A Mossad Spook was Lockerbie Investigator

Juval Aviv is a dual US-Israeli citizen.

He says he was an agent for Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service, from 1968 to 1978, before opening his private New York firm, Interfor.

Aviv has worked as a consultant on terrorism and other security issues for large corporations and several US government agencies, including the IRS, the FDIC and the FBI.

“I was a consultant to the FBI for over ten years on anti-terrorism matters,” Aviv says. “Once I…pointed the finger at the government, I became persona non grata, my arrangements with the FBI were canceled. I just became a government enemy.”

Aviv’s controversial role in the Lockerbie case began in 1989.

Relatives of those killed on Pan Am 103 sued the airline for negligence in allowing the bomb onto the plane.

Pan Am and its insurance company hired Aviv to investigate who bombed Flight 103 and how the bombers got their lethal baggage past security.

Aviv says he tapped sources in the intelligence services of several countries and in terrorist groups themselves.

“I really got the information from the horse’s mouth, from people who were involved directly and indirectly in the information,” Aviv claims.

His 27-page report for Pan Am makes remarkable claims.

In 1987, Aviv writes, US agents discovered and began monitoring a heroin-smuggling route from the Middle East to the United States, via Frankfurt, run by a Syrian drug- and arms-dealer named Monzer al-Kassar. Al-Kassar had ties to Hizbollah terrorists who held Western hostages in Beirut.


US agents agreed to let al-Kassar’s heroin operation run – through Frankfurt and London’s Heathrow airports – in return for al-Kassar’s promise to help free hostages.

Aviv claims Khalid Jaafar, a young Lebanese-American killed on Pan Am 103, was a regular courier for al-Kassar’s operation.

Ahmed Jibril of the Syria-based PFLP-GC knew of al-Kassar’s successful drug route when he began plotting with his sponsors in Iran to avenge the Vincennes shoot-down, the report asserts.

It says Jibril, after considering other US carriers, ultimately decided to blow up Pan Am 103 by, in effect, horning in on al-Kassar’s government-controlled smuggling operation.

The PFLP-GC used Turkish members of extremist groups who worked as baggage handlers at the Frankfurt airport to replace Jaafar’s heroin bag with a bomb-laden suitcase, according to Aviv’s scenario.

In response to Aviv’s report, and investigative news stories based on them, government officials launched an attack on Aviv that went well beyond simple denials.

In letters to newspaper editors and on network TV, diplomatic and intelligence officials called Aviv a “fabricator” who had lied about his entire background.

Asked recently to back up that characterization, Hurley, formerly of the DEA, faxed us a letter dated May, 1990.

The letter, signed by Yigal Carmon, “Israeli Prime Minister’s Advisor for Countering Terrorism,” says Juval Aviv never worked for Israeli intelligence and was fired from a low-level job with El-Al airlines for “dishonesty.”

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The letter is on plain white paper, not Israeli government letterhead.

We faxed it to the Israeli Embassy in Washington DC. A spokeswoman said the letter did not have the look of a letter sent from the Office of the Prime Minister.

When reached at an office in Tel Aviv, Yigal Carmon said he “did not know of anyone called Juval Aviv” and refused to discuss the contents of any letter with us.

A spokesperson for El-Al Airlines in Tel Aviv said he was unaware of any such incident of “dishonesty” by Juval Aviv, or of any firing of Aviv.

Aviv, for his part, produces several documents that he’s entered into court refuting the accusation that he lied about his background.

The documents include an FBI memo about Aviv from 1982, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, and a contract between Aviv and the US Justice Department, dated 1984.

Both refer to Aviv’s past association with Israeli intelligence.

As late as 1993, an FBI agent wrote to Aviv asking for assistance in a tax-recovery investigation, even as other government officials were publicly calling Aviv a fabricator.

In public attacks against Aviv in the mid-1990’s, government officials also pointed out that he’d been arrested for alleged mail and wire fraud.

The fraud charge was filed in 1994 after an investigation by the FBI.

The charge: that Aviv had defrauded a corporate client, General Electric Capital, in a small contract a few years earlier – that he’d claimed to interview people on a fact-finding trip in the Caribbean whom he’d never really interviewed.

But at the trial in 1995 in the Southern District of New York, Aviv produced records showing that he had in fact conducted all the interviews for which he’d billed GE.

The jury deliberated for just 90 minutes before acquitting Aviv.

After the verdict, the presiding district judge, Louis Stanton, wondered aloud in the courtroom why the FBI had gone out of its way to prosecute Aviv given that the alleged victim, GE Capital, had filed no complaint.

In fact, GE representatives testified that they’d been entirely satisfied with Aviv’s work.

Stanton also pointed out that the fraud charges resulted from an investigation by two agents who were working on aspects of the Lockerbie case.

The judge said those circumstances led him to infer that the fraud charge against Aviv “was generated from some other source, and the only source in the record so far for which any such purpose could be ascribed is the report in the other case, in the Lockerbie case.”

Clearly, none of the government’s behavior toward Aviv proves that Aviv’s claims about the Lockerbie bombing are true.

Aviv insists that from the start he’s been willing to listen to proof that his report is all wrong. But Scottish police investigating Lockerbie have never interviewed him or asked him for his sources.

“I was never told directly that [my report] was wrong,” Aviv says. “I was always attacked as the messenger, as somebody who was a fabricator, a lunatic, whatever.”


Surprisingly, the Israel lobby’s principal American think tank, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, predicts “a fundamental reorientation of Libya’s foreign policy” in a study it released Aug. 16.

It complains, however, that Qaddafi’s “antagonism toward Israel” has not “ameliorated.” This means that Israel’s backers in the U.S. media will continue an unrelenting campaign to keep alive the memory of his transgressions, real or imagined.

There is a sinister aspect to this campaign of which Americans should be aware in making judgments about where U.S.-Libyan relations should go from here.

That is the fact that the current U.S.-Libyan problems were deliberately instigated by Israeli actions.

Unfortunately, and this is the sinister part of it, the U.S. media observe a nearly total taboo in discussing this Israeli role, although the facts are indisputable.

For example who, besides the Libyans themselves, remembers that the first victims in the brutal and seemingly endless tit-for-tat acts of retaliation involving Libya and, later, the U.S. were the 111 passengers and crewmembers killed in the crash of a Libyan commercial airliner downed on Feb. 23, 1973 by Israeli guns as it descended, slightly off course during a dust storm, over Israeli-occupied Egyptian Sinai for a routine landing at Cairo International Airport?

The Israelis called it a case of mistaken identity. It is not clear whether U.S. journalists ever asked why the Israeli soldiers along the Suez Canal were firing ground-to-air missiles at a civilian airliner at all, regardless of its identity.

Nor why the U.S. media obstinately refuse to recognize the role of this early outrage, only four years after Qaddafi came to power, and Western indifference toward it, in the shaping of his mindset about the West in general, and the U.S. in particular.

Whether the Israeli killing of such a large number of Libyan and Egyptian civilians was or was not accidental, the next documented Israeli intervention was a deliberate and successful attempt to instigate hostilities between Libya and the United States in February 1986.

It led directly to the April 1986 U.S. bombing of Libya’s two major cities, Tripoli and Benghazi, in which there were some 40 Libyan casualties, including the death of Qaddafi’s infant adopted daughter.

(She had been orphaned when her father, a former Syrian air attaché in Libya, was killed in aerial combat with Israel.) If, indeed, the two accused Libyans were responsible for the Lockerbie bombing, it clearly was direct retaliation for the U.S. attack.

The manner in which Israel’s Mossad tricked the U.S. into attacking Libya was described in detail by former Mossad case worker Victor Ostrovsky in The Other Side of Deception, the second of two revealing books he wrote after he left Israel’s foreign intelligence service.

The story began in February 1986, when Israel sent a team of navy commandos in miniature submarines into Tripoli to land and install a “Trojan,” a six-foot-long communications device, in the top floor of a five-story apartment building.

The device, only seven inches in diameter, was capable of receiving messages broadcast by Mossad’s LAP (LohAma Psicologit—psychological warfare or disinformation section) on one frequency and automatically relaying the broadcasts on a different frequency used by the Libyan government.

The commandos activated the Trojan and left it in the care of a lone Mossad agent in Tripoli who had leased the apartment and who had met them at the beach in a rented van.“By the end of March, the Americans were already intercepting messages broadcast by the Trojan,” Ostrovsky writes.

“Using the Trojan, the Mossad tried to make it appear that a long series of terrorist orders were being transmitted to various Libyan embassies around the world,” Ostrovsky continues.

As the Mossad had hoped, the transmissions were deciphered by the Americans and construed as ample proof that the Libyans were active sponsors of terrorism.

What’s more, the Americans pointed out, Mossad reports confirmed it.

“The French and the Spanish, though, were not buying into the new stream of information.

To them it seemed suspicious that suddenly, out of the blue, the Libyans, who had been extremely careful in the past, would start advertising their future actions…The French and the Spanish were right. The information was bogus.”

Ostrovsky, who is careful in what he writes, does not blame Mossad for the bombing, only a couple of weeks after the Trojan was installed, of La Belle Discothèque in West Berlin, which cost the lives of two American soldiers and a Turkish woman.

But he convincingly documents the elaborate Mossad operation built around the Trojan, which led the U.S. to blame Libya for the bombing of the Berlin nightclub frequented by U.S. soldiers.

The plot was given added credibility since it took place at a time when Qaddafi had “closed” the airspace over the Gulf of Sidra to U.S. aircraft, and then suffered the loss of two Libyan aircraft trying to enforce the ban, which were shot down by carrier-based U.S. planes.


The U.S. reacted promptly to the attack on the Berlin nightclub.

On April 16, 1986 it sent U.S. aircraft from a base in England and from two U.S. carriers in the Mediterranean to drop more than 60 tons of bombs on Qaddafi’s office and residence in the Bab al Azizia barracks, less than three blocks from the apartment containing the Trojan transmitter, and on military targets in and around the two Libyan cities.

Some of the U.S. missiles and bombs went astray, inflicting damage on residential buildings, including the French Embassy in Tripoli.

The planes flying from England were forced to skirt both French and Spanish airspace, and one of them, a U.S. F-111, was shot down over Tripoli, killing the two American crew members.

“Operation Trojan was one of the Mossad’s greatest successes,” Ostrovsky writes.

“It brought about the air strike on Libya that President Reagan had promised—a strike that had three important consequences.

First, it derailed a deal for the release of the American hostages in Lebanon, thus preserving the Hezbollah as the number one enemy in the eyes of the West.

Second, it sent a message to the entire Arab world, telling them exactly where the United States stood regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Third, it boosted the Mossad’s image of itself, since it was they who, by ingenious sleight of hand, had prodded the United States to do what was right…

“After the bombing, the Hezbollah broke off negotiations regarding the hostages they held in Beirut and executed three of them, including one American named Peter Kilburn.

As for the French, they were rewarded for their non-participation in the attack by the release at the end of June of two French journalists held hostage in Beirut.”

Ostrovsky doesn’t mention, however, the other apparent direct result of the Mossad “success”: the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103.

Despite the refusal by mainstream American media to revisit the well-documented facts presented above, they contain some obvious political lessons for the United States.

For example, the U.S. government might decide to continue its sanctions on Libya in retaliation for the deaths of the 270 victims of the Pan Am bombing, regardless of the verdict of the Scottish judges.

In that case, however, true justice would also require imposition of similar U.S. sanctions against Israel for deliberately instigating the U.S. bombing of Tripoli, in retaliation for the bombing of La Belle Discothèque, a crime which the Israelis knew from the beginning that the Libyans had not committed.