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

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Besides McKee, a key member of the team was Matthew Gannon, 34, the CIA's deputy station chief in Beirut and a rising star in the agency. After venting their anger to the CIA in Langley about al-Kassar, McKee and Gannon were further upset by headquarters' failure to respond. Its silence was surprising because Gannon's father-in-law Thomas Twetten, who now commands the CIA's worldwide spy network, was then chief of Middle East operations based in Langley. He was also Ollie North's CIA contact.

MCKEE AND GANNON, joined by three other members of the team, decided to fly back to Virginia unannounced and expose the COREA unit's secret deal with al- Kassar. They packed $500,000 in cash provided for their rescue mission, as well as maps and photographs of the secret locations where the hostages were being held. Then the five-man team booked seats on Pan Am 103 out of London, arranging to fly there on a connecting flight from Cyprus.

McKee's mother says she is sure her son's sudden decision to fly home was not known to his superiors in Virginia. "This was the first time Chuck ever telephoned me from Beirut," she says. "I was flabbergasted. 'Meet me at the Pittsburgh airport tomorrow night,' he said. 'It's a surprise.' Always before he would wait until he was back in Virginia to call and say he was coming home."

Apparently the team's movements were being tracked by the Iranians. A story that appeared in the Arabic newspaper Al-Dustur on May 22, 1989, disclosed that the terrorists set out to kill McKee and his team because of their planned hostage-rescue attempt. The author, Ali Nuri Zadeh, reported that "an American agent known as David Love-Boy ((he meant Lovejoy)), who had struck bargains on weapons to the benefit of Iran," passed information to the Iranian embassy in Beirut about the team's travel plans. Reported to be a onetime State Department security officer, Lovejoy is alleged to have become a double agent with CIA connections in Libya. His CIA code name was said to be "Nutcracker."

Lawyer Shaughnessy uncovered similar evidence. His affidavit, filed with the federal district court in Brooklyn, New York, asserts that in November and ; December 1988 the U.S. government intercepted a series of telephone calls from Lovejoy to the Iranian charge d'affaires in Beirut advising him of the team's movements. Lovejoy's last call came on Dec. 20, allegedly informing the Iranians that the team would be on Pan Am Flight 103 the following day.

In his book, Lockerbie: The Tragedy of Flight 103, Scottish radio reporter David Johnston disclosed that British army searches of the wreckage recovered more than $500,000 cash, believed to belong to the hostage-rescue team, and what appeared to be a detailed plan of a building in Beirut, with two crosses marking the location of the hostages. The map also pinpointed the positions of sentries guarding the building and contained a description of how the building might be taken.

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