London Times, Monday, July 22, 1991
A former American intelligence officer who worked for
a secret unit, four of whose members have been killed, in hiding abroad
because of allegations he has made about the Lockerbie bomb disaster.
Lester Knox Coleman, formerly with the Defense Intelligence
Agency (DIA) is a key witness behind allegations that negligence on the
part of the US government led to the placing of a bomb on board Pan Am
flight 103 which exploded over Lockerbie in Scotland on December 21, 1988,
killing 270 people.
Mr. Coleman, aged 47, worked until May 1990 with the
secret unit Middle East Collection 10 (MC10). For most of his six years
with the DIA he was in Cyprus, running a network of agents in Beirut, whose
mission was to find American hostages held by extremists. Two senior MC10
members, were Matthew Kevin Gannon and Major Charles Dennis McKee. Both
were on flight 103 and had just returned from a mission in Beirut. Also
on board was Khaled Nazir Jaafar, a Lebanese agent for the American Drug
Enforcement Administration (DEA).
Mr. Coleman was a unique insight into DIA and DEA operations
in the Middle East because he worked for both organizations in Cyprus.
While still a DIA agent -- usually paid in travelers cheques sent from
the Luxembourg branch of the now collapsed Bank of Credit and Commerce
International (BCCI) -- he was seconded twice to the DEA, from February
to September 1987 and April to May 1988.
According to an affidavit by Mr. Coleman given to Pan
Am lawyers in Brussels on April 17 this year , the DEA, with the
narcotics squad of the Cypriot national police, the German BKA police and
British customs, ran a "drugs sting operation" through Cyprus
and airports in Europe including Frankfurt. It involved delivering heroin
from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon to the United States, particularly to
Detroit, Houston and Los Angeles, where there are large Lebanese communities.
The explanation for this operation, which was officially
codenamed Khourah, was provided by Ronald Caffrey, acting assistant administrator
of the operational division of the DEA, in a US government submission dated
March 20 this year . He said the drugs operation was "a controlled
His statement said: "In a controlled delivery, a
law enforcement agency permits and monitors shipment of contraband, including
drugs, to move from a source or transit location to its intended destination.
Use of this technique is sometimes essential to enable law enforcement
agencies to identify and arrest high-ranking members of trafficking organizations,
rather than simply arrest low level couriers."
Mr. Coleman, with his knowledge of this type of operation,
believes that flight 103 was being used by the DEA as a "controlled"
flight in which Khaled Jaafar, a DEA courier, was allowed to carry his
luggage through Frankfurt without being subject to normal security checks.
He knew Jaafar was one of many agents involved in drug operations.
In a telephone conversation last October with a BKA officer
in charge of investigations at Frankfurt Rhein-Main airport, Mr. Coleman
said he was told that BKA had "serious concerns" that a US drugs
sting operation out of Cyprus had been used by terrorists to place the
bomb on flight 103, by switching bags.
According to reports last year, the security of flight
103 had already been compromised by a mysterious man with an American accent
using the pseudonym David Lovejoy, who had reportedly telephoned the Iranian
embassy in Beirut on December 20, 1988, the day before the Lockerbie flight,
to tip them off that US agents Gannon and McKee would return from a mission
in Beirut to the US on flight 103.
Mr. Coleman said: "Individuals involved in drug
sting operations would arrive at Larnaca (in Cyprus) on the ferry from
Jounich (in Lebanon) and be escorted by officers of the Cypriot national
police to the offices of Eurame Trading Company in Nicosia, a DEA proprietory
company." Mr. Coleman saw Khaled Jaafar on at least three occasions
in the Eurame offices and knew him to be a DEA courier.
The DEA has denied it was involved in a drugs sting operation
at any time around the Lockerbie incident. But James Shaughnessy, lead
counsel for Pan Am, said in his latest affidavit dated May 3 : "The
DEA's denial is incredulous....simply false." Pan Am's affidavit refers
to a telephone conversation between a senior officer of British customs'
investigations branch and Michael Jones of Pan Am Corporate Security in
London in which he asked: "Have you considered a bag switch in Frankfurt
due to the large amounts of Turkish workers?"
The Beirut end of MC10 had been "blown". There
were five key members of the MC10 cell in Cyprus and Beirut, according
to Mr. Coleman. Apart from Mr. Coleman there were Werner Tony Asmar, a
German Lebanese, Charlie Frezeli, a Lebanese army officer, and two more
Lebanese who worked with Asmar. Asmar was killed in a bomb explosion at
his office in east Beirut on May 26, 1988. Frezeli was shot dead at his
home in east Beirut in November 1989. When Asmar was killed, the DIA ordered
Mr. Coleman home.
Those, like Mr. Coleman and the Pan Am lawyers who are
convinced there is a link between the Lockerbie bomb and "Operation
Khourah" were not helped by the so-called Aviv report, which claimed
that a rogue CIA unit permitted the bags switch, knowing it contained a
bomb. The report, produced by Isaeli investigator Juval Aviv was discredited.
Now, however, a judge in a US court has ruled that the US government must
produce all relevant documents relating to the practice of drugs sting
operations through Frankfurt and elsewhere in Europe. _____
END OF ARTICLE