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Abu Nidal behind Lockerbie, says aide

August 23, 2002 Posted: 8:54 AM EDT (1254 GMT)
 

CAIRO, Egypt -- A former close aide to Abu Nidal has alleged the fugitive Palestinian terrorist was behind the 1988 Lockerbie bombing.

In a series of interviews published in the Arabic Al Hayat newspaper, Atef Abu Bakr said Abu Nidal told a meeting his radical Fatah-Revolutionary Council was behind the explosion on Pan Am fight 103.

The claims come days after Abu Nidal was found dead in a hotel room in Iraq.

Abu Bakr is a former spokesman for the group and one of Abu Nidal's closest aides between 1985 and 1989 when he split with him over leadership of the organisation. Abu Bakr's whereabouts were not known.

"Abu Nidal told a... meeting of the Revolutionary Council leadership: I have very important and serious things to say. The reports that attribute Lockerbie to others are lies. We are behind it," Abu Bakr was quoted as saying in the interview to be published in the paper's Friday edition.

Abu Bakr did not say when the alleged meeting took place. The gathering was attended by five members of the council, including Abu Bakr and Abu Nidal.

 

'"If any one of you lets this out, I will kill him even if he was in his wife's arms,"' Abu Bakr quoting Abu Nidal as saying.

Ghassan Sharbal, al-Hayat's assistant editor who conducted the interview, said he spoke to Abu Bakr before Abu Nidal's death was announced this week. He refused to provide other details.

In March, a Scottish appeals court upheld the murder conviction of former Libyan intelligence agent Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi for multiple murder.

Al-Megrahi was jailed for life, with a minimum term of 20 years. A second Libyan, Lamen Khalifa Fhimah, was acquitted.

The Libyan was convicted of murdering the 270 people killed when the New York-bound Pan Am flight exploded over the Scottish town of Lockerbie on December 21, 1988.

Relatives of the Lockerbie victims renewed their calls for an independent inquiry into attack in light of Abu Bakr's remarks.

Jim Swire, a spokesman for families of British victims, said Nidal's possible involvement was "one more of the many questions which we feel absolutely demand an independent inquiry into Lockerbie."

British Labour MP Tam Dalyell is also calling for an inquiry into the possibility of a Nidal link to the Lockerbie bombing.

Dalyell, who has long argued that the Libyans were not responsible for the attack, said: "I understand that close associates of Nidal are now saying that he, and he alone, was responsible for Lockerbie.

"If these allegations are true they blow everything relating to Lockerbie out of the water, including the trial in Holland."

Earlier this week Iraqi secret services chief Taher Jalil Habbush told reporters that Nidal shot himself in the mouth as he was about to be arrested by Iraqi authorities for communicating with a foreign country.

Habbush said Nidal pulled out a revolver and shot himself after saying he wanted to change his clothes when Iraqi agents came to his Baghdad apartment to take him away.

Copyright 2002 CNN. All rights reserved.

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