Copyright, Joe Vialls
Most media hype alleging the two Libyans currently imprisoned in Holland are guilty of the bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, can be traced back to a single book. Co-authored in 1993 by Donald Goddard and Lester Coleman III, “Trail Of The Octopus” spawned thousands of stories in the mainstream media. Indeed, without “Trail Of The Octopus” as a guide, it is difficult to see how the media could have generated any meaningful stories at all about Libyan “guilt” over the Lockerbie bombing. At the surface level the book deftly tries to shift part of the blame backs towards Israel’s prime enemy Syria, thus embroiling yet another Arab nation in a sea of deceit and half truths. Whoever blew Pan Am 103 up over Lockerbie, the book all but shouts at the reader: “The culprits were not America or the State of Israel”.
In essence the text is a series of recollections by Lester Coleman III, ghost written and edited by journalist Donald Goddard. Coleman claims to have been a consultant for the American Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) with strong links to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). If his claims are true, this would of course put Lester Coleman III in the driving seat on matters related to the Middle East, and in particular the bombing of Pan Am 103. But are his claims really true? The media made the fatal mistake of assuming they are, thereby setting up a huge house of cards ready for instant destruction by anyone sceptical enough to ask serious questions. If Lester Coleman III’s claims can be proven untrue, then by default every one of the thousands of media stories which followed about Lockerbie are also untrue.
This report is not about minor grammatical errors made by Goddard, or marginal recall about the spelling of an obscure contact’s name by Coleman. It is about proven errors so large you could drive a 10-ton Mack truck through each and every one of them with room to spare.
By his own account Coleman first arrived in Beirut for the DIA on 25 February 1985. At that time he claims part of his job was to liaise with, and provide intelligence for, the Green Berets [special forces] in place for a hostage rescue mission. In the words of Donald Goddard on p 144: ” the main duties of the Asmar cell had been to monitor the Muslim radical groups supported by Iran and Syria, to report on the movements of their leaders – in particular, those of Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Fadellah – and keep track of the Western hostages then being taken in Beirut. After Coleman’s arrival as Asmar’s control and his communications link with DIA headquarters, this work continued ”
So Coleman specifically claims through Goddard in the book that he [Coleman] had a direct controlling role in the Beirut hostage drama from 25 February 1985. Later in the text he expands on this theme by mentioning hostage names such as Levin, Anderson, Keenan, McCarthy and Waite, but erroneously insists there was no rush about freeing the hostages at that time. Indeed, on pp 182-183 he claims: “We could have gotten the hostages out any damn time we wanted to, but nobody was willing to rock the boat with a rescue operation. We knew where they were. We knew who their guards were. We knew what they had for lunch. We knew when and where they were going to be moved before their guards did. But the DIA wouldn’t risk any action based on information that might have been traced back to one of Asmar’s people.”
This would have come as an enormous shock during early 1985 to no less a personage than William Casey, Director of the CIA, who at the time had a close working relationship with the heads of both the DIA and DEA. On 16 March 1984 his own CIA head of station in Beirut, William Buckley, was captured and became by far the most important hostage from the American Intelligence Community’s point of view. Hizbollah was holding a senior member of the CIA hostage, and [according to Casey] slowly torturing him to death during the exact period Coleman claims that “We could have gotten the hostages out any damn time we wanted to”.
Unfortunately Coleman proves himself ignorant of this pivotal fact, and demonstrates he has no knowledge of the swarms of spooks criss-crossing Beirut, trying just about anything to get Buckley out of there during early 1985. Buckley’s name is not mentioned anywhere in the text or index of “Trail of the Octopus” at all. Coleman proves he is also unaware that the Green Berets he “had to liaise with, and provide intelligence for”, were in Beirut at that time primarily to try a snatch job on William Buckley.
According to David Jacobsen, director of the city’s American University Hospital, who was taken hostage some weeks before and was sharing a cell with Buckley, the latter finally died from a combination of abuse and pneumonia on his 444th day of captivity, during the evening of 3 June 1985. Hizbollah did not announce Buckley’s death until 11 October 1985, but no matter which of the two dates is correct, the period January – June 1985 in Beirut was frantic, because Casey had pulled out all the stops and ordered a rescue mission regardless of cost.
Predictably perhaps, Jacobsen also appears to have slipped Coleman’s memory. Just like William Buckley’s, his name is also missing from “Trail Of The Octopus”. Because of Buckley’s profile, and Casey’s directive as Director of Central Intelligence (DCI), it is ridiculous to suggest that Coleman could “forget” to include this critical information in “Trail of the Octopus”.
Over the years I have attempted to investigate this staggering erroneous claim as best I could, because if Coleman was not performing the duties he claimed in Beirut during the time frame claimed in the book, then most of his other claims made in “Trail Of The Octopus” can reasonably be regarded as untrue and deliberately fabricated disinformation.
Not one of the personnel I have so far contacted at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, remembers liaising with or receiving intelligence from, Lester Coleman III or his alias “Thomas Leavy” in Beirut.
In late October 1996, Lester Coleman III was badly beaten by four masked men at his hideout in Spain. On arrival back on America on 17 October 1996 in a wheelchair, Coleman was arrested by the U.S. federal authorities, and charged with passport fraud. Hardly the treatment one would expect to be meted out by federal authorities to a bona-fide Defense Intelligence Agency consultant.
The author Joe Vialls, is an independent investigator with thirty years direct experience of international military and oilfield operations.