PT/35(b) — How was the Lockerbie Key Evidence Forged?

“Without PT/35(b), there would have been no indictment.”

Richard Marquise — FBI Agent who led the US side of the Lockerbie investigation

“I regard the Lockerbie verdict against Megrahi as a ‘Grand Monument to Human Stupidity’.  Indeed, the written opinion of the Lockerbie judges is a remarkable document that claims an ‘honoured place in the history of British miscarriages of justice.’ If the SCCRC Commission accepts the application for a full review, the infamous Zeist verdict doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of surviving.”

INTEL TODAY — July 5 2017

“Exactly the same forensic scientists who produced the wrongful conviction of Guiseppe Conlon, the Maguire family and of Danny McNamee, and had been stood down for the role they played. Yet here they were. Without them, there wouldn’t have been a prosecution, far less a conviction in Lockerbie.”

Gareth Peirce — Solicitor for the Guildford Four and the Birmingham Six

PT35B raw

Notice how the ‘imperfection’ at the right end of the upper track looks exactly like the original design made by MEBO Lumpert.

PT/35(b) is a small fragment of a circuit timer that was allegedly found among the debris of Pan Am 103 near the town of Lockerbie. After more than ten years of investigation, I have come to the conclusion that PT/35(b) is a forgery that was planted among the debris to implicate Libya in the bombing of Pan Am 103 and to steer the investigation away from the original suspects. In several recent posts, I have explained why PT/35(b) is a forgery and what kind of information was needed to produce it. In this post, I suggest the method most likely used to manufacture this infamous fragment. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY

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

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

RELATED POST: LOCKERBIE — PT/35(b) : “A RIDDLE, WRAPPED IN A MYSTERY, INSIDE AN ENIGMA.”

Although the tracks of the Thuring boards — used to build the MST-13 timers delivered to Libya — are covered with a mix of Tin/Lead [70/30 %], PT/35(b) tracks are covered with pure Tin. Thus PT/35(b) is a forgery. No discussion. Full stop!

Now, let us ask ourselves what can be learned from the Tin covering the copper tracks of PT/35(b)? And — of course — what can we learn about the forger(s)?

The Making of PT/35(b): “Etching” & “Tinning”

Do we have any information that might help us to figure out how this “Tinning” was achieved?

Short answer: YES! The thickness of the Tin, its uniformity, the shape of the copper track’s cross-section and the presence — or not — of Tin on the sides of the tracks provide some clues.

1. The “Etch Profile” of the Copper Tracks

According to the method used, the “etch profiles” will look quite different. A concave profile is indicative of an industrial etch machine production. A round profile is typical of DIY — amateurish — method.

Profile

The expert consulted by the Lockerbie investigators on this issue — Dr. David Johnson from Manchester University — concluded  that:

“The etch profile on the copper tracks and pad suggest that the circuit could have been home-made.”

2. The Tin Thickness

The Tin layer covering the PT/35(b) tracks is very thin, just a few microns (From about 2 to 4 microns depending on the exact spot). The average value is about 3 microns.

PT35B Profile

PT/35(b) — Track profile

The copper track is made of standard 1 ounce foil (35 microns), so it is obvious from the picture above that the TIN layer is very thin indeed. (Basically one tenth, so about 3 microns.)

By the way, the layer of “Tin/lead” on the Thuring board is significantly thicker. When I first saw the X-ray spectra of the tracks from PT/35(b) and the THURING board, I was flummoxed by the absence of copper peaks on the THURING spectrum.

This is however explained by the absorption of the low energy X-rays of the copper by the very absorbing Lead — contained in the Tin/Lead cover — present on the THURING boards but absent from PT/35(b)!  It is now making total sense, of course. Great feeling…

3. The Tin Uniformity

A scientific report from Dundee University concluded the following:

“Samples [of PT/35(b)] indicate that the copper sublayer has been coated with tin using a tin immersion process.

This is evident by the uniform silver like deposition. This can be easily undertaken by immersing the board into a commercially available liquid chemical, which is the process used for small-scale manufacture of PCBs.

The finish on the tracks labelled 2, 1, 3 and 0 together with the pad area E in figure 1c exhibit (see below) these characteristics.”

Figure_1c

4. Overlap of the edges

The fact that the Tin is present on the edges of the copper tracks clearly suggests that the Tin was applied after the etching. This would in turn rule out a Tin etch-resist material applied during an electroplating process.

CONCLUSION

All these observations– the etch profile, the Tin thickness and its uniformity as well as the overlap of the edges — strongly implies that PT/35(b)  was “tinned”  using a “Tin immersion” process.

This process only requires to immerse the board into a commercially available liquid chemical, which is the process used for small-scale and amateur manufacture of PCBs.

Once provided with the crucial information from MEBO — such as given by Ulrich Lumpert to Swiss inspector Peter Fluckiger  on June 22 1989 — That is a full year BEFORE the Lockerbie investigators identified MEBO — at “the request of a friendly [Cynical] Intelligence Agency” (Does it read CIA?) — any electronics techie could have done it in his kitchen…

Just a one man job. Now, that is good because, as a great American once famously said, “Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead.”

For obvious reasons, whoever is behind this forgery wanted to keep the number of actors to a bare minimum.

 Appendix — The X-Ray Spectra

This is the X-ray spectrum from top surface of PT/35(b). There is no ‘Lead’ (Chemical symbol Pb) line! But the Copper (Cu) lines [Both the K and L lines] are clearly obvious around 1 and 8 keV.

PT35b Xray

PT/35(b) — X-ray spectrum from top surface

 

And this is the X-ray spectrum from top surface of the THURING board. You can see a neat “Lead” (Pb) line around 2.4 keV.

DP347a Xray

DP 347a — X-ray spectrum from the top surface

 

You will notice the copper lines around 1 keV and 8 keV in the PT/35(b) spectrum but not in the THURING spectrum. This is entirely consistent with the thin “Tin” cover of the copper track on PT/35(b) and the thick Tin/Lead cover of the THURING tracks.

Definition — The “keV” is a unit of energy: kilo electron Volt. Comment: Notice that the two spectra have different x (Energy) span. (Respectively 0 to 8 and 0 to 14 keV)

Why the Tin vs Tin/Lead crucial Mistake?

Considering that this forgery forced Libya to pay US$ 2.7 billions, you would think that  the forger(s) could have done a slightly better job. So why the mistake?

The first THURING boards were ordered by MEBO (Ulrich Lumpert) to THURING on 13 August 1985. Although 20 were ordered, 24 were actually delivered on 16 August 1985.

The order specifies that the boards should be  “solder masked” on one side [Lötstopp eins.(eitig)] with “No bore holes”. And the tracks should be “Tin” plated!

 

DP473-575

Notice the word “ZINN” (Tin). However, in this technical field, neither “Zinn” in German nor “Tin” in English actually means ‘Tin’ in a literally sence. It is just “slang” for covering the tracks with ‘something’ that will help the soldering of electronic components.

REPEAT — It is just slang for the process of covering the copper tracks!  And this does not tell anyone anything about the material itself, whether pure Tin or a Tin/Lead alloy.

In the case of these Thuring boards, it was actually a mix of Tin and Lead (70% SN/30%Pb).

This is absolutely crucial to the Lockerbie case because we now know that the PT/35(b) copper tracks are covered with pure Tin!

I suggest that the forger was simply not aware of this basic fact. Or perhaps, he got “lost in translation”?

I would like to add that several — real and qualified –experts had correctly pointed out that PT/35(b) was not similar to the THURING boards. And some of them clearly suggested the proper way to reach a definitive conclusion about this issue. But the investigators never followed up on these experts’ recommendations. And there is worse…

There is not doubt whatsoever that one of the key forensic investigator — RARDE scientist Allen Feraday — KNEW that PT/35(b) was obviously NOT similar to these boards used in the MST-13 timers delivered to Libya.

Yet, Allen Feraday testified that PT/35(b) was “similar in all respects” to the THURING boards of the MEBO MST-13 timer which proved the crucial link to Libya and Megrahi. [Thus in the words of the FBI lead investigator: “Without PT/35(b), there would have been no indictment.”]

In fact it was, as we now know, nothing of the sort. Not everything is black or white (although a Toshiba radio might be…), but “perjury” is a rather well-defined concept…

Based on the testimony of Allen Feraday, dozen of innocent people (Mostly IRA related cases) spent countless years in jail. Some of them died in jail. And then, case after case, it was demonstrated that these people were innocent. There is obviously a serious problem with this kind of “forensic science”…  And this kind of forensic scientists.

Release of Gerry Conlon – In The Name Of The Father – Real Footage 

“Same bad Scientists”

Gareth Peirce — Solicitor for the Guildford Four and the Birmingham Six — tells it very well:

“Exactly the same forensic scientists who produced the wrongful conviction of Guiseppe Conlon, the Maguire family and of Danny McNamee, and had been stood down for the role they played. Yet here they were. Without them, there wouldn’t have been a prosecution, far less a conviction in Lockerbie.”

“What shocked me most was that I thought that all that had been gone through on Guildford and Birmingham, the one thing that had been achieved was that nobody would be convicted again on bad science. But yet in the Lockerbie case, it isn’t just the same bad science, it is the same bad scientists.”

RELATED POST: IRA suspect issues apology for the Birmingham pub bombings — “Bad Science and Bad Scientists”

I suggest that Pierce is a bit too nice with these “scientists”. Under cross-examination by Richard Keen QC, Feraday admitted that he has no formal qualifications whatsoever.

Feraday’s credentials are however impeccable. In three separate cases [The 1982 Hide Park Bomb, the John Berry Case and the Hassan Assali Case] where men were convicted on the basis of his forensic evidence, the initial ruling was overturned in appeal.

Eventually,  a senior judge presiding over the Berry appeal said in 1993 (some 7 years before the Lockerbie trial) that:

“Mr. Feraday should not be allowed to present himself as an expert in electronics.”

In early February 1989, Feraday wrote that he was completely satisfied that fragments recovered at the Lockerbie crime scene originated from a white Toshiba brand radio stereo cassette recorder types RT-8016 or RT-8026. This very specific Toshiba radio strongly hinted to the involvement of a Palestinian terror group (the PFLP-GC) based in Syria and sponsored by Iran.

By the time the US and UK issued a joined indictment against the two Libyan men, Feraday had established that the bomb had been hidden in a black Toshiba radio model RT-SF16 almost solely sold to Libya. That is subtle or what?

Just a favour…

Would you do me a favour? Watch the movie “In the Name of the Father” with your best friends around a good bottle of wine — or whatever you enjoy best…  And make a promise to yourself never to forget that:

“A threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Regards, L

In The Name Of The Father (1993) TRAILER 

Why?

Just the words of an old wise man…

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

REFERENCES

Lockerbie relatives urge inquiry into ‘suppressed evidence’  — Guardian

The Framing of al-Megrahi by Gareth Peirce — London Review of Books

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PT/35(b) — How was the Lockerbie Key Evidence Forged?

 

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1 Response to PT/35(b) — How was the Lockerbie Key Evidence Forged?

  1. George Thomson says:

    Probably one of the best, if not the best article I have ever read on this case

    Like

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