debkafile: Right of appeal to Libyan agent was partly influenced by suspicions that Iran and Syria, not Libya, planned 1988 Lockerbie bombing
June 28, the Scottish Criminal Cases Commission granted former Libyan agent Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, serving a 27-year sentence, the right to appeal his conviction six years ago for planning the attack, saying the “applicant may have suffered a miscarriage of justice.”
debkafile‘s counter-terror sources disclose the Scottish commission’s decision was influenced by the increasing conviction of Western intelligence experts that Iran and Syria, not Libya, may have planned the bombing disaster, which cost 270 lives – 259 aboard the Pan Am airliner and 11 when the flaming plane crashed down on the Scottish village of Lockerbie. Those sources say US and British undercover agencies have garnered evidence that Tehran and Damascus used a Palestinian terrorist group to carry out the bombing, the deadliest in the history of aviation terror.
This development would suit Libyan ruler Muammer Qaddafi’s plans at this time. He hopes to use a possible acquittal to duck out of a key clause of his 2003 contract to dismantle Libya’s weapons of mass destruction and retain some of his chemical substances.
As part of the 2003 deal, which ended eight years of sanctions against Libya, Qaddafi assumed responsibility for his agents’ role in the Pan Am bombing.
He agreed to turn over two Libyan security agents, one of them Megrahi, and compensate the victims’ families. Megrahi was convicted by a Scottish court and the second agent was acquitted.
Qaddafi was first suspected in 1989 of ordering his agents to blow up Pan Am 103 to avenge the 1986 US air raid of his residential compound in Tripoli which killed his 15-year old adopted daughter Hanna.
There are now grounds to suspect that Iran, not Libya, may have instigated the Lockerbie attack in retaliation for the an incident five months earlier in July 1988 when the USS Vincennes destroyer shot down an Iranian passenger flight over the Persian Gulf with missiles, killing 290 passengers and crew. The vessel’s captain was said to have believed the Iranian flight was bound on a suicide mission against his ship. The US Navy’s final report refuted the claim appearing in some American media at the time that the captain was drunk. The report imputed the crew’s error to “psychological stress on men in combat for the first time.” The captain went on later to win a commendation.
Tehran insisted the attack was a deliberate act of aggression against the Khomeini regime. It is now assumed that Iran may have entrusted Damascus with recruiting a Palestinian team experienced in hijacking commercial planes to orchestrate and execute the Pan Am mission.