Lockerbie 30th Anniversary — PT/35(b) : Dirty Tricks & Tribulations in Senegal

“The [official] story of the Senegal timer is simply out of an American serialized novel.”

Jean Collin —  Secretary-General to the Senegal Government and Minister of State 1981-90

“After the recent interview of Collin, it is now more clear than ever that the circumstances surrounding the recovery of the ‘boxed MST-13 timer’ in Senegal must be clarified beyond doubt. The whole essence of the ‘MST-13 timers’ is the sole manufacture by the Mebo company in world terms and the explicit distribution to the Libyan ESO. Unless we can consolidate the precise number of MST-13 timers circuit boards manufactured to fit the ‘boxed timers’ and confirm the fact they were distributed, solely to the Libyans, then we have serious problems with our direct evidence.”

Stuart Henderson — Lockerbie Senior Investigating Officer (MEMO March 1991)

“The Americans knew all about this operation and were in Senegal. The CIA have seen all the items recovered from the three persons. They carried out detailed examinations of these items and at the end of it said the material was defective. The French also arrived and they too carried out detailed examination and spent 2 days sifting through them and at the end of it appeared to be of the same opinion as the Americans that the material was defective.”

Babacar Gaye — Senegalese “Colonel de Gendarmerie”

Jean Collin — Secretary-General to the Senegal Government and Minister of State 1981-90

The story of the two Togo timers is weird and murky. But the story of the Senegal timer  — as Jean Collin, the number 2 man in the country at the time, once explained to the Lockerbie investigators —  is simply out of an American  “serialized novel”.

To mark the 30th Anniversary of the Pan Am 103 tragedy, INTEL TODAY will re-post one of our best Lockerbie stories every Wednesday until the end of the year. We would like to know what you think. Please, take this poll and encourage your friends to participate.

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RELATED POST: Remembering Lockerbie — Pan Am 103 Quotes

RELATED POST: LOCKERBIE 30th Anniversary — PT/35(b) : “A RIDDLE, WRAPPED IN A MYSTERY, INSIDE AN ENIGMA.”

RELATED POST: LOCKERBIE 30th Anniversary — PT/35(b) : An Overview of the Lockerbie Case

RELATED POST: Lockerbie 30th Anniversary — PT/35(b) : The Fairy Tale of the Togo Timers

PT/35(b) — a small fragment of a circuit timer board found among the debris of Pan Am 103 at Lockerbie — was the critical piece of evidence that pointed the investigation towards Libya. As FBI Richard Marquise himself said: “Without PT/35(b), there would have been no indictment.”

PT/35(b)

 

PT/35(b) may very well have been necessary to “solve the case”, but it was certainly not sufficient. It was also necessary to match PT/35(b) to the MST-13 timers which had “solely” been supplied by MEBO to Libya.

It turned out that the CIA was “fortunately” in possession of such a MST-13 timer (K1)which had been allegedly brought back to the US by some US Government employees following a visit to Togo in the fall of 1986.

Without the Togo timer, PT/35(b) could not have been identified and therefore there would have been no case, let alone  an indictment, against Megrahi and Fhimah.

But it is the Senegal timer that made it possible — according to the official narrative — to connect PT/35(b) to MEBO and Libya. What do we know about this Senegal Timer? Can we trust this story? Short answer: Absolutely not!

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The official story of the Senegal timer is clearly a fiction. The device was supposedly part of an arms cache seized from two Libyans and their Senegalese accomplice who were arrested when they arrived at Dakar airport on February 1988.

However, the Western media failed to report — let alone investigate — that the Senegalese accomplice was in fact a Senegalese government informant.

The arrests were by no means an ordinary police operation. It was a full-fledged Intel sting directly supervised by the government of President Abu Diouf.

Moreover, the French DGSE was involved in the operation and the CIA was — at the very least — tipped off in advance of the arrests.

In the end, there was no reliable evidence to link the Libyans to the arms cache. Therefore, the charges against them were dropped and the two individuals returned to Libya.

In truth, it is very possible that the weapons — and most importantly the timer — were planted.  Again, the media never reported that all the material contained in the suspicious luggage was defective.

Finally, Senegalese army records indicate that the timer was not destroyed along with the other weapons. Jean Collin —  the official in charge of the operation– strongly hinted that it ended in the hands of an American Intelligence Agency.

Introduction

During the night of 19 to 20 February 1988, two Libyan citizens and one Senegalese man were arrested upon their arrival at Dakar airport, Senegal.

An “anonymous caller” had warned the Authorities that the three men were carrying  weapons and explosives in their  luggage.

Material seized on 20/02/1988

Material seized on 20/02/1988

The caller was right.  The luggage did indeed contain some TNT and SEMTEX-H explosives, a Beretta handgun with a silencer, a box of 25 bullets, a bunch of detonators and, last but not least, a ‘boxed’ MST-13 timer made by the Swiss company MEBO.

POLICE REPORT

The following description of the event (Dakar Airport, 20 February 1988) is taken verbatim from the Police Report.

When the passengers got off, we observed the presence of Ahmed Khalifa Niasse, known notoriously for his dealings with Libya.

He was accompanied by two North African-looking individuals, who seemed bothered. Mr Niasse, having tried to go directly to the VIP lounge, was asked to follow the marked route.

On their arrival in the immigration hall, these individuals were subjected to a body search and taken to the VIP lounge.

Here their hand and hold luggage was searched and this led to the discovery of the arms and explosives listed below:

9m slow fuse

4 blocks TNT (400 gr each; 1.6 kg total)

2 blocks plastic explosive, type SEMTEX-H (2 kg each; 4 kg total)

9 electric detonators

5 pyrotechnic detonators

1 electric detonating timing device (NB. This is the MST-13 from MEBO)

1 Beretta automatic pistol, 7.56 caliber, serial No.  327771 with silencer

1 packet of 25 bullets (9 mm)

1 empty clip

5 “pastilles” for the silencer

The small case in which the arsenal was located was carried  by one of the individuals carrying a Senegalese passport in the name of Mamadou FALL.

A body search led to the discovery of a Libyan passport in the name of El MARZOUK, Mohamed,  born in 1952 in Tripoli and exercising the profession of farmer.

DC1671-P1

The  second  individual named Mansour Omran  SABER  born  in  1953  in Ben Ghashir ( Libya) exercising  the profession of employee  with no further details. This person had no entry visa to Senegal.

DC1670-P1

NOTE. It is noted that the only pistol found was a Beretta 7.56 mm caliber. The clip which went with the gun was empty of any bullet.

This arm, fitted with a silencer, had no compatible ammunition. In the same briefcase, a packet of 25 bullets 9 mm was found. These bullets did not have a compatible arm either.

The other suitcases only contained ordinary clothing and toiletries. At the end of the searches their personal luggage was given back to them.

Flight 301 — Air Africa

The Flight RK 301 was serving the route: Cotonou (Benin) – Lomé (Togo) – Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire) – Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) – Niamey (Niger) – Bamako (Mali) – Dakar (Senegal).

RK 301 was expected at 05:25 on February 20 and arrived on time at Dakar.

Interview of Colonel Babacar Gaye

On 18/07/1990, DI William Williamson interviewed Babacar Gaye, a Senegalese “Colonel de Gendarmerie”, regarding the arrests made at Dakar Airport on the 20th February 1988.

BabacarGaye

Colonel Gaye confirmed that two Libyan nationals (Saber and El Marzouk) as well as a Senegalese person (Niasse) were arrested on that night.

The Senegal Timer: Ahmed Khalifa NIASSE

Colonel Gaye told DI Williamson that:

“Niasse when interviewed claimed that both MARZOUK and SABER were terrorists and that he had been asked to set them up. Niasse however refused to disclose his contact who had been acting on his behalf.”

Colonel Gaye then added the following:

“The Americans knew all about this operation and were in Senegal. The CIA have seen all the items recovered from the three persons.

They carried out their examinations of these items here in Senegal and took photographs of them.

They carried out detailed examinations of these items and at the end of it said the material was defective.”

“The French also arrived and they too carried out detailed examination of and spent 2 days sifting through them and at the end appeared to be of the same opinion as the Americans that the material was defective.”

DE50-1

Note. On page 224 of his book, Richard Marquise, the FBI agent who led the US side of the Lockerbie investigation, wrote:

“Saber denied knowing […] Ahmed Khalifa Niasse, another LIBYAN allegedly involved in the plot to smuggle weapons in Senegal. ”

That is entirely wrong. First, Niasse is a Senegalese citizen.Second, Saber never denied knowing Niasse. In fact, both Saber and Marzouk claimed they came to Dakar at Niasse request. [See Colonel Babacar Gaye interview]

During their interview, both Libyans consistently claimed — and obviously they were not asked very nicely — that the luggage did not belong to them, but to Niasse.

Fate of the Arms and Explosives Seized

“I inform you hereby that your proposal [to destroy the material seized] has been approved by the President of the Republic.”

Secretary General Jean Collin (17/01/1989)

On 31 December 1988, the Senegalese Police (Gendarmerie) requested the authorization to destroy the explosives seized at Dakar airport on 20 February 1988.

(Note. On 28/12/1988, AAIB Michael Charles announced that two pieces of metal recovered in the wreckage of PA 103 provided evidence of a plastic explosive.)

The Senegal Timer: Inventory of the Material Discovered

The Senegal Timer: Fate of the Arms and Explosives Seized

This authorization was granted by Jean Collin in a letter dated 17 January 1989.

 

DP78-78-1

The document and its translation can be found on this page

For those who have read the book of President Abdu Diouf, it is far from obvious that the President actually approved that request. (See page 294) In any case, President Diouf replaced Jean Collin by André Sonko — a UCLA graduate — on March  27 1990.

But the real question is this: What ever happened to the MST-13 timer? To this day, nobody knows…

Both CIA agents  [Kenneth Steiner and Warren Clemens] involved in the case have alleged that the Libyans took it back as they returned home! That rather ridiculous allegation did not please the Senegalese authorities. The reader can safely assume that this is NOT the truth.

The Senegal Timer: CIA Warren Clemens

The Senegal Timer: CIA Kenneth Steiner

I just want to point out that both Mohamed  El Marzouk and Mansour El Saber were fingerprinted after their arrest in Dakar.

Certainly, the Senegalese Gendarmerie — and CIA Warren Clemens —  made sure that fingerprints were taken from the material seized and particularly from the MST-13 timer for which they had the greatest interest. And yet, there was no evidence linking the Libyans to any of the items found inside the luggage…

The Senegal Timer: Fingerprints

Obviously, none of the their fingerprints were found on the  timer. You may wonder if one could have found the fingerprints of a person known to the Senegalese Authorities?

The Senegal Timer: Lockerbie ‘Zeist’ Judges Dead Wrong. Again…

In their opinion, the Lockerbie Trial Judges wrote:

[52] The timer recovered in Togo which, as we have said, was one of two, was considered by the witness Richard Sherrow to be identical to one which was discovered in Dakar, Senegal, on 20 February 1988 within a briefcase found on board a passenger aircraft which had arrived at the airport there from Cotonou in Benin.

It was recovered in October 1999 by DI Williamson from the French Ministry of Justice in Paris but was not examined forensically.  It cannot therefore be said whether its circuit board was single or double-sided. […]

This is simply not true. The timer given to DI Williamson by the French Ministry of Justice was the second timer (unboxed) allegedly recovered in Togo by BATB Richard Sherrow in September 1986.

The

The “French” MST-13 Timer (2 digits & unboxed)

Whatever happened to the Senegal timer is a mystery. Although it was not destroyed with the rest of the material seized at Dakar Airport, it disappeared. And there is certainly no credibility in the allegation that it was given back to the Libyans arrested in Dakar when they returned home.

The Senegal Timer: Zeist Judges Dead Wrong. Again.

The SCCRC noticed the error in their report.

“8.105 — It is worth noting that in terms of paragraph 52 of its judgment the trial court appears to have confused the Senegal timer, which was never recovered by the investigating authorities (as explained below), with the second Togo timer obtained from the French authorities in 1999.

However, the Commission does not consider this apparent error by the trial court to have had any material effect on the verdict.”

Ahmed Khalifa NIASSE

You will find an English translation of his WIKIPEDIA page here: Ahmed Khalifa Niasse

“Ahmed Khalifa Niasse is one of the most prominent businessmen of Senegal, with a fortune estimated at over 100 billion CFA francs ($210 million).

He is the head of a family holding company he created under the name of AKN Holding, of which he and some members of his family are the only shareholders.”

Ahmed Khalifa Niasse with French President Nicolas Sarkozy

CIA & Ahmed Khalifa Niasse

“Casey, Twetten and Cave recognized that the information need not to be accurate. A mix of factual and bogus information can be provided which will satisfy their concerns about ‘good faith’. Oliver North: Memo to Poindexter” [Bob Woodward, Veil page 488]

CIA Kenneth Steiner was at Dakar airport when the two Libyans and Ahmed Khalifa Niasse were arrested — at 05:25 in the morning — on February 20 1988.

During precognitions, Steiner told some very interesting stories about this arrest.

CIA & Ahmed Khalifa Niasse

Collin had stated to another officer that [Ahmed Khalifa] Niasse had been approached by the Libyans concerning a planned attack on the French presence in Senegal.

When Collin returned from Paris I met with him and he showed a copy of a check for a million dollars which the Libyans had furnished to President Diouf for his re-election campaign.

Collin also told me that Niasse, who was a Muslim religious leader in Senegal, had also received a $250,000 religious contribution from Gaddafi.

Niasse, as a Sunni Muslim holy man or Marabout had diplomatic status from the Senegalese, although no official government position and consequently could travel to Libya and had access to political leaders there and members of the intelligence service.

According to Collin, Niasse had been requested by the Libyans to help infiltrate Libyan intelligence officers and explosives to Senegal in order to attack the French military presence in Senegal, in retaliation for French support to the Government of Chad.

Collin also told me that Niasse had been provided with a photograph of one of the Libyan operatives, which was for use in a false Senegalese passport.

As the operation progressed, Collin would periodically tell me what he knew based upon what Niasse was telling him.

Comment: Steiner’s story sounds like “a mix of factual and bogus information”. For one thing, I really doubt the story of Gaddafi funding President Diouf’s 1988 campaign.

By the way, Gaddafi requested on several occasions to marry Diouf’s youngest daughter who was about 14-year-old at the time. President Diouf was not entirely amuzed!

President Abdu Diouf

Speaking about the arrest of the two Libyan citizens in Dakar on February 20 1988, President Diouf writes in his biography(Page 293):

“Ces derniers avaient été piégés par Ahmed Khalifa Niasse, qui les avait d’abord conduits au Bénin, avant de les amener au Sénégal, en prenant soin de nous prévenir. ”

Intel Today — Translation: “They had been trapped by Ahmed Khalifa Niasse, who first led them to Benin, before taking them to Senegal, while keeping us informed at all times.”

AbdouDiouf

President Diouf could not be any clearer than that. Their arrest was a sting operation. But what was its purpose? Arresting the two Libyans was certainly not the goal in itself. They were released without trial and returned to Libya.

President Abdou Diouf: Dakar Arrest Was a Sting Op

By the way, how many former Presidents have described in their biography the arrest of two people in an airport? Obviously, this was no ordinary police operation!

The CIA Cables

Here are the known CIA cables about this affair. (The cable wired on 14/03/1988 is extremely important to understand the Lockerbie saga.)

The Senegal Timer: CIA Cable 20/02/1988

The Senegal Timer: CIA Cable 26/02/1988 (1)

The Senegal Timer: CIA Cable 26/02/1988 (2)

The Senegal Timer: CIA Cable 01/03/1988

The Senegal Timer: CIA Cable 05/03/1988

The Senegal Timer: CIA Cable 07/03/1988 (1)

The Senegal Timer: CIA Cable 07/03/1988 (2)

The Senegal Timer: CIA Cable 21/04/1988

The Senegal Timer: CIA Cable 14/03/1988

Strange CIA Cables

Just as a minor point for those who doubt the professionalism of the CIA. Check the CIA cable dated 05/03/1988.

The 7.65 Beretta S/N is not 32771 but 327771.

The size of the timer box is also incorrect.

CIA officers on the ground are expected to report accurate fact for experts to analyse at the headquarters. In this case, the facts are not correctly reported.

Moreover, in one of the cable, the CIA officer in Senegal writes a long description of Saber’s terrorism track of records which is entirely erroneous. What is going on? (Note: Saber testified at the Lockerbie trial as a Crown witness!)

The 14/03/88 CIA Cable

The full cable is archived on this page.

RE TIMING DEVICE: TIMING DEVICE IS MANUFACTURED TO ACT AS AN ELECTRONIC TIME DELAY FOR THE DETONATION OF EXPLOSIVES. THE DEVICE IS WELL ENGINEERED, SOPHISTICATED, WATER-RESISTANT, AND IS SELF CONTAINED COMPLETE WITH POWER SUPPLY.

PHOTO N° 3: TOP VIEW OF DEVICE SHOWING UNIQUE STEREO WIRE CONNECTOR; SAME CONNECTOR WAS FOUND IN LIBYAN-ATTRIBUTED RADIO CONTROL FIRING DEVICE RECOVERED IN NJAMENA, CHAD SEPTEMBER 1984. ALLOWS FOR QUICK CONNECTION OF DETONATOR WIRES TO TIMER UPON DEPLOYMENT OF DEVICE.

DE51-11

The CIA – MEBO Connection

Here are some comments made by CIA John Orkin during his CP’s.

CIA JOHN ORKIN: The Chad Device & The Senegal Timer

CP John Orkin 15/09/1999

I further recall, at that time, that the red and black connectors visible in the photographs of the Senegal timer also rang a bell. What I recall is having seen similar devices on a radio controlled device for a briefcase bomb seized by the Chadian Government in 1984, which was the subject of my report 85SP002 (Chad Report).

As depicted in Figure 46 of 85SP002 the “LED” has been inserted by drilling has out a hole after the component been manufactured.

Based upon inquiries through liaison channels I recall that the Motorola Pageboy devices utilized in the Chad briefcase bomb, and similar devices, was traced to multiple orders placed by MEBO and delivered to that firm by Motorola Europe of Wiesbaden, Germany. The Chad device which is the subject of 85SP002 was returned to representatives of the Government of Chad who later displayed it at the United Nations.

At this same meeting, I pulled out photos of the Senegal timer, gave them to Tom [Thurman] and told him he may want to check out “MEBO”.

CP John Orkin 10/01/2000

My first involvement with the MST-13 timing device occurred when I had sight of cables sent by a team from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, who were in Lomé, Togo in 1986. Their communication mentioned recovery of a timing device, which was subsequently, brought back to the United States.

I noted the curved lines at each corner of the main board. Even at this early stage, I was of the view that these were guidelines for cutting the board in order that it could fit within a German rose  housing. I had previously worked in Germany. and had experience of such housings.

I was particularly interested in the speaker clips which were attached to the housing. The clip had been modified to include a red LED warning light. I had seen this modification only once before on a modified Motorolla pageboy receiver which had been recovered in Chad in 1984.

Enquiries with Motorolla in Wiesbaden provided us with information regarding the supply of these later devices to a company called Mebo AG in Zurich. Motorolla provided us with details of the deliveries as specified on page 41 of the report.

On page 14 of the report I have stated that:  “Mebo produced records showing that the 16 units were purchased on behalf of the Libyan Office of Military Security”. . .

This information was obtained directly from Mebo by the Swiss, following an approach made by an agency  Station Officer in Switzerland at my behest. I do not know who approached Mebo or in what circumstance.

As a result of the unusual similarities between the MST-13 timer recovered in Senegal and the Chad pageboy devices, as early as March 1988 I was of the view that the MST-13 timers were also constructed by the firm Mebo AG.

Given the known circumstances of the recovery of the Chad devices and the Senegalese timer, I was also of the view that both devices were used by Libya.

Why Senegal?

There is no lack of motives for France and the US to plant evidence incriminating Libya. But what was in it for Senegal?

In his book — Destroying Libya and World Order — International Law professor Francis Boyle suggests an interesting explanation to the puzzling discovery of the MST-13 in Dakar on February 20 1988.

“You will note that when all these allegations began to emerge from Senegal, that exact same week the Financial Times of London reported that Senegal’s public debts had been miraculously rescheduled by the Paris Club at a highly preferential rate that Senegal was not entitled to.

It was pretty clear that someone in Senegal  had been bought off.”  [Senegal wins improved deals on its debts. George Graham. Financial Times London, June 25 1991.]

One thing is certain. The early months of 1988 were tense in Senegal. Not just because of the Presidential election that Diouf won over Wade who was rumoured to have received funding from Gaddafi.

Certainly, the financial crisis had turned into a food crisis and Wade was, of course, playing that card. According to Diouf’s biography, the US Ambassador played “a very helpful role” during these hard times.

The Senegal Timer: Pr. Francis A. Boyle’s Theory & Other Issues

An Aside

Also, keep in mind that, at the very same time, Senegal was negotiating the release of the French hostages in Lebanon. While taking his instructions from Jean Collin and Diouf, Senegalese religious leader Sheikh Zein was going in between the French and the Iranian leaders.

ZEIN

In January 1988, Zein visited President Khamenei in Tehran. French Minister Michel Aurillac visited Dakar (and Zein) in February. In March, French Interior Minister Charles Pasqua came to Dakar where he stayed at the Presidential Palace and discussed the release of the hostages with Zein. The next month, Zein was in Paris. In May, the three French hostages (Kauffmann, Carton, Fontaine) were released.

On 18 September 1989, a Lebanese newspaper published a letter from the kidnappers reminding Paris that the promises made during the negotiations had not been kept by the French. The next day, a DC 10 (UTA 772) exploded… And once again, FBI solved the case… thanks to a small fragment of an electronic timer pointing to Libya’s culpability. A top French expert opined than that timer was so big that it would not fit in a luggage!

And now?

“There is no doubt in the minds of the investigating officers that the witness Jean Collin has much more information on this matter but chooses not to disclose it.

In the course of his interview he stated angrily that he did not think the presence of American FBI personnel was proper and inferred that the Americans knew the whole story.”  [SCCRC Report]

I recently wrote a short letter to former Senegal President Diouf in which I was asking him if he would be willing to provide me with additional information regarding what he wrote in his biography about the arrest of the two Libyans at Dakar airport in February 1988.

President Diouf: “I Have Nothing to Add to What I Wrote.”

President Diouf kindly replied to the letter but explained that he has withdrawn from public life and that he considers that he has been very clear about this event in his book.

Beside the arrest itself, I was also curious about the allegations made in the book about Jean Collin. President Diouf wrote that he was puzzled by the completely different attitude that Collin had adopted in his last years as a public servant. [Collin was sacked from the government in March 1990 and from his position at the party the following month.]

According to the book, Collin was travelling a lot during the Lockerbie investigation and could not explain why he was doing so. According to President Diouf, rumors were circulating about espionage and treason.

I believe that a careful reading of the CIA cables, the precognitions of CIA Steiner, the interview of Collin in France and the Report from the SCCRC can only lead a reasonable person to the conclusion that Jean Collin was indeed a source for the CIA.

Specifically, I believe that Collin is the source refered to as “S/2” in the CIA cables.

As far as suspicious travel is concerned, I will point to the fact the SCCRC uncovered a document that seems to indicate that Jean Collin was interviewed in the US (December 1990) just prior to his official interview with the Lockerbie investigators in Caen (February 1991).

“One further matter that should be noted in relation to this issue is the suggestion in Harry Bell’s diaries that Mr Collin may have been interviewed in the US on or around 3 December 1990, i.e. prior to the formal interview in France described above.

In an entry for Tuesday 4 December 1990 in volume 11 of the diaries regarding a meeting in the deputy SIO’s room with other officers, it states “John Collier and wife, apparently in the USA for interview, advised at 1630 hours on Monday 3rd December 1990.” SCCRC 8.119

What about the timer? What possibly happened to it? For what is worth, Collin stated that  he was “convinced that the timer discovered in Senegal could not have been used for terrorist purposes.”

According  to confidential notes uncovered by the SCCRC, it was known to D&G that Jean Collin had commented that the timer had been given to “an intelligence agency”.

The Commission requested from D&G consent to disclose that section of the confidential notes but this was refused.

And, of course, Jean Collin is dead…

The Senegal Timer: Short Bio of Jean Collin (1924-1993)

Perhaps, the only hope to know the truth is if Niasse himself would speak. That may not be impossible.

Missing Information  & Questions

What did Senegalese official Jean Collin reveal when interviewed in the US in December 1990?

Was the content of Collin’s interview revealed to the Scottish police? And, if not, why not?

What was the exact role played by NIASSE in the February 1988 Operation? Did he bring the luggage? If yes, who gave it to him? (We already know that Collin provided the false passport for one of the Libyans.)

When, in June 1990, Thurman demonstrated to the Scottish police that PT/35(b) matched the control sample MST-13 timer, why did he not reveal — as he had learned from his contact at the CIA — that he was already aware that the timers were made by MEBO?

DI William Williamson went on to record that Jean Collin said the timer had been given to an ‘intelligence agency’. Was it the CIA?

If CIA John Orkin [real name Jack Christie] knew MEBO since 1985, why did he fail to recognize their product when he wrote a report on one of the MST-13 timers seized in Togo in the fall of 1986? [CIA Report dated 1988]

CONCLUSIONS

The arrest of the two Libyans in February 1988 at Dakar was certainly not a routine police operation. According to both CIA documents and the biography of President Diouf, it was a trap. (‘Piège’ is the word used by Diouf in French.)

Both the French (DGSE) and US (CIA) foreign Intelligence Agencies were ‘monitoring’ the operation.

Jean Collin was personally deeply involved in this operation. He provided a false passport for one of the Libyan. (He actually signed the passport himself.)

Niasse was reporting to Jean Collin and in turn Collin was informing the CIA, and was almost certainly working with the DGSE.

There is no evidence that the luggage — and all it defective content — belonged to the Libyans. Thus, it must have been Niasse who brought it.

But then, whoever provided that luggage to Niasse had obviously access to a MST-13 timer. How could that be?

On could argue that the CIA or the DGSE could have used the Togo timers — seized in 1986– to fabricate the Senegal timer. But those who have studied that story — including the Lockerbie investigators and the Togo officials — have concluded that no MST-13 timers were actually seized in Togo!

If true, the only remaining possibility is that someone at MEBO was actually — directly or not — passing information about their work for Libya to foreign intelligence agencies.

How else anyway, would MEBO have been allowed to sell classified information and illegal high-tech equipment to the STASI despite being monitored by the Swiss Intelligence Services?

According to investigative journalist — and UK intelligence asset — MEBO was also on the radar of MI6 since the 70s! And, as I explained, The CIA knew MEBO since at least 1985.

One last thing. Swiss inspector Hans Knaus predicted that a MST-13 MEBO timer would be blamed for the Lockerbie tragedy. And when PT/35(b) was indeed ‘identified’ as part of a MST-13 timer, Knaus made it clear that, in his opinion, PT/35(b) had been planted among the Lockerbie debris by the CIA. Such allegation by a Swiss Inspector would be preposterous — and unheard of — unless Knaus knew that some intelligence agencies — including the CIA — had used a MST-13 timer in the past to implicate Libya.

When Richard Marquise heard about Knaus’ allegation, his answer was straightforward and rather disconcerting. “That thought crossed my mind… But I don’t think the CIA would ever do such a terrible thing.” SIO Stuart Henderson admitted to Knaus that the idea of the CIA having planted the evidence had also crossed his mind.

TIMELINE

January 1988 — Jean Collin informs CIA Steiner about the upcoming trip of two Libyans to Dakar, Senegal

February 19 1988 — Two Libyan citizens and one Senegalese man arrested upon their arrival at Dakar airport, Senegal. Both Collin and Steiner are at the airport to witness the arrests.

February 20 1988 — First CIA cable

April 21 1988 — Last (known) CIA cable

May 1988 — Colonel Gaddafi announces his intention to restore diplomatic relations with Senegal

May 1988 — Gaddafi announces he would recognise the Habre government

May 25 1988 — Niasse is released

June 15 1988 — the two Libyan are released as no evidence link them to the luggage/ weapons

November 5 1988 — Senegal’s Government decides to restore diplomatic relations with Libya

December 28 1988 — AAIB Michael Charles announced that two pieces of metal recovered in the wreckage of PA 103 (Lockerbie) provides evidence of a plastic explosive

December 31 1988 — the Senegalese Police (Gendarmerie) requests the authorization to destroy the explosives seized at Dakar airport on February 20 1988

January 1 1989 — Secretary General Jean Collin approves the request. But the timer is NOT among the items destroyed.

September 8 1989 — material destroyed except the timer

March 27 1990 — President Diouf replaces Jean Collin by André Sonko (Suspicion of treason)

July 18 1990 — DI William Williamson and DS Michael Langford-Johnson interview Babacar Gaye, a Senegalese “Colonel de Gendarmerie”

October 4 1990 — French Magazine L’Express breaks news of the discovery of PT/35(b). The author — Xavier Raufer — also details the Senegal connection. According to French journalist Pierre Péan, the story was published shortly after a trip of Raufer to the US. Raufer also linked the Lockerbie and UTA 772 cases. According to Péan, the link was pure fabrication.

December 3 1990 — Jean Collin is interviewed in the US

February 1991 — DI William Williamson and DS Michael Langford-Johnson interview Jean Collin in Caen, France. Collin inform the investigators that “the Senegal timer could not have been used for terrorism purpose.” Collin stated that the equipment was incomplete. Moreover, Collin stated that the Americans ( CIA Steiner and Clemens) knew the whole story and hinted that the timer had been given to an Intelligence Agency.

March 1991 — SIO Stuart Henderson MEMO discovered by the SCCRC. “Unless we can consolidate the precise number of MST-13 timers circuit boards manufactured to fit the ‘boxed timers’ and confirm the fact they were distributed, solely to the Libyans, then we have serious problems with our direct evidence.” ACTION POINT: “Who obtained the Senegal timer?”

June 25 1991 — Senegal wins improved deals on its debts. George Graham. [Financial Times London]

November 17 1999 — Crown Office’s David Hardie had told Keen’s team to look carefully at the “CIA Senegal Cables”  and compare them to the evidence obtained from CIA Orkin* (assumed name) and FBI Thomas Thurman.

November 17 2000 — Saber testifies as Crown witness

January 31 2001 — a Court found Megrahi guilty and Fimah not guilty. The opinion of the judges is mistaken about the Senegal timer

June 28 2007 — the SCCRC announces that Megrahi may have been the victim of a miscarriage of justice. Accordingly, the SCCRC decided to refer the case to the Court of Criminal Appeal. The SCCRC points out the factual error regarding the Senegal timer

PS — Defence MEMO of November 17th 1999

The following memo was sent by Murdo Macleod to Richard S Keen on 17 November 1999.

Defence MEMO of November 17th 1999

It suggests that the defence teams may have been confused as to one timer’s identity and/or were misled by the Crown.  [It states that DP/544 was label 427 rather than 438.]

But the truly amazing part is that this memo reveals that Crown Office’s David Hardie had told Keen’s team to look carefully at the “CIA Senegal Cables”  and compare them to the evidence obtained from CIA Orkin* (assumed name) and FBI Thomas Thurman.

If only Harvie’s advice had been followed…

To:  RSK [Richard S. Keen]

From:  MAM [Murdo Macleod]

Subject: Timers

Date:  17 November 1999

I have spoken to John Dunn and David Harvie at Crown Office.  There are four timers to be produced as labelled productions:

420 (DP84)  – Togo timer retained by Americans

421 and 422 (DP100, DP111) – Samples provided by Bollier (presumably in response to letter of request 18.10.90).

427 (DP544) – Togo timer recovered by the French.

The timers recovered in Senegal were seen and photographed by two American agents: Warren Clemens (544), a photographer; and Kenneth Steiner (543), the Station Officer in Senegal.  The resulting photographs, together with photographs taken by the Senegalese authorities are contained in DP71, DE51  and DP127.  Steiner and Clemens had a limited opportunity to look at the timers in a Senegalese Government warehouse.

The Togo timers are spoken to by James Casey (449), James Owens (473) and Richard Sherrow (528).

With regard to the comparison of the various timers, Harvie suggested that this is a matter which we would be better exploring ourselves.

Off the record however, he stated that we might be interested in James Thurman (587) and John Scott Orkin (588).  Orkin in particular would be of interest to us.  Cables from Senegal to the US will feature as productions (copies will be sent to McGrigor Donald in the next day or two).

These cables and related reports are said by Harvie to be “extremely relevant” to our preparations.

Neither witness Arena nor production DP133 would appear to be included on the indictment.

MAM

I have asked Professor Black what he thought of this Memo. Here is his comment:

I am delighted to have my attention drawn to an instance of a member of the Crown Office’s Lockerbie team drawing to the attention of the defence material that might be of assistance to them, rather than concealing or disguising such material.

It is, however, sad (and only too indicative of the normal Crown Office approach in this case) that the staff member who acted in this way felt that, for his own protection, he had to insist that his disclosure was “off the record”.

Those who know about the CIA cables from Malta and Lord Boyd’s testimony about their contents will appreciate every words.

REFERENCES

Wikipedia: Babacar Gaye

Mémoires, Abdou Diouf. Editions Seuil 2014

The Senegal Timer: Libya and Senegal Diplomatic Ties [NYT]

The Senegal Timer: Libya and Senegal Diplomatic Ties [Update]

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LOCKERBIE — Dirty Tricks & Tribulations in Senegal

Lockerbie 30th Anniversary — PT/35(b) : Dirty Tricks & Tribulations in Senegal

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