Lockerbie — A Quick Note on the ‘Imperfections’ of PT/35(b) [IMPORTANT UPDATE]

“I am asked what characteristics led us to this conclusion. I would say the layout of the circuit was the same. There were also imperfections in the circuit itself which were observable in the photograph from Scotland and also in the complete timer. It was alike a fingerprint.”

FBI SSA Thomas Thurman

In a recent post, I explained why the “imperfections” of the tracks below the “1 shaped” pad which were deemed crucial by the FBI in the identification of PT/35(b) as part of a MST-13 Timer. In that post, I explained why the presence of these imperfections on PT/35(b) was very puzzling. Today, I will offer a much more satisfactory explanation to this mystery. Enjoy! Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY

RELATED POST: Lockerbie — MEBO TELECOM and the Story of the MST-13 Timers

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PT/35(b)

 

PT35B raw

Notice how the ‘imperfection’ at the right end of the upper track looks exactly like the original design made by MEBO Lumpert… Despite the reduction film processing!

During his Defense precognition, FBI Thomas Thurman said:

“I am asked what characteristics led us to this conclusion. I would say the layout of the circuit was the same.

There were also imperfections in the circuit itself which were observable in the photograph from Scotland and also in the complete timer.

(Note: That is the infamous timer the CIA ‘brought back’ from Togo…)

It was alike a fingerprint.”

One of these “imperfections” is clearly visible on upper track of PT/35(b). As I have never seen the Togo timer board, I simply do not know that Thurman is correct when he said that these “imperfections” are identical.  But the information makes sense. The similarity of these imperfections would be like a fingerprint indeed. [NOTE: Thurman is obviously wrong about the lower track which appears perfectly fine on PT/35(b) at least.]

Below is a film that THURING used to make the MST-13 boards. Let us ask ourselves a very simple question: Does this “imperfection” appear on every of the 5 templates?

Statement by Urs Bonfadelli

Urs Bonfadelli was a manager at THURING AG from January 1985 to December 1989. In a 2009 affidavit, Bonfadelli explained the following facts:

“I was responsible for the production of this order and meeting the deadline. The circuit diagram was provided by Mebo and this had to be photographed and reduced by a ratio of 2: 1. A negative film was produced and five prints were made on each sheet of the basic material. The basic material was fibreglass with copper coating on both sides. The boards were bought from a company called Isola in Breitenbach, Switzerland. The “5 x 5″ reference (…) is to the fact that each board had five prints, so 25 prints would be made in all.”

Take a good look at these templates!

Here is the second print from the left. And the tracks appear to be perfect. [By the way, Ulrich Lumpert — the Mebo employee who designed the board — told the investigators that the tracks of the THURING boards should always be perfect. Lumpert is right and I will explain why at a later time.]

But now, let us look at the one on the far right. Here the imperfection may be visible, at least on the upper track. What is happening here?

So, let us summarize. The link between Libya and Lockerbie was made because the CIA had a MST-13 timer (from Togo) from which they could identify PT/35(b). And it is this “imperfection” of the upper track that makes this identification believable.

Now, that “imperfection” does not show up in some of these 5 prints of the THURING film and is barely observed in one of them.

Clearly then, PT/35(b) — ASSUMING for now that it was made using some information from THURING — would have been made from the same ‘print’ that was used to make the Togo timer. Pretty lucky, don’t you think? Only a child would believe this story.

Samples from MEBO

Once MEBO was identified as the company that built the MST-13 timers, MEBO provided 18 samples of MST-13 PCBs. These 18 samples belong to two types:

a. Seven PCBs with solder mask on one side only (the untracked side). These PCBs appear to have tracks and pads finished with a bright metal (left).

b. Eleven PCBs with solder mask on both sides. These PCBs appear to have tracks finished with a dull black material and pads finished with a bright metal (right).

DP347c

DP/347(a)

One of the seven PCBs with solder mask on only one side which had been recovered from Mebo (DP347(a)) was analysed by a number of laboratories. Each found that the track finish contained both Tin and Lead… Unlike PT/35(b) whose tracks were covered with pure Tin.

Again, no obviously neat ‘Thurman/CIA imperfections on DP/347(a)!

DP/347(a)

 

THURING vs MEBO

Let us compare a THURING board — DP/114 for instance but any board would do. — with the original MEBO template designed by Lumpert.

THURING vs MEBO

Notice that, again, the imperfections visible on the template cannot be seen on the THURING board.

Ulrich Lumpert told the investigators that the tracks of the THURING boards should always be perfect. Obviously, Lumpert is right but why?

Do you remember the statement of Bonfadelli?

“The circuit diagram was provided by Mebo and this had to be photographed and reduced by a ratio of 2: 1.

A negative film was produced and five prints were made on each sheet of the basic material.”

The key is that the template was photographed and reduced by a factor 2 BEFORE making the film that would be used to make the boards!

During this process, the small imperfections of the original template are more or less ‘washed out’ and do not appear nearly as clearly on the final product. The tracks look — almost — perfect indeed.

Conclusion

In order to produce PT/35(b), the forger needed the circuit board design. So far, people have speculated that this information could have come from many items: a genuine THURING board, a photograph of a THURING board, the THURING film or even a true MST-13 timer. I now suggest to rule out of all these as the source of the forgery because the imperfection visible on PT/35(b) fragment would not appear so clearly/neatly if it were the case.

The only possible explanation is that  the forger had access to the original design of MEBO. Now, in order to produce the film, the forger only took a picture of a small part of the whole board, ie the part needed to make PT35(b). In other words, PT/35(b) was NEVER part of a full board, let alone part of a timer.

By doing so, the forger’s film has a much higher resolution that the THURING film and that is why the ‘imperfection’ shows up very clearly on the fragment found at Lockerbie — PT/35(b) — and not on the THURING boards used to make the MST-13 timers delivered to Libya.

This is a major finding and, even if some people will not accept it for whatever reaons, I believe that there is much that can be derived from it. Sometimes, you need to have a bit of faith… Stay tuned!

PS: The story is far more complicated than I suggest in this post. For instance, experts will notice that the part of the track having the ‘imperfection’ quickly dissapeared from the evidence pictures. Yet another part of the track — a very critical one — that went missing. Just like DP/10 — used to test the matte side of the copper track– went missing at one point between 1990 and 1992. No one ever asked how, when and why it went missing. Yet, another mystery? That is a lot of mysteries about such a tiny fragment.

REFERENCES

RELATED POST: Lockerbie — MEBO TELECOM and the Story of the MST-13 Timers

RELATED POST: PT/35(b) — The Most Expensive Forgery in History [Lockerbie]

RELATED POST: PT/35(b) — An Overview of the Lockerbie Case

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Lockerbie — A quick Note on the ‘imperfections’ of PT/35(b) [IMPORTANT UPDATE]

 

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