Reading through Richard Dawkins’ “The God Delusion”, and accepting his definitions, confirms that I am a Deist rather than a Theist, Atheist or Agnostic. Except I have days when I go agnostic. I will blog about Dawkins another day.
I mention God because I have no way to prove what I am going to tell you now. I would swear any oath to its truth, but that might not convince you. Actually, I have nothing much left to me now but my reputation for honesty, and nothing to gain by sticking my neck into this one.
From late 1989 to 1992 I was the Head of the Maritime Section of the FCO and No 2 in the Aviation and Maritime Department (for those into FCO arcana, the Maritime Section was headed by a Grade 5 First Secretary and the Aviation Section by a Grade 6 First Secretary). This was the period of the invasion of Kuwait and first Gulf War, in which the Maritime Section, including me, mostly got picked up and deposited in an underground bunker as the FCO part of the Embargo Surveillance Centre. We did intelligence analysis on Iraqi attempts at weapons procurement and organised interdiction worldwide.
In this period I mostly lived in my underground bunker, quite literally, and didn’t get back to the FCO much to keep an eye on the rest of my section. On one occasion when I did, I was told something remarkable by a colleague in Aviation section.
At this time we suddenly switched from blaming Iran and Syria for the Lockerbie bombing to blaming Libya. This was part of a diplomatic drive to isolate Iraq from its neighbours in the run-up to the invasion. Aviation section were seeing all the intelligence on Lockerbie, for obvious reasons. A colleague there told me, in a deeply worried way, that he/she had the most extraordinary intelligence report which showed conclusively that it was really Syria, not Libya, that bombed the Pan Am jet, and that the switch was pure expediency.
I asked if I could see the report, and my colleague declined, saying this was too sensitive and dangerous; the report was marked for named eyes only. That in itself was extremely unusual – normally we would pass intelligence reports freely to each other, signing the register for them.
That is all I know. I never saw the report myself, and I do not know what it said, or why it was so conclusive. I am sorry to say it was such an incredibly busy time, we never discussed it again. I do not know, for instance, whether the intelligence contained an actual admission the charge aganst Libya was fake, or merely evidence that proved Syria did it (a communications intercept, for example). I suspect it will never be made public.
But the knowledge has remained with me ever since, and I was extremely sorry at the conviction of al-Magrahi. I do hope his appeal is successful. I am particularly impressed at the upright stand of Dr Swire and other victims’ representatives on this issue.