Lockerbie 30th Anniversary — PT/35(b) : How was the Lockerbie Key Evidence Forged?

“Could the CIA have planted the evidence? I don’t know. No one ever came to me and said, ‘Now we can go for the Libyans’, it was never as straightforward as that. The CIA was extremely subtle. For me the significant evidence came when the Scottish police made the connection with Malta. [Pressed for his own view, Fraser cites a Scottish murder case, that of Patrick Meehan, in which, it was alleged, the prosecution case had been “improved” by the planting of evidence.] Was there a similarity? I don’t know, but if there was one witness I was not happy about, it was Mr Bollier [Founder of MEBO], who was deeply unreliable.”

Lord Fraser — The Lord Advocate at the time that charges were brought against Abdelbaset Megrahi and Lamin Fhimah for the destruction of Pan Am 103

“Cretton [Real name : Swiss Inspector Hans Knaus] expressed his concerns (…) The first was that the CIA had planted the chip [PT/35(b)] in the wreckage found at Lockerbie. Henderson and I told him this thought had also crossed our minds. Neither of us believed the CIA or any government official would do such a thing, but we had discussed the possibility.”

Richard Marquise — FBI Agent who led the US side of the Lockerbie investigation

“Exactly the same forensic scientists who produced the wrongful conviction of Guiseppe Conlon, the Maguire family and of Danny McNamee, and had been stood down for the role they played. Yet here they were. Without them, there wouldn’t have been a prosecution, far less a conviction in Lockerbie.”

Gareth Peirce — Solicitor for the Guildford Four and the Birmingham Six

PT35B raw

PT/35(b) — Notice how the ‘imperfection’ at the right end of the upper track looks exactly like the original design made by MEBO Lumpert.

PT/35(b) is a small fragment of a timer circuit that was allegedly found among the debris of Pan Am 103 near the town of Lockerbie. After more than ten years of investigation, I have come to the conclusion that PT/35(b) is a forgery that was planted among the debris to implicate Libya in the bombing of Pan Am 103 and to steer the investigation away from the original suspects.

To mark the 30th Anniversary of the Pan Am 103 tragedy, INTEL TODAY will re-post one of our best Lockerbie stories every Wednesday until the end of the year. We would like to know what you think. Please, take this poll and encourage your friends to participate.

As I explained in the last post, it is abundantly clear that the fragment PT35(b) did not come from a Thuring circuit board supplied to MEBO to manufacture the MST-13 timers delivered to Libya. But how PT/35(b) was made  has  remained a mystery… Until now. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY

RELATED POST: Remembering Lockerbie — Pan Am 103 Quotes


RELATED POST: LOCKERBIE 30th Anniversary — PT/35(b) : An Overview of the Lockerbie Case

RELATED POST: Lockerbie 30th Anniversary — PT/35(b) : The Fairy Tale of the Togo Timers

RELATED POST: Lockerbie 30th Anniversary — PT/35(b) : Dirty Tricks & Tribulations in Senegal

RELATED POST: Lockerbie 30th Anniversary — PT/35(b) : MEBO TELECOM and the Story of the MST-13 Timers

RELATED POST: Lockerbie 30th Anniversary — PT/35(b) : The Most Expensive Forgery in History

Although the tracks of the Thuring boards — used to build the MST-13 timers delivered to Libya — are covered with a mix of Tin/Lead [70/30 %], PT/35(b) tracks are covered with pure Tin. Thus PT/35(b) is a forgery. No discussion. Full stop!

Now, let us ask ourselves what can be learned from the Tin covering the copper tracks of PT/35(b)? And — of course — what can we learn about the forger(s)?

The Making of PT/35(b): “Etching” & “Tinning”

Do we have any information that might help us to figure out how this “Tinning” was achieved?

Short answer: YES! The thickness of the Tin, its uniformity, the shape of the copper track’s cross-section and the presence — or not — of Tin on the sides of the tracks provide some clues.

1. The “Etch Profile” of the Copper Tracks

According to the method used, the “etch profiles” will look quite different. A concave profile is indicative of an industrial etch machine production. A round profile is typical of DIY — amateurish — method.


The expert consulted by the Lockerbie investigators on this issue — Dr. David Johnson from Manchester University — concluded  that:

“The etch profile on the copper tracks and pad suggest that the circuit could have been home-made.”

2. The Tin Thickness

The Tin layer covering the PT/35(b) tracks is very thin, just a few microns (From about 2 to 4 microns depending on the exact spot). The average value is about 3 microns.

PT35B Profile

PT/35(b) — Track profile

The copper track is made of standard 1 ounce foil (35 microns). Therefore,  it is obvious from the picture above that the TIN layer is very thin indeed. (Basically one tenth, so about 3 microns.)

By the way, the layer of “Tin/lead” on the Thuring board is significantly thicker. When I first saw the X-ray spectra of the tracks from PT/35(b) and the THURING board, I was flummoxed by the absence of copper peaks on the THURING spectrum.

This is however explained by the absorption of the low energy X-rays of the copper by the very absorbing Lead — contained in the Tin/Lead cover — present on the THURING boards but absent from PT/35(b)!  It is now making total sense, of course. Great feeling…

3. The Tin Uniformity

A scientific report from Dundee University concluded the following:

“Samples [of PT/35(b)] indicate that the copper sublayer has been coated with tin using a tin immersion process.

This is evident by the uniform silver like deposition. This can be easily undertaken by immersing the board into a commercially available liquid chemical, which is the process used for small-scale manufacture of PCBs.

The finish on the tracks labelled 2, 1, 3 and 0 together with the pad area E in figure 1c exhibit (see below) these characteristics.”


4. Overlap of the edges

The fact that the Tin is present on the edges of the copper tracks clearly suggests that the Tin was applied after the etching. This would in turn rule out a Tin etch-resist material applied during an electroplating process.


All these observations– the etch profile, the Tin thickness and its uniformity as well as the overlap of the edges — strongly implies that PT/35(b)  was “tinned”  using a “Tin Immersion” process.

This process only requires to immerse the board into a commercially available liquid chemical, which is the process used for small-scale and amateur manufacture of PCBs.

Once provided with the crucial information from MEBO — such as given by Ulrich Lumpert to Swiss inspector Peter Fluckiger  on June 22 1989 — That is a full year BEFORE the Lockerbie investigators identified MEBO — at “the request of a friendly [Cynical] Intelligence Agency” (Does it read CIA?) — any electronics techie could have done it in his kitchen…

Just a one man job. Now, that is good because, as a great American once famously said, “Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead.”

For obvious reasons, whoever is behind this forgery wanted to keep the number of actors to a bare minimum.


Obviously, the analysis developed in this post assumes that the metallic content of the tracks was not modified by the explosion, at least if we are actually believing that PT/35(b) was ever exposed to an explosion. (Not a safe bet.)

In March 2012, I sent the following information — discovered and explained by journalist John Ashton– to a former FBI expert on metallurgy.

“On 23 October 2008, at just after 7pm, a member of [Tony] Kelly’s [defence] team finally put the crucial question to Bonfadelli [Urs Bonfadelli was responsible for the manufacture of Mebo’s MST-13 boards]: was the circuitry of the MST-13 boards coated with pure tin or a tin/lead alloy?

His answer was clear and devastating: all were coated with an alloy of 70% tin and 30% lead. There could be no mistaking this, he said.

It was imminently apparent what this meant: if PT/35b’s coating had not been changed by the explosion, then it could not have been made by Thuring and therefore could not have been one of the 20 timers supplied to Libya.”

Mr Kelly subsequently instructed two independent experts to see if the heat of the explosion could have turned the fragment’s tin/lead alloy to tin – Dr Chris McArdle, who had 25 years experience in the electronics industry, and Dr Jess Cawley, a metallurgist with over 35 years experience.

“McArdle pointed out there was no way that it would have been hot enough for the lead to have evaporated away… Cawley agreed, pointing out that, although plastic explosives of the type used in the Lockerbie bomb produce a flash of intense heat, lead, like most metals, requires a far longer exposure to high temperatures before it would melt, let alone evaporate.”

The answer from the former FBI expert I had contacted was short but very clear:

“Even before I read the two metallurgists’ responses, I had an opinion.  When I read their opinions, I was in complete agreement.”

 Appendix — The X-Ray Spectra

This is the X-ray spectrum from top surface of PT/35(b). There is no ‘Lead’ (Chemical symbol Pb) line!  But the Copper (Cu) lines [Both the K and L lines] are clearly obvious around 1 and 8 keV. (Definition — The “keV” is a unit of energy: kilo electron Volt.)

PT35b Xray

PT/35(b) — X-ray spectrum from top surface


And this is the X-ray spectrum from top surface of the THURING board. You can see a neat “Lead” (Pb) line around 2.4 keV.

DP347a Xray

DP 347a — X-ray spectrum from the top surface


You will notice the copper lines around 1 keV and 8 keV in the PT/35(b) spectrum but not in the THURING spectrum. This is entirely consistent with the thin “Tin” cover of the copper track on PT/35(b) and the thick Tin/Lead cover of the THURING tracks.

This is easily explained by the absorption of the low energy X-rays of the copper by the very absorbing Lead — contained in the Tin/Lead cover — present on the THURING boards but absent from PT/35(b)!

Comment: Notice that the two spectra have different x (Energy) span. (Respectively 0 to 8 and 0 to 14 keV)

PS — Why the Tin vs Tin/Lead crucial Mistake?

Considering that this forgery forced Libya to pay US$ 2.7 billions, you would think that  the forger(s) could have done a slightly better job. So why the mistake?

The first THURING boards were ordered by MEBO (Ulrich Lumpert) to THURING on 13 August 1985. Although 20 were ordered, 24 were actually delivered on 16 August 1985.

The order specifies that the boards should be  “solder masked” on one side [Lötstopp eins.(eitig)] with “No bore holes”. And the tracks should be “Tin” plated!



Notice the word “ZINN” (Tin). However, in this technical field, neither “Zinn” in German nor “Tin” in English actually means ‘Tin’ in a literally sence. It is just “slang” for covering the tracks with ‘something’ that will help the soldering of electronic components.

REPEAT — It is just slang for the process of covering the copper tracks!  And this does not tell anyone anything about the material itself, whether pure Tin or a Tin/Lead mix.

In the case of these Thuring boards, it was actually a mix of Tin and Lead (70% SN/30%Pb).

This is absolutely crucial to the Lockerbie case because we now know that the PT/35(b) copper tracks are covered with pure Tin!

I suggest that the forger was simply not aware of this basic fact. Or perhaps, he got “lost in translation”?

I would like to add that several — real and qualified –experts had correctly pointed out that PT/35(b) was not similar to the THURING boards.

And some of them clearly suggested the proper way to reach a definitive conclusion about this issue. But the investigators never followed up on these experts’ recommendations.

And there is worse…

There is not doubt whatsoever that one of the key forensic investigator — RARDE scientist Allen Feraday — KNEW that PT/35(b) was obviously NOT similar to these boards used in the MST-13 timers delivered to Libya.

Yet, Allen Feraday testified that PT/35(b) was “similar in all respects” to the THURING boards of the MEBO MST-13 timer which proved the crucial link to Libya and Megrahi.

Thus in the words of the FBI lead investigator: “Without PT/35(b), there would have been no indictment.”

In fact it was, as we now know, nothing of the sort. Not everything is black or white (although a Toshiba radio might be, as I will explain in the conclusion), but “perjury” is a rather well-defined concept.

Based on the testimony of Allen Feraday, dozen of innocent people (Mostly IRA related cases) spent countless years in jail. Some of them died in jail. And then, case after case, it was demonstrated that these people were innocent. There is obviously a serious problem with this kind of “forensic science”…  And this kind of forensic scientists.

Feraday’s credentials are however “impeccable”. In three separate cases [The 1982 Hide Park Bomb, the John Berry Case and the Hassan Assali Case] where men were convicted on the basis of his forensic evidence, the initial ruling was overturned in appeal.

Comments from Experts

As we near the 30th anniversary of the Pan Am 103 tragedy over Lockerbie, I have decided to post the comments from Lockerbie Investigator George Thomson, Dr Jim Swire, and former CIA Bob Baer.

Lockerbie Investigator George Thomson

George Thomson is a former Scottish police officer who worked as an investigator with Abdelbaset al-Megrahi’s legal team preparing Megrahi’s appeal against his Lockerbie bombing conviction.

During his investigations, George Thomson discovered some potentially crucial anomalies in the evidence concerning the clothing that was supposedly sold by Tony Gauci and packed into the primary suitcase along with the bomb.

Through his long-established firm in Kirkaldy, G T Criminal Defence Investigations, George Thomson has developed a wide experience in the investigation and preparation for Court of many high-profile criminal cases including rape, murder and serious fraud. (WikiSpooks )

Lockerbie Investigator George Thomson

“This is probably the best piece I have ever read on the Lockerbie case. It is professional, factual and very entertaining. I loved the quip about the white and black Toshibas.” — George Thomson

Dr Jim Swire (Father of Flora who died on Pan Am 103)

Jim Swire is an English doctor best known for his involvement in the aftermath of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, in which his daughter Flora was killed.

Dr. Swire lobbied toward a solution for the difficulties in bringing suspects in the original bombing to trial, and later advocated for the retrial and release of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi.

Dr. Swire also carried a fake bomb onto an aircraft as a demonstration of lax security. ( Wikipedia )

RELATED POST: Lockerbie — An open letter from Dr Jim Swire

Dr Herbert ‘Jim’ Swire

“Like George Thomson, I thought this the best analysis by far of the PT35b question that I have seen.

The only slight quibble might be that it suggests that it must have been made by ‘an amateur’

In fact if you review the text and I agree with this point, the method of creation suggests EITHER an amateur OR a small-scale production used by a commercial lab.

This is important because if a ‘terrorist’ of some kind was using Lumpert’s design that might suggest someone in, say, the PFLP-GC or even the Stasi wishing to confuse the investigators.

Use of these techniques by a professional maker however could equally well suggest ‘a small scale run’ such as might have been requested by the CIA for example from an established supplier of electronic sample devices.

If only we could administer a ‘truth drug’ to Christie/Orkin [INTEL TODAY — former CIA electronics expert “John Orkin” whose real name is Jack Christie] lately of the CIA we might get a rewarding response!

RELATED POST: The Long Road to MEBO: From the BATF to the CIA to the FBI

Meanwhile we await the findings of the Scottish police ‘Sandwood’ enquiry and hopefully a successful application by the Megrahi family for a further appeal…” — Dr. Jim Swire

[INTEL TODAY : Although I have no information regarding the ‘Sandwood’ enquiry, I suspect that they looked into the possibility that PT/35(b) was fabricated, planted and that at least one witness was well aware of the facts reported in this post and yet testified otherwise. All I know is that they found evidence relevant to the current SCCRC investigation. ]

Former CIA Robert Baer

Robert Booker “Bob” Baer (born July 1, 1952) is an American author and a former CIA case officer who was primarily assigned to the Middle East.

He is Time’s intelligence columnist and has contributed to Vanity Fair, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post.

Baer is a frequent commentator and author about issues related to international relations, espionage and U.S. foreign policy.

Currently he is a reality television host on the History Channel’s program “Hunting Hitler.” He is an Intelligence and Security Analyst for CNN. ( Wikipedia )

Former CIA Robert Baer

RELATED POST: One Year Ago — “28 Pages” – Former CIA Robert Baer: “We Deserve The Truth”

I reminded Baer  that he once said that he had no knowledge about “the books being cooked”.

Indeed, the SCCRC once asked Baer if he knew there was a systematic effort to cook the books.

“I’d never heard of one, but there was obviously a push for an easy indictment of a country that couldn’t defend itself, Libya,” Baer told them.

After reading this post, Baer appears to have changed his mind…

“I do think they were cooked. At the very least the good intelligence was kept out of the investigation,” Baer told me.


Lockerbie relatives urge inquiry into ‘suppressed evidence’  — Guardian

The Framing of al-Megrahi by Gareth Peirce — London Review of Books

Former FBI Richard Marquise

Sadly, Richard Marquise continues to ignore the significant differences between PT/35(b) and the MEBO timers delivered to Libya. Here is his current view on the subject.

FBI Special Agent Richard A. Marquise led the US Task Force investigating the 21 December 1988 Lockerbie bombing which included the FBI, Department of Justice and the Central Intelligence Agency. In his 2006 book “Scotbom: Evidence And The Lockerbie Investigation”, Richard Marquise described managing all aspects of the investigation, examining first the broad question of motive and setting the bombing in the context of world events. He led the investigation through the return of indictments in November 1991 and played an active role through the trial in 2000 which ended with the conviction of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi on 31 January 2001. WikiSpooks]

RELATED POST: Frank Duggan (April 15 1938 – November 1 2017) — The PCAST Missing Data [Lockerbie]

“For now let me reiterate what I have said (and still do believe), the item marked as PT35 in evidence was a true fragment found at Lockerbie by Scottish police.  I also believe based on visual examination that PT35 matched the timers made by MEBO and found in both Togo and Senegal.

All that said, I am unable to account for (if true) the difference in the “tinning”—if that is the proper word—- of the circuits of the timers.  It would have been an interesting debate at trial and a shame it could not have come up then.

However, although Thurman and the FBI lab had an opportunity to examine what we referred to as K-1—the Togo timer — I do not recall what tests were conducted on it .  I do know it was turned over relatively intact to the Scots in early 1991.  I know because I hand carried it to them… a show of good faith.  However, Thurman and the lab had no opportunity to do a forensic exam of the fragment thus would have been unable to ever determine if in fact the compositions of the two were dissimilar.

I am aware of the claims (in 2007 or 2008) of both Bollier and Lumpert that they had turned over a non working circuit board/timer (cannot recall which) in about 1989 or 1990.  I have no idea why they would have done this as our (FBI and Scots first contact with the Swiss was in later 1990…certainly after Thurman made the ID in June 1990.  By the time the Swiss allegedly received the item from MEBO, PT35 was already safely in evidence in Scotland although we did not know what we had.  As I recall my first introduction to it was in January 1990 at a meeting in Lockerbie.”


“It is very frustrating as an investigator to have ones work be incomplete.  I spoke at Arlington on the 22nd anniversary of the attack and told the families there that one of my many regrets (in life) was that we did not get them all.”   

A few days later, Marquise added the following comment:

“I fully believe the paragraph I sent you.  I have some notes that indicate to me that the coating/masking on the first five boards made were different than the rest.  It is the only explanation I have for the difference…if there is one …between PT 35 and whatever MEBO same it was compared to.  I am not a technician but know the tracking on PT35 microscopically matches the Togo timer.  FBI was never able to do an analysis of PT35. Knowing what and who I know I believe the evidence was rightly collected and analyzed.”

[INTEL TODAY : The difference between the first Timers and the other 15 or so is purely cosmetic. No solder mask was applied on one side of the first timers but this does not address the issue of the ‘Tinning’ of the copper tracks.]

And By the way… “Same bad Scientists”

Gareth Peirce — Solicitor for the Guildford Four and the Birmingham Six — tells it very well:

“Exactly the same forensic scientists who produced the wrongful conviction of Guiseppe Conlon, the Maguire family and of Danny McNamee, and had been stood down for the role they played. Yet here they were. Without them, there wouldn’t have been a prosecution, far less a conviction in Lockerbie.”

“What shocked me most was that I thought that all that had been gone through on Guildford and Birmingham, the one thing that had been achieved was that nobody would be convicted again on bad science. But yet in the Lockerbie case, it isn’t just the same bad science, it is the same bad scientists.”

RELATED POST: IRA suspect issues apology for the Birmingham pub bombings — “Bad Science and Bad Scientists”

I suggest that Pierce is a bit too nice with these “scientists”. Under cross-examination by Richard Keen QC, Feraday admitted that he has no formal qualifications whatsoever.

Feraday’s credentials are however impeccable. In three separate cases [The 1982 Hide Park Bomb, the John Berry Case and the Hassan Assali Case] where men were convicted on the basis of his forensic evidence, the initial ruling was overturned in appeal.

Eventually,  a senior judge presiding over the Berry appeal said in 1993 (some 7 years before the Lockerbie trial) that:

“Mr. Feraday should not be allowed to present himself as an expert in electronics.”

In early February 1989, Feraday wrote that he was completely satisfied that fragments recovered at the Lockerbie crime scene originated from a white Toshiba brand radio stereo cassette recorder types RT-8016 or RT-8026. This very specific Toshiba radio strongly hinted to the involvement of a Palestinian terror group (the PFLP-GC) based in Syria and sponsored by Iran.

By the time the US and UK issued a joined indictment against the two Libyan men, Feraday had established that the bomb had been hidden in a black Toshiba radio model RT-SF16 almost solely sold to Libya. That is subtle or what?

Would you do me a favour? Watch the movie “In the Name of the Father” with your best friends around a good bottle of wine — or whatever you enjoy best…  And make a promise to yourself never to forget that:

“A threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”


Emma Thompson Best Performance — In The Name Of The Father

In The Name Of The Father (1993) TRAILER 



PT/35(b) — How was the Lockerbie Key Evidence Forged?

Lockerbie 30th Anniversary  — PT/35(b) : How was the Lockerbie Key Evidence Forged?


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