”This is one of the biggest crimes of any war.” Iranian President Ali Khamenei
July 8 1988
A crowd estimated at 10,000 chanted ”Death to America!” – in English – as President Ali Khamenei, speaking alongside 72 coffins draped in Iranian flags, vowed revenge and called the downing of the airliner by a United States warship ”an act of murder.”
After the service, the demonstrators carried the coffins to Behesht Zahra, best known as the ”cemetery of the martyrs”, a vast burial ground for the countless casualties of the Iran-Iraq war.
Iran President appears to use the tragedy to invigorate his troops. ”The best way to fight back is to be present at the front,” Khamenei said at the cemetery.
Regan is adamant that the incident is now closed. In his July 4 letter to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President – Pro Tempore – of the Senate on the destruction of an Iranian Jetliner, Reagan wrote the following.
”There has been no further hostile action by Iranian forces, and, although U.S. forces will remain prepared to take additional defensive action to protect our units and military personnel, we regard this incident as closed,” Regan insisted on July 6.
Ali Khamenei, the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran appears to disagree. Khamenei warned the United States not to assume, as President Reagan seems confident, that the shooting down of the jet by the United States cruiser Vincennes is now a closed chapter.
Khamenei dismissed Washington’s claim that the downing of the airliner was a tragic accident. Moreover, The President of the Islamic Republic of Iran forcefully denied that Iran bears some responsibility in the disaster.
”The Iranian nation and officials assert that they reserve the right to take revenge in any manner and at any place, and, God willing, they will exact revenge with force,” Khamenei said.
Surprisingly, amid the extreme hostility of the rhetoric, there was one element of restraint. President Khamenei sent a clear message to those who hold the Western hostages in Lebanon.
”Those who hold hostages, don’t harm them,” Khamenei said.
In the immediate aftermath of the USS Vincennes accident, Ahmed Jibril, the founder and leader of the PFLP-GC, called several times, from his Damascus Headquarters, the Sheik Abdulah barracks in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon.
The Sheik Abdulah barracks is the main base of Iran Revolutionary Guards in Lebanon. The messages were – allegedly – intercepted by the MOSSAD. Jibril insisted on meeting with Iran hardliners in Tehran.  After a meeting with the Iranian chargé d affaires, Hussain Niknam, a meeting is arranged between Jibril and Iranian officials in Tehran.
On July 8, Jibril arrives in Tehran to begin the negotiations. (NB. This writer is currently working with someone who has – or at least had – a source close to Grand Ayatollah Montazeri to confirm the meeting.)
NOTES AND REFERENCES
“Syria and the PFLP-GC were initially blamed for Lockerbie, but that changed after Syria joined the alliance to oust Iraq from Kuwait in 1991, and shortly thereafter Damascus became a key player in the US-sponsored Arab-Israeli peace process.”
2. For a general discussion of foreknowledge of the Lockerbie bombing by the MOSSAD, consult the following reference: Katz, Samuel M. , Israel versus Jibril: The Thirty-year War against a Master Terrorist. New York: Paragon House, 1993.