Bombing of Pan Am 103
Spielberg to Direct Lockerbie Bombing Movie
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Legendary Hollywood director Steven Spielberg will direct a movie regarding the Dec. 21, 1988, bombing of Pan Am 103 over the town of Lockerbie in Scotland.
The movie is an adaptation of the book Flight 103, written by former Israeli officer and MOSSAD agent Juval Aviv.
”I believe the book will have an impact around the world because what happened over Lockerbie that day affected so many people in so many countries, and continues to do so,” Aviv said a few weeks before the release of the book.
Although the book is presented as a fiction, it echoes the allegations made by Aviv in his famous INTERFOR report prepared to help the defense of Pan Am.
Aviv believes that Libyan national Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, the only person convicted of the atrocity, is actually innocent.
The former MOSSAD agent instead claims that Tehran officials ordered the destruction of the Boeing 747 as revenge for the accidental shooting of an Iranian airliner by the United States on July 3, 1988.
Spielberg and Aviv have collaborated previously in the making of Oscar-winning film ‘Munich,’ which was also based on a novel written by Aviv.
”I have been asked to consult on the movie and hope shooting will start later this year,” Aviv said.
Both men are keen to make the movie as realistic as possible. They intend to hire British and Scottish actors and to film in the town of Lockerbie.
For several months, it has been rumored that Harrison Ford would play the central role of a retired Israeli agent, Sam Woolfman, who discovers that Tehran ordered the destruction of Pan Am 103.
”Harrison has already played a similar character in ‘Patriot Games’ where he was Jack Ryan, a CIA agent who becomes embroiled in a terrorist plot,” a Hollywood insider pointed out.
It now appears that Spielberg has narrowed his choice for the job to two Scottish actors: Ewan McGregor and James McAvoy.
The novel alleges that Tehran contracted a Palestinian terror group to carry the bombing and suggests that the CIA turned a blind eye on the plot because on the plane were US intelligence agents returning to the US from Lebanon to denounce a secret drugs-for-hostages deal between Washington and Tehran.
Woolfman, and his glamorous young Irish assistant Orla Sheehy, received his first clue of the conspiracy when he discovered that US diplomats around the world had been told to cancel their reservations on Pan Am 103.
Lockerbie residents do not welcome the plan as they prepare to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the tragedy.
”The last thing we want is a film crew running around when we are trying to remember the people who died,” Ken Bailey, the chairman of the community council, said.
Last June, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi was granted a second extraordinary appeal by a special commission on the grounds that his conviction may have been unsafe.
In a move that Kafka would surely have appreciated, the Crown refuses to pass to the defense a document that is the main reason why Megrahi was granted a second appeal in the first place.
The Crown claims that the release of the secret document, provided by an unknown country, is contrary to the public interest, as it would hurt the relations of the United Kingdom with that country. The strategy of the Crown has infuriated quite a few observers of the appeal.
”It is hard to see how the Westminster foreign secretary can justify his attempt to ‘protect’ documents with public interest immunity (PII) certificates on the grounds that they would harm the U.K.‘s relations with other nations, and that their release to the defense in the Lockerbie case would disadvantage the very public PIIs are designed to serve,” recently wrote Dr. Jim Swire, who lost his daughter Flora in the tragedy.
It appears these documents were supplied to the prosecution (and Dumfries and Galloway police) about 12 years ago, and concern the truth about a terrorist atrocity of nearly 20 years ago. It also appears they were considered by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) to be part of their reason for considering the original trial and appeal might have been unsafe. The Foreign Secretary must realize that the longstanding release of them to the prosecution, but not the defense, wrecks any chance of the next appeal being considered fair. Coupled with their inclusion in the SCCRC’s referral back to appeal, this grossly selective restriction can only destroy any remaining vestige of faith in the freedom and independence of Scotland’s judicial system.
”Flight 103 is written as fiction,’ Aviv said, ‘but it is based solidly on real-life facts. The US Government urged me to change my report, but I wouldn’t and I fully stand by my version of events.
”I think 2008 will be the year when the truth finally emerges. There is still an innocent person in jail, but hopefully not for much longer.”
Some observers, such as screenwriter and film journalist Beth White, are unsure the public is ready for a Lockerbie movie.
”I’m not sure that enough time has passed, but it would certainly attract a huge amount of interest. I remember watching a French dramatization of the events leading up to Sept. 11 not long after it took place and being horrified,” White said.
”But in some circumstances, turning real events into entertainment can be justified as it can spark debate,” she added.
Others strongly opposed the idea of a fictional Hollywood movie about Lockerbie, arguing that the movie could destroy whatever hope is left of discovering the entire truth surrounding the bombing of Pan Am 103.
”There were all kinds of questions unanswered about the downing of the Pan flight,” argued an anonymous writer. “The security area where the bags were kept at Heathrow was found broken into, for example. But this was never followed through or treated seriously despite being on the record at the time.¡¦ If it becomes a blockbuster, you can say goodbye to finding what really happened.”