Document:PT35B - The Most Expensive Forgery in History
- 1 PT/35(b) — The Most Expensive Forgery in History [Lockerbie]
- 1.1 PT/35(b) & the MST-13 Timers
- 1.2 The anatomy of a copper-clad laminate
- 1.3 Strike 1 — The Tin
- 1.4 Early suspicions and confirmation
- 1.5 Strike 2 — The Resin
- 1.6 Strike 3 — The Copper
- 1.7 Let us summarize…
- 1.8 WHO? — Means, Motive and Opportunity
- 1.9 Why? — The Lockerbie Solution
- 1.10 The Endgame
- 1.11 PS – FBI Thurman: 21B vs SIB
- 2 Acknowledgement
- 3 References
PT/35(b) — The Most Expensive Forgery in History [Lockerbie]
PT/35(b) is a small fragment of a circuit timer that was allegedly found among the debris of Pan Am Flight 103 near the town of Lockerbie. After more than ten years of investigation, I have come to the conclusion that PT/35(b) is a forgery that was planted among the debris to implicate Libya in the bombing of Pan Am 103 and to steer the investigation away from the original suspects.
- “I think the timer [PT/35(b)] is a fabrication.” (Email to RAM 06/09/2008)
- “I really have to disagree on the timer fragment as unless there is a big, big conspiracy–involving the Scottish police and the FBI and the CIA and lots of other people–why can we not agree it was found the way it was claimed?
- "I saw the supposed evidence card which was changed from cloth to debris. Without answering exactly what happened as I do not know–I know that when the fragment was found, no one knew what it was not even where it was–it was imbedded within cloth.
- "Now, I have no idea why someone would change the evidence card (I am not sure what to call it but it was a piece of cardboard which documented what the item was and had writing on it) as it seems a simple enough fix–the one piece was a fragment of Yorkie and what was in it was a few other items of debris, one of which was PT-35.
- "Please tell me what you do not believe about the fragment.” (Email from Marquise 06/09/2008)
“The right to search for the truth implies also a duty; one must not conceal any part of what one has recognised to be the truth.” (Albert Einstein)
As I reach the end of my life, I feel strongly about answering this question, as honestly and accurately as I can. I will do so in the simplest possible way.
Later, I will provide all the supporting evidence that I was able — thanks to many good friends — to collect over the years. I hope that you will see that the evidence of a “big conspiracy” is indeed overwhelming.
Of course, as I pointed before in relation to this case, “There are none so blind as those who will not see.” But the evidence is indisputable: PT/35(b) is a forgery.
PT/35(b) & the MST-13 Timers
On May 12, 1989, PT/35(b) was allegedly extracted from the collar of a “SLALOM” shirt (labelled PI/995). [There are many reasons to believe that this ‘discovery’ was antedated but we know that PT/35(b) existed by January 1990.]
The Lockerbie investigators concluded early in the investigation that this fragment was part of the mechanism that triggered a bomb aboard Pan Am 103.
This fragment was eventually matched to a timer (known as MST-13) discovered among the weapons and material seized from rebels after an attempted coup in Togo on 23rd September 1986.
The match between PT/35(b) and the main board of the MST-13 timer looks obviously excellent. Perfect indeed. But appearance can be deceiving.
- RELATED POST: The Chronology of PT/35(b) — A very detailed timeline of the many scientific investigations of PT/35(b)
The anatomy of a copper-clad laminate
A printed circuit board (PCB) mechanically supports and electrically connects electronic components using conductive tracks, pads and other features etched from copper sheets laminated onto a non-conductive substrate. PCBs can be single sided (one copper layer), double-sided (two copper layers) or multi-layer (outer and inner layers).
FR-4 glass epoxy is the primary insulating substrate upon which the vast majority of rigid PCBs are produced.
A thin layer of copper foil is laminated to one or both sides of an FR-4 panel. Circuitry interconnections are etched into copper layers to produce printed circuit boards.
Finally, the copper tracks are “tinned”, either with a lead-tin alloy or pure tin.
- RELATED POST: Anatomy of a Copper Clad Laminate. Part I: Introduction
Strike 1 — The Tin
28 February 1992 — According to their Home Office Large Major Enquiry System (HOLMES) statements, McAdam and Buwert went to the Wolfson Centre and met Dr Rosemary Wilkinson by prior arrangement, and she attempted to examine the whole of DP/347(a) in her scanning electron microscope but due to technical difficulties this proved impossible, and she was authorised to remove a sample from the circuit board at a place previously agreed with the fiscal depute. The corner section was then removed (DP/494, Crown label 411) and put in the scanning electron microscope.
Dr Wilkinson’s manuscript statement (prod 364) records that the surface of the new sample looked different from the fragment.
The fragment’s surface had contained bright “crystallites” 1/2 to 2 microns in diameter, but no such structure was present on DP/494, which contained bright and dark areas 5 to 15 microns in diameter which after analysis were associated with a lead-rich metal for the bright areas and a tin-rich metal for the dark areas.
No copper was found except at the edge exposed by the cutting of the sample. Dr Wilkinson suggested that this was because in DP/494 had a greater thickness of tin/lead metal covering the copper.
Comparison between control sample and fragment: on the fragment Dr Wilkinson could find no trace of lead on the copper track she tested, only copper and tin.
- RELATED POST: The chronology of PT/35(b): 28/02/1992
Lockerbie investigator John Ashton received confirmation from THURING that the boards supplied to MEBO had all copper tracks covered with a lead-tin alloy, unlike PT/35(b) which was covered with pure tin.
Early suspicions and confirmation
During the trial in 2000, there were suspicions about how PT/35(b) had been discovered and reported on by government scientists.
The trial judges had discounted these suspicions. Then in 2009 the al-Megrahi defence team made a startling discovery.
- In the years since the trial and first appeal they had managed to obtain a huge set of documents from police and Scottish Crown archives. Among the documents was the forensic notebook of scientific witness Allen Feraday.
- Feraday had compared PT35(b) with control samples from MST13 timer circuit boards similar to those supplied to Libya in 1985 by MEBO.
- He told the trial judges: “the fragment materials and tracking pattern are similar in all respects” to that of the MST13 timer.
- But nine years prior to the trial, on 1st August 1991, when examining both the fragment and a MEBO MST13 timer circuit board, he had made two hand-written entries in his notebook which contradicted this.
- The first recorded that tracks on fragment PT35(b) were protected by a layer of “Pure tin”.
- The second said that tracks on the circuit of a control sample MST13 board were covered by an alloy of “70% tin and 30% lead”.
- Feraday and the police were fully aware of the difference.
- Two police scientific advisers suggested that the heat of the explosion might have evaporated the lead content of the alloy, leaving pure tin.
- Another police adviser working for Ferranti International noted that fragment PT35(b) had indications of being “home made”.
- Neither the scientist’s reports nor the Ferranti letter were followed up. All remained hidden in police files.
- The judges and defence team were unaware of their contents.
- In the light of this new information the defence team consulted two prominent independent experts in the field.
- The experts repeatedly heat tested the evaporation theory with temperatures exceeding that of the bomb explosion. But the alloy of 70/30 tin/lead remained just that.
Feraday either perjured himself or was grossly negligent. It was upon his statement — and the very dubious identification evidence by Gauci — that the case against Abdelbaset al-Megrahi would turn. (Lockerbie: The 28 year lie.)
Strike 2 — The Resin
“The function of the resin is to act as a ‘glue’ to hold the laminate together. Epoxy resins can be purchased from various vendors at various steps of manufacture. Epoxy resin can be had in a liquid form so that it can be concocted to upstaged resin using proprietary recipes and processes. It can also be purchased in the advanced or upstaged state, wherein the solid resin, complete with hardness and catalysts, is ready for use in treating.”
According to an FBI document date 20 August 1990 (classified SECRET):
- This glass cloth laminate is manufactured using a Bisphenol A epoxy resin cured with Dicyandiamide.
A Memo from Det. Insp. Williamson dated 3 September 1990 states that:
- “The glass cloth laminate is manufactured using a Bisphenol A epoxy resin cured with Dicyandiamide.”
- “A feature of any interest in the manufacture of epoxy resin would be chemical used in the curing process. In the Case of Production PT35 the curing chemical is dicyandiamide. This is the most commonly used chemical for this purpose in the industry and does not assist in identification.”
In early 1990, the resin of a board from ISOLA (Switzerland) was tested and definitely ruled out as the source of PT/35(b)!
- After the visit to Ciba Geigy on 8 February, he [Harrower] made contact with a number of companies involved in the production of fibreglass laminate used in the manufacture of PCBs, and obtained samples of the various laminates they produced for comparison with PT/35(b).
- He received in total 23 different sample laminates from producers in Europe and the Middle East, which he understood covered all the production companies, and he produced DP/143 (prod 337), a schedule showing the laminate samples and suppliers.
- He provided the 23 samples to John French at Ciba on 8 March 1990 for comparative analysis. He later obtained a statement from French of the results of the analysis. (…)
- According to French’s HOLMES statement after his analysis of the various samples he found that two types of laminate, Ditron (manufactured in Italy) and Sefolam (manufactured in Israel) were the closest match to the spectrum obtained from DP/12 [NB. DP/12 was extracted from PT/35(b)]
Now, let us take a look at the MEMO of Williamson dated 03/09/1990.
- “The epoxy resin is slightly altered to suit the specific purpose to which the completed PCB will be put, e.g. certain chemicals are added for their fire resistance properties etc. Each laminate manufacturer differs in the type of chemicals and the quantities which they add making their resin slightly different from that of their competitors. (Page 2)
- “On 8th February 1990, John French, Senior Chemist, Research Analysis Department, CIBA GEIGY Plc., Plastics Division, Duxford, Cambridgeshire, carried out a test in an attempt to identify the resin. Ciba Geigy Plc], are one of the world's largest producers of resin for the PCB industry. Mr. French removed some small fragments from the piece of circuit board and analysed them on an FT-RI (Fourier Transform Infra Red) Spectrometer. This test showed that the laminate was manufactured using a Bisphenol A Epoxy Resin cured with Dicyandiamide which is very commonly used in the industry.
- “The reporting officers thereafter made contact with all companies in Western Europe, Israel, and East Germany, who manufacture copper clad laminates for the PCB industry and obtained samples of their laminates. On 8th March 1990, they returned to Ciba Geigy Plc., and supplied the following samples of laminates to Mr. French for analysis and comparison with Production PT35.”
Among the 23 samples, there are three from ISOLA, including one from ISOLA Switzerland. And yet, the report goes on with this conclusion:
- “The results of the test carried out by Mr French were analysed on computer and two types of laminate, Sefolam and Ditron appear to give the closest match to Production PT35.”
In other words, French had clearly ruled out SIB as the source of PT/35(b)! But once again, someone tried to get around this unescapable conclusion…
- "It is worthy to point out at this stage that in the opinion of Mr French the condition of PT35 due to its exposure to extreme heat could have had an effect on the results of the analysis. Also, while the match to the two laminates, Sefolam and Ditron appear very close, this can only be treated as an indication and is in no way conclusive.”
BTW, the idea that heat of the explosion modified PT/35(b) is of course nonsensical and results from a misunderstanding of what constitutes an explosion. During the explosion, the temperature is very high but the heat transfer is rather small.
In any case, the presence of an unmelted soldering lead blob on the fragment is proof that PT/35(b) was certainly not exposed to much heat transfer!
Strike 3 — The Copper
DP/10 is undoubtedly the smallest and most important piece of evidence Lockerbie experts have never heard of.
Before and after the identification of PT/35(b), the police consulted a British company called Circuit Foil UK about the copper used on both PT/35(b) and the Thuring boards.
One of their project managers – Michael Whitehead – looked at both PT/35(b) and DP/347(a) – The Thuring board supplied to MEBO – and concluded that the copper on the Thuring boards had been made earlier.
Unfortunately, the police officers seemed to have completely misunderstood his statements.
The consequences are far-reaching. His statements clearly support the theory that the board from which PT/35(b) originated was produced at a later date than the Thuring boards.
There is a good reason to believe that this copper was not produced — at the earliest — before the end of 1989.
- On 06/03/1992, Police officers travelled to Circuit Foil UK (formerly Yates Circuit Foils) at Silloth, and interviewed Michael Whitehead, who examined the matt side topography of the copper tracks on DP/504 (label 406) by using a scanning electron microscope and produced 2 micrographs, A and B, designated DP/508 (prod 347).
- (NB: DP/504 is a small part cut from DP/347(a) i.e. the Thuring board supplied to MEBO.)
- Michael Whitehead was also of the opinion that the copper foil for DP/504 was manufactured some time earlier than the copper foil for PT/35(b).
That is to say, this surely indicates strongly that PT/35/(b) was manufactured later than the board provided by Thuring.
There is indeed no doubt that the copper from PT/35(b) is not similar to the copper from the Thuring boards. Moreover, the difference is understood. In the very late 80’s and well into the 90’s, the industry modified the production of the copper and the laminating process to improve the adhesion of the copper to the board. The characteristics of the copper on PT/35(b) reflect this improvement.
- RELATED POST: DP/10 : Evidence of Fabricated Proof?
- RELATED POST: DP/10: Lockerbie Witness Robert Lomer
I understand that some experts are willing to testify on camera that their findings were not reported correctly by the investigators.
Let us summarize…
I. The “Tinning” of PT/35(b) is wrong. (Pure Tin for PT/35(b) vs Tin/Lead alloy for the Thuring boards).
II. The density of the copper nodules on the “Matte” side of the copper foil is evidence that PT/35(b) was built on a copper clad laminate manufactured after the time the THURING boards delivered to MEBO in 1985 had been produced.
III. The epoxy resins used in PT/35(b) and in the Thuring boards are obviously different. (Probably to take advantage of the higher density of the copper nodules in PT/35(b) as noted above.)
It is abundantly clear that the fragment PT35(b) did not come from a Thuring circuit board supplied to MEBO to fabricate the MST-13 timers delivered to Libya.
As the Yanks like to say: “Three strikes and you are out.” How PT/35(b) was made and by whom remains a mystery… But ask yourself a simple question: Who on earth had means, motive and opportunity?
WHO? — Means, Motive and Opportunity
Swiss Inspector Hans Knaus suspected the CIA of having planted PT/35(b) among the debris of the crash in order to incriminate Libya. I believe that Knaus is right and I suspect that he KNEW that the CIA had done it before, not once but twice! (The first time in Togo 1986 and the second time in Senegal 1988). The CIA knew everything about MEBO since 1984.
Swiss Inspector Peter Fluckiger met with MEBO employee Ulrich Lumpert on June 22, 1989. On June 6, 2008, Lumpert told me that he gave a MST-13 timer prototype — as well as various related documents — to Fluckiger during that meeting.
According to Lumpert, Fluckiger requested this device and other documents at the demand of a “friendly Intelligence Agency.”
In July 2016, Lockerbie investigator George Thomson wrote the following message to me:
- “During a recent investigation in Switzerland our team managed to get our hands on an official government document which confirms that in June 1989 Swiss Police did receive from a MEBO–source documents and materials in relation to MST timers.
- "THE DOCUMENT GOES ON TO CONFIRM THAT THIS MATERIAL WAS THEN HANDED OVER TO THE AMERICANS.”
REMEMBER: This is one full year BEFORE Super FBI Genius Tom Thurman identified the link between PT/35(b) and MEBO. (June 15 1990).
Why? — The Lockerbie Solution
Jack Anderson and Dale Van Atta claimed that the Lockerbie investigation switched from Iran to Libya following a phone call in March 1989 between George H W Bush and Margaret Thatcher. [Van Atta recently confirmed the story.] What happened?
In July 1988, Ayatollah Hussein Ali Montazeri was the designated successor of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini — known to be very ill — who used to call him “the fruit of his life”.
From an American point of view, the prognosis in the aftermath of the downing of IRAN Airbus 655 was rather gloomy. Montazeri was about to succeed Khomeini soon and he wanted a open war with the US. [The US was at the time fully on board with Saddam’s Iraq during the war against Iran.]
Then, on 26 March 1989, Khomeini strongly denounced Montazeri’s actions. [Criticism of the Summer massacre, Salman Rushdie, and so on.] A couple of days later, Khomeini announced that Montazeri ‘had resigned his post’.
The demotion of Montazeri was a “game changing” event. After March 26, it may no longer serve the US/UK geopolitical interests to blame Iran. Khomeini was rumoured to be at death’s door.
If pragmatic new leaders — “friendly” enough to seek a solution to the hostages crisis — could succeed him, it would be totally counter-productive to blame Iran for the action of the old regime. This would only serve the interests of the hard-liners. Thus, ‘Let us wait and see what happens next’ became the Lockerbie policy after March 1989.
Ruhollah Khomeini died on June 3rd 1989. Rafsanjani was instrumental in securing a quick solution to an emerging crisis. On August 3rd 1989, Rafsanjani was elected Iran’s president.
Rafsanjani was — of course — well known to the US policy makers as he was instrumental in the infamous Iran-Contra scandal.
- RELATED POST: This Day in History — “Gaddafi Target of Secret U.S. Deception Plan” (October 2 1986 — Bob Woodward)
In the following weeks, PT(35)/b really ‘surfaced’ and a CIA document — dated September 1989! — links Megrahi to Pan Am 103 for the first time. That is long before the Lockerbie investigators — including the FBI agents — ever heard of him!
- RELATED POST: THE LOCKERBIE SOLUTION(S): WAIT AND SEE…
By September 1989, blaming Iran for Lockerbie would no longer serve the geopolitical interests of the US and UK. Justice was not served. As Marcel Pagnol once wrote:
- “A wise man does not look for the culprits of a crime. A wise man chooses the right culprits.”
And the obvious “culprit” was Libya. An indictment – without a chance of a trial — was the perfect solution. The US would easily obtain — with a bit of “wheeling dealing” — a UN resolution (or two) against Libya, thus making an example of their favourite “punching bag”.
For Thatcher, it was also a path to end the supply of Libyan weapons to the Provisional IRA who had almost succeeded in assassinating her and came very close to destabilise the UK.
If there ever was an era of “Unilateralism”, it was that period. In some circles, the final “Lockerbie Solution” must be viewed as a brilliant strategic victory. For those who lost a relative at Lockerbie and wanted nothing but the truth, it is a bitter story.
PS – FBI Thurman: 21B vs SIB
The watermark “S I B” visible on the main board of the MEBO MST-13 timers clearly indicate that these boards were produced by a Swiss branch of the ISOLA Company. Well, at least visible to anyone except to the experts of the CIA and Special Agent (“Explosive expert”) FBI Tom Thurman who managed to read “21B”, as I explained in: The THURING Board Watermark: FBI Analysis.
That mistake was of course necessary to ruin the forensic investigation and build the case against Libya. Had the SIB logo been read correctly, the case would have collapsed on the spot!
When I made that discovery, a wise man made the following comment:
- “The most cursory look at yesterday’s posting — which shows the watermark in its true aspect — shows the marks to be SIB.
- "There is no way on earth it could be 21B when viewed correctly.
- "The K1 timer was taken to pieces, analysed under microscope, its components tested, its circuits deconstructed in ideal lab conditions under optimal light conditions by the FBI and yet we are supposed to believe that the watermark when correctly viewed could look like 21B.
- "This looks to me very like an attempt to mislead. A simple search of trade catalogues would give you SIB’s manufacturer in a couple of hours.
- "It appears that the image above is viewed via high-powered light and shows the watermark on the underside of the PCB.
- "Even so, it is clear that the B is upside down as the smaller of the two loops on the B is on the lower/bottom of the watermark.
- "Turn it up the right way and you can’t escape that it’s SIB and eminently traceable.”
I rest my case…
I wish to thank all those who helped me to understand this affair. I cannot name all of them. They know anyway how much they helped me and that is all that counts in the end.
Nevertheless, I would like to thank the following persons: William Tobin (FBI), Frederic Whitehurst (FBI), Richard Marquise (FBI), Bob Baer (CIA), Pat Lang (DIA), Bani-Sadr (former President of Iran), Abou Diouf (former President of Senegal), Pr Robert Black (Architect of the Lockerbie trial), Hans Koechler (UN Observer at the Lockerbie trial), Dr Jim Swire (UK Lockerbie Family), John Ashton (Author, journalist and Lockerbie investigator), George Thomson (Lockerbie investigator), Otto Hostettler (Investigative reporter for the Swiss magazine BEOBACHTER) and Paul Feeney (UK terrorism expert).
- "Fragment of the imagination?", Private Eye issue 1195 (page 28), 12–25 October 2007
- "Extract from 2009 TV documentary 'Lockerbie Revisited'"
- "Lockerbie relatives urge inquiry into 'suppressed evidence'"