Pan Am 103 Why Did They Die?

Washington says Libya sabotaged the plane. Provocative evidence suggests that a Syrian drug dealer may have helped plant the bomb -- and the real targets were intelligence agents working for the CIA

  • Share
  • Read Later

(8 of 11)

In Nicosia, Coleman saw the supposedly controlled shipments of heroin, called kourah in Lebanon -- inspiration for the CIA operation's code name COREA -- grow into a torrent. The drugs were delivered by couriers who arrived on the overnight ferry from the Lebanese port of Jounieh. After receiving their travel orders from the DEA, the couriers were escorted to the Larnaca airport by the Cypriot national police and sent on their way to Frankfurt and other European transit points. The DEA testified at hearings in Washington that no "controlled deliveries" of drugs through Frankfurt were made in 1988.

Coleman's DEA front in Nicosia, called the Eurame Trading Co. Ltd., was located on the top floor of a high-rise apartment near the U.S. embassy. He says the intelligence agency paid him with unsigned Visa traveler's checks issued by B.C.C.I. in Luxembourg. Additionally, the DEA country attache in Cyprus, Michael Hurley, kept a drawer full of cash in his office at the embassy, which he parceled out to Coleman and to a parade of confidential informants, known by such nicknames as "Rambo Dreamer," "Taxi George" and "Fadi the Captain." Hurley admitted in a Justice Department affidavit that he paid Coleman $74,000 for information.

The informants, Coleman reported, were under the control of Ibrahim el-Jorr. "He was a Wild West character who wore cowboy boots and tooled around in a Chevy with expired Texas plates," he says. "I was told ((by el-Jorr)) that in the Frankfurt airport the suitcases containing the narcotics were put on flights to the U.S. by agents or other sources working in the baggage area. From my personal observation, Germany's BKA ((Bundeskriminalamt, the German federal police)) was also involved, as was Her Majesty's Customs and Excise service in the United Kingdom."

After deciding to become a witness for Pan Am, Coleman phoned a friend, Hartmut Mayer, a German intelligence agent in Cyprus, and asked if he knew how the bomb got aboard Flight 103. Mayer suggested calling a "Mr. Harwick" and a "Mr. Pinsdorf," who Mayer said were running the investigation at the Frankfurt airport. "I spoke with Pinsdorf," says Coleman. "From his conversation I learned that BKA had serious concerns that the drug sting operation originating in Cyprus had caused the bomb to be placed on the Pan Am plane." Mayer and Pinsdorf gave depositions last year at the request of Pan Am. But the German Federal Ministry of the Interior ruled they couldn't discuss law-enforcement matters relating to other nations. Mayer did say he knew Coleman.

"It took three informants just to keep tabs on al-Kassar," claims Coleman. He said the informants reported that al-Kassar and the Syrian President's brother Rifaat Assad were taking over drug production in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, under protection of the Syrian army. Coleman also says he learned that the principal European transfer point for their heroin shipments was the Frankfurt airport.

In December 1988 al-Kassar picked up some news that threatened to shut down his smuggling operation. Charles McKee's counterterrorist team in Beirut that was investigating the possible rescue of the nine American hostages had got wind of his CIA connection. The team was outraged that the COREA unit in Wiesbaden was doing business with a Syrian who had close terrorist connections and might endanger their planned rescue attempt.

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9
  10. 10
  11. 11