The Senegal Timer: Introduction (2017)

”At least on the intelligence level, the case has now been made for Libyan participation in the destruction of Pan Am Flight 103. The timing device that was incorporated in the bomb that brought down 103 was of Libyan origin.”

New York Times — October 10 1990

On May 31 2015, I began blogging on the ‘Senegal Chapter’ of PT/35(b). At the time, I mostly reported the known facts and I posted — as quickly as possible — the various original documents related to the case. (Police reports, interviews, CIA cables…)

The time has come to reflect on these known facts and original documents. Until now, this sub-story has received little attention from journalists, authors, and investigators because, prior to John Ashton’s  immense discovery that PT/35(b) could not have been part of a MST-13 Timer delivered to Libya, there was little reason to investigate these events.

Even the Lockerbie trail judges completely misunderstood the story. Their ‘opinion’ on the Senegal timer is simply false.

Obviously, the situation has changed. And, there are still a few people around who may have a story to tell. More about this later…

Original short post (May 31 2015)

During the night of 19 to 20 February 1988, two Libyan citizens and one Senegalese man were arrested upon their arrival at Dakar airport, Senegal.

An “anonymous caller” had warned the Authorities that the three men were carrying  weapons and explosives in their  luggage.


Material seized on 20/02/1988

Material seized on 20/02/1988

The anonymous caller was right about the weapons and explosives. Furthermore, they were carrying with them one boxed MST-13 timer.

The story of the Togo timer was weird and murky. But the story of the Senegal timer is out of a “serialized novel”.

Published documents

The story of the Senegal MST-13 timer has received very little coverage — or COVFEFE as Trump would tweet — from journalists and authors. And whatever was reported is usually quite mistaken.

Here are two pieces — both from the NYT — that you may want to read:

U.S. Accuses Benin of Abetting Libyan Terrorism — NYT (May 20 1988)


Can you spot the errors?


The Libyans who were arrested in Dakar in 1988, identified only by their aliases as Mohammed al-Marzouk and Mansour Omran Saber, had left the Libyan Embassy in Benin and were on an Air Afrique flight to Abidjan, Ivory Coast, when they were arrested on Feb. 20, during a layover in the Senegalese capital.

In their luggage, Dakar police found nine kilograms of Semtex plastic explosive, which is similar to that used in the Pan Am blast, several blocks of TNT and 10 timer-activated detonators.

It could not be learned what happened to the explosives and timers seized in the Dakar airport.

On the trail of terror — David Leppard

A Sting Operation

Today, there can’t be any doubt that the arrest of the two Libyan men was the result of a sting operation. President Diouf explains that much in his biography, even if he is not willing to provide additional details to this day. (How many presidents relate such a ‘insignificant’ event in their memoir anyway?) But, what was the purpose of this operation? As they say, follow the money…

The matter is so sensitive that General Kerekou was told by the United States that unless there was some positive action taken on the matter soon, his Foreign Minister would not be welcome when he comes to Washington in mid-June.

”We made it clear that a productive visit might not be possible,” one State Department official said.

The Foreign Minister, Guy Landry Hazoume, subsequently cancelled his visit, although it is unclear whether the dispute over Libyan terrorism was responsible.

General Kerekou was also told that the United States might not be able to help support Benin in negotiations for World Bank loans unless the matter were resolved.

The Marxist-Leninist People’s Republic of Benin collapsed the following year. Meanwhile, the debt of Senegal was renegotiated at a very interesting rate.

International Law professor Francis Boyle suggests an interesting explanation to the puzzling discovery of the MST-13 in Dakar on February 20 1988.

You will note that when all these allegations began to emerge from Senegal, that exact same week the Financial Times of London reported that Senegal’s public debts had been miraculously rescheduled by the Paris Club at a highly preferential rate that Senegal was not entitled to. It was pretty clear that someone in Senegal  had been bought off.

RELATED POST: The Senegal Timer: Pr. Francis A. Boyle’s Theory & Other Issues

The French Connection

In the story of the Lockerbie investigation, Benin as well as Chad, Senegal and Togo — all former French colonies — played a major ‘supporting’ role. And there is probably a good reason for the fact that it is a French journalist — writing for ‘Le Vif’ — who broke the news of a Libyan involvement in the bombing of Pan Am 103.

Understanding the political situation of these countries at the time — and their relations with Libya — is necessary to grasp the real story of PT/35(b). That is why I listed in the references below a couple of CIA papers on Benin and a report of the February 1988 election in Senegal.


U.S. Accuses Benin of Abetting Libyan Terrorism — NYT (May 20 1988)


Senegal: Attitude of the government toward the Senegalese Democratic Party (PDS) — UNHCR (1990)

BENIN: A growing base for Lybian subversion — CIA (November 4 1981)

BENIN: Turn towards moderation — CIA (November 1982)

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