- The Pan Am baggage handler who was in charge of loading
luggage onto Flight 103 has admitted for the first time that he knew US
intelligence agencies used the airline to smuggle drugs and that their
covert operation could have been penetrated by terrorists who planted the
bomb on board Flight 103.
- The claims made on the eve of the Lockerbie trial by
Roland O'Neill, from Frankfurt, could throw allegations that Libya was
behind the bombing into complete disarray. It would also seriously undermine
the position of the Scottish prosecution team which is preparing the criminal
case against Abdel Basset Ali Mohamed al-Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah.
Their trial will begin at Camp Zeist on May 3.
- O'Neill's admissions back up long held suspicions that
Palestinian terrorists operating in Germany were behind the bombing. The
extremists, it is claimed, penetrated the US drugs operation and swapped
a bag containing drugs on the flight bound for America for a bag carrying
- On the eve of the Lockerbie trial, O'Neill invited the
Sunday Herald yesterday to his Frankfurt home because he wanted to explain
how he has been tormented for the last 12 years by the fear that he could
have unwittingly placed the explosives on board the aircraft.
- O'Neill was told for the first time yesterday by the
Sunday Herald that he had failed four key questions during a lie detector
test investigating his role in the Lockerbie bombing. The result of the
test pointed towards O'Neill being the man who ordered that the bomb be
placed on the plane.
- O'Neill insisted that he did not lie in the polygraph
but he did admit that he knew the Drug Enforcement Agency - an arm of US
intelligence - was using Frankfurt as a route to smuggle heroin into America
as part of a secret plan to finance the freeing of US hostages in Beirut.
- O'Neill's polygraph showed that he lied when he said
he did not know who ordered the switching of the cases and when he said
he did not order the switching of the suitcases himself. O'Neill also allegedly
lied in the test when he said he did not see the cases being switched and
when he said he did not know what was in the switched suitcases.
- O'Neill was unaware that he had failed these four key
questions in the polygraph test, the results of which were leaked to the
Sunday Herald from sources close to the Lockerbie investigation in America.
- "I do recall about a year before the bombing that
two suitcases filled with drugs, belonging to two women were ordered to
go on board a Pan Am flight without being interfered with - opened or X-rayed.
That was on the orders of US agents - either the DEA or the CIA. I can't
remember which," said O'Neill.
- "I could have unwittingly been part of the this
conspiracy. Security at Frankfurt airport was incredibly slack. It is entirely
possible that a bag of drugs was switched for a bag containing Semtex.
I often think to myself, 'my God, I could have picked up that bag and put
it on board flight 103.' It terrifies me.
- "What I do think I remember about that night was
that it was very hectic and I think some baggage loaders just picked cases
from one aircraft, which was not a Pan Am plane, and left it at the side
of Pan Am 103 so that it could be loaded on board. Maybe there is a chance
that one of these was unchecked and unscreened. This could have been from
any flight and from anywhere.
- "I did not order the cases to be switched. I did
not see who switched the cases. I did not know what was in the case. I
was asked if I wanted to take a lie detector test and I said, 'OK' as I
had nothing to hide."
- He added: "I can't accept that Libya is responsible
for this, you know. There has to be another reason behind this - quite
possibly the activities of American intelligence agencies may be involved.
Remember if you wanted to bring something - drugs or a bomb - into the
airport it could be done. There was really no security. If anyone had a
security badge, like I did, they could just walk through with a bomb, put
a baggage tag on it and put it on a plane. And that would be it - boom."
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