East German Stasi spies questioned for evidence on Lockerbie bombing

Lockerbie air disasterFive former officers of East Germany’s State Security Service, known commonly as the Stasi, have been questioned in Berlin over the Lockerbie air disaster at the request of British prosecutors. A total of 270 people died on December 21, 1988, when Pan Am flight 103, flying from Frankfurt to Detroit, exploded in mid-air over the Scottish village of Lockerbie. In 2001, a British court sitting in the Netherlands ruled that the bombing was carried out by Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, former head of security for Libyan Arab Airlines. Al-Megrahi was also believed to have been an officer of Intelligence of the Jamahiriya —Libya’s main intelligence service. He claimed he was innocent of the crime until his death in 2012 from cancer.

But Scotland’s independent public prosecution agency, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, has always claimed that several other Libyan intelligence operatives helped Megrahi bring down Pan Am flight 103. Last December, the Crown Office said that it was continuing to pursue a criminal inquiry into several individuals —other than Megrahi— who were “involved in the conspiracy” to bomb Pan Am flight 103. As part of the inquiry, Crown Office prosecutors have interviewed potential suspects and witnesses, including Abdullah Senussi, former head of Libyan intelligence.

On Thursday, the German news agency DPA said that five former officers of the East German Stasi —all of them in their 70s and 80s— had been interviewed in connection to the Lockerbie bombing. The news agency said that the interviews had been conducted by German intelligence officers at the request of Crown Office prosecutors in Britain. Later on Thursday, the Berlin office of the German state prosecutor confirmed that the unnamed five individuals had been interviewed “as witnesses, not as suspects” throughout the past nine months. It gave no further information, saying that “it would be inappropriate to comment on a developing criminal investigation”.

All five former Stasi officers are believed to have provided evidence at the trial in the Netherlands that resulted in Megrahi’s conviction. Among other things, they told the court that the Libyans had contracted a Swiss businessman who manufactured the timer that detonated the Lockerbie bomb. Moreover, the 2014 documentary My Brother’s Bomber, directed by the American filmmaker Ken Dornstein, whose brother died in the Lockerbie bombing, claimed that the Stasi had closely monitored the activities of Libyan intelligence in West Germany in the years leading up to the downing of Pan Am flight 103. Some believe that the Stasi had evidence of a conspiracy by several Libyan intelligence officers to carry out the bombing.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 22 March 2019 | Permalink

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Abdel Baset al-MegrahiBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Secret letter shows arms deal behind Lockerbie bomber release. An email sent in 2008 by Sir Vincent Fean, the then British ambassador in Tripoli, details how the release by Britain of Lockerbie air disaster bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, was linked to a commercial deal. According to The Daily Telegraph, the email specifies that al-Megrahi would be released once Libya “fulfilled its promise” to buy an £400 million air defense system.
►►Is the US ramping up a secret war in Somalia? The US has expanded its secret war in Somalia, stepping up assistance for federal and regional Somali intelligence agencies that are allied against the country’s Islamist insurgency. It’s a move that’s not only violating the terms of an international arms embargo, according to UN investigators, but it also shows that Washington’s signature victory against al-Qaeda’s most powerful African ally may be in danger of unraveling.
►►Indonesian government ‘angry’ at alleged Western spying. The Indonesian government has reacted strongly to revelations in the Australian media that the country’s President and senior diplomats were spied upon during the 2009 G20 conference in London. The revelations appear to be based on leaks on intelligence-gathering techniques by US whistleblower Edward Snowden.

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Abdel Baset al-MegrahiBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Convicted Lockerbie bomber dies. Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, a former Libyan intelligence officer who was the only person ever convicted in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, died at home in Tripoli Sunday, nearly three years after he was released from a Scottish prison to the outrage of the relatives of the attack’s 270 victims. He was 60. Scotland released Mr. al-Megrahi on Aug. 20, 2009, on compassionate grounds to let him return home to die after he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Anger over the release was further stoked by subsequent allegations that London had sought his release to preserve business interests in the oil-rich North African nation, strongly denied by the British and Scottish governments.
►►Federal appeals panel to hear CIA leak case. A federal appeals panel in the United States will hear the case of ex-CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, who has been charged with leaking classified information about Iran’s nuclear program to New York Times reporter James Risen. Prosecutors say Sterling was a key source in Risen’s 2006 book, State of War. They are also challenging the court’s decision to strike two government witnesses and allow disclosure of the identities of covert CIA operatives to Sterling’s lawyers.
►►New study of British Empire’s spies published. British newspaper The Guardian has published a review of William Beaver’s newly published book, Under Every Leaf: How Britain Played The Greater Game From Afghanistan to Africa. Much of the book concerns the creation in the mid-1850s of the British War Office Intelligence Department. According to the review, the book does much to restore the “missing dimension” to Britain’s military-imperial history between 1855 and the creation of her modern intelligence agencies in the early 1900s.

Declassified documents reveal US-Libyan spy war in Malta

Libya and Malta

Libya and Malta

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A batch of declassified CIA reports from the late 1980s point to the Mediterranean island-nation of Malta as a major battlefield between American and Libyan intelligence operatives. According to the reports, which date from between 1988 and 1991, Malta served as a “primary launching point” for Libyan intelligence and paramilitary units on their way to Germany, Britain, and other countries in Western Europe. Most of the reports, which number over 250 pages in total, contain intelligence from a CIA informant named Abdul Majid Giaka. Referred to as “P/1” in the CIA documents, Giaka was a Libyan employee of Libyan Arab Airlines stationed in Malta. In 1988, however, he walked in the American embassy in the Maltese capital Valetta, and offered to work as an agent-in-place for the CIA. In exchange for his services, he requested regular financial compensation, as well as a promise of eventual relocation to the United States for him and his Maltese wife. Eventually, the intelligence collected by Giaka formed a major component of the prosecution’s case in the Lockerbie bombing court hearings. Giaka’s testimony directly led to the conviction of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, a Libyan intelligence officer, who was released from a British prison in August of 2009 on compassionate grounds and is now in Tripoli. The declassified documents show that, in return for Giaka’s services, the CIA arranged a fake surgery for him in 1989, in order to help him secure an exemption from serving in the Libyan armed forces. The CIA’s initial assessment of Giaka was that he was dependable “intelligent, serious and fairly well composed”. Later, however, Giaka’s CIA handlers began questioning his commitment after he started appearing with new information only when in need of money. Read more of this post

Gaddafi’s son employed former spies’ firm to research PhD thesis

Saif al-Gaddafi

Saif al-Gaddafi

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
One of Libyan ruler Muammar al-Gaddafi’s seven sons employed a firm staffed by former British intelligence agents to carry out research for his PhD thesis. Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi, 37, who is seen as the leading candidate to succeed his father, recently submitted his doctoral thesis at the London School of Economics, where he was a PhD candidate for four years. A preliminary note in his thesis, which is now available at the Senate House library of the University of London, reveals that he employed the Monitor Group, a research and consultancy company that includes at least two well-known former British spies among its ranks, to conduct interviews required for his thesis. Read more of this post

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CIA furious over UK-Libyan bomber release deal

Al-Megrahi

Al-Megrahi

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The CIA has threatened to stop sharing intelligence with UK spy services in protest over the recent release from a Scottish prison of a Libyan intelligence agent convicted for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103, according to a British newspaper. Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, who is now back home in Tripoli, was released by British authorities on August 19 on compassionate grounds, after medical tests allegedly showed he is suffering from terminal cancer. Many observers, including former CIA agent Robert Baer, voiced suspicion about the reasons behind al-Megrahi’s release, while several British newspapers, including The London Times, alleged that the release was part of a lucrative oil exploration deal between British Petroleum (BP) and the Libyan government. Now an article in British newspaper The News of the World claims that the CIA leadership has vowed to terminate intelligence cooperation with the UK over the Libyan’s release. Read more of this post