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Friday, 23 August, 2002, 11:33 GMT 12:33 UK
Analysis: Abu Nidal and Pan Am 103
Pan Am Flight 103
The bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 killed 270 people

A former aide of Abu Nidal says the militant Palestinian guerrilla leader, who was found dead in Iraq this week, was behind the 1988 bombing of a passenger plane over the Scottish town of Lockerbie.

In an interview with leading Arab newspaper al-Hayat, Atef Abu Bakr says Abu Nidal told a meeting of his Fatah-Revolutionary Council that he had organised the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, which killed 270 people - most of them Americans.

When Pan Am 103 was blown up in December 1988, the Abu Nidal group was among the initial suspects.

Abdelbaset al-Megrahi
A former Libyan intelligence agent is serving a life sentence

Only two weeks before, a caller claiming to belong to the group phoned the United States embassy in Helsinki warning a plane flying from Frankfurt to the US would be attacked.

The call was not taken seriously at the time, and as the investigation began suspicion shifted - first to radical Palestinian group the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command, and then to Libya.

Last year a former Libyan intelligence agent was sentenced to life in prison for the bombing.

Abu Nidal
Abu Nidal was based in Libya at the time of the bombing

In 1988 Abu Nidal and his group were based in the Libyan capital, Tripoli.

If he was behind the Lockerbie attack, it is hard to believe he would have acted without the knowledge and approval of the Libyan authorities.

But Abu Nidal also had close links with other states in the Middle East, including Syria, which has long been suspected of being behind the bombing.

So by themselves these new allegations are not likely to still the debate about who was responsible.

See also:

23 Aug 02 | Middle East
20 Aug 02 | Scotland
21 Aug 02 | Middle East
20 Aug 02 | Middle East
14 Mar 02 | In Depth
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