“Your presence here clearly indicates your Governments are quite prepared to pursue the path to peace. Against the background of the cease-fire, our discussions will be businesslike, constructive and indeed productive.”
Javier Perez de Cuellar, United Nations secretary general
On this day, foreign ministers Tariq Aziz of Iraq and Ali Akbar Velayati of Iran opened direct face-to-face negotiations in Geneva.
UN Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar said both countries were “really interested in finding solutions” to end their eight-year-old conflict.
Perez de Cuellar told the two foreign ministers that their task was “to proceed with full implementation of the 10-point plan approved by the Security Council last year in Resolution 598.”
The Iran-Iraq war has caused more than one million dead, 1.7 million wounded, 1.5 million refugees and about 50,000 prisoners.
Meanwhile, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution condemning “the use of chemical weapons in the conflict between Iran and Iraq.” The resolution does not mention the report of the UN investigators who have established seven cases of use of chemical weapons by the Iraqis.
Back to the Present (2008)
On Sunday, professor Black posted the following comment on his blog (1).
Lockerbie – Mueller, Thurman, Bollier, Lumpert and a timer. This is the heading over a post  dated 23 August on the Terrorism blog.
Amongst many other things, it quotes responses from The Herald website to the two Lockerbie letters published there. Once again, however, it contains the false statement that Abdelbaset Megrahi’s counsel at Zeist, Bill Taylor QC, has become a sheriff.
The post gave rise to an interesting series of comments. R. Marquise, the former FBI special agent in charge of the Lockerbie investigation, posted a detailed reply in which he harshly criticized Black. His comments are reproduced below.
Letter of Marquise to Black (3)
Professor Black — this post is among the most absurd of all you have posted. Normally, I would remain silent and allow to blither as you are apt to do but this one article is so aggregious [sic] it deserves a response.
- You posted that Bob Mueller kept the CIA connection to Lockerbie from becoming public. NOT TRUE — in fact he ordered the investigation into those allegations (that CIA or DEA may have had a role in the bombing) and that investigation determined that did not happen.
- You said the CIA and FBI took control of the crash site on the first night after the crash. Clearly you have no understanding of how our bureaucracies worked as it would have been impossible to have done so as the crash happened at just after 7pm. This allegation was made many times and NO ONE was ever able to substantiate those allegations — EVER.
- The entire issue of the timer is wrong. I know how it was found and subsequently identified. This is easily seen in the court testimony. It was not planted — despite the allegations — who ever said it — if they did they need to prove it and I doubt sincerely that any CIA agent ever said that.
- The timer was never stolen and the fabricated testimony of Lumpert should not be believed because if one did you have to accept the fact that he allegedly gave some timer components to a Scottish officer over a year before any of us ever heard of MEBO.
- You blame Thurman for everything and certainly anyone can allege anything — he was never an employee of the CIA and was never accused — much less convicted of “fabricating” evidence. His finding was corroborated by a scientist in the UK.
- You say that a senior FBI agent in charge of the investigation was not called to give evidence and make a number of allegations against him about Iran Contra and the like. I assume you mean Oliver Revell who — for a period of time — was in charge of all FBI criminal investigations. He had oversight of Lockerbie and thousands of other investigations. Normally chief constables are not called to give evidence in a murder case when they only know the evidence when it is explained to them. He had no day to day operational control of the investigation and left FBI HQ long before the indictments were returned. [Actually, the author of the post was referring to Vince Cannistraro.]
- You make comments about ex CIA officers making allegations — who are they and let s put them on the record?
- As for the Golfer — he never was and never will be of chief constable rank. He was a low level officer who had no idea about what the SIO and his counterparts in America talked about.
- Cannistraro retired in August 1990 — I know because I had the FBI Director write him a letter upon his retirement. The CIA did a good thing after he left their employ in the CTC — they named a Secret Service agent to lead their aspect of the investigation. The MEBO connection had not yet been fleshed out by the time VC left CIA.
Professor — you should stop doing such a disservice and stop posting things which are wrong, have proven to be wrong or just plain confusing. You told me once before you would like to wait until all the hearings are in. Stop posting the garbage or at least state something more meaningful than “Alistair Duff is the sheriff” rather than Bill Taylor.
In the next few days, I will try to address the nine points raised by Marquise. Today, I will answer his question regarding the allegations made by former CIA operatives (Point 7).
The German magazine FOCUS has published in 1996 an interview of a former CIA agent, who indeed insisted on remaining anonymous. The reader will find below an English translation of part of their publication.
FOCUS: When did you find out who was responsible for the Lockerbie disaster?
CIA: From the beginning we had information about the Damascus based PFLP-GC of Ahmed Jibril. The information said that this group blew up the airplane on orders of the Iranians out of revenge for the shooting down of an Iranian civil airliner over the Persian Gulf by the US Navy. We got the first proof for this story in February 1989. One of our Near Eastern agents, a member of a Palestinian group, took part in an Islamic conference in Tehran. He had been invited by the then Iranian Interior Minister, Al Akbar Mohtashemi. Earlier, he had been ambassador in Damascus and helped to build up the Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah.
FOCUS: What happened at this meeting in Tehran?
CIA: It was a meeting of the ten groups of so-called Palestinian rejectionists — the opponents of peace, and a Hezbollah delegation. Abu Nidal’s people were also represented. Mohtashemi demanded more action from his guests against the USA and Israel. He criticized them because he considered them too lazy. That was like a whiplash for them. As sugar coating, he offered further financial support. Suddenly, he portrayed the PFLP-GC as a shining example. Ahmed Jibril looked around proudly.
FOCUS: What did this praise have to do with Lockerbie?
CIA: The others asked Jibril later on what Mohtashemi meant, in personal conversations. Jibril finally admitted that he was responsible for the attack on Pan Am 103.
FOCUS: Did he confirm this to your agent too?
FOCUS: Couldn’t this just be a case of a terrorist who wanted to make himself look important? Did you learn more?
CIA: Our knowledge was very extensive. We learned, for example, that the Lockerbie bomb was built in Lebanon, in a camp of the PFLP- GC in the Bakaa Valley. The device was flown from Damascus to Berlin aboard Syrian Arab Airlines and given there to the German commando branch of Jibril’s organization. This was led by Hafer Qessan Daikamouni, who the German police later arrested. An American staffer of Pan Am [baggage handler?] smuggled the bomb on board Pan Am 103 in Frankfurt.
FOCUS: What was his motive?
CIA: Money and drugs from Lebanon. He was a drug addict.
FOCUS: Why this airliner specifically?
CIA: On board the jumbo there were drug investigators and intelligence colleagues. They were coming from the Middle East and wanted to fly home to their families for Christmas. The terrorists knew this.
FOCUS: Does your information on the real background come from one single Arab source?
CIA: No, of course not. We had many contacts, especially in Damascus.
FOCUS: Do you think that someday the truth about Lockerbie will be officially confirmed?
CIA: It’s very doubtful whether my government can part ways with the Libya version. Too much has happened since 1991. The fronts have all grown too hard. The United Nations embargo [against Libya] has caused a lot of damage. And Syria? The country is on the threshold of peace with Israel. I don’t exclude the possibility that this peace will be paid for with the knowledge about Lockerbie
Confirmation From Another Former CIA Operative
On June 25 of this year (NB. 2008), I asked former CIA operative Bob Baer if he could comment on the interview.
Baer told me that he did not know the identity of the source. However, he also told me in the most direct style that the content of the interview was absolutely correct.
NOTES AND REFERENCES