The London Origin Theory

The First Causualty of the Investigation was Truth
last update July 30 2010

“I want to know when the bomb was placed on the plane and by whom. We have to look more closely into the "London theory" – that the bomb was placed on the plane at Heathrow and not in Malta.” - Hans Köchler, independent UN observer at Zeist trial, 21 Aug 2009 (Source)

"If I was determined to bring down an airplane, I would have put [the bomb] on in London." - Robert Baer, 'former' CIA agent and weapons expert, who doesn't buy the Libyans-did-it story line.

The London Origin theory has emerged as the most logical explanation for what happened to Pan Am 103 on December 21 1988. The official story, all the most widely-seen revisionist arguments, and even Megrahi's defense team's curious "special defense of incrimination" drew on elements of the drug swap theory, with the bomb coming in from Germany or further afield. Megrahi's counsel William Taylor QC did however give reasons to suspect a  London origin (some below) to the trial judges and summarized at trial's end in 2001:
“My submission is that all of the above render the choice of Heathrow a much more likely one [than Malta]. And when that possibility is considered, one finds that there is a compelling body of evidence that points to Heathrow as being the point of ingestion.” [day 82 p 9862]

But in the earliest days of the investigation, January and February 1989, British investigators labored to clear Heathrow Airport of any lapses and ensure that the bomb's origin would have to be found elsewhere. Years of confusion ensued... (see "Counter-Arguments" below for more on the dismissal of the London theory).

Direct Evidence For the Theory
Among the first clues came from finding where the plane failed, and what luggage container the blast originated in. Container AVE4041 in forward left cargo hold, position 14L, was decided within a few days. The container's blasted out remains were found and reassembled enough to show the blast was down at the bottom of the container, in the aft outboard corner. It had been in the spot closest to the hull, only 25" from the thin and aged skin of Maid of the seas.

Unfortunately, the exact placement, origin, or even number of suitcases in that box was hard to pin down. Records and witnesses helped decide 4041 was loaded with a few bags (6-8 or so) of (apparently) interline luggage, then filled up with a few dozen cases from the feeder/first leg flight 103A out of Frankfurt. But within this generally imprecise body of memories, one stands out as of amazing possible significance.

The Bedford Suitcase(s)
This was always the hard part to get around in order to reject the initially obvious Heathrow introduction theory. A Pan Am worker mentioned to police right after the attack said he saw two brown hardshell samsonite suitcases, placed on the floor of container 4041. The position of these was side-by-side from the far left of the floor, at the (loading) front of the container. If the bags had been later stacked one on the other and the top bag slid a few inches left, it would be in the perfect spot to match the explosion center - aft outboard corner, second suitcase from the bottom - where just such case detonated.

An amazing lead, investigators almost seem to have tried to not follow this one.  Since the cases Bedford saw were on the floor when he saw them, and the blast seemed to have happened one layer up from that, they decided these cases were a coincidence. They must have been moved across the container, and replaced in that lower corner with an identical case from Germany, on top of some other damaged Frankfurt-originating luggage. The leaps of faith here are simply alarming.

The Bedford story is covered in great detail at this site, with the works so far compiled at the link above.

> Break-in Reported
A security Guard at heathrow Airport reported a break-in at terminal 3 around 12:30 am on  December 21. Ray Manly's report, of a padlock on the floor "cut like butter" was covered up for over a decade. Even at trial in 2000, the defense was not allowed to know of this. Manly came forward in 2001 with the story, soon verified by the long-suppressed police reports. A post is up but empty - anyone care to help? I'll get to it later.

Mentioned in: Appeal Court Dismissal of the Heathrow Theory

Circumstantial Evidence For the Theory

The 38-Minute Coincidence
Aside from its crew and perhaps some cargo that (probably) doesn't matter here, the 747 Clipper Maid of the Seas landed empty at London's Heathrow airport mid-day December 21, 1988. There the plane took on a load of 243 passengers and their luggage, and took off at 6:25 PM for New York as Pan Am Flight 103. Clearly, the bomb went on the plane at London, but the question that comes quickly behind it is where did it come from before that? A van in the parking lot, or another plane?

Such clues were vital to tracking down the perpetrators, and should be embraced when they're found. The time of explosion itself is a valuable clue - 38 minutes after leaving the ground - is a known hallmark of the altimeter bombs made just weeks earlier by terrorist bomb-maker and "double agent" Marwan Khreesat. He had produced four altimeter-triggered, radio-disguised bombs, set to detonate less than an hour after takeoff. Each of the others was a bit different, but the one that was captured and tested thoroughly would have blown up about 45-50 minutes after takeoff.  

The timing compatibility with a Khreesat bomb loaded at London notwithstanding, it's been officially decided and legally established that was a Libyan-ordered and set MST-13 timer that told the bomb to go off over Lockerbie. Officially, legally, by the evidence led at trial, it's an asbolute coincidence the timing so resembles the method first suspected. 

> Operational Security
When confronted with the official story of a Malta-Germany-London, the most obvious averse reaction of those who know air travel operations is to ridicule the notion that an airline bomb would make any sense being trusted to so many switches. Any functional security screen or time delay along the way coulld screw up the whole operation with a timer-based device as alleged. A trip from Frankfurt only is often suggested to replace this, but it too has one too many stops for a Khreesat bomb, and still a high chanced of the bomb being delayed or intercepted. If one could pierce security at any of the three airports, and it obviously happened at one of them, Heathrow would give one the best chance for success and the only way for a Khreesat bomb to have done what happened.  

Former head of security for British Airways, Denis Phipps, Maltese Double Cross:
“If a device had been infiltrated into the system at Malta, it would have been necessary for that device to have been carried in an aircraft in the sector from Malta to Frankfurt, to have gone through a handling process, been carried on an aircraft through the sector from Frankfurt to Heathrow, and then timed to detonate during the final sector, Heathrow to New York, presumably whilst the aircraft was over the ocean to avoid discovery of forensic evidence …  one has to say, um, are - terrorists  - idiots? Don’t terrorists plan to have a reasonable degree of success?"  

> Explosive Efficacy
If one places a device at the airport the target leaves from, rather than remotely through multiple flights, a new ppossibility is opened up - depending on the nature and depth of his penetration, a determined terrorist could place the bag himself and chose where in the container it went. As it happened, the bomb in PA103 was placed in the best spot (for the terrorists), and one of the few that could have even worked - the lower outboard quadrant, more or less on the sloping floor nearest the hull. Figure F13 (below) of the AAIB's report shows the deduced center of explosion that officially was achieved by accident. Considering even there, all that was blows from the hull was a chunk the size of a dinner plate. That's all it took, but it wouldn't happen at all if the bomb had wound up in the upper inboard corner, or even in the middle.

It is true, as some have pointed out, that there'd be no guarantee any cases placed in that deadly corner would stay there. But terrorists simply can't wait for guarantees. Certainly having it in the right spot, for sure, at one point, is better than relying on pure chance. Perhaps with this in mind, famous former CIA agent Robert Baer, who may have direct experience in this for all we know, has said:
"I used to teach explosives. The last thing you want to do is put a bomb on in a place like Malta and have two stops along the way ... you couldn't count on this thing hitting its target. ... Malta would not have been my first choice. It would have been London. If I was determined to bring down an airplane, I would have put it on in London." Flight into Darkness video, part two, 5:25

Counter Arguments Addressed
Forensics and the Frankfurt Link to the Rescue
UK and Germany had both been unsettled by the possibility their security forces had allowed the horror of Lockerbie to pass through. Some of their early wrangling is addressed in the post "What did the Germans Know?" British investigators decided the blast - 10 inches above the container floor - was above any possible non-Frankfurt luggage and therefore had to be some other brown, hardshell Samsonite from the one(s) Bedford described, that must have been from the feeder 103A. It was unsound reasoning and wishful thinking until the Erac printout emerged months later, showing an item apparently coming from Malta, to PA103, via Frankfurt.

The Malta Link to the Rescue
The Erac printout, emerging months after the attack from an employee's locker after all official copies somehow disappeared, sealed the deal for Malta origin. But the tiny island nation had already been mentioned in the evidence, as the place of manufacture for some of it. As it so happened, the Erac (Frankfurt) printout in August 1989 spurred a closer look, and the clothes were traced to a store on Malta where Tony Gauci was found...

Malta-based Libyan defector Abdul Majid Giaka was already on file with the culprits - Megrahi and Fhimah - that some hoped Tony saw one of. By late February 1991, they had a sort of identification of Megrahi from the shopkeeper.  A few months later, Giaka was finally removed to safety and first mentioned the suitcase - possibly the same model Bedford reported - seen on Malta the day before it reappeared on that dubious printout leaving there. The story is clearly false, but formed one basis of the U.S. indictment against Megrahi and Fhimah in November 1991.

And finally, Air Malta has airtight records that the 55 bags on flight 180 were all claimed by its 39 passengers. They've shown this in court, like in their libel suit against Granada television. How the bomb was sneaked around Air Malta's system was never explained or substantiated even back when Fhimah was accepted as an accomplice. Investigators tried to find evidence of Maltese collusion or corruption or incompetence, but came up only with 'well, they must have done it somehow.' After the dismissal of Giaka's Malta stories, the Zeist judges  found that accomplice not guilty, further complicating the feat for Megrahi. They admit it's hard to see just how he did it, but he must have. Guilty.

See also: JREF Forum discussion thread on the London Evidence - great discussion


Patrick Haseldine said...

Dear Adam,

In my letter to The Guardian of 7 December 1989 headed "Finger of suspicion", I referred to an article of 9 November 1989 by David Pallister, who must be one of the first journalists to have postulated the "London Origin Theory".

It seems obvious to me that an IED with a barometric trigger - such as Marwan Khreesat's device - must have been ingested at Heathrow, otherwise it would have detonated 35 minutes after take-off from Luqa or from Frankfurt.

The apartheid regime, having been subcontracted by the CIA the task of sabotaging an American aircraft, then selected the flight - Pan Am 103; the date - 21 December 1988; and the target - UN Commissioner for Namibia, Bernt Carlsson.

Which I like to call the "South Africa Luggage Swap Theory", that I believe was master-minded by SA 'superspy' Craig Williamson.

Would you, Caustic Logic, care to test-drive it?

PS. I reckon South Africa's Civil Cooperation Bureau cut the padlock at Heathrow's security gate on 20/21 December 1988, to make it look like a break-in rather than the inside job that it actually was.


Patrick H.

Caustic Logic said...

Thank you Patrick! It's on file!

Who exactly planted the bomb is irrelevant to the Heathrow origin theory. Of course to use the 38-min detonation as a clue, it would have to be someone who could get hold of a Khreesat-type bomb from the scattered PFLP-GC cell. They'd also have to be wiling to help the Iranians kill a couple hundred Americans plus others - and/or a Swede.

Patrick Haseldine said...

"Who exactly planted the bomb is irrelevant to the Heathrow origin theory". Not according to Hans Köchler, who is reported at the top of the page as saying: “I want to know when the bomb was placed on the plane and by whom. We have to look more closely into the "London theory" – that the bomb was placed on the plane at Heathrow and not in Malta.”

In his article in the Mail on Sunday on 16 August 2009, former MP Tam Dalyell wrote: "I believe Washington entered into a Faustian agreement that, tit-for-tat, one airliner was sacrificed" (see The truth about Lockerbie? That's the last thing the Americans want the world to know).

Washington subcontracted Pretoria to carry out the bombing.

South Africa's CCB then selected the aircraft - Pan Am Flight 103; the date - 21 December 1988; and the target - UN Commissioner for Namibia, Bernt Carlsson.

The UN Commissioner was targeted to stop him prosecuting Anglo/De Beers for illegal exploitation of Namibia's natural resources (see South Africa Inc: The Oppenheimer Empire pages 117-121).

Most likely the bomb arrived at Heathrow on the same SAA flight which brought Pik Botha and his delegation from Johannesburg. CCB operatives then swapped the bomb suitcase for Bernt Carlsson's luggage which arrived with him on flight BA 391 from Brussels.

Caustic Logic said...

Well, Koechler was probably fusing the PFLPGC-Khreesat construct in with London intro. I had started the article this way, but realized just "London intro" (plus a good mention of the time aspect of the bombs) was enough for one post, and was being generous pointing that out to you. That is, my broader definition allows for SA involvement, whereas Koechler almost certainly would put PFLP-GC after the "who." As would I, until I see a reason to suspect otherwise.


Patrick Haseldine said...

Dear Adam,

Here is Gordon Brown's reason (sent to me by e-mail yesterday) for you to suspect otherwise:


With reference to the murder of United Nations Commissioner for Namibia, Bernt Carlsson, and 269 other innocent folk in the attack on Pan Am Flight 103 over Scotland in 1988, it would not be out of line to consider the De Beers/ Anglo American Group a prime suspect as it had the Motive, Means and Opportunity to carry out such an attack.

MOTIVE: With regards to motive, the Group had a pressing need:
1. to prevent an in-depth investigation of its decades-long illegal gem diamond mining operations in Namibia in breach of United Nations Decree No. 1 which Bernt Carlsson was about to conduct,
2. to prevent the United Nations Commissioner for Namibia from further uncovering and quantifying the secretive high-grading/overmining practice which the Group had embarked upon with the object of depleting Namibia’s more valuable gem diamond resources ahead of an internationally recognised independence settlement; an illegal practice which had been brought to public note through the findings of the Thirion Judicial Commission of Inquiry,
3. to hide from public scrutiny the human rights abuses and discriminatory employment practices the Group’s Namibian employees had been subjected to for more than 50 years,
4. to ward off a massive claim for damages the United Nations could legally have instituted against the Group on behalf of the people of Namibia,
5. to frustrate any action likely to threaten the Group’s dominant control of diamond mining in Namibia and prevent its lucrative concessions from being legally expropriated in the public interest and granted to a less controversial and more responsible mining company. This effectively would have ended the De Beers Diamond Cartel’s monopolistic control of the world diamond industry.

MEANS: Through the Group’s established contacts and dealings with the CCB, CIA (through Maurice Tempelsman), BOSS and Executive Outcomes, The Group most certainly possessed the means to carry out such an attack. Breaking into Heathrow Airport’s luggage handling section would have posed little difficulty to any one of these organisations. There was money and expertise aplenty to carry out such an operation.

OPPORTUNITY: There was more than adequate time to plan and execute this heinous criminal act as Bernt Carlsson’s movements and travel arrangements, dictated in part by De Beers in London, were known to The Group well in advance. It was the ideal crime as nobody would ever suspect Bernt Carlsson was the target and therefore no finger would ever point at De Beers/Anglo American. This cowardly attack was conveniently labelled the dastardly work of a terrorist organisation.

Quincey Riddle said...


I must confess that, academically speaking, I lack what some seemingly do not: a doctorate in Double Think.

With regard to the Carlson angle specifically:

A: Without doubt the RSA government of the day would have been more than happy to have him 'removed'.

B: However, by blowing up a jumbo with 258 innocent bystanders on board in the process! To what end? To provide a cover and cast the blame on to a group of disaffected Arabs or Iranians?

C: Surely Pretoria had plenty of alternatives that could have achieved the same goal without all the 'collateral' (I believe is the appropriately sanitised term to express mass murder these days).

D: Let's not forget how much they had learnt from the results yielded via their investment in Project Coast.

E: In other words: why not simply do a Georgi Markov number on him?

F: After all, the progress made in the realms of DNA sequencing and biotoxins through Coast would have been sufficiently well advanced at the time to make discovery almost impossible unless the pathologists knew exactly what they were looking for.

Now then. I have an immense degree of respect for Tam Dalyell, however, when he refers to a Faustian pact whereby Washington subcontract the job to Pretoria, I am afraid I do not know in what context this statement was set. Was it, for example, one of: 'it is not beyond the bounds of credibility to imagine.......etc'? Or, was it an assertion? Mr Dalyell has also said, and here I paraphrase, that the only hope of discovering who committed the act probably lies in one of the perpetrators believing sufficiently strongly in God that there is a deathbed confession. I, therefore, cannot believe that any reference to a Faustian pact on Tam Dalyell's part was anything other than a nodding acknowledgement of the theory.

Nevertheless, on the grounds that it is not unknown for governments and their servants to indulge in apparently insane and overly complex subterfuge, where is the proof? The layman casting an eye over this can arrive at one of two equally valid conclusions:

1: The whole thing is so spectacularly convoluted as to render it credible on the grounds that it is precisely the type of machination that people dream up when they have something to hide.

2: The whole thing is so spectacularly convoluted as to render it incredible, particularly when we place its apparent sophistication beside the fact that Pik Botha was booked on to the same flight only for himself and his entourage to unbook themselves. But there again, some might argue that that slip up was a blind to make it look like RSA had no blood on its hands because they wouldn't have made such a stupid mistake, would they?

How far then does this take Saul along his journey to Damascus? Precisely nowhere in my view. Don't get me wrong, I am a huge fan of crime fiction, and theories of this nature are most stimulating, but for me, until some tangible proof emerges, I am afraid they only serve as a form of intellectual exercise.

Furthermore, my principle motivation in the Lockerbie issue is the travesty of justice that was Zeist. Whatever I may think about who dunnit (and I do have my thoughts, prosaic though they may be), I am not interested in apportioning blame at this stage. What I am very much interested in doing though is righting a wrong. One step at a time, my friends.

Anyhow, just a couple of passing thoughts.

Toodle pip for the moment,
Robert Forrester (Justice for Megrahi Campaign committee member).

Patrick Haseldine said...

QR is right: one step at a time.

The one step at this particular time that should be taken is for the Metropolitan Police to carry out an investigation into the 1988 murder of Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and UN Commissioner for Namibia, Bernt Carlsson!

Caustic Logic said...

Thanks, Patrick, Golden Brown, and Quincey Riddle. Patrick, sorry I never answered your e-mails, nor "Mr. Brown's" Could you please pass on my apologies to him.


Patrick Haseldine said...

Gordon Brown e-mailed me today (6 February) as follows:

In Robert Forrester's 30 Jan. comment on The London Origin Theory, he mentions in point 2: "The whole thing is so spectacularly convoluted as to render it incredible, particularly when we place its apparent sophistication beside the fact that Pik Botha was booked on this same flight only for himself and his entourage to unbook themselves. But there again, some might argue that the slip was a blind to make it look like RSA had no blood on its hands because they wouldn't make such a stupid mistake, would they?"

This 'fact' is incorrect. The person who made the bookings for the South African group made it originally on PA 101 departing London at 11:00 on 21 December 1988. It was never made on PA 103 and consequently was never changed. He made the reservation on PA 101 because it was the most convenient flight connecting with [South African Airways] flight SA 234 arriving at Heathrow at 07:20 on 21 December 1988.

One might also want to establish the whereabouts of CCB operative and explosives expert Nico Palm about that time. Palm was associated with a front company Geo International Trading for which, as an explosives expert, he conducted "... specific tasks during highly sensitive foreign operations" (Special Forces chief, Major-General 'Joep' Joubert). Palm was assigned to CCB operational region 5 (International and Europe).

In 1999 Craig Williamson and seven former agents of the Civil Cooperation Bureau (CCB) applied for amnesty to the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission for the 1982 bombing of the ANC's offices in London. Speaking after the amnesty hearing, South African lawyer Anton Alberts said: "If you look at the Lockerbie disaster - this is very similar. I think Britain would like to see these guys are prosecuted in England even though they get amnesty here."

Caustic Logic said...

Patrick, I am imposing a curtailment on your posting here. No more mentions of your silly theory and petitions on this site. Please stick to the topics at hand, or any other topics aside from your main one.

If you send me your best summation of your theory in 750 words or less (sources not inclusive) I will promise you a dedicated post here, under which your line of commentary will be allowed and encouraged. I see no need for it to bleed into other issues under examination.

Fair enough?

Patrick Haseldine said...

Thanks, Adam.

Your promise of a dedicated post sounds like a good solution.

My essay (working title Why that flight on that date?) will follow in the next day or so.

Patrick Haseldine said...

Dear Adam,

My comparative summation entitled Why Pan Am Flight 103? That's the Wii has just been e-mailed to you.


Patrick H.

Patrick Haseldine said...
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ebol said...


Mehr und mehr unterstützen kleine Details die Tatsache, dass kein Gepäckstück von AirMalta KM-180 auf den PanAm Zubringerflug PA-103/B in Frankfurt transferiert wurde !

Klarstellung: Aus besserem Verständnis wurde früher in vielen Dokumenten, Artikeln und Erkärungen (auch bei MEBO Webpage) die Flug No. von PanAm-103 mit PA-103/A und PA-103/B bezeichnet.
Mit Flug No. PA-103 (ohne A und B) wurde der PanAm "Main-flight" von Heathrow (HRO) nach New York (JFK) bezeichnet.

Für Passagiere und Gepäckstücke wurden auf den offiziellen 'Passenger Transfer Messages' (PTM) nach der Flug No. und Tag, die Abkürzung des End-Airport's, zB. (LHR) für London Heathrow bezeichnet..

Der PanAm Zubringer- Flug von Frankfurt nach (LHR) oder (LHR>JFK) wurde von der PanAm Flight-Organisation unter PA-103/B geführt.

Das angebliche "Bomb-bag", Tray No. *B-8849 war ein on-line Koffer, transferiert von Flug PA-643 auf PA-103/B / 21-LHR / 01 B1 = (01, Passagier, B1, Bag)
* Es kann nachgewiesen werden, dass das on-line Bag B-8849, am Counter No.206, um 13:07 Uhr falsch als inter-line Bag codiert wurde.
Das Gepäckstück war von Passagier No. 131, W. Wagenführ / Berlin.

Total wurden 12 on-line Gepäckstücke falsch, als inter-line codiert. Da diese 12 on-line Gepäckstücke bereits in Berlin mit X-ray kontrolliert wurden, sind diese in Frankfurt nicht nochmals mit X-ray kontrolliert worden. Dadurch kann absolut ausgeschlossen werden, dass Bag B-8849 von AirMalta KM-180 auf PanAm Flug
PA-103/B- LHR, transferiert wurde.
Das Bag ex B-8849, wurde in Heathrow ausgecheckt.

Die restlichen 13 inter-line Gepäckstücke von total 25 Stück
(in- und inter-line) können ebenfalls allen Passagieren oder Fluggesellschaften zugeordnet werden. AirMalta war nicht dabei.

by Edwin Bollier, MEBO Ltd., Switzerland

James said...

I believe Washington (or more likely Langley) did subcontract the job to SA. Langley's target was the investigation team returning to the US with evidence of CIA drug running.

'Lockerbie was a false flag operation to hide rogue CIA involvement in heroin trafficking out of the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, during the Terry Anderson hostage crisis. A joint team of CIA, FBI and Defense Intelligence investigators were flying on Pan Am 103 that day, heading for Washington to expose the heroin ring, when the plane exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland.' - Susan Lindauer

It would seem from reading all the evidence that there were at least two targets on board the fated plane; Bernt Carlsson and the Defense Intelligence team in Beirut, led by Maj. Charles Dennis McKee and Matthew Gannon.


baz said...

I think Quincy Riddle got it wrong when he referred to Tam Dalyell's claim of a Faustian pact
"whereby Washington subcontract the job to Pretoria".

What Patrick Heseldine claimed he said was that Washington entered into a Faustian pact tit-for-tat that one aircraft would be sacrificed for anther. Whether this pact was overt or implied it seems to a quite reasonable explanation of a way out of the crisis caused by the Vincennes Incident. It is elementary International Relations theory
(see Professor Spanier's wickedly titled "Games Nations Play" or check out the film and novel "Fail Safe".)