Is this the real Lockerbie bomber? Egyptian terrorist linked to aviation disaster 25 years after plane came down
- Egyptian terrorist Mohammed Abu Talb named as likely suspect in bombing
- Alleged to be behind the blast on Pan Am Flight 103 on December 22, 1988
- Private investigation – Operation Bird – also claims CIA covered up truth
- Bombing remains worst terrorist attack to have been committed in UK
PUBLISHED: 11:05, 15 December 2013 |
For 25 years, the Lockerbie Bombing has been shrouded in mystery.
Now, an Eyptian terrorist has been revealed as a likely suspect in the devastating attack.
Mohammed Abu Talb – who is serving life in prison for a series of bombings – has been named in a private investigation called Operation Bird.
He is alleged to be behind the blast that took place on board Pan Am Flight 103 over Scotland in 1988 – killing 270 people.
The investigation – put forward as a report by Forensic Investigative Associates in London – has also accused the CIA of covering up Talb’s role in the atrocity, according the The Sunday People and Exaro.
It was commissioned by lawyers for Libyan Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, who was jailed in 2001 for masterminding the bombing.
If the report is correct, it means al-Megrahi – who died of cancer aged 60 last year after being controversially freed from jail in 2009 – may have been wrongly imprisoned.
Investigators claim key pieces of evidence in the case against al-Megrahi – including a fragment of circuit board for a timer – were faked.
They also allege the bomb was planted in luggage at Heathrow airport in London – not loaded by al-Megrahi in Malta, as the prosecution claimed during his trial in 2001.
And they say Talb – who was an initial suspect in the case – met with other Middle East terror suspects in the run-up to the bombing.
The report – written in 2002 – was supposed to form part of al-Megrahi’s appeal in 2009, but it was never used.
Jailed: Libyan Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, pictured left and right, was jailed in 2001 for masterminding the bombing
However, it is due to be aired in an Al Jazeera TV documentary this week.
Its authors – Jessica de Grazia, a former New York chief assistant district attorney, and ex-Met police officer Philip Corbett – expect their findings to provoke calls for the case to be re-opened.
They conclude: ‘We have never seen a criminal investigation in which there has been such a consistent disregard of an alternative and far more persuasive theory of the case.’
Talb, now 59, was jailed for life in 1989 after carrying out bombings in Copenhagen, Denmark and Amsterdam – killing one person and reportedly injuring a further 20.
He has always denied any involvement in the Lockerbie bombing – and even gave evidence against al-Megrahi during his trial in return for immunity from prosecution.
However, ex-CIA expert Robert Baer later claimed the terrorist had been paid $500,000 (£307,000) just months after the atrocity.
And Operation Bird suggests police were misled in their investigation due to a government agency – most likely, the CIA – deliberately covering up the true culprit.
Ms De Grazia and Mr Corbett said the five-month inquiry ‘leads us to believe the investigation into the Lockerbie bombing was directed off-course as a result of government interference.’
They added: ‘In our experience, the decision to intervene would have been made at the highest level of government, most likely a top executive of the United States Central Intelligence Agency.’
Earlier this year, members of the Lockerbie investigation team – including officers from Dumfries and Galloway Police – visited Libya to look into possible leads which could result in further convictions for the bombing.
However, Libyan authorities later said they did not want to ‘dig into the past’ amid fears they could be forced to pay out further compensation to the families of the victims.