Uncovering a New Clue in the Decades-Long Lockerbie Mystery

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October 6, 2015
by
Patrice Taddonio Digital Writer & Audience Development Strategist

By the time the credits rolled on the first episode of My Brother’s Bomber, Ken Dornstein had set out — one by one — to track down the people on his list of potential suspects in the Lockerbie bombing.

Some were dead, and had taken their secrets with them. Others, it seemed, were nowhere to be found. One was a question mark rather than a name.

In tonight’s new episode of My Brother’s Bomber, Dornstein comes face to face with one of the most enigmatic figures connected to the Lockerbie investigation: Edwin Bollier, whose Swiss company, MEBO, made the timer that is believed to have detonated the bomb that blew up Pan Am Flight 103. The bombing was one of the worst terrorist attacks against the U.S. before 9/11, killing 270 in total, including 189 Americans.

Bollier has never been charged with any crime in connection to the attack, and has always maintained that he’s a contractor who sold electronics to the Libyan military.

Yet a cloud of suspicion still hangs over Bollier — who has changed his story several times about Libya and Lockerbie. And it was Bollier who rented office space at MEBO to a Libyan businessman whose partner turned out to be Abdel Basset al Megrahi, the Libyan man who was the only person ever convicted for the Lockerbie attack.

In part two of My Brother’s Bomber, Scottish investigators tell Dornstein that they considered Bollier a possible suspect in the Lockerbie plot. The FBI, though, had a different opinion.

“Accidentally giving the things to the Libyans or whomever at that time, to do this, that’s possible,” says Richard Marquise, the retired FBI agent who helped lead the international investigation of the attack. “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.”

In the below excerpt from Episode Two of My Brother’s Bomber, Dornstein speaks with an FBI official about previously classified CIA reports showing that four years before Lockerbie, the agency found briefcase bombs in the hands of Libyan operatives in North Africa — set to detonate using pagers that were ultimately traced back to MEBO and Bollier:

“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?” Dornstein asks Robert Fanning, who worked for the FBI in Switzerland from 1987 through 1993.

“Yeah, it would have certainly have given me a little bit different look at who this guy is and what he might be up to,” Fanning replies. “… But did he give them these timers and other equipment with the intent to blow up airplanes? Proving that’s pretty damn hard to do.”

To watch Dornstein’s interview with Bollier himself, tune in to the second episode of My Brother’s Bomber, which premieres tonight on-air and online. In this new episode, Dornstein’s quest to unlock the decades-long Lockerbie mystery takes him to Zurich, to Tripoli, and to the sprawling Lockerbie crash site itself.

Watch Episode One of My Brother’s Bomber here. Episodes Two and Three will premiere Tues., Oct. 6 and Tues., Oct. 13. Check your local PBS listings here.

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