On This Day — Operation Autumn Leaves (October 26 1988) // UPDATE

“Following the arrest of Dalkamoni and others […], it is possible to conclude that at least the core of the cell structure has been removed. It is not possible to say that all persons involved in the terrorist activities had been arrested.”

Germany — BKA Report (October 1988)

“Marwan khreesat and I had the first room on the right as you you come in the front door of Abassi flat and used it for work room for preparing the electronic appliances. Under my supervision and responsibility, Khreesat modified into bombs one Toshiba radio recorder, two tuners and one screen.”

Haffez Dalkamoni  — Interrogation by BKA officers (October 27 1988)

“I can not give you any further details regarding my involvement.”

Marwan Khreesat – Interrogation by BKA officers (October 27 1988)

“Having considered the evidence concerning these matters and the submission of counsel we accept that there is a great deal of suspicion as to the actings of Abu Talb and his circle, but there is no evidence to indicate that they had either the means or the intention to destroy a civil aircraft in December 1988.”

The Lockerbie Verdict, § 81

On this date in 1988, the German police arrested seventeen men at Neuss in operation “Autumn Leaves” (Herbstlaub). The bomb-maker of this terrorist cell had prepared several IEDs, including one hidden inside a Toshiba radio-cassette, which has never been recovered.

Some journalists — such as the late Private Eye’s Paul Foot — and several PA 103 relatives — including Dr Jim Swire — believe that it is too stark a coincidence for a Toshiba cassette radio IED to have downed Pan Am 103 just eight weeks after the arrest of the PFLP-GC cell in Frankfurt.

Here is a timeline of this operation which I compiled ten years ago to mark the 20th anniversary of the Lockerbie tragedy. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY

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RELATED POST: Lockerbie Victim’s Father : “Lockerbie Trial Was a Parody of Justice.”

UPDATE (December 22 2018) — Saha Khreesat, 43, said that her father Marwan Khreesat told relatives that the plot to down Pam Am 103 with explosives stored in a stowed suitcase was actually organised by Ahmed Jibril, leader of the Palestinian terrorist group Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC), of which Marwan was a member, on the orders of the Iranian Regime. [National Council of Resistance of Iran]

A few years ago, Abolhassan Bani-Sadr — the former president of the Islamic Republic of Iran — told me that Tehran, not Libya, had ordered the bombing of Pan Am 103 in revenge for the downing of Iranian Flight 655 by the USS Vincennes a few months earlier.

According to Bani-Sadr, in the immediate aftermath of the Lockerbie tragedy, Mohtashami-Pur — the then minister of the interior — acknowledged in an interview that he had contracted Ahmad Jibril, the leader of the PFLP-GC, to bomb an American airliner.

Obviously, the Lockerbie investigators had some reason to suspect Khreesat.

“Marwan Khreesat is still wanted in connection with the bomb on the El Al flight. There can be little doubt that Khreesat is the bomb-maker for the PFLP-GC, that he was brought to West Germany for that purpose and there is a possibility that he prepared the IED which destroyed PA 103. As such he should not be at liberty but should be closely questioned regarding his activities with a view to tracking his associates in the attack.” (Supt. Connor Report — June 1989)

END of UPDATE

The second half of 1988 witnessed the destruction in flight of two civilian airliners. On July 3, Iran Airbus 655 was shot down by a US Navy ship over the Persian Gulf. On December 21, Pan Am 103 exploded over the Scottish town of Lockerbie.

According to the official version of history, the downing of the Iranian jetliner was a tragic mistake while the obliteration of Pan Am 103 was an act of terrorism blamed on two Libyan agents.

Over the last three decades, there have been persistent allegations that Tehran had ordered the bombing of Pan Am 103 in revenge for the shot down of their Airliner by the USS Vincennes.

Executive Summary (Wikipedia)

For many months after the bombing, the prime suspects were the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine—General Command (PFLP-GC), a Damascus-based rejectionist group led by former Syrian army captain Ahmed Jibril, sponsored by Iran. In a February 1986 press conference, Jibril warned: “There will be no safety for any traveler on an Israeli or U.S. airliner” (Cox and Foster 1991, p28).

Secret intercepts were reported by author, David Yallop, to have recorded the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (Pasdaran) in Baalbeck, Lebanon, making contact with the PFLP-GC immediately after the downing of the Iran Air Airbus. Israeli intelligence (Mossad) allegedly intercepted a telephone call made two days after PA 103 by Mohtashemi-Pur, Interior Minister in Tehran, to the chargé d’affaires at the Iranian embassy in Beirut, instructing the embassy to hand over the funds to Jibril and congratulating them on the success of “Operation Intekam” (‘equal and just revenge’). (…)

Jibril’s right-hand man, Hafez Dalkamoni, set up a PFLP-GC cell which was active in the Frankfurt and Neuss areas of West Germany in October 1988, two months before PA 103. During what Germany’s internal security service, the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (BfV), called Operation Herbstlaub (‘Operation Autumn Leaves’), the BfV kept cell members under strict surveillance.

The plotters prepared a number of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) hidden inside household electronic equipment. They discussed a planned operation in coded calls to Cyprus and Damascus: oranges and apples stood for ‘detonating devices’; medicine and pasta for ‘Semtex explosive’; and auntie for ‘the bomb carrier’. One operative had been recorded as saying: “auntie should get off, but should leave the suitcase on the bus” (Duffy and Emerson 1990).

The PFLP-GC cell had an experienced bomb-maker, Jordanian Marwan Khreesat, to assist them. Khreesat made at least one IED inside a single-speaker Toshiba Bombeat 453 radio cassette recorder, similar to the twin-speaker model RT-SF 16 Bombeat that was used to blow up PA 103. However, unlike the Lockerbie bomb with its sophisticated timer, Khreesat’s IEDs contained a barometric pressure device that triggers a simple timer with a range of up to 45 minutes before detonation.

Unbeknown to the PFLP-GC cell, its bomb-maker Khreesat was a Jordanian intelligence service (GID) agent and reported on the cell’s activities to the GID, who relayed the information to Western intelligence and to the BfV. The Jordanians encouraged Khreesat to make the bombs but instructed him to ensure they were ineffective and would not explode. (A German police technician would however be killed, in April 1989, when trying to disarm one of Khreesat’s IEDs).

Through Khreesat and the GID, the Germans learned that the cell was surveying a number of targets, including Iberia Flight 888 from Madrid to Tel Aviv via Barcelona, chosen because the bomb-courier could disembark without baggage at Barcelona, leaving the barometric trigger to activate the IED on the next leg of the journey. The date chosen, Khreesat reportedly told his handlers, was October 30, 1988. He also told them that two members of the cell had been to Frankfurt airport to pick up Pan Am timetables.

Acting upon this intelligence, the German secret police moved in to arrest the PFLP-GC cell on October 26, raiding 14 apartments and arresting 17 men, fearing that to keep them under surveillance much longer was to risk losing control of the situation. Two cell members are known to have escaped arrest, including Abu Elias, a resident of Sweden who, according to Prime Time Live (ABC News November 1989), was an expert in bombs sent to Germany to check on Khreesat’s devices because of suspicions raised by Ahmed Jibril.

Four IEDs were recovered, but Khreesat stated later that a fifth device had been taken away by Dalkamoni before the raid, and was never recovered. The link to PA 103 was further strengthened when Khreesat told investigators that, before joining the cell in Germany, he had bought five Toshiba Bombeat cassette radios from a smugglers’ village in Syria close to the border with Lebanon, and made practice IEDs out of them in Jibril’s training camp 20 km (12 mi) away. The bombs were inspected by Abu Elias, who declared them to be good work.

What became of the fifth device is not known.

TIMELINE

OCTOBER 2 1988 — Manfred Klink joined the Bundeskriminalamt [BKA] in 1973. The dedicated detective rose rapidly through the ranks of the organization. By 1988, he was the senior officer in the anti-terrorist department.

In Feb. 1988, the Bundesnachrichtendienst [BND] received information from Israel regarding the presence of PFLP-GC cells in Western Europe, including in West Gernmany.

The BND forwarded the information to the head-quarters of the Bundesamt fur Verfassungsschutz [BfV] in Pullach, near Munich.

In turn, the BfV forwarded the documents to the Chancellor Security advisers in Bonn and to the Anti-terrorism Department of the BKA in Mecheheim.

During the months of July and September, Klink received additional intelligence regarding suspicious activities of the PFLP-GC in West Germany.

In late September, A BKA Intelligence summary stated that the PFLP-GC appeared to be gearing up for a major operation. The report was allegedly based on an analysis by MOSSAD of Palestinian documents seized by Israeli Security Force during a recent raid on a PFLP-GC base in Southern Lebanon.

Incrisingly preoccupied by these reports, Klink decides to pay a visit to the federal prosecutor in Karlsruhe. The federal prosecutor has the final say regarding anti-teror operations. By the end of the meeting, the two men had decided to set up a round the clock surveillance of 16 targets in six cities.

The operation, codenamed Herbslaub or Autumn Leaves, was the largest of its kind ever mounted in West Germany. By Oct. 10, they were up and running. The squads were monitoring, among other targets, an appartement located at 16 Isarstrasse. The flat is rented to Hassem Abassi and occupied by Haffez Dalkamoni.

On October 3 1988, Abu Talb  left Sweden to go to Cyprus. Talb will stay on the Meditarean Island until October 18. He then left for Malta where he stayed until then 26. Talb then returned to Sweden.

(Obviously, Abu Talb had many contacts in Malta and Cyprus, as we shall learn in the next few weeks. But a key question regarding Talb activities during the fall of 1988 is whether or not he met with Hafez Dalkamoni who had arrived in Cyprus on the 1st and stay on the island until the 5th of October. Neither man ever admitted having met but one could argue that they more than likely did see each other between the 3rd and the 5th of October in Cyprus.)

On October 5 1988,  Hafez Dalkamoni leaves Cyprus and re-entered Germany. He resides in Neuss – 16 Irarstrasse. The apartment is rented by Hassem Abassi, his brother in law, who works nearby as a local greengrocer.

Today, Oct. 6 1988, Ahmed Abassi, the younger brother of Hashem Abassi arrived to the German city of Neuss, near Dusseldorf. Ahmed Abassi resides in Sweden.

Ahmed Abassi meets Hafez Dalkamoni at his apartment located 16 Isarstrasse. The apartment was rented by Hashem Abassi.

Hashem Abassi, like many Palestinians, lives in exile. He runs a grocery shop called Morgenland in the center of Neuss. After the 1982 invasion of Lebanon by Israel, Abassi immigrated to Germany with his wife Somaia Saad El Din.

It appears that Ahmed Abassi helps Dalkamoni with translations from Arabic to German while he goes shopping for electronic parts, tools, radios and clocks.

Dalkamoni and Hashem Abassi are brothers in Law. Dalkamoni was married to Hannah, the sister of Somaia Abassi.

Today (07/09/1988) Hafez Dalkamoni  and Ahmed Abassi travel to Berlin. Ahmed speaks fluently Arabic, English and German. Ahmed helps Dalkamoni with translations. Dalkamoni is using the alias of Hafez Hussein. Their behavior is certainly suspicious but they do not commit any illegal act.

On October 10 1988, Hafez Dalkamoni and Ahmed Abassi travel to Frankfurt. They are under round the clock surveillance by the BKA. Their activity remains suspicious but legal. It is not clear why they came to Frankfurt.

On Oct. 12 1988, Mohamed Moghrabi departed from Uppsala, Sweden, and travelled by car and car ferry to Germany. Moghrabi did so at the request of Imad Chaaban Moghrabi traveled using a white Volvo motor car lent to him by Imad Chaaban.

According to Mohamed Moghrabi, the purpose of the trip was to assist the brother and cousin of Imad Chaaban, Jihad Chaaban, and Mohamed Samir Orfali, to gain illegal entry to Sweden.

Today, October 13 1988, Mohamed Moghrabi drives to the centre of Dusseldorf, Germany, where he calls a telephone number given to him by Imad Chaaban.

The telephone is answered, and he asks for Imad Chaaban’s brother. He waits some time, and then Jihad Chaaban and Mohamed Sami Orfali arrived.

All three drive to the shop belonging to Hashem Abassi, at 4040 Neuss, Neumarkt 14, Germany. Mohamed Moghrabi is introduced to Hashem Abassi.

Between 13th and 14th October 1988, Mohamed Mougrabi resides at 16 Isarstrasse, Neuss, Germany.

Shortly after his arrival at that appartment, Hafez Dalkamoni, aka Hafez Hussein, arrives carrying a package. Dalkamoni is introduced to Mohamed Mougrabi by Hashem Abassi.

Dalkamoni is accompanied by Marwan Khreesat, and his wife, who flown to Germany from Damascus. Khreesat stopped at Amman, Jordan, to collect his wife. Khreesat is the senior bomb maker of the PFLP-GC.

On Oct. 14 1988, Mohamed Mougrabi returned to Uppsala, Sweden. During his return trip, he was accompanied by Jihad Chaaban and Mohamed Sami Orfali. Both men entered Sweden as illegal aliens. They took the ferry from Kiel to Goteborg, and then travelled to Uppsalla.

Mohamed Mougrabi will later be prosecuted by the Swedish authorities for assisting them to enter Sweden illegally. He pled guilty to that crime.

(In June 1990, Jihad Chaaban and Mohamed Sami Orfali were expelled from Sweden for unspecified terrorism activities. The nature of these activities was never revealed.)

On Saturday Oct. 15, Dalkamoni wanted to look at different electrical devices. As shops in Neuss are closed on Saturday afternoon, Dalkamoni and Khreesat went to the stores early in the morning. They went to several stores but did not purchase anything.

Dalkamoni told Khreesat that they would go to Dusseldorf later to continue to look for suitable appliances. It is Khreesat who decides what items to purchase.

Khreesat is looking for tuners and monitors with no particular brand or model in mind. As a rule, Khreesat prefers older models because the newer models are digital and much more compact. It is harder to alter a newer model, since there is less room inside. It is of course critical to keep the radios functional to defeat security screening at the airport.

Later in the day, Dalkamoni calls and visits Martin Khadorah, who lives at 68 Bernadottstrasse, Frankfurt. Born Mahmoud Kadorah, the Palistinian is suspected of belonging to the PFLP-GC. In August 1986, his name and phone number was found in the notebooks of two members of the organization when they were arrested in London.

Soon after the visit of Dalkamoni, Kadorah departs for Yougoslavia where he meets Bilal Dalkamoni. Bilal, the younger brother of Haffez, lives in Maribor, Yougoslavia. The PFLP-GC maintains several arms cache in Yougoslavia.

Dalkamoni ordered Kadorah to collect explosives from the Krusevac safe house, where Mobdi Goben resides, and smuggled it back to West Germany. Kadorah successfully accomplished his mission.

After visiting Kadorah, Dalkamoni meets with Yasim Kam-Nakche. The 59 years old Syrian born German citizen lives in Lambsheim, as well as Burstadt, both towns close to Mannheim. Liitle is known about Kam-Nakche.

But it would appear that the man has some inside knowledge of certain Palestinian terror groups. For instance, in Dec. 1985, Kam-Nakche provided the Libyan News Service with information regarding two massacres conducted by the Abu Nidal Organization at Rome and Vienna airports earlier that month.

On Sunday Oct. 16 1988, Dalkamoni calls Yassim Kam-Nakche. Dalkamoni and Yassim visit Ahmed Kaplan. The Palestinian lives at 40 Haupstrasse in Hockenheim. Upon their arrival at Kaplan house, the three men immediately load the car of Dalkamoni with bags and cartons. According to the BKA, one of the bags had a brown unidentified substance in it.

Ahmed Kaplan is connected to owners and employees of a Bakery in Malta. The company is rather unsual. They import all their raw materials and export all finished products. From mid 1987 to mid 1989, the average balance of their bank account is of the order of £ 2.4 millions.

Abu Talb, still in Cyprus, contacted one of the directors of the bakery and will meet with them in Malta in a couple of days. [1]

On the same day, Dalkamoni and Yassim Kam-Nakche return to Neuss. From his flat at 16 Isarstrasse, Dalkamoni calls Habib Dajani who owns a restaurant, the “King s take Away”, in Nicosia Cyprus.

Dajani says that he has obtained a Visa for Germany. Dajani informs Dalkamoni that he will arrive in Berlin on Monday October 24 (1988). Dajani will later admit that he used to pass messages to and for Dalkamoni. Among the usual callers, Dajani recalls Abu Nidal and Abu Talb. (The Lockerbie investigation never found evidence of a link between Dalkamoni and Talb.)

On Oct. 17 1988, Martin Khadorah, who lives at 68 Bernadottstrasse – Frankfurt – meets Bilal Dalkamoni in Yugoslavia. Bilal is the brother of Haffez Dalkamoni.

Dalkamoni will later admit that Khadorah smuggled explosive and other equipment to commit acts of terror from the Krusevac safe-house. Semtex, recovered at the safe house during an early November raid, was linked to the batch that Dalkamoni had given to Khreesat to fabricate the radio bombs.

On Tuesday Oct. 18 1988, Khreesat and Dalkamoni went to Dusseldorf. Khreesat’s wife accompanied them. They went to a large store where the second floor contained a large stock of second-hand electrical appliances.

There, they finally found suitable radios. They bought two tuners. The tuners were of different brands. They then went to a second store and found and purchased a monitor. At they second store, they also bought some tools.

After this, they returned home. Then, later in the day, Dalkamoni brought some explosive into the flat at 16 Isarstrasse in Neuss.The plastic explosive weighed approximately two to two and one-half kilogrammes. The explosive was in a brown box with wax paper.

Dalkamoni told Khreesat that he brought it from Frankfurt and that it was a good explosive. Khreesat understood that there was a supply or storage place somewhere in Frankfurt but Dalkamoni did not tell Khreesat the exact location.

Next, Dalkamoni calls a man in Damascus named “Abed” who most likely is Ahmed Jibril himself. Dalkamoni tells him that everything will be ready in a couple of days.

Then, he put Khreesat on the phone, after introducing him as “Safi”. Khreesat tells “Abed” that he has made some changes to “the medicine”. Now it is stronger and better. “Abed” is sastified that “things are under way.”

At 6.10 pm (Oct. 18 1988), Dalkamoni met Ramzi Diab. In his early thirties, Diab is a member of Jibril PFLP-GC. After their meeting, Diab left in a car that belongs to Bassam Radi, a member of Adnan Younis terrorist cell. Younis, aka Abu Tarek, is also a member of the PFLP-GC.

Today (18/10/1988), Abu Talb, who has stayed in Cyprus since October 3, leaves for Malta where he will stay until the 26. While in Rome for a stopover, Talb changes his plan and decides to fly to Libya. A Libyan man named Fawzi lent him some money to cover the expense of the ticket. Then, while his bags are already on the airliner bound to Benghazi, Talb reverts to his original plan, and flies to Malta.

(Interrogated by SAPO in Aug. 1989, Talb said that he knew Fawzi since 1977. But when questioned in April 1990 in the context of the Lockerbie bombing, Talb told the investigators that he had met Fawzi on Oct. 18 at the Rome airport for the first time.)

October 19 1988 — Besides bringing about 2.5 kg of explosive from Frankfurt, Dalkamoni also brought to Hashem Abassi flat at 16 Isarstrasse in Neuss four electrical blasting caps as well as four timers. He also brought some tools from Masoud’s place.

These timers had been made in the Fatah factory. Dalkamoni stored all the equipment in the room where Khreesat built the IEDs. Dalkamoni had previously brought four altimeters which were made in Japan.

Among the electrical appliance that Khreesat is modifying into bombs, there is a Toshiba BomBeat 453, also stored in his room.

Besides Khreesat, Dalkamoni is the only other person to go into this room. Dalkamoni is also the only person to provide him with the needed material.

During their shopping, the two men have also bought some small boxes that are used to store the explosive that is hidden in the tuners. These boxes were plastic, and black in colour.

Dalkamoni and Khreesat have also bought some batteries to power the detonators. Finally, they also bought some small digital alarm clocks.

On Oct. 20 1988, Dalkamoni returns to Frankfurt to meet Fattah Ghadanfar, who goes by the alias of Masoud.

Dalkamoni calls Khreesat to let him know that he has taken delivery of “three black tins, with lids, gloves and paste from Masoud.”

Ghadanfar is a 47 years old Palestinian who lives in Damascus. On orders received from Ahmed Jibril, he recently moved to Frankfurt where he rent a flat at 28 Sandweg.

Ghadanfar is in charge of the financial arragments of the German cell of the PFLP-GC.

Today (22/10/1988), Dalkamoni and Khreesat travel to Frankfurt, as Khreesat’s wife returns to Jordan. While at the airport, Dalkamoni notices that Pan Am employees are under much stress. At 2pm, they meet Ramzi Diab.

After leaving the airport, Dalkamoni drove to the zoo. He told Khreesat to go in, and he would return in one hour to pick him up. While in the zoo, Khreesat saw a telephone booth. Khreesat tried to call his case officer in Jordan. Due to the holiday in Jordan, he was unable to reach him.

Approximately one hour later, Dalkamoni returned to the zoo and picked up Khreesat. The two men then drove toward the Norf area.

Dalkamoni tells Khreesat that Abu Elias has arrived. Abu Elias is an expert in airport security. Elias knows how to defeat the security at Frankfurt airport.

The 25 years old blond Palestinian heads the military section of the PFLP-GC in Damascus. The presence of Elias in Germany will force Khreesat to make functional bombs contrary to the instructions he received from his Jordan Intelligence handlers.

At night Dalkamoni brought the boxes, located in the trunk of his car, into the Abassi residence. Dalkamoni has visited Ghadanfar earlier in the day.

On Sunday Oct. 23 1988, Dalkamoni receives a call from Abu Hassan in Damascus. Dalkamoni tells Hassan that all is ready and that he will be with him by Friday Oct. 28.

Khreesat spends most the day in the residence working on the construction of the IEDs. A number of visitors come to the residence. Khreesat keeps on working and does not meet them. He does not know them anyway.

During the day, Dalkamoni comes into the workroom with a fifth IED. Dalkamoni tells Khreesat that two wires have to be soldered together. Khreesat takes the device and positions it so that the front face is towards him. Then, Khreesat puts it face down on the work table.

Khreesat carefully removes three screws and then removes the cover after flipping the device over onto its back.

Khreesat notices an altimeter under the cassette part of the device. Khreesat asks Dalkamoni if the IED would explode in a car journey. Dalkamoni replies that the IED would not explode. Dalkamoni explains that he is going to Frankfurt and there is no hill on the journey.

Khreesat sees a speaker on the right side of the radio. Dalkamoni reaches over and pulls the speaker out. Dalkamoni then points to two wires and tells Khreesat to solder these two wires together.

Khreesat tells Dalkamoni that he must test the device before soldering the two wires together.

Dalkamoni tells Khreesat not to check the device first. Khreesat finds this order very strange, as Dalkamoni in the past has always stressed that Khreesat must be very careful and always double-check everything.

Khreesat checks the device first anyway. There is no current in the circuit. Next he solders the two wires together.

Khreesat can not see the explosive charge in the device. However, he sees a couple of small cardboard that do not belong in the Toshiba radio.

Khreesat notices that some of the radio’s components are missing, including the transformer and about one-half of the circuit board. The circuit board is normally L-shaped, but part of the L had been removed.

Khreesat thus tells Dalkamoni that the IED would most likely be detected by airport security personnals as they are trained to check that electrical appliance are functioning.

Dalkamoni tells Khreesat not to worry about this. He reminds him that Elias has all the details about boarding the bomb.

Monday Oct. 24 1988, Neuss  − Early in the morning, Dalkamoni, Khreesat and Ahmed Abassi go shopping in Neuss.

Back to the flat, Khreesat works several hours on the bombs. Then, around 2.00 p.m., he decides to take a break and enjoys a shower.

While in the shower, Dalkamoni knocked on the door and tells him that he is leaving for Frankfurt. After getting out of the shower, Khreesat went back to work on the IEDs. At this time, Khreesat notices that the fifth device is no longer in the workroom.

But Khreesat is facing another urgent problem. He is very concerned about his upcoming meeting with Abu Elias. He knows that Elias is knowledgable about bombs and this forces him to make functional IEDs contrary to the instructions he received from his handlers in Jordan.

Khreesat keeps working on the IEDs until late in the evening. Before going to sleep, he calls someone in Amman to tell him that he needs 2 or 3 days to finish the job.

On 25th October 1988, Imad Adel Hazzouri, former director of Miska Bakery, Malta, is flying to Frankfurt Airport.

Also today, Khreesat and Dalkamoni went to a tourism office. Dalkamoni wants to look at flight schedules. He needs a flight going from one city in Spain to another city in Spain and then on to Israel.

They find Iberia 888, which goes from Madrid to Barcelona to Tel Aviv.  Dalkamoni does not tell which date he wants to target the flight although he has said that he will target a flight in the next week.

The plan for the Iberia flight is to have someone get on the flight in Madrid with the BomBeat 453 IED and then get off at Barcelona.  Just before getting off the plane in Barcelona, the courier would arm the device by inserting a pin into the radio to arm it.  The barometric device would then detonate on the Barcelona to Tel Aviv leg of the flight.

After leaving the tourism office, they went back to Hashem Abassi’s supermarket. When they reached the market, they met Ahmed Abassi, the younger brother of Hashem.  Dalkamoni was pleased that Ahmed Abassi was there, as he speaks German and could help them by translating.

Dalkamoni wants to look for more timers and tuners. Khreesat is of the opinion that they are wasting their time, as they do not have any parts to convert any more tuners into IEDs.

They found some timers that resembled kitchen timers and purchased half a dozen of them. They also purchased some clothes for Khreesat. They then went to a garage and fixed a flat tyre and then went home to Hashem Abassi’s residence.

At one point in the day, they stopped at a coffee shop. Across from the coffee shop was a telephone booth.  Khreesat made a quick call to his case officer but could not discuss much because Dalkamoni was present.  Whenever Khreesat makes a telephone call, Dalkamoni stands right there and listens in.

At night, Dalkamoni called Ahmed Jibril. He told him that all the devices were ready. Dalkamoni mentioned three people. These names are believed to equate to three cities.

Dalkamoni also asked Ahmed Jibril for permission to start the operations. Jibril gave his consent.  Dalkamoni also asked Jibril to talk to Khreesat, who was referred to as Abu Safi.

Khreesat got on the phone with Jibril, who told him to go to a medical doctor and get a check-up so that he could use health as a reason for overstaying his visa in Germany.

After this, Khreesat and Jibril talked about using glue to cover up the smell of the explosive.

On Wednesday 26 Oct. 1988, Khreesat woke up smelling something burning as the Abassis had left the coffee on. Khreesat turns off the stove and cleans up the burned pot and the kitchen.  Dalkamoni is happy about the incident. “Obviously, the cleaning will have taken all the residue of the explosive off of Khreesat’s hands.”

Dalkamoni takes the BomBeat 453 and his briefcase and put them in the trunk of the car. He also puts about 300-gramme of explosive that was intended for the nightclub in the trunk.  This 300-gramme chunk was the leftover of the of explosive from which Khreesat had cut off chunks for the other four devices.

Dalkamoni and Khreesat then drove to Hashem Abassi’s supermarket. They wanted to ask Hashem Abassi about a medical doctor for Khreesat.  When they arrived at the supermarket, Dalkamoni went into the store. Meanwhile Khreesat went across the street to make a telephone call.

Khreesat attempted to call his case officer in Jordan and more fully explain what was going on. However, there were three people ahead of Khreesat waiting to make calls and Khreesat had to wait a while.

When he finally got in the booth and was able to make his call to his case officer, Dalkamoni came out of the store and walked over to the booth and opened the door of the booth.

Khreesat pretended that he was talking to his wife and ended the conversation quickly. Dalkamoni told Khreesat that they were going to go to Frankfurt.  They walked a few feet and were then arrested by about a dozen of BKA officers.

Today (26/10/1988), Abu Talb returns from Malta to Sweden. Dalkamoni and Khreesat were on their way to meet Abu Elias when they were arrested. Elias was not arrested in the operation and will never be found.

GERMAN JUDGE RELEASES PFLP-GC BOMBS MAKER – 10/11/1988

On Nov. 10 1988, Dr Christian Rinne — the investigating judge at the Federal High Court in Karlsruhe — considered the case against Marwan Khreesat.

Marwan Khreesat

Under German law, the federal prosecutor acting for the BKA had applied for a new arrest warrant against him. Amazingly, and against all evidence, his request was overruled.

The extraordinary judgment reads as follows.

“The accused is certainly suspect of the alleged charge. But the strong suspicion of crime necessary is however lacking. It is not possible to prove at present a connection between the residence at Sanweg 28 in Frankfurt, in which weapons of warfare and explosives have been secured, and the accused. No weapons or similar were found in the residence at Isarstrasse 16 inNeuss, where he did stay. It has not been possible to discover a target or location for a crime of explosion. Also the involvement of the accused as regard the purpose of his stay in the Federal Republic, the nature of his relationship with other accused parties and his ignorance of the preparations for the crime are not to be so clearly refuted that a strong suspicion of a crime can be confirmed.”

Not only was the judgment remarkably ridiculous, but how could have German law authority released a man who was the object of an international arrest warrant for a grave crime? (Khreesat had been sentenced to 18 years in prison by an Italian tribunal.)

Paula Cole – Autumn Leaves

“Since you went away the days grow long
And soon I’ll hear old winter’s song
But I miss you most of all my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall”

Autumn Leaves (Song)

Autumn Leaves – Miles Davis

REFERENCES

Operation Autumn Leaves — The Lockerbie Case

Diary of a Vengeance Foretold — From Iran Airbus 655 to Pan Am 103

The Lockerbie Secret Doc: Khreesat and the Swiss — PT35b

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On This Day — Operation Autumn Leaves (October 26 1988)

On This Day — Operation Autumn Leaves (October 26 1988) // UPDATE

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