Announcement: New Blog!

April 24 2011

I've just created a new blog dedicated to the Libyan Civil War: critical views, concerns, complaints, conspiracy theories, and so on. I hope to make it very informative and possibly make it into a hub for multiple writers to organize some mental resistance. There's not much up at the moment (three posts, one a re-post from elsewhere), but there are over a dozen others in draft form and man, many others in the planning and research stages. An explanatory top-post will be up soon.

The blog is here:
Anyone concerned about the war should check it once now, and again in a few days. And in-between and after, feel free to submit useful articles and links to

Thirty-Eight Minutes

The Bomb-Timing Clue for London Intro
First posted March 28 2010

Completely re-written Jan. 18 2011

Five Altimeter Bombs
It was a well-placed bomb detonation in the forward hold of PA103 that sealed the fate of 270 people on the evening of December 21, 1988. To be precise, the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) decided it had detonated at 19.02:50 (7:03pm) – almost exactly thirty-eight minutes after it left the ground from London’s Heathrow Airport at 6:25.

This time span, officially decided on by Libyan plotters for unclear reasons, is an uncanny fit with another technology, controlled by another group entirely – Ahmed Jiibril’s PFLP-GC. To recap, Marwan Khreesat is a Jordanian intelligence operative and long-practicing maker of airliner-killing bombs for Jibril (with exact allegiance unclear in a chicken-and-egg sort of way). Khreesat’s bombs were triggered by altitude (air pressure) and hidden inside consumer electronics – usually radio-cassette players. In the fall of 1988 he was called in again by the PFLP-GC on a mission for Iran – avenge the US destruction of Iran Air flight 655 by destroying an American airliner themselves.

Khreesat was hired to make or modify five bombs, and contrary to GID orders (as we've heard them), compelled to make them fully armed. Only one radio-IEDs of the five was intercepted on the arrest of Khreesat and the whole cell on October 26 1988. Three more of these were found later by German authorities and studied, given the numbers below. All seized Khreesat devices, in order of discovery:

1) Toshiba BomBeat 453 radio-cassette
2) Sanyo computer monitor
3) Ultrasound radio
4) Ultrasound radio

The fifth device, which Khreesat says he only soldered two wires on after someone else constructed it, was a different Toshiba radio (not the BomBeat seized nor the Libyan BomBeat SF-16 officially accepted). The someone else who made it was likely "Abu Elias," a relative of Jibril’s and a senior PFLP-GC operative. Khreesat thinks Abu Elias worked by copying his own work, perhaps recycling some parts from the fifth test model he made for Jibril back in 1985.

This one hasn’t been studied, as it officially never turned up. Many, however, still suspect it did surface – on Pan Am flight 103. So we’ll return to it at the end, after grasping the four that were definitely never used.

Gobel and Khreesat explain the time aspect
[Note: a separate post details the hardware end of these bombs in a little more detail.]
David Leppard’s curious 1991 book On the Trail of Terror describes the work done by German investigators on the four bombs found in Germany, and summarized the findings of BKA scientist “W. A. Gobel." This looked at how the altimeter and time delay modifications worked. Here he refers only to unit 1, the seized BomBeat 453:
“Gobel had tested the performance of the pressure pick-up gauge in a vacuum chamber. The circuit would close at a pressure between 940 and 950 milibars - equivalent to an altitude of about 2,400 feet. The contact point was connected by a wire to a condenser which acted as a time delay switch. The condenser was an insulator, absorbing the electrical charge until it fired. At this point the circuit closed, detonating the bomb.”
The condenser here is what’s elsewhere called an ice-cube timer – a simple metal circuit, coiled-up, I believe, and encased in a cube of translucent resin (looks like an ice-cube made with dingy water).
"When the necessary operating height has been reached the fall in pressure connected with it will start the timing mechanism, and when the delay period has elapsed the detonator will be activated. […] The time delay of the electronic component fluctuates over a wide margin since the structure of the circuit is relatively simple. Time delays between 35 and 45 minutes were measured." [p 11-12]
This 35-45 minute range is often cited, wrongly I think, as the range of times to be expected in field usage. But a passage from Khreesat's interview with the FBI in November 1989 explained that the variability comes from repeated tests on the circuit in a lab setting:
"Khreesat advised that the times are not exact and the time changes depending upon how long the timers have been tested after last being used. They usually reset to zero after a day. He used to test the timers three times in a row before installing the timer in a device. He found that in each test the time decreased. When this happened, he put the timers aside, and the next day when he tested them, they would run for the same time as when he had first started them." [Marshman report, page 32, PDF p 19]
The variability then, with repeated testing, is downward from a long baseline time. Absent repeated tests, which might be unwise in an assembled explosive device, the timers would all have, as the designer described them as having, one set time each, and it would be the long time. So in use, the device Gobel analyzed would detonate about 45 minutes after triggering. This would be more than 50 minutes, not 38, from takeoff.

That certainly doesn’t mean it’s not a fit. Khreesat also told the FBI that the timers were not the same from one unit to the next:
"One of the timers was a half-hour timer, one was for three-quarters of an hour, and one was for one hour. Khreesat does not recall what time the fourth timer was set for. None of the timers were for more than one hour."  [Marshman report, p 32]
These seem to go in nice 15-minute increments - 30, 45, 60. His early bombs in 1970 and 1972 blew up too early - about 15 minutes after triggering - leaving two of three planes able to safely re-land. Thus for "stronger medicine" in the 1980s, he went for increments at or higher than 30 minutes. By deduction, the fourth unit was a repeat of one of the other three.

Three more to consider
Herr Gobel at the BKA, as we’ve seen above, made a close study of Khreesat device number 1, apparently housing the (or a) 45-minute ice-cube timer. He also looked at number two, the IED hidden inside a Sanyo computer monitor. This was armed with Semtex-H like the others, and rigged with the same basic altimeter-timer arrangement. “Calculated on the basis of the values of the built-in components,” Gobel wrote, “the delay time is put at between 30 and 35 minutes.” [Zeist transcripts p 8769] It's unclear if he means test variability or range of estimates for its one field-use time.

Leppard bemoans the German’s presumptions based on only one bomb sample to study, but they had units 1 and 2 and also, at one point, two other such devices. Numbered 3 and 4, these were both housed in Ultrasound radios, both found after the Sanyo monitor in a third raid, and were both destroyed under grim circumstances.

In April 1989, one of the Ultrasound IEDs inexplicably detonated while in the hands of a highly experienced BKA bomb technician, killing him and maiming an assistant. The other of the two (it’s not clear which is 3 and which is 4) was then destroyed rather than be studied, for obvious safety and psychological reasons.

But despite the British alarm over this German “sloppiness,” it wasn’t a complete scientific loss. Aside from what was missing in the rubble, which was safe enough to examine, the BKA’s forensics section ST33 noted on what remained from one the two:
“[T]he accompanying capacitor is of is of the same value as in 1 and 2, but has however, jumped out of circuit. […] it can be assumed from the remains of the circuit that the time delay was in the same region as 1 and 2." [p 144]
From four intercepted IEDs, we have three capacitors, all apparently of the vague 30-45 minutes “region.” This comports reasonably with Khreesat’s list of 30, 45, 60, and one repeat. It seems to be lacking anything with a longer time like one hour, but one device, likely the one that killed a bomb tech, was not studied like this. Perhaps that was the one-hour unit.

The results are not 100% conclusive with the information I have, but it remains consistent enough between Khreesat and the Germans to say we have a double-corroborated explanation, more-or-less, of what to expect with each of the four seized devices.

And the Fifth?
Khreesat felt that all four bombs he was tasked with re-used the timers and altimeters from his 1985 test run. But that involved five radios, one of which he says was kept intact by Jibril to study. It’s worth wondering if these same parts, fitting the same patterns, were later used to build Abu Elias’ fifth device. But wondering aside, we can’t be certain.

We can examine the facts of December 21 to see whether or not it’s compatible. Below is a graphic from the AAIB's report on the bombing, based on Flight 103’s data recorder. The key line here is altitude, of course labeled “ALT.” The other is some measure of airspeed. The left bar gives feet above sea level (add three zeroes) and the bottom gives time in minutes from data start.
In the marked-up detail at left, note that the altitude doesn’t change for the first minute – takeoff is at minute one, not zero. We can see here that 2,400 feet, the outside pressure that would trigger the timer, is really not very high, and was reached about two or three minutes in. If this pressure decided things for the 38-minute detonation, we’d be looking at a 35 or 36-minute timer, something not within the Khreesat arsenal.

But inside the plane, where the suitcases were, the pressure is controlled and drops more slowly. The work of Rainer Gobel, as related by Leppard, is also confirmed by Paul Foot, writing in 2001 in Lockerbie: The Flight from Justice, as addressing the expected rate where it matters:
"A clearer description of this ice-cube timer was given the same day by Rainer Gobel, physicist for the German police, the BKA. He had a remarkable insight into how long such a timer would take to set off an explosion. “Pressure change in the cabin,” he said, “is regulated automatically. It happens more slowly than the drop of pressure in the air through which the plane is flying, which means, according to the documents which were provided to me, in a plane of the aforementioned class, about seven minutes after take-off the pressure within the cabin will have dropped to such an extent that 950 millibars or hectopascals will have been reached at which the barometric gauge would be involved and a circuit, a current, would be activated.” [p 19]
Some would protest, and fairly I think, that we can't be certain that even if the PFLP-GC's bombs were involved, that this one used the same altimeter setting, or altimeter, or even timer style, as the units examined. But considering the group's reliance on Khreesat’s formula and available materials (the fifth device from 1985), it seems possible enough that it would. And Gobel's "about seven minutes" is quite a nice fit with the roughly eight required to make this fit into Khreesat’s 30, 45, 60 framework. Thus the strong possibility that cannot be reasonably discounted here is that Flight 103’s ascent triggered another ice-cube timer, of the 30-minute size, about eight minutes after wheels-up.

Watching the Flags

Caustic Logic
March 19 2010
last update Feb. 1 2011

reference is made throughout to veiwership as measured by Flag Counter. My current Flag Counter returns can be seen here for anyone curious.
March 19: I've been greatly enjoying the Flag Counter I had put on this site when it went public about two months back. As you can see (at right, "Visitors") from the hits since January 25, an average of about 88 views per day. Some days up to a third of those may be just me, obsessively editing and making a hit each time I review. But the flag counter only shows unique computers accessing the site and where they are (or show as) plugged in.

(see graphic at bottom for most recent numbers laid out on a map)

As a scholar of "false flag" events, I'm a little skeptical of these little flags, but still it's interesting to watch. It's fun to take it in like a competition. I don't follow football or sports at all, usually, but this "game" revolves around my little/big site.

Over fifty countries so far from all relevant continents have at least one viewer - One Libyan computer has been able to view The Lockerbie Divide, it says. One Jordanian, right after my Khreesat piece. One "European Union." A lot of ones. Someone with diplomatic e-mail contacts must have plugged it, since UN ambassadors is one of the few things, besides viewers of this site, most countries have just one of, from India to Iceland, Barbados to Brazil.

Few of these countries' viewers show the interest to get into the multiple views with 'horizontal seeding.' Those that do have their "gestalt" reasons I can partly guess to have at least a few people interested. Malta is a workhorse of support here, per capita. From a population under half a million, they hold steady around sixth place, once rivaling the United States (currently 47 distinct viewers). They were of course stuck with the stigma of having hosted the Libyan terror plot and failing to stop it, and had their counter-points simply brushed off. Puny Maltese! But hey, such a little country, no one can blame them letting the Libyans suborn them in ways still not explained.

I'm not sure why the 39 Belgian computers (7th) showed interest in particular, but the 23 from Netherlands (8th) have hosting the Zeist trial in their memories to stir interest. Canada (9) - I don't know. Home to a lot of Arab exile types. [Update 5/23: Three Canadian passengers died on flight 103, and they have families...] France (12) had the UTA 772 bombing and related Libya problems, were prime pushers for sanctions, etc. Sweden (no. 11) hosted the Abu Talb sideline and were thus involved in the early investigation as it started towards Malta. Australia (10) is the new home of the millionaire key-witness-and-handler duo the Gauci brothers, Tony and Paul, formerly of Malta. 10 viewers, so at least eight non-Gaucis.

The 61 viewers from the Federal Republic of Germany (5th) might be especially interested in the Autumn Leaves/Khreesat angle, where they may have hosted the makers of the bomb that brought down PA103. Some might have looked at my unusual take on the Frankfurt printout. I think Germany was in 3rd place once, but usually a bit behind South Africa (4th). Nelson Mandela, more than anyone else, helped convince both Gadhafi and the Americans to agree to the Zeist trial. Central negotiator Robert Black also "winters" there and has friends, and in other ways interest remains high enough to send 68 computers clicking here.

Early on the Brits (UK) were the leading edge of viewership here by a wide margin, with their official partners in handling the crime, the United States, trailing badly. Old Glory has stayed consistently in the top five, but barely at points (see Malta, below). A shame since Americans were targetted, were hit like never before, and then Washington led the push against Libya, the sanctions, etc. To the extent Americans remember the incident, they maintain an obsessive certainty this was all correct, and a desire to push the blame higher. And yet... they aren't googling it in droves to keep learning, even as Megrahi lingers and doubts metastasize. That's interesting.

The USA toggled around with South Africa and Germany for places 3, 4 and 5 for the first weeks. Now, with the help of my family and friends and at least Richard Marquise and a few of his, plus whoever else, my homeland has consistently held a steady third place for some weeks now. 86 computers have viewed the site, it says. Two are mine. 84 Americans is not bad for nearly two months, considering how uninteresting the evidence and details are to them. But it's still pathetic compared to the 345 computer from the UK that have hit on, over four times for a much smaller population that had a powerful, but ultimately secondary, part in shaping the outcome of the investigation.

The oddity is second place, steady and unwavering at about half of what the UK yields, and twice the US. Switzerland. A remarkable 180 computers connected, so far. I consider Mr. Bollier is there, founder of the comapny that made the Libyan timer that cracked the case, and a long-time Lockerbie info artist (mebocom pages). Bollier and his "Mission: Lockerbie" been a target of mine - not so much at this site, but previously - and yet has kindly plugged this site, asked to borrow my mountain picture and deigned to leave some comments. (as "ebol")

As a tech guy ultimately, I wonder if Bollier has got some clone army pumping up the hits for some reason. At Professor Robert Black's site, the Swiss hold a distant third (681 to USA's 2,144 and UK's 6,907). There's a deeper history there - many hundreds of those Americans probably viewed the page just once in late August '09. But still, Mebo is about all Switzerland's got connected to Lockerbie, and one way or another that has to be behind the special viewership slant for this site. I may not deliver the expected goods, since Mebo's ambiguous role has slid in importance as I learn more and more. But then I may still openly accuse him of handing over what became PT/35(b).

Mr Bollier, any comment?
(Note, Jan 26: I've since banned ebol from comments here, mostly for reasons over a decade old now).
Update 5/10: Nearly 7000 page hits now. A few more nations have moved into two-view category. Pakistan suddenly shot from one to three views recently, Japan from two to five.  Libya is still at 4. Top 12 at the moment: UK up to 496, expected to hit a landmark 500 later today. You guys are awesome! Switzerland, the ol' Confederation Helvetica, up to 382 now. Where do you keep coming from? USA, up to 187! Thanks to my fellow yanks! Recently a state-by-state breakdown came online, counting since then 6 Washington viewers (most of which I probably know), 5 each in California and New York, a few from several other states, and three "unknown." The rest: South Africa in fourth (90), Germany (85), Belgium (73), Malta in seventh (50). Netherlands (43), Canada (36), Australia (18), Austria/France (13), and Sweden (11).
7/21: The hubbub this month about Megrahi supposedly having decades live and about evil BP having once lobbied for his release has caused a surge of news coverage in the United States, and with my frequent comments on stories, has earned the site a record run of new American viewers, my target audience. Current top 9: UK 716, Switz 631,  USA 379, Germany 137, Belgium 122, SA 102, Netherlands 79, Canada 69, Malta 64. State-by-state: 36 of 50 states + DC, top 5: CA 47, NY 24, WA 14, VA 14, PA 13. Other high points: 72 nations total now. Recent first-time visitors: Luxembourg, Romania, Ecuador, Ukraine, Cyprus, Iran just the other day. Libya and Italy long since broke the matching pattern I noted earlier. Libya just passed India at 8 viewers.
Aug 9: Slower then faster traffic lately. Continued worldwide media interest, getting more detailed as the anniversary of Megrahi's release approaches. Top 10 for distinct viewers: UK 868 Switz 727, US 444, Belgium passes Germany for 4th place, 144 to Germany's 142. 6 South Africa 111. 7 Netherlands, home of Camp Zeist, at 83. 8 Canada, 76. 9 Malta 66. 10 Spain, passing Australia (tied actually) at 36. India just passed Libya at 10 viewers. Hong Kong just appeared as its own country, giving me hits from 75 countries, with a total of 3,008 unique visitors. USA top four: CA 65, NY 30, WA 19, VA/PA 15.

Update Aug 18: Later in the day it became apparent August 9 was the site's record for new viewership. Based largely on my debate call to Brian Flynn (not taken up), a total of 47 new unique viewers logged in that day. My previous record was 36. 12 of these new viewers were American, and those have continued to come in thicker, now totaling well over 15% of visitors (had been about 14 before the 9th). US total = 499.

Update 13 September: It's been a good month for traffic. UK 1,168 Sw 851, US 598 Germany regains 4th, 166 to Belgium's 160 and South Africa's 136. Canada's taken a leap lately to 131, with Alberta (63 views!) leading the way over onetime clear leader Ontario (26). Neth 97, Malta 71, Aust'l 43, Sp 40, Aust 37, Fr 34 India 23, Sweden 22. Saudi Arabia took a one-day leap in late August from 2 to 9 viwers, now sitting at 10. 78 countries total, most recent: Nepal and Senegal. 3,821 unique visitors.

Update, 12 October: Blogger has added some new features, like an awesome comment-tracking tab, and a statistics one that show how many people from where are reading what posts within different time frames. Interestingly, the results there sometimes conflict with what flag counter says. I have viewers appearing from China, Venezuela, Latvia, and Moldova, nations that still appear as having no viewers at all by Flag Counter. Hong Kong and Taiwan appear, the former perhaps fudged by Blogger to read as China, which is what I'd expect, actually. But the other three are clearly their own countries, and it's a little strange. Currently 80 nations are recognized by Flag Counter, most recent Senegal, Mali, and Sri Lanka. 

I've noticed on the stats amazing spikes of pageviews from my two South Korean vieweers (as high as I think 75 views in a two-hour span), and a 17-post rampage by my unacknowledged Moldovan guest. Hey, I'm down with the grape revolution, so long as it's authentic, man. (Sadly, I never did post my small research on that at Guerillas Without Guns, but there was a color revolution planned there too, called Grape.) Italy and Ireland's near-identical flags stay tied at 15. Slovenia, home of Bogomira Erac has now sent ten viewers - impressive for such a small place. Also, one of my favorite bands, Laibach, hails from there.

Australia, Malta, Netherlands, Belgium, and even the USA have made notable gains in viewing my big-head blog in recent weeks. Top ten: UK 1,444 - Switzerland 963 - US 723 - Belgium 188 - Germany 175 - Can 174 - South Africa 144 - Netherlands 115 - Malta 90 - Australia 55.

Nov 5: What the hell, Italy and Ireland? You both have the same exact flag, more or less, and get stuck side by side at 15 views for nearly two months. Then Italy pulls ahead to 16 the other day, leaving Poland between them. For one day. Then Ireland pulled up to 16 as well, and now they'll stay together for another month I suppose. Passed 5,000 unique visitors recently, now nearing 5,200. Macedonia and Sudan most recent viewers, nice climbing action from Poland (app 12 to 17) and Jordan (app 3 to 9). Canada keeps climbing, passing both Germany and Belgium comfortably. Top ten: UK 1,685 - Sw 1,064 - US 813 - Can 207 - Belg 205 - Ger 182 - SA 151 - Neth 126 - Malta 99 - Aust'l 63.  

Jan 25 2011: A quick update after two month of watching but not noting. It's the one-year anniversary of the site, officially launched January 25 2010. The United States has improved its veiwership share to 16.1-16.3%. One day recently saw a new record, 16 new American viewers in a single day! Illinois in particular has taken off, now tied with Virginia for third place at 46 veiwers. (New York is comfortably past 100, and California's inching towards 300.) Top ten countries: UK 2359, Switz. 1472, US 1171, Canada 291, Belgium 258, Germany 238, Neth 216, SA 161, Malta 120, Australia 87. New countries: China, Iraq, Palestinian Territory, Algeria, Maldives, Bangladesh, Peru, Bolivia, Uruguay, Uganda, Cambodia, Panama, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Jamaica. Plus Guernsey and Jersey, which don't really seem like countries to me. Countries showing marked jumps include Austria, Slovenia, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Colombia.  Italy and Ireland are tied again, as usual, at 26.
1/28 update: I was taunting Slovenia by putting the olive/gold threshold right above them, and they responded by shooting up from 23 to 32 viewers in less than three days, to 13th place. They'll be solid gold next update. Norway, home of many of my ancestors, also just jumped up a few slots to 17, from ... I thought it was seven just a month ago.

April 19 2011
Since the last update, Libya has entered into full on warfare with western elites giddy enough to solemnly demand Gaddafi's system finally be scrapped privatized for their own benefits. They don't say it that way, but it's clearly in store when so much is being spent on this "humanitarian" effort in such tough economic times. That we spend so much doesn't mean we care. It also costs a little money, some planning, and even caries risks ... to plan an armed robbery. The idea is it'll more than pay for itself.

Anyway, maybe it is for the best, but it annoys me how sure the world acts, when they can't even realize, at the very least, the Libyan government was framed for Lockerbie. It's been good and bad for my site. The war had Libya's internet cut off from late February, so new viewers stopped appearing. But the other day, April 16, I got my first new Libyan flag since then (21 now)! Sadly, it may be among the last ever with that cool green flag, as they're all hoping to take the flag of pre-Gaddafi Monarchist, serve Washington and Wall Street and starve-the-peasants-era Libya.

In other visitor news, the war drove record new viewers to my site, especially from the United States, always my intended core audience. 75 new computers logged on in one day on February 24, about 1/3  Americans. This helped the US later push to second place (1,833, 18.5% of total), bypassing Switzerland, whose new viewers rather suddenly slowed to a trickle. It was a nice break, but it coincided with a strange surge of Slovenian viewers, (just beginning at last update, only now slowing down a bit) from 13th at 32 viewers on Jan. 28, to 8th place at 187 in less than 3 months. Serbia's appeared and taken off some, too, but more naturally, now 15th at 56 viewers - an interest emerged there in my thru-linked article on the "al-Baida massacre" (see comments). New countries: Chile, Paraguay, Guadelupe, Trinidad and Tobago, Fiji, French Polynesia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovia, Croatia, Monenegro, (all of former Yugoslavia except Kosovo, the part we so excellently saved in '99) Syria (same issue - Syrian soldier also blamed for shooting their own for "refusing to shoot protesters."), Ghana, Mauritius, Botswana, Andorra.  Top ten: UK 3,204 - US 1,833 - Sw 1,681 - Canada 397 - Belgium 321 - Germany 312 - Neth 277 - Slovenia 187 - S. Africa 171 - Australia/Malta (tied) 147. Malta will now leave the top ten. :(

Updated world veiwership map:
(New window for full view with points east)
previous, Jan 25:

Current North America map:

Previous map, Jan 25
Previous map, Nov. 2010

Note California and Alberta, the deep red ones. I don't even know anyone there hardly, and they've got what seems like the overblown Switzerland effect going on. However, see comments below (by FullInquiry) on Alberta's showing. My own friends and family's what's got Washington between them as high as it is, sad as that is (40 views counted, with many others buried among the 150-ish U.S. views racked up before the state-by-state breakdown came online in May). I never expected a surge of Mexican interest, but after a full year ... 5 viewers?

Announcement: Crimes Against Reality in Libya

March 29 2011
last update April 17 2011

I've been active in trying to keep figuring things out, just behind the scenes and off the subject of the Lockerbie case. Having developed an interest in Libya and its framing for that atrocity for mysterious but surely good reasons, I was bound to take a skeptical interest in the protests-turned-civil war unfolding there now.

Events are moving far too fast for me to keep up with my job and other pressures taking up so much time, but here, finally, I'm able to erect a "masterlist" for Crimes Against Reality in Libya, with three solid articles so far.

a series, Crimes Against Reality in Libya, hosted on my older blog The 12/7-9/11 Treadmill and Beyond. This site is dedicated to select alleged false flag operations and other mass-scale, usually war-related, state deceptions. It's the right place for these and the other mental bombshells I have half-planned.

An Iranian in London: The Strange Case of Parviz Taheri

Helsinki Warning Re-Considered, pt 5
April 14 2011

The last installment in this series, many months ago, questioned whether Finnish Palestinian sad sack Samra Mahayoun actually placed the “Helsinki warning” phone call in December 1988. His record of prank calls from Finland about fake terror attacks might well have become known around, and so I speculated an Iranian caller, linked somehow to the plot against american air traffic, using Mahayoun’s phone line to launder their message about an upcoming airliner bombing.

Exactly why they would do this isn’t entirely obvious, but it’s worth thinking about. With the evidence now available and despite legal conventions, it’s fairly clear the plot that destroyed Pan Am Flight 103 was Iranian in grievance, and executed with a certain known style of bomb. We can bet that this device was first loaded in London, rather than via the feeder flight 103A in Frankfurt as first decided, or Malta as set by 1990. If the call was a real warning of the real Flight 103 plot, it might specify London, but instead pointed to Frankfurt, from which the bomb they had readied would not have worked.

Aside from a non-informed hoax, simple misdirection from insiders is one possible explanation. It's the one I'll proceed on for now.

Named by the Defense
Another potential point of Frankfurt implication is an Iranian exile named Parviz Taheri, who already stands out for his own reasons, and may also have a link to that prophetic call (explained below). The resident of Sweden had an odd enough story to be named in 2000 by Megrahi’s defense team in their “special defense of incrimination.” He was one of a few alternate suspects in the narrative where Iranians – not Libyans - were behind planting the bomb. And it was inserted in London, not Malta.

Taheri was however called as a prosecution witness (number 996), which gave him immunity from any related charges. By the time of closing statements in January 2001, even the defense seemed to have abandoned trying to witness 996 to anything directly. Which isn’t to say there’s not a possible link, just that there wasn’t one the defense chose to put any weight on.

(fuller testimony excerpts, fascinating reading - source throughout for Taheri quotes)

Mitigating against Taheri’s involvement with the Iranian plot is his history, leaving little obvious room for sympathy with the Mullahs. He testified at the Lockerbie trial in Kurdish, having been born in Mashabad, Iranian Kurdistan. He “served in the Iranian army for two years,” he said (translated of course), “with six months training in arms and ammunition.” After this he became a teacher in the villages, and in 1983 came under suspicion of disloyalty and fled to Turkey. He arrived in Germany at the end of 1983, and moved to Frankfurt a year later.

On the other hand, this same fact would make Parviz an excellent “clean-skin” operative for a Tehran plot, hypothetically. He might be tacitly co-opted in any number or combination of ways, carrot or stick, or even maneuvered into helping unconsciously. The destruction of Iran Air 655 (IR655), the known motive for Iranin's known plot, was an unusual circumstance. Here, we cannot rule out even a long-estranged Kurd like Taheri being just as infuriated as anyone at the Yankee war crime. Nor can we rule out pressure against this diaspora Iranian in Frankfurt, Europe’s busiest air hub and the place their contractors would work on the weaponry for that revenge job (see below).

There’s certainly no obvious link so far, just a possible one I ask the reader to hold lightly in mind as we proceed.

In 1980s Frankfurt, Taheri worked at a “publishing house,” he testified, and “in the council of Frankfurt” (city council?). But he also sought out, in 1987 and ’88, store locations for more blue-collar work, with vague ambitions of selling newspapers, or running a catering or take-away business. One of the few dozen addresses he wrote down in a notebook was Sandweg 28. When asked about this at trial, he only said “I can't remember precisely where that is, but we looked for several places in Frankfurt, but I can't remember all the places.”

This exact piece of real estate was the same one chosen by the PFLP-GC, in September 1988, to house a terrorist cell, fronted with a catering business. This wasn’t any old group, but the very one, led by Hafez Dalkamouni, tasked with building the altimeter bombs to get revenge for IR655. The Sandweg address was for Dalkamouni's HQ, where a massive cache of weapons was held and many stayed.  Marwan Khreesat built the actual airplane bombs at a separate flat in nearby Neuss. With Khreesat’s handiwork, the cell produced five altitude-senstive bombs before four of them were seized and the cell busted in late October. Many informed observers still believe the missing fifth device was used on Flight 103 two months later.

Taheri had popped out of country briefly at the time of the bombing (see below), but was intercepted on his return, Christmas day, by inspector Jurgen Fuhl of the federal Bundes Kriminal Amt (BKA). They met at the airport, and Fuhl found the notebook with the PFLP-GC address he recognized on the spot. At the 2000 trial he explained “I was aware that the same address was a place where weapons and explosives had previously been found.”

So, Mr. Taheri had the address of the PFLP-GC’s base HQ in West Germany, among others, written down in his personal papers. In itself, that doesn't prove anything, but ...

A Flight 103 Link to London
Where it gets strange is Mr. Taheri then carrying that notebook, with that address, on feeder flight Pan Am 103A on December 21, Frankfurt to London. This is the same plane that, officially, the bomb arrived in London inside of. He was sitting up top along with about 25% of the passengers who would carry on to the United States but die first. There are two somewhat different accounts of Taheri's boarding in Germany, the first emerging in this defense questioning of him:

Q ... When you checked in on the 21st of December of 1988 through Pan Am employee Irene Reijheus, did you tell her that you had visited London often and did not require a visa? It's a simple question, Mr. Taheri. Did you tell her?
A I can't remember if I had told anything to her, because I travel in a normal way. You just check in, and you show your documents if required.
Q Well, if Ms. Reijheus felt so alarmed by what she saw that she called up her colleague, Jasmine Sadiq, to help her with you ... If Ms. Sadiq, Jasmine Sadiq, who was also an employee of Pan Am, remembered seeing you at the check-in, and indicated that you looked very nervous, can you explain why she would have that view, if this was a perfectly normal check-in by you, Mr. Taheri?
A Yes. People usually get upset if they have a fight, but I was very happy and pleased. I was not upset at all, and I was looking forward to arrive to London to meet my friends and my future wife. There was no disturbance at all.
He apparently had his papers anyway, was allowed to fly, and at Heathrow parted ways with many co-passengers who would transfer to the trans-Atlantic 103. We can be sure that his luggage did not contain the explosive device, as he had no checked bags at all to carry on after him and rupture the luggage hold. That must be remembered as the red flags pile up. Nonetheless, at about the same time Taheri and his notebook were hailing a cab into London, a 30-minute Khreesat bomb made by that cell based on Sandweg was loaded beneath 259 people out on the tarmac.

Taheri returned to Frankfurt only on Christmas day, after a few days with his fiancee, there with her parents. He’d become engaged to her that year, and they all usually lived in Sweden. But for unclear reasons they were visiting the UK and Parviz was going to visit them there. And for this half-week family gathering he took no checked luggage, and only one small carry-on bag. That’s unusual, but it does help clarify, again, no matter how strange this gets, he did not check in the bomb suitcase.

And that becomes important when we see the different story emerging from Ms. Siddique’s own testimony.

An American Link?
Yasmin (Arabic and/or Persian for Jasmine) Siddique testified in November 2000, a month after Taheri. In December 1988 she was not, in fact,  a Pan Am employee at all. She managed a McDonald’s restaurant, but was a Frankfurt-to-London passenger on 103A (she was going to visit her Mother). And she was standing just behind Taheri in the passport cue. Siddique still recalled noticing his behavior first – unsettled, apprehensive, turning his head frequently, eyes darting about as if watching for someone.

When he got up to “the passport man,” the suspicious young man was slow to produce the passport and the inspector was slower yet to examine it carefully. Taheri “did not look at the policeman or passport control officer;” she recalled, but rather, mostly, “at his feet.”

She was close enough to see his passport and “It was a small blue American passport.” She clarified this means issued by the United States, like the ones held by some of her family who already lived there at the time. Mr. Taylor then described the man this way:
Q Now, we know that the man that you have described was, in fact, a through passenger carrying on to the United States?
A Yes.

Q On a journey of seven hours and 40 minutes after [the 1.5-hour first leg]?
A Uh-huh.

But he got off in London, to meet his fiancée, he later said. This “fact” of full booking on the doomed half of the flight as well could be an inference from his US passport and the general impression that people return home at that time of year, as she was. There was nothing else read out (that I can find) showing this booking, but Taylor and Siddique somehow agreed it was the case. She thought he carried no luggage at all as he stood in line, and found it odd considering the long flight ahead.

Either way, the American passport is unexpected and not explained by anything else I know of. He lived in Germany and, sometime in 1989, move to Sweden, where inspector Fuhl had to hunt him down for further questioning. (Oddly, alternate suspects Mohammed Abu Talb and Abu Elias both have links in Sweden as well). Taheri was still a resident of Sweden when he testified.

A Helsinki Link, Phone Work?
The Guardians of the Islamic Revolution placed a call from London later the evening of the 21st claiming responsibility for the bombing. "We, the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution, are undertaking this heroic execution in revenge of blowing the Iran Air plane by America a few months ago." It was considered the most credible claim to the CIA in those first days [see here], and absent any Libyan admission ever, remains the most credible to this day.

There’s no particular reason to suspect Taheri of links to the Guardians, or of placing that call, other than the previous clues, the musing below, and that he was a Iranian in London at the right time.

But what if Taheri had a history of phone calls related to the 103 bombing? Like the Helsinki warning? It can be inferred from the following defense questioning that he said a very peculiar thing to Inspector Fuhl somewhat to that effect and worse. He knew nothing of the bombing, he had said, but one might find answers by calling Iranians, at an embassy, in Helsinki.
Q Now, I think the West German police said to you that if you were not involved in the tragedy that happened to Pan Am 103, did you, with your connections, have any idea who might be involved; is that right? They asked you that question?
A Yes, it is correct.
Q And you told them to look somewhere in particular, didn't you?
A I don't know what you are referring to.
Q Well, let's see if I can jog your memory. Did you direct their attention to the Iranian embassy in Helsinki?
A No, I haven't contacted Iranian embassy at all. I had been to Helsinki just as a tourist. [...] I was not asked about the Iranian embassy in Helsinki by the German police, but they only asked my point of view regarding that incident. And I said I don't know.
Q My Lord, that's all I ask.
He later denied saying that, but it seems at one point he made this ominous reference and still admits being there (in case there was supporting evidence?). But this was only as a tourist, not as the guy who broke into Samra Mahayoun’s flat and seeded that strangely prophetic warning about the bombing of an American flight from Frankfurt two weeks later. Because two weeks later, by chance, Taheri himself flew on an American flight from Frankfurt which then blew up.

Inspector Fuhl, questioned by Davidson, on what Taheri said about the bombing:
Q Do you recall him telling you where you might look for further information on that matter?
A I can't remember him giving me information about where I could look further. [...] If I can jog your memory, could he have mentioned to you an embassy in Helsinki in Finland?
A It's possible.
Q In particular, the Iranian embassy in Helsinki?
A I can't remember the details any more. The whole thing is, after all, 12 years ago. [...] It must all be in the paperwork.
So we have here no physical connection to the bomb, but an amazing shadowing of it that can only possibly be sheer coincidence. In fact, it reeks of coordination, lack of pay stubs notwithstanding.

To be sure, carrying such a clue as the Sandweg address, if it were operational information and he was knowingly on a related flight, would be a major blunder. But it’s also possible that was the point: Taheri's Iranian origins and the flight he was on, his needless odd behavior, the address, and this Helsinki hinting, collectively suggest an attempt to appear involved rather than actually being (physically) involved. The strange case of Parviz Taheri looks a hell of a lot like a sort of a lightning rod or decoy operation.

My next notion that he might have been involved with the "hoax" call follows on the above points, and on their shared effect. Both aimed to keep attention on weird things out of Frankfurt, as opposed to the concise operation set for Heathrow airside. And both carry clues so parallel to the reality as to be chilling, yet are in actuality inaccurate, misleading, and potentially (officially, of course) pure coincidence. Again. 

Once Upon a Time, there was Lockerbie

Spot the Problem
By Robert Forrester,

Secretary, Justice For Megrahi Campaign 
Special to The Lockerbie Divide
March 28 2011

In 1958 President Eisenhower was so concerned about the prevailing hatred for the United States amongst the peoples of the Middle East that he commissioned a report in the hope that better minds than his could explain what seemed to have flummoxed him. In 1953, Eisenhower, supported by Churchill and later Eden, sanctioned Operation Ajax. Operation Ajax was regime change at its cheapest and most effective. It cost a mere $1,000,000 to run, involved buying off the Iranian military and employing gangs of Teherani thugs to create civil disorder and achieved its desired result of overthrowing the popular Iranian prime minister Mohamed Moussadeq. Why did he do this? Because Moussadeq was showing unfortunate socialist tendencies whilst at the same time as sitting on some rather desirable oil supplies. In fact, the man actually had the gall to suggest that Iran should be controlling its own mineral wealth and selling at prices the Iranian people felt appropriate, not those which the UK and USA felt like paying. Happily, everything went according to plan. Moussadeq ended up under house arrest for the rest of his days, the Iranians were subjected to thirty years of murder, torture and political repression by the West’s man of the hour, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, and we got the fuel to fund our casino economies at our prices, at least until Ayatollah Khomeini flew home to roost. Eisenhower’s National Security Council, in its report to the president, explained that the people of the Middle East seemed to have run away with the bizarre notion that the US is only interested in supporting tyrannical despots in their region who are willing provide cheap mineral resources. It is tempting to ponder whether Eisenhower’s illuminating report cost more than Operation Ajax.

Saddam Hussein proved to be a tad more awkward to deal with however. But once he had gone past his sell by date (he never did manage to club those dashed mullahs over the border despite all the help we gave him), and despite the weaponry we’d supplied him with, he really didn’t stand a chance. All that was needed was to await a convenient source of outrage, in his case the Al Qaeda attack on the World Trade Centre, to creatively stitch him into, trample all over the UN, then let him have it. Abracadabra. Ignoring the appalling cost in lives, a country that was once an example to the region in terms of its social services and state run enterprises was bombed back into surviving in open sewers. But hey, they got democracy, plus, the oil was free again, just like the 1920s.

So now it’s Libya’s turn. Gaddafi stands even less of a chance than Saddam. It’s hard to imagine the bookies taking bets on anything other than the precise hour and minute of when the rope will go round his neck. How can the rebels lose? They have copious amounts of the very best that modern air power, intelligence gathering and command and control can provide taking out any and all opposition they would otherwise have fallen victim to. They simply have to pick up the pieces, follow the instructions and keep shambling on towards Tripoli. Neither the Chinese nor the Russians have shown any real signs of stepping in. Even the US has estimated that it really doesn’t need to take such a prominent role in affairs and handed it all on to NATO. In any case, the US already has enough on it’s plate what with commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan, whilst at the same time having to keep a weather eye on other developments in the region: not least on the fact that Syria is getting a little frayed round the edges, and, although Israel is doubtless smiling, it won’t be sleeping. Furthermore, oil is marginally less of a lure to the States where Libya is concerned. Not so however with the UK. Let’s not forget Tony Blair’s ‘Deal in the Desert’, the BP contract and all the embarrassing mud that is sticking over the revelations that have come out concerning Gordon Brown’s government’s attempts to help Tripoli negotiate the legal hurdles of Mr al-Megrahi’s repatriation.

Despite the distress caused to anyone directly connected to the Pan Am 103 incident,
it almost seems wrong to draw a spotlight on to the Lockerbie/Zeist case at a time when Libya is being torn apart by civil war. Nevertheless, David Cameron has chosen to do just that recently in seeking to justify his belligerence by saying of Muammar al-Gaddafi: "The people of Lockerbie know what this man is capable of." (David Cameron - 21/3/2011). Justice Secretary Ken Clark is also now playing the Lockerbie card by saying that we have to bring Gaddafi down to prevent him from seeking another Lockerbie in revenge for the UK’s support of the rebels.

It is always much healthier if you can draw on some moral high ground to justify your cause in the public eye. We tried it on in Afghanistan with how we were lifting the Afghans out of their feudal political system by waving our magic wand of democracy over them. Now, with Libya, it is Lockerbie and terrorism. Ever since Libya’s ex justice minister, Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, set himself up as leader of Eastern Libya in February with claims that he had proof that Gaddafi was behind Lockerbie, this has provided the opportunity to indulge in a bit of sleight of hand and massaging of public opinion. Lockerbie combines public ignorance, terrorism, fear and righteousness, and, it sells papers into the bargain. Abdel-Jalil’s claims are simply that, claims. After a month, he has yet to produce one iota of substance. Is he saying that he was negligent enough to leave the documents back in Tripoli? Once Tripoli falls and no documents are produced, are we then going to hear that Gaddafi must have destroyed them? Perhaps though, documents will be produced, however, we all know what is said about truth and the fog of war. Even today, and despite the payments the Telegraph had to make to George Galloway concerning the documents that were allegedly found in Baghdad proving his complicity with Saddam’s government, their origin is still not settled. In any case, it surely comes as no surprise to anyone that Gaddafi would have been behind an action such as Lockerbie if one of his countrymen had carried it out. But, did Abdelbaset al-Megrahi do it? Therein lies the rub.

To say that the case against Mr al-Megrahi has one or two problems would be arch understatement.

  • There was a break in to Heathrow airside giving access to Pan Am 103’s loading bay area shortly before take off. This incident was reported to the Heathrow authorities at the time but not made public until after the verdict was passed twelve years later.
  • There is no evidence of any unaccompanied luggage leaving on flight KM180 from Malta’s Luqa airport.
  • There are question marks over the provenance of documentary evidence provided by Frankfurt Airport ( the transit point from Luqa to Heathrow).
  • Along with other alleged inducements, the Crown’s star witness, Mr Tony Gauci (the proprietor of a Maltese clothes outlet) and his brother, Paul, are accused of having been in receipt of payments of $2,000.000 and $1,000,000 respectively under an American rewards for justice scheme for their testimony (a practice understandably alien to Scots Law, and presumably sufficient to dismiss both Tony and Paul Gauci as witnesses. The US authorities have yet to deny this deal). Tony Gauci’s testimony falls considerably short of being conclusive in terms of his eye witness account, which attempts to match up the identity of the purchaser of clothes from his shop, on account of key discrepancies with regard to the date of the purchase and the height, weight, age and build of the purchaser. Even though he had been prompted by numerous photo spreads containing pictures of Mr al-Megrahi and privy to media photographs of the accused prior to the trial, Mr Gauci could do little better than say that the man in the dock “resembled” the purchaser of the clothes.
  • Serious doubts also arise over the provenance of the fragment of circuit board alleged to have been part of a triggering device for a bomb which brought down pan Am 103. How did it (along with a sample of Mr Gauci’s clothes) survive temperatures of around 4,000ºC at the heart of a Semtex explosion? Why was it not tested for explosive residue? Why was forensic testimony accepted from representatives of the Royal Armament Research and Development Establishment (RARDE), who had in previous terrorist trials been pilloried for the nature and standard of their testimony? Why were alterations to the discrepancies in the notebooks of the RARDE forensic witnesses not made more of in the trial? Why was the fact that a Crown witness, Mr Ulrich Lumpert, signed a sworn affidavit in 2007 retracting his Zeist testimony relating to the fragment of circuit board as effectively being a pack of lies not pursued? Why was the fragment sent to the US and allowed to leave Scottish jurisdiction, surely this would disqualify it as evidence?
  • Suspicions are also rife concerning what influence the FBI and the US Department of Justice had over the Scottish led police investigation and the trial under the auspices of the High Court of Justiciary.

The above simply serve to illustrate some of the more prominent worries over the safety of the conviction. To compound this, the judges chose to believe a tale of how the bombing was carried out that defies what any normal person could accept as credible, namely: that Mr al-Megrahi contrived to place an unaccompanied luggage item on to flight KM180 from Malta which was then subsequently transferred at Frankfurt to a feeder flight to Heathrow, again unaccompanied, where it was finally loaded on to Pan Am 103, unaccompanied. Thus defying three security regimes in three separate countries, and the bomb still managed to blow up its target and not either one of the first two flights despite the inevitability of delays etc which would have been par for the course around Christmas time. It is truly hard to believe that 15 lay Scottish jurors could reach anything other than a not guilty verdict in such circumstances. Although impeccably qualified as judges, their Lordships, MacLean, Sutherland and Coulsfield, in arriving at their guilty verdict, displayed an absence of experience when it comes to the role of being a juror. Indeed to give credence at all to the story of the Luqa-Frankfurt-Heathrow connection, especially as it was presented at Zeist, demonstrates a complete inability to imagine how paramilitaries operate.

It also cannot be ignored that the structure of trial itself could well have contributed to the conviction in that the Crown played the role of prosecutor, judge and jury. The litany goes on.

Mr al-Megrahi’s first appeal failed, this is true. However, in their judgement, the judges were at pains to point out that they took no account of the sufficiency of evidence since the defence did not require them to do so. The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) then referred the case back to the Court of Appeal on six grounds suggesting that no reasonable court would have reached a guilty verdict on the basis of the evidence laid before the Crown by the prosecution. This appeal was then, unnecessarily, dropped by Mr al-Megrahi in his attempt to gain compassionate release. There has been much speculation regarding the possibility that he may have come under pressure to do so even though the terms of compassionate release do not require an appeal to be dropped to become a beneficiary of it. The long and the short of it is, therefore, that this conviction has not yet been fully tested in law in the interests of justice. The best that the Crown, in the form of the Lord Advocate, Elish Angiolini, has been able to offer as a counter to these concerns is a mind-boggling merry-go-round of circular polemic which amounts to little more than: he was convicted, therefore, he did it. So parlous are the arguments offered up by the Crown that one almost feels bound to ask what qualifications are required for the job of Lord Advocate. To reassure us all that the Crown and the police are still taking the Lockerbie Zeist affair seriously though, even at a point ten years after the conviction, Angiolini also claims that the Dumfries and Galloway police are conducting an on-going review of the investigation. It, in fact, transpires that this is being carried out by one sole officer. In the words of Christine Grahame MSP, this constitutes little better than “file management.”

Recently, on Auntie Beebs weekly vox pop mainstay, Question Time (broadcast from Edinburgh on the 10th of March) we were again treated to the predictable and tedious question of how Mr al-Megrahi must be laughing now that he is back in Libya. I imagine the member of the public who posed the question will be reduced to stitches if he ever contracts a malignant carcinoma. In order to kick the SNP bashing off, Douglas Alexander was straight in with claims that Mr al-Megrahi was currently being chauffeured around Tripoli in a Lamborghini (presumably to make him a more awkward target for the coalition missiles). Annabel Goldie took the biscuit though in bemoaning the damage that the compassionate release had done to the good name of Scottish justice, completely ignoring the profound and legitimate concerns over the safety of the conviction. Clearly, a potential miscarriage of justice does no harm at all.

There are of course differences between the histories of Iran and Libya, however, the salient threads of Western foreign policy run through both. In the case of Libya, we have the Italian genocide of the late 20s and early 30s (accounting for upwards of 50,000 deaths in camps), the Second World War, and then a monarchy (supported by Italy, the UK and the US) that pocketed Libya’s wealth until overthrown by Gaddafi. Much like Khomeini was viewed later in Iran, Gaddafi was seen in the late 60s as someone who would stand up to Western depredations. The surprising thing is that he managed to survive being a thorn in the side of the West for as long as he has: Reagan’s bombs, sanctions and all the rest. In pitting himself against such power, he, of course, subjected his people to his own brand of Gestapo for decades. Ex justice minister Abdel-Jalil’s claims, therefore, should be seen in this light. Anyone who managed to negotiate the perils to attain such a position under such a tyrannical regime is bound to have washed his hands in the people’s blood on a fairly regular basis. To that extent he doubtless has every reason to make the types of claims he is making in the hope of protecting his own skin.

It is hard to see Gaddafi going anywhere now except to follow Saddam to the gallows. The West will do what it knows best and install someone who is suitably on message until the oil runs out. Who knows what may become of Mr al-Megrahi? A one way ticket to the US’s Guantánamo rest home perhaps? Whatever transpires, it will make no difference to the case being put before the Scottish parliament by justice campaigners. No amount of dissembling mendacity claimed by politicians and others can ever change the documented historical fact of what took place at Zeist. This conviction simply does not stack up, no matter how good your gas mask.

Germans link Heathrow with Lockerbie bomb

... back in '89
The Scots-German War over Airport Security, part 3 of 2 (addendum)
April 5 2011

Below is an article I would have found important in the two-parts of the Scots-German War over Airport Security (part one), but only heard of it later. Props to Patrick Haseldine mentioning it, and to "Buncrana" for finding me the article.  It's not factually acurate in the numbers-based finer points, which I've flagged in red, with corrections in [brackets]. But the general idea is still spot on, and his background facts are as accurate as any account I've read. Barring the Bedford suitcase story (apparently unknown to the world until David Leppard's 1991 book) and the Heathrow break-in (unknown 'til Ray Manly's revelation in 2001), the 38 minute "coincidence" referred to here, with a different number of minutes, is the best evidence to call on for a London origin for the bomb. Hat's off to Mr. Pallister for an excellent article from the archives
Germans link Heathrow with Lockerbie bomb

The Guardian (London)
November 9, 1989

WEST German forensic experts have discovered evidence which suggests that the bomb which brought down Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie last December could have been loaded at Heathrow.
The evidence comes from an examination of three other bombs made by the Palestinian group believed to be responsible for the attack. It casts serious doubt on the theory that the bomb was placed on an earlier connecting flight.

All three devices were identically constructed, with electronic timers set to detonate the Semtex explosive within 43 to 46 minutes of being activated by a barometric pressure trigger at about 3,000 feet. [see more correct version here - each one was different] The West German police believe they were destined for El Al planes or flights to Tel Aviv.

If the Lockerbie bomb was the same, it would have had to have been placed on board the jumbo at Heathrow, rather than at Frankfurt, Malta or Cyprus - the three possibilities so far publicly canvassed.

The bombs have been connected with the terrorist cell run in West Germany by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command. The first was found in October 1988 in a radio cassette player in a car driven by Hafez Dalkamoni, who has been identified as a senior member of the PFLP-GC. He is awaiting trial in Frankfurt for a bomb attack on a railway in Lower Saxony in August 1987.

The discovery of the cassette bomb led to warnings from the West Germans to airlines and other western governments in November.

In April this year West German police found three more devices in the basement of a house owned by one of Dalkamoni's relatives in the town of Neuss. One exploded at the Wiesbaden headquarters of the BKA, the federal criminal investigation agency, killing a bomb disposal expert.

The three unexploded devices were all made by the same man. The BKA thinks he was the man arrested with Dalkamoni, Marwan Khreesat, who was mysteriously released without charge two weeks later, along with 12 other Palestinians arrested in October. Khreesat, it has been alleged, was probably an agent working for either Jordanian or West German intelligence, or both.
[all correct, but the fifth device is unmentioned]

The forensic experts, working for the BKA, believe the devices were designed to withstand examination by El Al's pressure chambers which are used to screen baggage.

Dr Jim Swire, the spokesman for the UK Families-Flight 103 group, believes the findings could point to the Lockerbie bomb, which was also in a cassette player, being loaded at Heathrow.

The plane took off at 6.25pm and disappeared off the radar screens between 53 and 54 minutes later [38 minutes later, of course, at 7:03]. It takes between seven and 10 minutes to climb to 3,000 feet [I have about 7 minutes and 2,400 feet - see again this link], which fits in precisely with the timing system on the other bombs. [it would fit perfectly if it were a 30-minute timer, which was among those used - 30, 45, and 60 minutes. see again this link.]