THE LOCKERBIE FILES
The Libya ‘link’
So was Libya even involved in the Lockerbie bombing? The answer is that nobody knows. Libya certainly had a grim record in state-sponsored terrorism, but there was scant evidence to link it directly to Lockerbie at the Zeist trial. The links to Libya came from the suggestion that a fragment of a timing device which survived the blast was an MST-13 timer produced by a Swiss company, Mebo, which had supplied some to Libya. But it had also supplied them to East Germany; and in any event Libya could have sold them on. Libya could well have had links with the PFLP and PPF cells; but again there was no evidence of such a link.
So why, then, was all this evidence against the Syrian- and Iranian-backed PFLP and PPF ignored? As Paul Foot explained in Private Eye’s special report, Lockerbie: The Flight from Justice, initially they were pursued - for a solid 18 months, right up to the point of announcing that arrests were imminent. Then suddenly the political mood in the Middle East changed dramatically. Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and the US/UN forces needed Arab support beyond their usual friends in Egypt. The Syrians were themselves worried about Hussein’s expansion in the area, and in November 1990 deals were signed to both neutralize Iran and to bring Syrian forces into the combined operation known as Desert Storm to reclaim Kuwait.
As Paul Foot described it, Lockerbie was to be played down and President Bush snr declared: “Syria took a bum rap on this.” No wonder no one now wants a public inquiry and the question remains: who was really behind the biggest ever terrorist atrocity on British soil?
Read Paul Foot's definitive account, Lockerbie: The Flight From Justice »
More top stories in the latest issue:
Project Shepherd, meant to improve Britain’s electronic warfare capability, is not only late and over-budget but has created a worrying defence gap.
Recent court evidence suggests Britain’s biggest bank HSBC and chief exec Stuart Gulliver weren’t so marginal to the Libor-fixing scandal after all.
ASK NO QUESTIONS, HEAR NO BRIBES
New data shows how trade support body UK Export Finance, which has backed some very corrupt companies, remains intensely relaxed about having done so.
Good news for the historic lightship Planet – its controversial sale by the Canal and River Trust is postponed until March.
More on the serious misuse by Cleveland Police of anti-terrorist legislation to spy on three journalists, two whistleblowing police officers and a lawyer.
An unseemly row between two hospice charities emerges after the Charity Commission criticises one of them for its poor deal with a fundraising agency.
FROM THE MANOR TORN
More on the underhand way the Church of England announced it was to close Manormead, its one and only nursing home for retired clergy.