[Diary of a Vengeance Foretold] Part 169
DECEMBER 18 1988
“What did they do with the German warnings, the Helsinki warning, the radio intercepts from Beirut and the knowledge that Iran had a grievous score to settle after the USS Vincennes incident? Apparently nothing…”
Hart Lidov — The truth about Oliver Revel, Dec 21 1999
On December 18 1988, the BKA was tipped off about a bomb plot against Pan Am 103 in the next two or three days. This information, probably issued by the MOSSAD, was passed to the American Embassy in Bonn, which advised the State Department, which in turn advised its other embassies of the warning.
On July 3 1988, four days before the feast day of Id al-Adha, the navy cruiser USS Vincennes, also known as “Robo-cruiser” because of the extremely aggressive behavior of her Commending Officer, shot down an Iranian passenger jet over the Persian Gulf. The civilian Airliner was carrying mostly Muslims on their pilgrimage to Mecca. 290 died, most Iranians.
Official Reaction from Tehran
On July 4, Iranian officials accused the United States of ”a barbaric massacre” and promised to ”avenge the blood of their martyrs.”
A spokesperson for the Iranian Embassy in London, Mohamed Beshti, predicted an act of revenge.
“We do not disclose our response but it will be an appropriate response to the magnitude of the American Crime,” Beshti said.
At the United Nation, Mohammad Jaafar Mahallati, Iran’s Ambassador delivered a similar message.
“You will remember that for many years, Iraqi used chemical warfare against Iranians. And we never retaliated because we abide by our Islamic principles.”
“And this is a principle that we always abide by. We act upon our own Islamic principles, which to some extent covered international regulations. ”
“We will use any legitimate means to exercise our right for self-defense. And therefore, acting in self-defense, we will use all legitimate means and ways in order to punish this act of terrorism. Not merely to punish. Punish for punishment. But we will resort to punishment to prevent further occurrence or recurrence of such unfortunate incidents.”
Ali Akbar Mohtashemi-Pur swore that there should be a “rain of blood” in revenge. [NB. Former Iran President Bani-Sadr told me earlier this year that, in the immediate aftermath of the Lockerbie tragedy, Mohtashami-Pur boasted that he had contracted Ahmad Jibril, the leader of a Palestinian organization, to bomb an American airliner.]
On July 5, Teheran radio broadcasted the following message.
”The criminal United States should know that the unlawfully shed blood in the disaster will be avenged in the same blood-spattered sky over the Persian Gulf.”
Iran’s President, Hojatolislam Ali Khamenei, called President Reagan and his Administration ”criminals and murderers.”
The Iranian Foreign Minister, Ali Akbar Velayati, called the downing of the airliner an atrocity and urged Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar to have the United Nations condemn the United States as the perpetrator.
Iran’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Mohammad Mahallati, told US media that the atrocity had been premeditated.
US Air Force Military Airlift issued a warning to its civilian contractors.
”We believe that Iran will strike back in a tit-for-tat fashion – mass casualties for mass casualties. We believe Europe is a likely target for a retaliatory attack. This is due primarily to the large concentration of Americans and the established infrastructures in place throughout Europe.”
July 7. The US Air Force Military Airlift warning, issued on July 5, was picked up by the US State Department and was broadly distributed. The warning has been disseminated via computer bulletin board.
In West Germany, the Department of Transportation sent a message to all airlines asking them to be especially careful.
Pan Am is on high alert. ”We have reviewed and redoubled our security measures,” said Henry Auerbach, Pan Am’s regional managing director for northern Europe.
Moreover, as a result of Iran’s threats of retaliation, Pan Am has stopped its three weekly Frankfurt-to-Karachi flights, which pass over the Persian Gulf region.
On November 2, the FAA alerted the airlines with a warning, similar to one already issued by the Germans in the aftermath of the operation Autumn Leaves. The warning described the Toshiba radio-cassette bomb found in Dalkamoni’s car on Oct. 26.
November 8 — Defense Intelligence Agency Terrorism Intelligence Branch issued a “Defense intelligence Summary” [DITSUM] warning that hardline Palestinian groups will step up their terrorist activities in order to discredit Arafat initiative.
November 9. The BKA released a warning through Interpol regarding the bomb found in the Ford Cortina of Dalkamoni when he was arrested on Oct. 26. The warning was also passed on other security channels.
The warning followed a meeting at Meckeheim between the BKA and senior western security advisers. The report of the BKA forensic analysis was discussed in detail. Specifically, the BKA described the Toshiba radio, the Semtex explosive hidden inside and the barometric device.
On November 17, another FAA bulletin reiterates the danger that terrorists will attempt to smuggle a radio bomb aborard an airliner. The document described the bomb seized in the Autum Leaves Operation in details and urged all airlines to be extra vigilant.
On November 18, 1988, Pan Am was specifically advised by a FAA Security Bulletin that a Middle Eastern terrorist group had been found in Germany with a bomb concealed within a Toshiba radio designed to explode aboard airliners.
The alert called upon Pan Am to activate extra vigilance and a rigorous adherence to their regulations for baggage reconciliation. Pan Am was warned of the difficulty of relying on X-rays which would not detect such bombs.
On November 22, the British Department of Transport issued its own warning, which provided a further detailed description of the bomb built by PFLP-GC member Marwan Khreesat.
End of November — During a visit to Libya, investigative journalist David Yallop, who specializes in unsolved crimes and miscarriages of justice, interviewed Nidal. Among many revelations, Nidal told Yallop that he was under great pressure from the Syrian government to reactivate and commit an act of terror against an American airliner. Yallop wrote immediately an eight-page report about the matter and passed it to MI6, asking them to forward it to the CIA.
December 2. According to a US Intelligence document dated December 2 1988, US officials were expecting a revenge bombing for the shooting down of an Iranian airliner.
“Team of Palestinians not associated with the PLO plans to attack American targets in Europe. Targets specified are Pan Am and US military bases,” the report warned.
On December 5 1988, an anonymous caller warned the US embassy in Helsinki that a bomb attack on a US airliner was imminent.
On Dec. 7, 1988, the FAA issues a security bulletin to US embassies and airliners.Pan Am was advised that the United States Embassy in Helsinki, Finland, has just received a warning that a Pan Am flight from Frankfurt to the United States would be the target of a bomb.
The notice will become known as the “Helsinki Warning.” The security bulletin reiterated the FAA’s earlier warning of a Toshiba radio bomb. The warning emphasized the difficulty of detecting this type of bomb by X-ray.
December 8. Israeli forces captured documents related to a planned attack on a Pan Am flight out of Frankfurt later that month. This information was passed to the governments of the United States and Germany.
On Dec. 13, William Kelly, the Moscow US embassy administrative counselor, drafted a memo addressed to “All Embassy Personnel” and posted on the staff notice board.
“Post has ben notified by the FAA that on Dec. 5 1988, an unidentified individual telephoned a US diplomatic facility in Europe and stated hat sometimes during the next two weeks there would be a bombing attempt against Pan Am airliner flying from Frankfurt to the United States. The FAA report that the reliability of the information cannot be assessed at this point, but the appropriate police authorities have been notified and are pursuing the matter. Pan Am also has been notified. In view of the lack of confirmation of this information, post leaves to the discretion of individual travelers any decisions on altering personal travel plans or changing to another American carrier. This does not absolve the traveler from flying an American carrier.”
On December 18, the BKA was tipped off about a bomb plot against Pan Am 103 in the next two or three days. This information, probably issued by the MOSSAD, was passed to the American Embassy in Bonn, which advised the State Department, which in turn advised its other embassies of the warning.
On Dec. 19, John Jack, the UK Department of Transport principal aviation security adviser, wrote a general threat warning to all British airports. The notice stamped restricted was also addressed to all US airliners.
The warning described in great details the Toshiba radio bomb discovered in Germany during operation Autumn Leaves. The notice warned that other bombs may have escaped the BKA. US airlines are urged to ensure that the procedure of reconciling all passengers to their luggage is rigorously applied.
Copies of the letter were placed in Jack out-tray on Monday Dec. 19. Airline security chief received it in mid January. When the Scottish investigation team finally obtained a copy of the letter, they realize at once that it was a blueprint of the bombing of Pan Am 103 on Dec. 21. On board the airliner, there were at least 14 unaccompanied luggage, and quite possibly 15…
On march 17 1989, Jeff Kriendler, a vice president of Pan Am, stated that the airline had stepped up security after the earlier warnings from the Federal Aviation Administration, and that it would not have made any difference if the Dec. 19 notice had arrived earlier. 
Elizabeth Manners, a Pan Am spokeswoman in New York, said the airline had never received the November warning from the British.
NOTES AND REFERENCES
(1) Failure to Publicize Warning on terror assailed in Britain – December 17, 1988