Although this blog is devoted to PT/35(b), aka the “dodgy timer fragment”, I will once in a while allow myself to comment on other issues.
Today, Pr. Black reminded us on his blog that on this day six years ago, we learned from the Sunday Times that “American intelligence documents blaming Iran for the Lockerbie bombing would have been produced in court if the Libyan convicted of Britain’s worst terrorist attack had not dropped his appeal.”
Allow me to intervene. All those classified documents are genuine (to the best of my knowledge) but the source is clearly bogus. It is a “legend” deliberately created to point the finger of suspicion towards Tehran. Here is a 5 minutes crash course.
Many press articles and broadcast documentaries have examined the background. A recent, detailed analysis is by Davina Miller in a leading academic security journal (see “Who Knows About This? Western Policy Towards Iran: The Lockerbie Case“, Defense and Security Analysis, 27/4, December 2011). The intention of Miller’s paper is not to reach a firm conclusion, but to use numerous sources (including United States and United Kingdom legal documents and intelligence-agency sources) to examine the argument that there is a convincing alternative narrative to the official one.
In the most compressed terms, the proposition at the heart of this narrative is that the attack was sponsored by Iran in retaliation for the deaths of 290 passengers and crew of Iran Air Flight 655 when this craft, an Airbus 300, was shot down in July 1988 over the Persian Gulf by the American guided-missile cruiserUSS Vincennes.
The case does not claim that Iranian officials were directly involved in the Lockerbie bombing, but that they sponsored the Damascus-based PFLP-GC Palestinian paramilitary group to conduct the attack. This group both had the expertise and was known at the time to be working towards attacking western aircraft. (1)
The proof of Dr Miller’s allegation of sponsoring
For example, in February 1991, eight months after the FBI had supposedly identified the timer which led away from the PFLP-GC and Iran, in an Intelligence Report for Multinational Forces, Desert Storm, the DIA noted Iran’s Interior Minister, Ali Akbar Mohtashemi’s payment of $10 million for “terrorist activities” and that he “was the one who paid the same amount to bomb Pan Am Flight 103.”
Multiple sources (CIA, DIA, Tehran)
The document has been declassified and nobody has ever disputed its authenticity. I have over the years spoken with several individuals who have all confirmed that story.
“There was a smoking gun in July ’88 that Iran hired Jibril to knock down at least one American plane,” Former CIA Robert Baer told me.
“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.”
Following the Iraqi WMDs fiasco, you may have some doubts about CIA evidence. I have. But the US Defense Intelligence made the same assessment.
The DIA has always thought the Iranians paid the PFLP-GC to bomb Pan Am flight 103. Patrick Lang, chief of the DIA’s Middle East section at the time, has stated that he “signed off” on the DIA’s conclusion.
“The bombing of the Pan Am flight was conceived, authorized and financed by Ali-Akbar Mohtashemi-Pur, the former Iranian minister of Interior. The operation was contracted to Ahmad Jibril for $1 million. The remainder was to be paid after successful completion of the mission.”
“I still agree with that. We felt quite sure that this was a PFLP thing,” Lang told me.
When I spoke to Mr Bani Sadr (the first President of Isamic Republic of Iran), he told me that he suspected the role of his country in the PAN AM 103 tragedy. (2)
Bani-Sadr told me that, in the immediate aftermath of the Lockerbie tragedy, Mohtashami-Pur, the then minister of the interior, acknowledged in an interview that he had contracted Ahmad Jibril, the leader of a Palestinian organization, to bomb an American airliner. The interview was scheduled for publication the following day. Hours before distribution, the newspaper was shutdown.
Confirmation of Bani-Sadr Allegation
Iranian Affairs Analyst Gholam Reza Amouzadeh told me that Mohtashemi-Pur tried at least once more to reveal his role in the Lockerbie bombing.
In January-February 1995, the Jahan e Islam magazine published an interview of Mohtashami-Pur. At the very beginning of the interview, Mohtashami-Pur said that he would soon reveal the “Lockerbie files” to the readers. But they never got the chance to read them.
The head of the office in charge of censorship, a branch of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, run at the time by Mir Salim, a right-wing politician very close to the Supreme Leader, mailed a letter signed by the Police Authority to the printing-house requesting that the interview not be published. Jahan e Islam was shut down immediately.
As chance would have it, the Council of Observation to the Press was in session the next day. All members of the council, including Karbaschi, a person very close to Rafsanjani, approved the order.
Well, here is the PRIMARY evidence of the “$”10 Million transaction. (Check the currency! And the US$ – Spanish Pesetas exchange rate in 1988.)
Draw your own conclusion…
FBI Richard Marquise
Long ago, I asked Marquise to comment on the following information:
“Two day after the bombing, communication intercepts indicate that Tehran ordered their Ambassador in Beirut to pay Jibril Organization for the successful operation. The transfer of the money is recorded and Dalkamoni was in possession of the Paris bank account number when he was arrested.”
“I am aware of some of this – it is classified – but has nothing to do with Lockerbie or a PAYMENT”, Marquise told me on 02/11/2008.
Marquise is right about this. This transaction – and all other transactions to and from this account (and its many joint accounts) – has absolutely nothing to do whatsoever with Pan Am 103.