Palestinian terrorist expected to deny role in Lockerbie bombing

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The Independent Online

A convicted Palestinian terrorist described his role in attacks against Israel in the 1970s as he began his testimony at the trial of two Libyans accused of bombing Pan Am Flight 103.

A convicted Palestinian terrorist described his role in attacks against Israel in the 1970s as he began his testimony at the trial of two Libyans accused of bombing Pan Am Flight 103.

Mohammed Abu Talb, the last major prosecution witness, took the stand after weeks of delays in his appearance at a special Scottish court, hearing the Lockerbie case, in The Netherlands.

Defendants Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah blame Abu Talb and other Palestinian terrorists for the attack on 21 December, 1988, above Lockerbie, which killed 270 people.

Prosecutors have called Abu Talb in an effort to discredit the defendants' claim that his group, the Palestine Popular Struggle Front, played a role in the bombing.

The Egyptian-born Palestinian told judges that he deserted the Egyptian army in the mid-1970s, fleeing to Lebanon, via Jordan, with a false passport. He obtained a fake Moroccan passport before joining the PPSF in 1974.

"I undertook various missions," 46-year-old Talb said, describing his terrorist past. "In the beginning, I was doing military operations, and then I went to security, after which I was the special bodyguard of the secretary-general of the organisations."

Abu Talb, who has been jailed in Sweden for attacks against Jewish and American targets in Europe, has denied any involvement in the 1998 Lockerbie bombing. He admitted carrying out a terrorist attack in Denmark in 1985 that killed a Jewish civilian.

Dressed in a plain dark suit and tie, Abu Talb was flanked by Scottish prison guards as he took the witness stand, separated from the public gallery by a wall of bulletproof glass.

Abu Talb's testimony continues Tuesday at Camp Zeist a former US air base 25 miles from Amsterdam.

The trial resumed earlier this week after a month of delays following the disclosure that new evidence in connection with the trial had surfaced on another group, the Damascus-based PFLP-GC.

Bill Taylor, defending, said a document believed to be in Syria contains information on German police raids of an alleged Palestinian terrorist base months before the bombing.

The police entered a secret base of the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command in Neuss, Germany, and found a device similar to one that triggered the Lockerbie explosion.

The prosecution contends that the two accused, alleged to be Libyan secret agents, sent a suitcase from Malta carrying an explosives-laden cassette recorder and routed it through Frankfurt, Germany, to the doomed airliner in London.

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