Rumor: Iran, not Libya, was behind 1988 Lockerbie Bombing

A longtime conspiracy theory is injected into the mainstream by a famous French spy novelist

UNCONFIRMED: Iran was behind the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103

In this week’s New York Times Magazine, Robert F. Worth interviews the famed and enormously prolific French spy novelist Gérard de Villiers in a feature-length piece titled “The Spy Novelist Who Knows Too Much.” Among the topics discussed is the 1988 Lockerbie Bombing, in which Pan Am flight 103 from London to New York was bombed mid-flight, killing all 243 passengers and 16 crew members aboard and raining down debris on the town of Lockerbie, Scotland, killing another 11 people there.

According to de Villiers’s book, Iran was behind the attack, not Libya, as has been generally accepted; and a former CIA operative reportedly says the book’s premise reflects the “best intelligence” obtained by US investigators.

Video: A timeline of the Lockerbie Bombing

Revenge plot

De Villiers’ books are often praised as strangely prophetic, with many of the fictional accounts of assassinations, secret intelligence missions and scheming world leaders being proved true later by actual events. The author has met with secret agents around the world and said to be frequently read by numerous diplomats and nation officials.

Worth says that when he asked de Villiers about his next book -- his 197th such work -- the novelists’ eyes “lighted up” as he told him that it concerns the Lockerbie Bombing. The book is based on the premise that Iran, not Libya, masterminded the attack and that Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi agreed to take responsibility for the bombing. Iran, according to de Villiers’ premise, wanted revenge for the downing of an Iranian passenger plane by American missiles six months previously.

“Best intelligence”

The Iran-not-Libya theory is a familiar one concerning the Lockerbie Bombing, but Worth says he spoke with a former CIA operative after returning from his interview with de Villiers and that his source told him that the “best intelligence” the agency has indeed points to an Iranian role in the attack and that many in the CIA and FBI believe Libya was only made to play the guilty party.



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