“The truth [about Pan Am 103] has not come out. I think the investigation found what it was told to find.”
Martin Cadman, father of Bill, who died in the bombing of Pan Am 103
In the aftermath of the shooting down of an Iranian airliner by the USS Vincennes on July 3, 1988, Mossad intercepted several message between the Sheik Abdullah Barracks and the Damascus-based headquarter of Ahmad Jibril’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (1).
“We had advanced notice. The smoking gun came in July,” former CIA official Bob Baer told me earlier this year. “We had info that Iranian representatives of the Islamic Revolution Guards have signed an agreement with a Palestinian group [the PFLP-GC] to bring down a plane. The investigation data was superb. It couldn’t have been better,” Baer has said previously.
The Sheik Abdullah Barracks was the main base of the Revolutionary Guards in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon. According to US intelligence, Jibril met top Iranian Officials in Tehran in early July and other meetings followed (2).
The US National Security Agency intercepted a phone call between Jibril and Iranian Interior Minister Ali Akbar Mohtashemi-Pur. Mohtashemi-Pur was on a nonsecure line, in which Jibril listed US targets in Europe his group could hit for the right price.
After a few weeks of haggling, Mohtashemi-Pur granted Jibril the contract and an initial payment of US$1.3 million. The rest of the money, namely US$10 million, was to be paid after successful completion of the mission. Mohtashemi-Pur decided that liaison between Jibril and his office would be carried through the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Lebanon. The operation was codenamed INTEKAM, which means just revenge (2).
Patrick Lang, chief of the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Middle East section at the time, told me that he stands by his conviction that:
“the bombing of the Pan Am flight was conceived, authorized and financed by Ali-Akbar Mohtashemi-Pur, the former Iranian minister of interior.”
According to a DIA memo:
“the operation was contracted to Ahmad Jibril for $1 million.” The remainder was to be paid after successful completion of the mission. “I still agree with that. We felt quite sure that this was a PFLP thing.” (3)
The day after the Lockerbie bombing, the Associated Press and United Press International received a phone call.
“We, the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution, are undertaking this heroic execution in revenge for the blowing up of the Iran Air plane by America.”
The Guardians of the Islamic Revolution is synonymous for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Among other duties, the organization is responsible for carrying out the verdicts of the Iranian Revolutionary Courts (4).
Two days after the downing of Pan Am 103, Israeli intelligence intercepted a phone call from Mohtashemi-Pur to the Iranian Embassy in Beirut.
During the conversation, the ambassador was congratulated for the “successful operation” and was told to hand over to the PFLP-GC the remaining funds (5).
Baer told the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission that an $11 million payment was received by the PFLP-GC on Dec. 23, 1988.
The transaction is evidenced by a credit to a bank in Lausanne, Switzerland, and that the payment was moved from there to another PFLP-GC account at the Banque Nationale de Paris, and thence to the Hungarian development bank.
A NSA report, written during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, states:
“Mohtashemi is closely connected with the Al Abas and Abu Nidal terrorist groups. He has recently paid 10 million dollars in cash and gold to these two organizations to carry out terrorist activities and was the one who paid the same amount to bomb Pan Am flight 103 in retaliation for the US shoot-down of the Iranian airbus.”
In a phone interview conducted in French earlier this year, former Iran President Abolhassan Bani-Sadr told me that in the aftermath of the Lockerbie tragedy Mohtashemi-Pur had claimed that he had personally ordered the bombing of Pan Am 103.
Recently, I uncovered a DIA document that unambiguously blames Jibril for the downing of Pan Am 103. Buried among a hundred pages of largely useless information, the declassified document states the following:
“The PFLP-GC has returned to conducting terrorist attacks outside the Middle East. This trend began in August 1987 with an attack on a train in West Germany which the terrorists apparently believed was a duty train. In December 1988, Jibril conducted his first major international terrorist act since 1969, the bombing of Pan Am 103. At the same time, Jibril has maintained his militia force supported Syrian military initiatives in Lebanon, and attacked Israel targets in Israel and Lebanon” (6).
It did not escape my attention that the information contained in the first and third sentences is factually established.
To my knowledge, this document has not been published, let alone discussed previously. Neither Bob Baer nor Patrick Lang was aware of its existence.
“I never saw it before. But I remember the entire intelligence community was convinced it was Iran and Syria before [the investigation turned to] MeBo,” Baer told me. (Note: Both Iran and Syria protected and funded Jibril.)
“If it is an analysis of the Lockerbie incident by DIA, I do not remember this document,” Patrick Lang wrote to me.
Martin Cadman has a pretty good reason to be skeptical about the Lockerbie verdict. On Sept. 29, 1989, President George H. W. Bush appointed Ann McLaughlin Korologos, former secretary of labor, as chair of the President’s Commission on Aviation Security and Terrorism (PCAST) to review and report on aviation security policy in the light of the sabotage of Pan Am 103.
The other members of PCAST were Alfonse D’Amato, Senator Frank Lautenberg, Representative John Paul Hammerschmidt, Representative James Oberstar, Gen. Thomas Richards, deputy commander of US forces in West Germany, and Edward Hidalgo, former secretary of the US Navy.
The PCAST members met a group of British Pan Am 103 relatives at the US Embassy in London on Feb. 12, 1990. A PCAST member told Martin Cadman:
“Your government and ours know exactly what happened. But they’re never going to tell.”
NOTES AND REFERENCES
1. Emerson and Duffy, The Fall of Pan Am 103.
2. Katz, Israel Versus Jibril.
3. In a recent e-mail, Lang told me that he meant the PFLP-GC, i.e. the group led by Ahmed Jibril. The PFLP is another group.
4. DIA Defense Intelligence Summary, Dec. 30, 1988.
5. The Times, London, Sept. 20, 1989.
6. Defense Intelligence Agency redacted Pan Am Report, page 236, response to a FOIA, 11 MB PDF. http://www.dia.mil/publicaffairs/Foia/panam103.pdf