“330 is going down. Goodbye everybody.”
Co-pilot Armand Etienne — February 21 1970 1:34
“Bern threw a ‘cloak of silence’ over the case.”
Swiss Investigator Robert Akeret
“The secret deal was ‘immoral’ and in breach of legal principles, but it was justified for strategic reasons. This might be absolutely shocking, but the reward was that there were no more attacks.”
Pr. Jean Ziegler
On 21 February 1970 — a cold and wet Saturday — Swissair Flight 330, bound for Tel Aviv, crashed shortly after take-off from Zürich. 38 passengers and nine crew died in the tragedy. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY
RELATED POST: Suspicious Aviation Tragedies — Overview
UPDATE (February 21 2020) — The bombing of Swissair Flight 330 is the worst terrorist attack in Swiss history.
No one has ever appeared in court for this crime. Fifty years later, the relatives of the victims are still awaiting answers from their government.
The official investigation has been discontinued permanently in 2000 and, to the best of my knowledge, not a single journalist is still actively investigating this tragedy.
In his piece, my friend Otto Hostettler writes:
“The observer has obtained legal access to documents in the Federal Archives on several occasions – and pointed out inconsistencies.
For example, the federal prosecutor’s office ignored indications for years that the Palestinian bomb maker Marwan Khreesat, who also worked for several secret services, may have had his fingers in the game.”
Marwan Khreesat — who died in 2016 at age 70– remains a prime suspect in the bombing of Swissair Flight 330.
In December 2018, Saha Khreesat, 43, revealed that her father Marwan Khreesat told relatives that the plot to down Pam Am 103 with explosives stored in a stowed suitcase was actually organised by Ahmed Jibril, leader of the Palestinian terrorist group Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC), of which Marwan was a member.
Many experts believe that western intelligence agencies have evidence regarding Flight 330 that has never been followed up by the Swiss investigators because of a political agenda.
There is also suspicion that an intelligence agency failed to pass critical information to the Swiss authorities prior to the bombing.
END of UPDATE
On 21 February 1970, a Convair CV-990 Coronado jet named “Baselland” crashed.
A bomb had detonated in the aft cargo compartment of the aircraft about nine minutes after take-off.
38 passengers and nine crew members died. A barometric triggered bomb had been used.
Geopolitics and Terrorism
A few months before — December 1969 — a Swiss court had sentenced three Palestinians to 12 years imprisonment.
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command claimed responsibility for the attack.
Within a few days the main suspect was named as a Jordanian national.
The Swiss investigator, Robert Akeret, handed his report to the federal attorney-general.
Suspects were never taken to court, despite arrest warrants.
According to Robert Akeret: “Bern threw a ‘cloak of silence’ over the case.”
The investigation into the crash of Swissair flight 330 in Würenligen was discontinued permanently in 2000.
In 2015, Swiss journalist Marcel Gyr wrote a book in which he claims that Switzerland made a secret deal with PLO.
“Former cabinet member Pierre Graber, who died in 2003 at age 94, secretly struck a pact with the PLO after attacks including the killing of an Israeli airline pilot in 1969 at Zurich airport and a 1970 incident in which hundreds of hostages on three jets were forced to land in Jordan.”
According to Gyr, the Swiss government would release the PLO prisoners and would use its diplomatic offices to push for international recognition of the PLO in exchange for hostages release and the promise that the PLO would no longer commit any act of terrorism in Switzerland.
No Evidence of Such Deal
A commission investigated the allegation and found no evidence of such a deal.
It is however a fact that, while there were further Palestinian attacks in other European countries, there were none in Switzerland after 1970.
“The government said a task force set up to review the allegations found no indication of a secret pact between former cabinet member Pierre Graber, or any other Swiss representative, and PLO official Farouk Kaddoumi.
“The task force has come to this conclusion: There was no ‘secret agreement’ reached in September 1970 between F. Kaddoumi and representatives of Switzerland in Geneva,” the task force wrote in a 3-1/2 page summary of its conclusions. [Reuters]
Gyr found the report “fair and substantial” but stuck by his original hypothesis that a secret deal had been forged, based on interviews he conducted with anonymous sources that formed the basis of his book.
“I have always written that there was no definitive written proof.” [Reuters]
Swiss investigative journalist Otto Hostettler believes that the PFLP-GC is indeed responsible for the attack.
He is currently fighting to obtain the right to access some documents through the FOIA. So far, his demands have been rejected.
There are serious reasons to believe that the bomb was built by Marwan Kreeshat who is also linked to — and wanted for — the bombing of an Israeli airliner. [El Al flight from Barcelona to Tel Aviv –16 August 1972 ]
“Marwan Khreesat is still wanted in connection with the bomb on the El Al flight. There can be little doubt that Khreesat is the bomb-maker for the PFLP-GC, that he was brought to West Germany for that purpose and there is a possibility that he prepared the IED which destroyed PA 103. As such he should not be at liberty but should be closely questioned regarding his activities with a view to tracking his associates in the attack.”
Supt. Connor Report — June 1989
Operation ‘Autumn Leaves’
Marwan Kreeshat reappeared in the late 80’s as a Jordanian/CIA asset.
In late October 88, he was arrested in Germany during an operation coded “Autumn Leaves“.
Despite the irrefutable evidence that he had assembled 5 IEDs — specifically designed to destroy airliners at cruising altitude — he was released immediately and sent back to Jordan.
Many experts suspect that Marwan Kreeshat also built the device that destroyed Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie.
The Lockerbie Connection: A suspicious VISA
Swiss investigative journalist Otto Hostettler has uncovered a very interesting piece of information. According to his research:
Khreesat Marwan Abdel-Razzaq Mufdi applied on 6.9.1988 at the Swiss Embassy in Amman for a visa to travel to Switzerland.
Despite being a “person of interest” in Switzerland [unexplained Swissair-Crash from 1970 (Würenlingen)] and being wanted in Italy [El Al Flight August 1972], he was indeed granted a 15 days visa from Switzerland on 12 October 1988.
Marwan Khreesat had flown to Germany from Damascus on 13 October 1988. Khreesat stopped at Amman, Jordan, to collect his wife.
In the context of the Lockerbie Investigation, we ‘know’ that a secret doc — never shown to the defense — alleges that MST-13 timers had been provided to the PFLP-GC organization.
RELATED POST: Lockerbie and the Secret Doc: Why the PII Certificate?
Nothing more is known at this point. But this trip – if it indeed occurred — could very well be the source of the story covered in the Secret doc sent from the King of Jordan to John Major in 1996.
A particularly interesting aspect of this visa is the fact that the paperwork at the Federal Police was handled by Inspector Fluckiger.
Unanswered questions remain in 1970 Swissair crash — SWISSINFO January 2016
Switzerland ‘made secret deal with PLO’ after bomb attacks — BBC News January 2016
Swiss panel finds no evidence of secret 1970s deal with PLO — Reuters May 2016
Suspicious Aviation Tragedies: 1970 Swissair Flight 330
On This Day — Swissair Flight 330 (February 21 1970)
On This Day — Remembering Swissair Flight 330 (February 21 1970) 
50 Years Ago — Remembering Swissair Flight 330 (February 21 1970)