established Iran/PFLP-GC scenario, it was necessary, first of all, to believe that no one thought to ask for the baggage-loading lists for Flight 103A as soon as terrorist action was suspected -- which was almost at once.

It was necessary to believe that no one in any of the British, German and American police, intelligence and accident inquiry agencies who had a hand in investigating the disaster, or anyone who was in any way involved with airport management or security at Frankfurt or London, thought to secure the baggage lists as the one indispensable tool that would be needed to unravel the mystery of how the bomb got aboard.

It was necessary to believe that the only person who considered the lists to be at all important was a lowly computer operator at Frankfurt airport.

I can't accept these premises. Either investigators never came for the crucial evidence before its normal deletion, or it was deleted too early. THAT is why the printout wound up being the only and much-delayed record of the movements of the key bag. I suspect the printout lost NO corroboration in this early deletion. How early? According to this last snippet I'll share, the BKA had eight days to act under normal circumstances. Should have taken one or less.
The Observer's chief reporter, John Merritt, described how this came about in a story published almost two years after the disaster.
He wrote, on 17 November 1991:
A major breakthrough in the hunt for the Lockerbie bombers came to light only because of the quick thinking of a conscientious computer operator at Frankfurt airport.
The vital computer evidence, proving conclusively that the bag from Malta, identified as Item B8849, was on board as the airliner was blasted apart on the last stage of its journey from Heathrow to New York would have been lost forever if the woman operator had not kept her own record.
Acting on her own initiative, the woman, an employee of the Frankfurt Airport Company, who for legal reasons cannot be named, was working at the computer system known as KIK on the day of the disaster. She knew records relating to baggage loaded on to flights were kept in the system for only a limited time [eight days] before being wiped. So when she returned to work the next day she made her own print-out of the information and placed it in her locker before going on holiday.
On her return, weeks later, she was surprised to learn that no one had shown any interest in the computer records. She passed the print-out to her baggage section leader who gave it to investigators from the West German Bundeskriminalamt. But it was not until mid-August, eight months after the bombing, that the German authorities turned over this information to Scottish police in charge of the investigation.
The woman employee's role became known only last week when lawyers for families of the American victims took evidence from her in Germany. She had kept her own copy of the print-out and still had it in her locker.

Most of the rest of the chapter is a lengthy analysis of Juval Aviv's Interfor report. Coleman seems perhaps too accepting of this every-little-detail expose on how the bomb went on there, and I just haven't the patience to sort that wheat from that chaff. This is more than enough fiber and food for now.