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tv   Frontline  PBS  October 6, 2015 10:00pm-11:01pm PDT

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>> it was one of the worst terrorist attacks before 9/11. >> pan am flight 103 plunged into a small scottish town. >> tonifrontline presents... >> all these years later, the case still open. >> ...part two of a three-part special series. >> the government has moved on, the fbi has moved on... >> filmmaker ken dornstein's search for those responsible for the murder of 270 people, including his brother. >> frontlinis made possible by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.
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and by the corporation for public broadcasting. major support for frontliis provided by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation, committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. more information is available at additional support is provided by the park foundation, dedicated to heightening public awareness of critical issues. the john and helen glessner family trust, supporting trustworthy journalism that informs and inspires. the ford foundation, working with visionaries on the front lines of social change worldwide. at the wyncote foundation. and by the frontline journalism fund, with major support from jon and jo ann hagler. corporate funding for frontline is provided by: >> the future of surgery is within sight. our research is studying how real-time multimodality imaging during surgery can help precision and outcomes. brigham and women's hospital.
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it all starts here. >> previously on "my brother's bomber." >> dornstein: i know you guys know that i had a brother, but you probably haven't heard me say that much about him. >> instead, he wound up on flight 103... >> dornstein: maybe you could show up in libya, and maybe it would be possible to get an answer for once. >> all these years later, the case is still open. >> dornstein: jesus, look at this room. >> to be frank, 99% of them are gone. >> you would get a lot of information out of mr... bollier? >> bollier. >> he's located in zurich. >> zurich. >> the truth has to come out about pan am 103.
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>> dornstein: i've often tried to imagine what really happened to flight 103 on the night of the bombing. the u.s. government wanted to know as well, so in the 1990s, they put a lockerbie-style bomb on board this wide body jet, then watched what happened. ♪ it took just one pound of semtex plastic explosive to reduce one of the world's most sophisticated passenger jets to
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hundreds of thousands of pieces. and somewhere in all of this, i can't help but imagine, were the 259 people onboard, like my brother. >> hello? yeah, friday maybe. i have a vcr. but i mean, if you wanna go see it, we can go see it. >> for years, i kept thinking i was seeing him on the street in new york. i just didn't believe he was dead. and i still sometimes think i'm going to see david. i have not, still to this day, completely accepted that the guy is gone. imagining him dead, because he was so very alive, is pretty impossible.
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>> dornstein: david and the other passengers on flight 103 fell six miles to the ground, landing in and around the town of lockerbie. >> in the ruins of their homes, they searched for the bodies of the aircraft's passengers. >> dornstein: many bodies had to be taken down from rooftops. some, like my brother, wouldn't be found for days. >> donna the border collie knows every inch and every boulder of the crash sites. she has detected human remains as deep as four-foot-six under the rubble. >> dornstein: meanwhile, as the search for victims continued, the police focused hard on finding evidence of who did it. >> the investigation has turned into a major military-style operation with troops, police, and volunteers scouring far more territory than anybody thought would be necessary only a day ago. >> people tend to forget that we actually investigated 845 square miles of that part of scotland. >> all day, hundreds of police and soldiers have been searching the hills outside the town. >> every single field,iver was
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searched, and nobody was allowed to walk across that field unless he was in a line. and as soon as they saw something, the whole line stopped. now, you can imagine how long that took. >> after months of searching through the debris, the lockerbie investigators had the breakthrough they'd been hoping for. they found a small fragment of the circuit board from the electronic timer that had triggered the explosion aboard pan am 103. >> that fragment was recovered by our lads up a tree 25 miles away from lockerbie. it was inside a shirt collar. it was an amazing piece of evidence that you should recover something as small as that. >> dornstein: the original investigation came down, in many ways, to this one small piece of physical evidence: that fragment of circuit board found outside lockerbie that was matched to the timer that blew up the bomb.
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it was said to have been made by a small company in switzerland run by a man named edwin bollier. but who was he? and how exactly was bollier related to the men i'd been tracking in libya with my friend suliman? >> it took a while before we met again. and when you bring me up to speed about this whole thing, there's a lot more that you've learned since we've last talked. >> dornstein: right. so remember we met with souad? >> yeah. >> dornstein: and she was coming to grips with the fact that her husband might have been involved in the bombing. and her brother yk said, "you know, the truth must come out." >> yeah. >> dornstein: but then he said at the end, he said, "you need to go to zurich, switzerland." he said, "there's a man there, and his name is bollier." so i decided to make contact with bollier. he was still in the same office in zurich. >> same place? >> dornstein: yeah, same place. same place where the timer had
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been made that they say had blown up flight 103. >> wow. >> dornstein: yeah. it had been just over a year since i first set off to libya in search of answers. but now i was convinced that a key piece of the story lay here in zurich, where investigators traced the custom-built timer that was so critical to the lockerbie plot. at some point, this timer was fit into the lockerbie bomb, so it would blow up, at least in theory, exactly when the terrorists desired. >> edwin bollier is said to have supplied the timer which set off the lockerbie explosion. >> dornstein: investigators first came here to question edwin bollier about his timers back in late 1990. they showed him a photograph of the fragment they'd found near lockerbie, and bollier identified it as a piece of a timer he'd sold to the libyan military a few years earlier. over the years, however, he's changed his story.
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he now maintains that the timer they say blew up flight 103 was not actually one of those he sold to libya. >> edwin bollier. >> dornstein: everything you know about bollier, how would you characterize his involvement? >> he was deeply involved with the libyans. very, very close. the libyans were operational in zurich, and were getting supplied with timing devices by mr. bollier. >> okay. >> and he never told the truth, and he used a lot of angles to sidestep it as well. >> the scottish officials were, in fact, considering him as someone who could be possibly charged. it's baffled me for some 20 years now, what he was really... what did he really know? >> if you came right down to it,
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you know, could we prove that he was in tripoli and they said, you know, "hey, edwin, we want to blow up an airplane and we want to fit this timer into this radio and make sure we don't blow ourselves up in the process of doing it. can you help us?" and we don't have a witness that could say that. >> dornstein: i told edwin bollier that my brother was on flight 103 and that i was searching for the truth. and after an initial meeting, bollier agreed to film with me. >> hello, how are you? >> dornstein: how are you? he'd told so many different versions of his story over the years, i wanted to know what he'd say face-to-face. people say, "you're going to speak with edwin bollier. yeah, he's not trustworthy, or he's hiding something. he was involved. he was helping the libyans." >> yes. >> dornstein: what's your response to them?
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>> i'll show you. >> dornstein: bollier insists that he's simply a contractor who sold electronics to the libyan military, but i wanted to walk through the story with him step by step. >> dornstein: we began with the fact that the libyan businessman, badri hassan, had rented office space from bollier the year before the bombing. badri's partner in the zurich office was abdel basset al megrahi, the man who would later be convicted for the lockerbie bombing. abdel basset al megrahi, what was he like as a person? what was his character? was he...
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>> dornstein: did you believe that he was involved in the bombing of flight 103? >> no, no, no, no. >> dornstein: bollier says badri and megrahi were rarely in the zurich office. but then, just a few weeks before the bombing, badri came to bollier with a rush order for timers. >> dornstein: the original order for these timers came three years earlier, bollier explained. >> dornstein: bollier hoped for a contract to make more than 1,000 of these timers, and he said he delivered 20 prototypes to the libyan military. >> dornstein: but the two men who originally ordered these timers, ezzedine hinshiri and said rashid, were not regular military officers. they were qaddafi inner-circle
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members and intelligence officials. and it was badri hassan, a civilian with ties to the inner circle, who would come to bollier about the timers just before lockerbie. bollier insists that he had no idea the reason behind badri's rush order. when badri ordered these timers, he wanted them right away. did he say why it was such a rush all of a sudden? because the original order was three years earlier. >> no. >> dornstein: so you're saying they put an order in 1985. it's supposed to be for 1,500. you never hear about it, you're always checking on it, "what about the order?" >> dornstein: then all of a sudden, three years later... >> curious, curious. >> dornstein: i guess what i wanted to know, because you've had a lot of business with the libyans, anything about the way they ordered these timers that made you think that they were using them for bombs?
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for terrorism? was there anything that seemed unusual? >> dornstein: bollier says he was out of stock of the mst-13 timers that the libyans had rush-ordered, so he delivered some knock-off timers, which they rejected. in the end, though, it didn't matter. the lockerbie judges concluded that one of the original timers supplied by bollier to the libyans years earlier had been used to blow up flight 103. >> clearly, he was making and developing timing devices for bombs. undoubtedly, bollier didn't care what they were used for as long as he could get the money. he didn't have any conscience whatsoever. >> he's tied to it by providing
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the timers. and i think, you know, the question is, tied to it in such a way that he would become criminally culpable in it? and there, i think you have to go on the assumption that that might be the case, and you're going to look for any evidence that that might be the case, but i don't think any real evidence that it was ever... that that was the case ever really turned up. >> the scots and the u.s. government had a difference of opinion about bollier. the scots, stuart henderson will tell you, "we looked at bollier 100% as a suspect." i considered him a possible suspect, but i thought he was probably... i could not envision someone in the west that's a businessman intentionally blowing up a plane. now, accidentally giving the things to the libyans or whomever at that time to do this, that's possible.
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but i could not envision somebody from the west being in cahoots with the libyans or anybody else to blow up a plane. i found that hard to believe. >> dornstein: at the time the fbi first encountered edwin bollier, they didn't fully understand his long relationship with the libyans. it all began in the mid-1970s, when bollier said he started supplying the libyans with broadcasting equipment, police radios, fax machines. but by the early 1980s, the cia began to suspect that he was supplying the libyans with much more. the details come from this once-classified cia technical report. it explains that in 1984, four years before lockerbie, the cia uncovered briefcase bombs in the hands of libyan operatives in north africa. semtex explosive inside the suitcase was detonated with a custom-made firing device using motorola pagers. and these pagers were
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ultimately traced back to mebo and edwin bollier. there's a whole cia report on these devices. >> mm-hmm. >> dornstein: they find a briefcase, and semtex. >> mm-hmm. >> dornstein: and so they're analyzing this whole thing. >> this was in '84. >> dornstein: right, i mean, if you had known this guy seems to be supplying the libyans with devices to do bad things, would that have colored your dealings with him at all? >> yeah, it would have certainly given me a little bit different look at who this guy is and what he might be up to. >> dornstein: well, actually, so this report makes clear that the cia, i think, through the swiss police, told him "knock it off" about the pagers back in 1984. >> yeah, it says that he was contacted by the swiss police about those pagers. >> dornstein: so he does seem to have an awareness at some point that the stuff he's making is being used for terrorism. >> oh, yeah, i think anybody who deals with the libyans in electronic weapons and things knows that they're probably
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being used at some point in time, in some way, for terrorism. >> dornstein: right. >> but did he give them these timers and other equipment with the intent to blow up airplanes? proving that is pretty damn hard to do. >> dornstein: so just what did edwin bollier know about the timing devices he was supplying to the qaddafi regime? not long after bollier first delivered these timers to the libyans, police seized one of them among a cache of weapons in the west african nation of togo. then, just ten months before lockerbie, the cia learned about another of bollier's timers. it was found in the hands of libyan operatives attempting to bomb targets in senegal. the cia had written detailed reports on the togo and senegal timers, linking them both back to edwin bollier. but all of this took on new significance in june of 1990, when lockerbie investigators came to them with the circuit board fragment they'd found
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at the crash site. >> the cia produces photographs of what we call the senegal timer after two libyan intelligence operatives traveling with pistols with silencers, semtex, blasting caps, and this timer were arrested by the senegalese government. and it was sort of like, if we can establish that mebo made the senegal device, they probably made the togo timer as well. so they take the thing apart, and on one of the circuit boards within the timer, they find something that's scratched out that was determined to say m-e-b-o. >> dornstein: i mean, did you used to write "mebo" on the circuit boards? >> yes, all the pc boards have mebo, mebo. >> dornstein: huh. >> why this is scratched here, i don't know. >> dornstein: well, they say... >> but you can read "mebo,"
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it's clear. >> dornstein: right. but i guess what they would say is that if the libyans were using your timers for terrorism, they wanted to scratch it out so no one would figure it out. >> i don't know, but, uh, that they scratched this. this is curious. >> dornstein: i mean, just your relationship with libya. you know, you gave them radio equipment, and you had a long relationship with them, and then suddenly, you find that your timers are showing up in the hands of, you know, libyan agents in togo or senegal, and they're using your timer for terrorist purposes. i mean, how did you feel about that? >> the feeling was not good. and so it's clear that we stop everything immediately with such things, with timers and commando cases. we have stopped everything. but i told also... >> dornstein: it wasn't clear to
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me when bollier says he stopped supplying electronics to libya, or why. and he still maintains that he was only made aware of the togo and senegal operations much later. but at the lockerbie trial, it emerged that bollier was actually in tripoli during the week before the senegal operation. when asked about the purpose of this visit and whether it had anything to do with his timers, bollier replied that he couldn't remember. bollier did remember another trip to libya that year. he told the fbi that he was in tripoli that december, just before what turned out to e a major operation: lockerbie. he said he ended up at abdel basset al megrahi's office just two nights before the bombing. it was here, he said, that he witnessed a meeting. >> i'll show you. >> dornstein: bollier still recalled that night, and even drew me the layout of megrahi's office. >> here, i think, was the room of abdel basset with doors,
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and they have the meeting here. >> dornstein: but what was this meeting at the office of the man later convicted for the bombing? this scene here that you just sketched, with the meeting and waiting for megrahi on that evening so close to lockerbie... >> all this, yeah. >> dornstein: the prosecution at the trial, they made this sound like the libyans were planning lockerbie in this room here right across from you that night. >> they say this, yes. >> dornstein: do you think that's what was going on in there? >> no, no. >> dornstein: the only problem with bollier's current denial is that it once again contradicts what he said years ago, when he initially spoke with investigators. at that time, he made clear that this meeting before lockerbie involved "thugs" and some high-ranking qaddafi officials. and when asked about the purpose of the meeting, bollier told the fbi that "this meeting could have been part of the preparations for the bombing of
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flight 103." to try to sort out the truth from lie with edwin bollier, how do you approach that? >> with a large bottle of aspirin. um, you cannot reconcile all of his statements. he was telling the truth initially, but he's lying now. i don't know what goes on in his mind. i mean, part of me says, at a minimum, he recognized that he facilitated this unspeakable act, if by no other means than supplying this timer. post-bombing, you wonder whether he says to himself, "my god, i am at least morally responsible for this horrible crime." but then, i think bollier's self-preservation thing kicks in, and he can't accept that responsibility. >> dornstein: over and over,
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i would ask former lockerbie officials about bollier. he was a suspicious character for sure, they'd say, but there was no proof he knew the true purpose of his timers, and no witnesses against him. inevitably, the discussion would land at one more unusual piece of the bollier story: a letter that bollier secretly passed to the cia just a few weeks after the bombing. in the letter, bollier pretended to be a libyan with information about lockerbie. this was unusual for many reasons, not least because almost no one close to the investigation suspected libya for the bombing at the time bollier typed this. >> in january of 1989, some unknown businessman from europe came to the u.s. embassy in vienna, and he left a letter for the ambassador. in the letter, he blames libyan officials for carrying out this attack. big shock to us.
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he told us something we didn't know. six billion people in the world, and all of a sudden, he's identifying himself as the guy that says, "i think the libyans did this," way back in 1989. >> dornstein: the fbi had actually ignored the letter for a year and a half. then, once the timer fragment led them to mebo, it was bollier himself who told them that he'd written it. >> when he started telling me all this, i was stunned. i mean, this is totally out of the blue. >> the hair on the back of my head was starting to curl up, and i started to get cold chills thinking, "is bollier confessing to being involved in the lockerbie bombing?" >> dornstein: bollier wasn't confessing at all, and he now claims he was forced to write the letter by a mystery man from a foreign intelligence service. but back in 1990, he told the swiss police that he wrote the letter to try to put investigators, who were then focused on iran, onto the track of the libyans. and he continued this focus
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on the libyans when he was interviewed for a week at fbi headquarters. >> i think bollier was in fact convinced that it was the libyans who were involved in pan am 103, and that he was trying to get everybody focused on that. >> dornstein: the fbi began grooming bollier to be a witness against the libyans, and bollier was looking to make a deal. >> he also indicated his desire to establish some kind of a business relationship with the fbi. if he could sell the fbi electronic equipment, fine. if he could work for the fbi as an undercover agent with his libyan pals, fine, he'd do that. and i think if the libyans made him an offer to work undercover for them against the americans and the brits, fine, he'd do that as well. the point being, i think he was interested in making money for himself is what it was. and so i think he came back from the fbi disappointed, and it was really shortly thereafter that he started changing sides.
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>> edwin bollier, mebo's owner, was a slippery and unconvincing witness. >> dornstein: by the time bollier testified at the trial of the libyans, he attempted to discredit much of the prosecution case. he claimed the timer fragment he'd admitted was his back in 1990, the key piece of physical evidence linking the bomb to libya, was essentially a fake, planted by unnamed conspirators to frame him and the libyans for the bombing. and bollier's been trying to prove that he's been the victim of a fraud ever since. so you're saying it wasn't libya and it wasn't abdel basset al megrahi and it wasn't your timer? >> yes. >> dornstein: and we don't know who fabricated the evidence against libya and you? >> yes, yes. >> dornstein: we know nothing. >> yeah, true. when you see from this side, we know nothing.
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>> dornstein: unfortunately for bollier, a special scottish commission reviewed most of his claims about the timer fragment and found them completely unsupported by evidence. and his idea of an international conspiracy to link him to flight 103? the commission strongly suggested that this was pure fantasy. so what to do next? how long would i keep up the chase? at some point, i took a detour on my way home and found myself returning to the place where it all started for me so many years ago: lockerbie. >> it's out here, 18 miles east of lockerbie, where a pattern of wreckage may well be emerging.
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sections of the cargo bays in one area, suitcases, backpacks, and personal belongings in another. >> the fuselage lay amongst the town's ruins. the cockpit was three miles away, severed from the rest of the plane, nose down in the soft earth. >> dornstein: in my imagination, it's always just after 7:00pm in lockerbie. it's always december 21, 1988, and a pan am 747 bound for new york is always just about to explode overhead. is this sherwood crescent? it is, it's sherwood crescent. this is where the wings fell. >> scotland's chief law officer today went to the site of a huge crater caused when the jet plowed into the sherwood area of the town. it is being excavated by troops and firemen. the smell of aviation fuel still hangs over the scene.
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>> up ahead is a helicopter, which is lighting the scene for the rescue workers. i can see the people. there are dozens of people wandering around, trying to come to terms with what has happened. >> dornstein: the cockpit landed just in this field over here. and the lights on the panel, the instrument panel, were still sort of lit, and somebody had to go up and actually see if any of the crew had survived. >> when you called me, my first take was, "why is ken still doing this?" as a brother, you love him,
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but you don't owe him anything, you know. and i don't think you'll find necessarily peace in yourself by looking into it. but of course, you're not going to forget. >> dornstein: i just want one person to tell me that the story is true and i'll let it drop. i don't need the whole picture, i just want one guy, and then i feel like i'd be done. >> i mean, this is your family legacy. this was your inheritance. you were given this story, and you're a storyteller, so maybe you have to tell the story. >> i mean, you're not going to bring david dornstein back. in some perverse way, i'm glad that you're tracking down the last of the terrorists and finding justice for your brother and my friend. i think that david would have
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enjoyed the chase and enjoyed the idea that you were going to sit down with his killers. >> dornstein: that, of course, was the plan: to track down the remaining suspects. and for two years, i'd been trying to carry it out. but for all my efforts, there was still just one person ever convicted for lockerbie, abdel basset al megrahi, and he continued to protest his innocence now that he was back home in libya. i decided to return to tripoli to see if i could talk to megrahi myself now that there was a new government in place. my old friend and translator suliman had offered to help me track him down. it turned out we weren't the only ones trying to find him. >> a lot of late news out of libya tonight. among the new developments, cnn's nic robertson managed to locate the pan am 103 bomber.
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here is his report. >> abdel basset al megrahi was released from a scottish jail two years ago. he came home to a hero's welcome, freed on compassionate grounds because doctors said he'd be dead in three months. the convicted pan am 103 bomber lives. we found abdel basset al megrahi's villa in an upmarket part of town, at least six security cameras and floodlights outside. >> dornstein: i don't see the guys, the neighborhood watch guys. >> this is megrahi's house. this is where he's been living for the last couple of years. we're going to knock on the door and see if we can get any answer. (knocking) hello? for 15 minutes or so, nothing. >> i remember a reporter from cnn found megrahi. >> not sure they've heard me, so let's try the last-ditch means, which is just... >> he tried to jump over the wall of megrahi's house. >> hello? hello?
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>> we tried so many times to go to the place, and we just knock on the door. >> dornstein: you're gonna park right in front? >> just normal, just be yourself. >> the very first time, nobody answered. we spent like an hour there. every time we'd go, we'd discuss how we can approach them and how to explain a foreigner, let alone a foreigner who wants to film with megrahi. at that point, we all thought that megrahi was brought back to libya under bogus sick leave or something. he was supposed to die two years before, but he didn't. and we then realized that the guy was actually dying. >> in the two decades since the bomb exploded onboard pan am 103, it seemed the secrets of the attack would die with the bombers.
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convicted pan am 103 bomber abdel basset al megrahi appears to be just a shell of the man he was. do you know how long he has left? >> whatever secrets he has may soon be gone. >> dornstein: time was running out to meet megrahi. but then i got a break. right here, right here. i met up with dr. jim swire, a lockerbie relative who i'd known for years. it turned out he'd also made the trip to libya in search of answers, and he too was here to try to meet with megrahi before he died. unlike me, dr. swire had been to libya many times before. when was your first trip to tripoli? >> about two weeks after they issued the indictments against the two libyans. >> dornstein: back in 1991, dr. swire came here to meet face to
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face with the libyan leader, moammar qaddafi. over the years, swire worked hard to persuade qaddafi to turn over the suspects, so the evidence could finally be heard in a proper court. >> abdel basset ali al megrahi was convicted of 270 counts of murder. >> dornstein: but during the course of the resulting trial, swire says he became troubled by key elements of the prosecution case. the judges had found weaknesses in the identification of megrahi as the man who bought the clothes wrapped around the bomb. and swire believed the prosecution had failed to prove the route that the bomb bag had taken to get onto flight 103. and then there were deep questions that swire and others would raise about the legitimacy of the key piece of physical evidence in the case, which they suspect was in some way not genuine. all of this, in the end, convinced swire that megrahi was innocent. he began to meet with the convicted bomber in prison, then started a public campaign
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for his release. >> i'm well aware that what we're doing is disturbing to those who think they've found closure through the conviction of the libyan, megrahi. but i think it would be inhumane, indeed downright cruel, to keep the man in prison to die. please understand that i think what i'm doing is to seek the truth, and i also think that if you would look with an open mind for yourself, you would find there is a great deal of truth there that you haven't yet looked at. >> dornstein: we were, perhaps, a strange team. dr. swire wanted a chance to say farewell to a man he now considered a friend. and i wanted to meet a man i believed had helped murder his daughter, and my brother.
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>> dornstein: suliman helped us make contact with megrahi's family. >> it cut off. but he said to call back tomorrow at 12:30, 1:00. and he was like, "dr. swire alone should come, if it happens at all." >> if it happens at all? >> i'm quoting him when i say if it happens at all. >> it's, you know, he emphasized the fact that he's now really sick, you know, he can't really even see family and friends. >> dornstein: the plan was to show up at megrahi's house with dr. swire. i was unlikely to get in, but if i did get my moment alone
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with megrahi, it was the kind of thing i felt i needed to capture. this buttonhole camera goes right through the button. camera's right in the hole there. all of these buttons have been made to look the same. the problem is getting it to film straight, so we're going to just test this here. >> okay. it looks like it's pointing at me. i mean, i can look... >> dornstein: hey, that's not bad. look at that. good to meet you. >> nice to meet you. >> dornstein: thank you for being with us. now tell me all of your secrets. suliman tried to discourage me from secret filming in libya, and dr. swire didn't know at all about my hidden camera. >> oh, hello, this is jim swire. oh, khaled, hello. oh, bless you, thank you. >> dornstein: but i felt the situation was just unusual enough to justify it. >> oh, khaled, hi.
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this is my friend ken. >> nice to meet you. >> dornstein: megrahi's son khaled came to greet us. >> how's basset today? >> that would be great. >> the family was very sensitized by then to the media. and the reason they let me in, i mean, they knew that megrahi actually wanted to see me. >> only me, okay. >> but i couldn't get you past the entrance hall of the house. i was taken straight in to the room where basset was lying in bed, and he was really drifting in and out of consciousness,
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but he smiled when he saw me come in and sort of held out a feeble hand to welcome me, as it were. and there were tears on both sides, actually. we both knew it was our last meeting. >> dornstein: okay if i stand? i'll just stand. so you had gone in and had your meeting, and i was thinking, "what am i going to do?" >> dornstein: and i was shown by the 11-year-old to the bathroom, knowing that to the left was megrahi's room. so i was ushered into the bathroom. uh, what do i do? >> what did you do? >> dornstein: and i'm washing my hands and i'm thinking, "am i going to make a scene?" the only person outside the door is his young son. am i going to push past him and go into the room and say, "did you murder my brother? tell me what you know before
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you die." and i thought, "what's really going to come of that meeting?" i had come in as your guest and as their guest. he was dying, and he had made his position clear. and for a bunch of different reasons, i walked out. >> thanks very much. >> okay, thank you very much. >> dornstein: i never spoke directly to megrahi. but i did listen to his final messages to the world.
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>> some breaking news. the only person convicted in the 1988 lockerbie bombing has reportedly died. >> megrahi always said that he would prove his innocence before he died, was never able to do it. it always appeared that it was unlikely that one person could have been behind such a complex operation and that other elements of the libyan regime... >> dornstein: my idea had been to talk face-to-face with just one of the men involved in my brother's bombing, but after several trips to libya, i'd come up short. dr. swire might suggest that ths was significant: there's no one to talk to, perhaps, because it wasn't primarily the libyans who did it. but i wasn't prepared to accept this. i kept coming back to this video i'd gotten out of libyan state tv. i was convinced it confirmed key parts of the story of lockerbie, if only i could fully understand it. first up the stairs was the man
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in the striped shirt, said rashid, one of the men who originally ordered the timers from edwin bollier. and there to pick him up at the airport was abdullah senussi, the libyan spy chief who was once convicted of the bombing of a french passenger plane and who was always suspected of a key planning role in lockerbie. and then there was the man in the back seat, a mystery libyan official. he must have been important to have been in the car at that moment, but who was he? i couldn't help but suspect that he might be the big remaining question mark on my list, an elusive figure whom investigators never fully explained. you mentioned this mysterious figure. i don't know how his name came into it. >> abu agela mas'ud? >> dornstein: yeah. >> mas'ud's name came from the cia, and i think the information that we got, that he was a technical guy. maybe he's the guy that hooked up the bomb. but he's one of those guys that
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we could never identify. when the scots went to libya in 1999, they asked about mas'ud and they said, 'we don't know who he is. can't identify him. no idea who this guy is." >> dornstein: the name of abu agela mas'ud first surfaced during the investigation. it came from a low-level libyan intelligence agent who secretly provided information to the cia. in the days and weeks before lockerbie, the witness observed abdel basset al megrahi traveling to the island of malta, where the lockerbie bomb was said to have originated. and traveling with him was the mystery man, abu agela mas'ud. the cia suspected megrahi and abu agela of being on some type of technical intelligence operation very close to the time of lockerbie, but that's all they seemed to know. >> we had no information that megrahi was in any way a technical explosives kind of guy. i mean, we could infer, "gee, maybe that could have
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been this abu agela guy." but we really had no evidence to link him to the bomb. >> dornstein: abu agela had slipped through the investigato. and so did one last man on my l, who i suspected of playing a key planning role in the plot: nassr ashur. >> ...the identification of nassr ashur as the key figure in a series of arms-smuggling operations. >> dornstein: ashur was qaddafi's right-hand man when it came to supplying semtex plastic explosive to irish republican army terrorists in the years before lockerbie. >> ...carried 150 tons of weapons for the ira, including two tons of semtex. >> dornstein: in my years of work on this story, i only talked to one person who said he knew colonel ashur and had actually worked with him, testing bombs in the libyan desert.
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>> dornstein: oh, right, this was that thing, the tests in the desert. did anyone ever figure out when those tests were? >> dornstein: lockerbie was in '88, so it's the year before. >> it was before. >> dornstein: so tell me about that. >> i was working in libya in broadcasting. we make news studios. and somebody came from the military, "please, can you come for two days in the desert? we make tests for something." and so they bring me. this nassr came. they bring me to this desert. >> dornstein: bollier denies that these tests in the desert were related to lockerbie, but the tests did involve his
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timers and dropping bombs from airplanes. and at the trial, when bollier was asked who exactly joined him for these tests in the desert, he said a few libyan colonels were present, including colonel nassr ashur, the explosives supplier. bollier said a "dark skinned man" was at the tests as well. he knew him only as "colonel ibrahim," but i still wondered if he was talking about the elusive bomb technician on my list. >> i remember there was a black colonel also when we make the tests in the desert. >> dornstein: very dark skin? >> oh, he have dark skin. and a small man, a small one. i don't know exactly. >> dornstein: right, but what's interesting is that the dark-skinned man seemed to have been the technical advisor traveling with megrahi. >> the name, what's the name? >> dornstein: mas'ud abu agela. >> mas'ud abu agela.
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no, i don't know this man. i have heard this name possible sometimes here. >> dornstein: oh, you have heard the name mas'ud abu agela? >> possible i have heard the name, but... >> dornstein: i couldn't be sure whether bollier actually knew abu agela, but he did mention a dark-skinned man at several key points in the story. all right, so here's the, uh... this is about the tests you're talking about. >> yes. >> dornstein: "at the military base near sebha, bollier attended a meeting where a discussion centered on problems the libyans were having with detonating bombs." >> yeah, these experiments in the desert was two big container bombs via airplane. and i have written that on the package was semtex. >> dornstein: okay, can you see why it's suspicious if you were at a test in the desert the year before lockerbie, where they were using a timer and detonating a bomb and there
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were members of the libyan military? there was this man, colonel nassr, who turned out to be the man who was helping supply semtex to the ira, you know, the irish republican army terrorists. >> possible i have heard this. >> dornstein: so he's there, and this dark-skinned man, he's there. and then you're there, you know? this is why it looks suspicious, like you are helping the libyans make the bomb that blew up flight 103. >> no, no, nothing, no, no, no. no, i have nothing to do with pan am or something. >> dornstein: they never came to you and said, "you're good with electronics, can you help us?" >> no, no, no, no. >> dornstein: "can you help us with various devices?" >> no, no, no. we make for the military service, the military procurement. >> dornstein: i had many more questions for edwin bollier,
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but i think he'd long ago run out of meaningful answers. >> this thing is curious for me. i don't know. yes, this was, uh... >> i can tell you from my own experience that he believes his own story at this point. you could torture him and he would still tell the same story. >> dornstein: you wanted bollier? >> yeah. to be honest, i wasn't satisfied. i wanted so desperately to get bollier and so desperately to get the libyans. >> dornstein: if there's one of them left to get, that's who i'm looking for.
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talking to bollier was frustrat, but it did make me feel like i was getting closer to the tru. he was linked with almost every man on my list, but i just couldn't connect the dots. now i was back to work on the others. the men i was looking for could be anywhere at this point, and i couldn't keep up the chase forever. then, two years into my search, i finally found someone who could help me. he was a libyan operative who'd helped carry out another attack against the united states a few years before lockerbie. in the mid-1990s, this man had talked to german investigators about what he'd done, and his confession in that case would help me finally unravel a key mystery of lockerbie. you said he provided some new information? >> yes, right. the witness described in what way and by whom the bomb was prepared.
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because, of course, you don't bring a bomb as a bomb. you have to put it together. >> dornstein: so he said there was a bomb expert? >> a libyan bomb expert, yes. he mentioned it was a very dark-skinned person. >> dornstein: do you remember the name of that person? >> he always said, referred to him as abu agela. >> dornstein: so the hunt is on for abu agela? >> if he's still alive. >> next time on "my brother's bomber." >> inside libya, there's no way you're gonna figure this lockerbie thing out. >> from libya... >> if there's somebody alive today that was involved in this and there's knowledge of that, we should be going after them. >> berlin. >> a bomb went off in the la belle disco. >> would that surprise you, that the bomb expert in la belle is also involved in lockerbie? >> filmmaker ken dornstein closes in on a known bomb maker he suspects was involved in the
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death of his brother. >> go to for more about the search for answers in the bombing of pan am flight 103. >> lockerbie's still an open case that somebody has assigned to him. >> explore an interactive guie to filmmaker ken dornstein's investigation into the attack. >> we got part of the conspiracy, but only a small part. >> connect to thfrontline community on facebook and twitter. visit us on youtube for even more original frontline reporting. and if stories like this matter to you, then sign up for our newsletter at >> frontlinis made possible by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. and by the corporation for public broadcasting. major support for frontliis provided by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation, committed to building a more just, verdant
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and peaceful world. more information is available at additional support is provided by the park foundation, dedicated to heightening public awareness of critical issues. the john and helen glessner family trust, supporting trustworthy journalism that informs and inspires. the ford foundation, working with visionaries on the front lines of social change worldwide. at the wyncote foundation. and by the frontline journalism fund, with major support from jon and jo ann hagler. corporate funding for frontline is provided by brigham and women's hospital. captioned by media access group at wgbh >> for more on this and other frontline programs, visit our website at
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frontline's "my brother's bomber" is available on dvd. to order, visit or call 1-800-play-pbs. frontline is also available for download on itunes.
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tukufu: we're the history detectives and we're going to investigate some untold stories from america's past. elyse: this week, could this rusting wreck be the lost remains of the ss portland, the ship that started the klondike gold rush? wes: did this civil war saddle carry confederate cavalry commander john hunt morgan on an epic raid deep into union territory? gwen: and was this striking old banner carried at the head of a 1966 civil rights march that changed the face of u.s. labor history? ♪ watchin' the detectives


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