After a new documentary this week presented evidence claiming Iran ordered the Lockerbie bombing, Tehran blamed the new allegations on Zionist fabrication.
The film, “Lockerbie: What Really Happened,” broadcast on Al Jazeera on Tuesday night, featured testimony from a former Iranian intelligence officer that Iran’s leaders ordered the December 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 in retaliation for an accidental US navy strike on an Iranian commercial plane six months earlier. The blast, which killed 270 people, was the worst terrorist attack on American citizens with the exception of 9/11.
The Iranian officer Abolghasem Mesbahi, who once reported directly to former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani but defected to Germany in the 1990s, told Al Jazeera, “Iran decided to retaliate as soon as possible. The decision was made by the whole system in Iran and confirmed by [supreme leader] Ayatollah Khomeini.”
Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said the report was “irrelevant propaganda” that had been “fabricated in line with the Zionist regime’s lies,” Iran’s Fars news reported Thursday. He castigated Al Jazeera for leveling the accusations as part of a “smokescreen campaign at the behest of the Israeli regime,” Fars added.
He also said Iran had urged Qatari officials hours before the documentary was broadcast “not to let Zionists use their broadcasting service,” Fars reported.
The film indicated that the bombing, in which all 259 passengers and crew and 11 people on the ground perished, was carried out on Iran’s behalf by Ahmed Jibril’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command.
The same Iranian defector previously provided vital information to Argentinian investigators who were probing the 1994 terrorist attack on the AMIA Buenos Aires Jewish community center building, in which 85 people were killed. Using Mesbahi’s evidence, Argentinian prosecutor Alberto Nisman traced responsibility for that terrorist attack directly to a meeting of Iran’s National Security Council held on August 14, 1993. Several leading Iranian figures, including former defense minister and Revolutionary Guards commander Ahmad Vahidi, and last year’s failed Iranian presidential candidate Mohsen Rezai, were placed on an Interpol “red notice” list as a result.
The only man ever convicted for involvement in the Lockerbie bombing was a Libyan intelligence officer, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, who was found by three Scottish judges to have placed a suitcase containing the bomb on a flight from Malta to Frankfurt, from where it was ostensibly transferred to a flight to London’s Heathrow, before detonating on Flight 103 a little more than half an hour after the Pan Am plane took off for New York. Megrahi, who was jailed in 2001 after a trial in which his fellow alleged Libyan conspirator, Lamin Fhima, was acquitted, went to his death in 2012 insisting on his innocence.