MST-13 Timer

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Concept.png MST-13 TimerRdf-icon.png
MST-13 Timer.jpg
Founder(s) Ulrich Lumpert

The electronic and deadly accurate MST-13 Timer, which can be set between 1 minute and 999 hours before detonating a time bomb, was designed and built by Swiss engineer Ulrich "Ueli" Lumpert of MEBO AG of Zurich, Switzerland in the 1980s.[1]

It has been alleged that an MST-13 Timer and Power Unit was used by the IRA in the attempted assassination of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the Brighton bombing of 12 October 1984.[2]

And, from a batch of about 20 MST-13 timers that MEBO supplied to Libya during the second part of 1985,[3] one of the timers was alleged to have triggered the explosion of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie in Scotland on 21 December 1988.[4]

Circuit Diagram

MST-13 circuit diagram
Thuring printed circuit board

Here is the circuit diagram of the MST-13 Timer as designed by Ulrich Lumpert. The 1st order was placed on 13 August 1985. 20 were ordered, and 24 delivered on 3 September 1985.

The Thuring PCBs were “solder masked” on one side [Lötstopp eins.(eitig)]. There were no bore holes. “Tin” plated.

The 2nd order was placed on 9 October 1985. 35 were ordered, and 34 delivered on 12 November 1985. The Thuring PCBs were “solder masked” on both side [Lötstopp doppelseitig)]. 3 x Fenster Fräsen (Mill three windows). There were no bore holes. “Tin” plated.

Notice the now infamous “ZINN” (To tin). However, in this technical field, neither “Zinn” nor “Tin” means tin. It is just slang for the process and does not tell anything about the material itself. In the case of these Thuring PCBs, it is actually a mix of Lead and Tin. This is absolutely crucial to the Lockerbie bombing case.[5]

Other components

In order to build the MST-13 Timers, Ulrich Lumpert ordered the NYMPH quartz from COMPONA AG.[6]

Here is the invoice for the MSI IC HEF 4518BT.[7]

Here is the invoice for the MSI IC HEF 4521BT.[8]

Here is the invoice for the capacitors.[9]

On 30 July 1985, Edwin Bollier ordered 12 ROSE boxes for the MST-13 Timers.[10]

Order from Libya

Evidence that MEBO received an order for electronic timers in July 1985 is supported by the orders for circuit boards which MEBO placed with Thuring AG in August and October 1985. In evidence Astrid Thuring spoke to the order card relating to an order that MEBO placed with Thuring on 13 August 1985 for 20 MST-13 circuit boards (CP 402, photograph 2-575). She stated that, according to a delivery note (CP 319, image 1), Thuring supplied 24 such circuit boards on 16 August 1985. In addition, she spoke to the order card relating to an order that MEBO placed with Thuring on 8 October 1985 for 35 MST-13 circuit boards (CP 402, image 208). According to a further delivery note (CP 400, image 1), Thuring supplied 34 such circuit boards on 5 November 1985 (SCCRC Report 20.28).[11]

Delivery to Libya

The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission notes that no documentary evidence was led at trial that directly vouched Mr Bollier’s evidence about the supply of MST-13 timers to Libya (although Mr Meister understood that Mr Bollier had personally delivered these in 1985: 22/3741). Accordingly, it seems that the court was prepared to accept Mr Bollier’s evidence on this issue on the basis that it had not been challenged and appeared to have been accepted by the defence. Although the Commission recognises that any assessment of the reasonableness of the verdict must proceed purely on the evidence before the trial court (King; Campbell v HMA 1998 SCCR 214), the account given to the defence by Hinshiri is of assistance in understanding why no such challenge was made. In his defence precognition (see appendix) Hinshiri confirmed that he had ordered a quantity of MST-13 timers and that these had subsequently been delivered to him. A similar account was given by him when questioned by the Scottish police in Libya on 30 October 1999 (see appendix). [[[SCCRC]] REPORT 20.29]

Richard Marquise gives a good description [1] of the supply of the 20 MST-13 timers to Libya.

In August 1985, Said Fazani*, a high ranking official of the Libyan Jamahiriya Security Organisation (JSO), asked Bollier to design and build a small electronic timer for use by the military in their war with Chad.

A total of twenty were built by Lumpert, ten for use in a waterproof container (boxed) and ten which were free standing (unboxed).

The first five were delivered by Bollier to Fazani* in Libya in the late fall of 1985.

The second five were delivered by Bollier to an individual at the Libyan people’s Bureau in East Berlin around November 1985.

The last ten were delivered Hijazi*, a high ranking Intelligence officer, in Tripoli [in late 1985].

Said Fazani* and Hijazi* are Said Rashid and Ezzedin El Hinshiri.

Based on various interviews, the “Fuhl Report” has come to the following conclusions:

The first five MST-13 timers have a circuit board with “solder mask” on one side only and were built into boxes.

The second five MST-13 timers have a circuit board with “solder mask” on both sides and were built without boxes.

The last ten MST-13 timers have a circuit board with “solder mask” on both side and were built into boxes.[12][13]

Lumpert statements

On 23 May 1991, in Zurich, Ulrich Lumpert was questioned by Swiss Police Inspector Fluckiger in the presence of Scottish Police officers Police Constable Buwert and Detective Inspector W. Williamson as well as FBI agent Edward Marshmann.

Lumpert is shown ten photos from the DP 124 file. His answers are reproduced under each picture.

"Photo 1 is one of our timers although I do not recognise the black electric cable."

(Please, look at the bottom of this page for a picture of a 'Control Sample' built by Lumpert.)

"Photo 2 is the rear side of a MST-13 timer assembled by me."
"Photo 3 is a MST-13 the circuit board without the time switch."
"Photo 4 is a MST-13 timer with a 2-position timing switch. I guess that Bollier did the soldering. This is a pre-series timer because the condenser has been soldered diagonally and the soldering points near the switches of the power cable have not been covered with a plastic protective sheet
"On the other hand I can verity that the circuit board has been coated with a protective lacquer which points to a later development of circuit board. Bollier often visits me in the laboratory and helps with simple technical work and I remember that in about the summer of 1985 he soldered a battery and cable onto an MST-13 timer."
"Photo 5 I recognise one of our timers."
"Photo 6 This is one of our secondary circuit boards."
"Photo 7 This is an oscillator with the resistors which were added later. It must be one of the pre-series timers.
"Photo 8 an oscillator crystal.
"Photo 9-MST 13 timer built into housing"
"Photo 10 a housing with the loud-speaker clips put on by me and the light diode that fits the MST-13."

Additional statements

“Now that I have seen DP 123 invoice, I see that only 12 boxes were ordered and delivered in 1985 and I conclude that only 10 housed versions were produced because two further housings went with the sample delivery in 1990.” Lumpert

“It is correct that only five or six timers with 4 positions switch were made and they were pre-series ones. The pre-series timers had protective lacquer only on one side.” Lumpert[14]

Judges' opinions

Lockerbie Trial: § 49, 73 and 74. The following Sections deal with the MST-13 Timers:

[49] We do however accept certain parts of Mr Bollier’s evidence despite finding him at times an untruthful and at other times an unreliable witness. We have done so when his evidence has not been challenged and appears to have been accepted, or where it is supported from some other acceptable source.

We accept, for example, that in or about July 1985 on a visit to Tripoli, Mr Bollier received a request for electronic timers from Said Rashid or Ezzadin Hinshiri and that he had had military business dealings in relation to the Libyan Government with Ezzadin Hinshiri since the early 1980s. The potential order was for a large number of such timers.

Mr Lumpert was told of the requirements by Mr Bollier and proceeded to develop two prototypes. There is a dispute in the evidence between Mr Bollier and Mr Meister on the one hand and Mr Lumpert on the other about the colour of the circuit boards in these prototype timers. Mr Bollier said they were brown, Mr Meister thought they were grey or brown, whereas Mr Lumpert said that they were manufactured from the green coloured circuit boards supplied by Thuring.

What we do however accept is that later in the summer of 1985 the two prototypes were delivered by Mr Bollier to the Stasi in East Berlin, whatever be the colour of their circuit boards. This is consistent with the evidence of Mr Wenzel who at the material time was a Major in the Stasi and with whom Mr Bollier then dealt.

Despite this evidence we cannot, however, exclude absolutely the possibility that more than two MST-13 timers were supplied by MEBO to the Stasi, although there is no positive evidence that they were, nor any reasons why they should have been. Similarly, we cannot exclude the possibility that other MST-13 timers may have been made by MEBO and supplied to other parties, but there is no positive evidence that they were.

Equally, despite the evidence of Mr Wenzel that after the fall of the Berlin wall he had destroyed all timers supplied to the Stasi, we are unable to exclude the possibility that any MST-13 timers in the hands of the Stasi left their possession, although there is no positive evidence that they did and in particular that they were supplied to the PFLP-GC.

[73] We turn next to the evidence in relation to members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command (“PFLP-GC”). No member of that organisation gave evidence but it was clear from other evidence that we heard, in particular from officers of the German police force, the BKA, that a cell of the PFLP-GC was operating in what was then West Germany at least up until October 1988.

The evidence which we accept showed that at least at that time the cell had both the means and the intention to manufacture bombs which could be used to destroy civil aircraft. On 26 October 1988, after a period of surveillance, the BKA made a series of raids and arrested a number of individuals in an operation code-named [[Autumn Leaves]]. In particular they raided premises at Sandweg 28, Frankfurt and the home of Hashem Abassi in Neuss and they seized a car which had been used by Haj Hafez Kassem Dalkamoni, apparently the leader of the cell.

In these premises they found radio cassette players, explosives, detonators, timers, barometric pressure devices, arms, ammunition and other items, including a number of airline timetables and seven unused Lufthansa luggage tags. From other evidence it appeared that one of the airline timetables was a PanAm timetable. There was considerable evidence of bombs being manufactured so as to be concealed in Toshiba radio cassette players.

The models being used were, however, different from the RT SF-16 used in the Pan Am 103 disaster, and the timers were of a type known as ice-cube timers. These were quite different from MST-13s, much less sophisticated and much less reliable, and the intention was no doubt to use them in conjunction with the barometric pressure devices to detonate the explosive.

[74] While all this material was seized by the BKA on 26 October 1988 and the principal members of the PFLP-GC cell in West Germany were arrested on that date, the evidence was that most were released shortly thereafter. Dalkamoni, however, was not, and he was later convicted in relation to bomb attacks on a railway line in Germany in 1987 and 1988 and possession of the weapons found at Sandweg 28. He was sentenced to imprisonment for fifteen years. It is possible, of course, that the cell could have re-grouped and re-stocked with the necessary materials by 21 December.

In April 1989 three further explosive devices were recovered at Hashem Abassi’s new address in Neuss, but the indications were that these were items which had formed part of the stock in October 1988. There was no evidence that the cell had the materials necessary to manufacture an explosive device of the type that destroyed Pan Am 103. In particular there was no evidence that they had an MST-13 Timer.

For the reasons given elsewhere, while a small quantity of such timers was supplied by MEBO to the East German Stasi, there is no evidence at all to suggest that any of them found their way into the hands of organisations such as the PFLP-GC. On the evidence which we heard we are satisfied that the explosive device which destroyed PA103 was triggered by an MST-13 timer alone and that neither an ice-cube timer nor any barometric device played any part in it.

It is also to be noted that the cell’s principal bomb-maker was one Marwan Khreesat who was in fact an agent who infiltrated the cell on behalf of the Jordanian Intelligence Service. His instructions from them were that any bomb he made must not be primed. Moreover, while he himself did not give evidence, there was evidence of a statement given by him to FBI agents (production 1851) in which he said that he never used radio cassette players with twin speakers (such as the Toshiba RT-SF 16 had) to convert into explosive devices.[15]

Chapter 25:Undisclosed protectively marked documents

25.1 In 2006 Crown Office informed the Commission of the existence of two protectively marked documents in its possession.

25.2 These documents were examined by a member of the Commission’s enquiry team whose notes are currently in the possession of D&G.

25.3 By letter dated 27 April 2007 Crown Office confirmed that neither of the protectively marked documents was disclosed to the defence. (…) It was also pointed out in the letter that “it has never been the Crown’s position in this case that the MST-13 timers were not supplied by the Libyan intelligence services to any other party or that only the Libyan intelligence services were in possession of the timers.”

25.5 On 27 April 2007 the Commission was informed by Crown Office that such consent could not be given without the permission of the relevant authorities of the country from which the documents originated. Although attempts were made on behalf of Crown Office to obtain the consent of those authorities, as at the date of issue of the Commission’s statement of reasons this had not been given.

25.6 In the Commission’s view the Crown’s decision not to disclose one of the documents to the defence indicates that a miscarriage of justice may have occurred in applicant’s case. In reaching this decision the Commission has taken into account paragraphs 49, 73 and 74 of the trial court’s judgment.

25.8 The Commission considered applying to the court for an order under section 194I of the Act requiring Crown Office to produce the documents. However, given the need to finalise the review, and the fact that other grounds of referral had been identified, the decision was taken not to do so.

In any event, even if an order had been obtained by the Commission under section 194I of the Act, in terms of paragraph 6(5) of Schedule 9A it would have been open to Crown Office to notify the Commission that onward disclosure might be contrary to the interests of national security.

In such circumstances, the Commission would have been bound to deal with the material in a manner appropriate for safeguarding the interests of national security. It is therefore unlikely that the Commission would have been any less constrained in its ability to disclose the documents had it made use of its statutory powers.[16]

 

Related Document

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Document:Was the MST-13 timer fragment planted in the wreckage of Pan Am 103Blog post15 September 2009Morag KerrYou can set the MST-13 timer for any time you like from 1 minute to 999 hours before the bomb explodes. So you set it to go off only an hour after Pan Am Flight 103's scheduled take-off from Heathrow on an 8-hour flight. Really?


References