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I’m a former CIA agent: Iran was behind Lockerbie and should be made to pay

Despite former US AG Barr's claims, Libya did not carry out the horrific 1988 bombing of a plane over Scotland. The US should bring Iran to justice now
Acting U.S. Attorney General William Barr points to a fragment of a circuit board during a news conference on Pan Am Flight 103 in Washington, Nov. 14, 1991. The tiny fragment was described as part of the bomb inside a portable radio. (AP Photo/Barry Thumma)
Acting U.S. Attorney General William Barr points to a fragment of a circuit board during a news conference on Pan Am Flight 103 in Washington, Nov. 14, 1991. The tiny fragment was described as part of the bomb inside a portable radio. (AP Photo/Barry Thumma)

As a former CIA operations officer, I am breaking 20 years of silence about one of the most heinous plane bombings on record, Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland on December 21, 1988. I can now tell you, as I have been telling the CIA and FBI since being interviewed by them in early 2000, that I and many other intelligence officers do not believe that Libya is responsible for the bombing. Iran, as the original evidence clearly showed, is the true perpetrator of this deadly attack and should be brought to justice.

Two weeks ago, just before stepping down as US attorney general, William Barr, who was also AG in 1992 and oversaw the investigation and indictment of the case, announced new charges against a Libyan man known as Masud for supposedly constructing the bomb that detonated on the plane. I believe Barr and the Justice Department announced this new indictment purely for the purpose of shoring up Barr’s original, faulty 1991 indictments.

The evidence and logic in the current case against Mr. Masud are as flimsy as the cases were two decades ago when Barr steered focus away from the obvious culprit, Iran.

I know Libya is not behind the bombing because I was the long-time handler for the principal US government witness Abdul Majid Giaka, a Libyan agent who never provided any evidence pointing to Libya or any indication of knowing anything about that nation’s involvement in the two years after the bombing. Yet years later, he testified against the convicted Libyan intelligence officer, Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, at the Lockerbie bombing (Pan Am 103) trial conducted at The Hague in 2000.

The US Government prevented my testimony and hid from evidence the cables I wrote that proved Giaka knew nothing. When my cables were finally released to the trial at the demand of the defense, the court dismissed Giaka along with the two CIA operations officers sent to the trial to testify to his credibility.

Yet today, the charade continues. The FBI acknowledges they have not even interviewed Mr. Masud themselves and are entirely dependent on an 8-year-old statement by an unnamed Libyan police officer from a country in the midst of a devastating civil war. Moreover, Masud had no history or signature for making the type of bomb that brought down Pan Am 103 nor for concealing bombs in Toshiba radios. The PFLP-GC (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command) did.

We just observed the 32nd anniversary of the bombing of Pan Am 103. It is time to drop the routine CIA procedure of embellishing intelligence reporting to fit a preconceived outcome rather than following the facts. The families of Pan Am flight 103 victims have suffered long enough and deserve to now be able to rest assured that the real perpetrators of this act of terrorism, Iranian actors, are brought to justice.

I am asking that the case be reexamined due to the availability of evidence against Iran and irregularities in the US government presentation of evidence at the first trial. The son of the man convicted made a similar request. He recently appealed the conviction of his father to the High Court in Scotland. The panel of five judges is currently reviewing the appeal, which was presented in late November 2020.

Now is the time for former Attorney General Barr, who signed the original warrants against Megrahi, and former FBI Director Robert Mueller, who led the DOJ investigation, to answer some questions: If Libya is truly the culprit, why did the US not indict Libyan intelligence chief Sanussi, who has reportedly been sitting in a Libyan jail since that nation’s revolution in 2011, and would have been in charge of any such high profile operation at the time of the bombing? And why was credible evidence pointing toward Iran ignored, given Iran’s clear motive for the attack as retaliation for the downing of a civilian Iran Air Airbus and its proven capacity to carry out attacks similar to the bombing over Lockerbie?

Just a brief time remains for the current US administration to take action. President Trump has reportedly reluctantly shelved the idea of striking Iran over its nuclear program. At the same time, he is no longer aligned with an attorney general invested in the falsehood that Libya committed the bombing. This president still has an opportunity to take action.

I served for more than 40 years in the Middle East and saw numerous Americans killed by terrorist attacks, all orchestrated and supported by the mullahs in Iran. I urge President Trump to bring Iranian religious leadership to justice for the Pan Am 103 bombing now. The US and Israel should work together to strike key Iranian military facilities, IRGC training camps and all nuclear development sites, both open and secret, before Iran gathers enough strength to strike again, which they will.

About the Author
John Holt, a Professor of Political Science at a US university, Served more than 40 years in the US Intelligence Community, including 25 years as a CIA Operations Officer in the Middle East. He was the long-time handler for Abdul Majid Giaka, who was the key US government witness in the Lockerbie trial conducted at The Hague in 2000.
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