In an article published on April 9, 1996, the British newspaper the Guardian reviewed evidence presented in a British Channel 4 documentary which suggests the involvement of the CIA in the killing of a British policewoman outside the Libyan Embassy in London in 1984. The TV documentary cast serious doubt on the orginal claim that the policewoman was shot from a first floor window of the Libyan Embassy.
Investigative journalist Joe Vialls first revealed the CIA involvement in the incident and documented how the Libyans were not responsible for the murder of the British policewoman. He set out his findings in the following exclusive report for New Dawn published in September 1994.
During the morning of the 17th April 1984 an unarmed policewoman by the name of Yvonne Fletcher was gunned down in cold blood while on duty outside the Libyan People's Bureau in St. James Square, London.
British accusations that the Libyan Government was responsible were incorrect. Yvonne Fletcher was assassinated on the direct orders of the American CIA in a coldly calculated 'Psyop' (Psychological Operation) designed to generate intense British hatred against Libya.
The operation was a complete success. Two years later when the US used British air bases to launch a vicious bombing attack on Libyan civilians, only a handful of British voices were raised in protest.
Early in 1984 an American oil multinational with known, direct intelligence links to the CIA opened an office at 8 St. James Square in London SW1: the same corner of St. James square as the Libyan People's Bureau located at number five. It was a strange choice as the multinational already had an office in London W1 and there was no clear corporate need for the extra office space. Perhaps stranger was the multinational deliberately choosing to locate this 'hidden' office space within spitting distance of the Libyan People's Bureau, which represented an object of hatred for American oil multinationals and the CIA.
All visitors to the building during 1984 were subject to rigid security checks, and it is known the telephone number was (01) 839 2102, with a 24 hour back-up of (01) 581 0918. The multinational facility at 8 St. James Square remained anonymous until early 1985, long after the last Libyan diplomat was expelled from London by the British Government.
What the new American multinational property had in common with the Libyan People's Bureau was a clear view of the whole of St. James Square and a very similar field of fire. Assassination was not a new venture for the multinational, which the 1975 American Church Committee established had acted as a direct contact between the CIA and the Mafia on assassination matters. Later in 1985 American author Michael Drosnin expanded on the covert paramilitary relationship between the Dallas-based multinational and Langley-based intelligence agency.
Evidence of the St. James Square CIA atrocity was freely available to the British public during 1984 on a BBC film called 'Libyan Siege' with sound by Mike McKay. But the film was visually meaningless at the time simply because the British public had no knowledge of the multinational presence at 8 St. James Square, or its covert relationship with the Central Intelligence Agency. Even if that data had been available it would have been intellectually challenging for the British public to accept that CIA officials ordered the cold-blooded assassination of a young, unarmed British policewoman on the streets of London simply to achieve a geopolitical objective.
That the Libyans were confused by the events of that day was shown clearly in the London-based paper Jamahiriya Review some weeks after WPC Yvonne Fletcher's assassination:
"Then came the news that elements hostile to Libya, with known links to the CIA, planned to stage a demonstration outside the Libyan People's Bureau in St. James Square on 17th April.
"... On the eve of the St. James Square demonstration, in London and in Tripoli, Libyan officials made vigorous representation, urging the British government to ban the event to be staged outside the Libyan People's Bureau. However, Britain ignored Libya's request.
"... It cannot have escaped the observation of most rational people that initially the police denied the presence of any firearms inside the bureau, and then the following day made claims they had discovered spent cartridge cases on the floor and weapons concealed elsewhere. In fact it was a stage managed media event which was totally irrelevant to solving or resolving the crucial issue of who shot WPC Yvonne Fletcher."
Clearly at that early stage the Libyan people knew well enough they themselves had not shot WPC Fletcher, but were at a loss to know how the assassination had been stage managed - and from where. The sound of the shots came from the same corner of the Square as their Bureau but there was no muzzle flash, no smoke and no obvious disturbance in the crowd demonstrating below. It seems likely the Libyans did not work out the firing point until much later on, if they ever worked it out at all.
The film narrated by Mike McKay could have easily provided the answers the Libyans sought, had they been privy to the multinational presence at 8 St. James Square. In ballistic terms the film confirms the shots could not have been fired from the Libyan Bureau, and further confirms the firing platform must have been located on the same side of the square as number eight, very close to the Libyan Bureau itself.
Also curious is the fact that though the crowd demonstrating in the square all wore hoods, the British media failed to report on this strange phenomenon. London is a free, open society not used to covert activities of this nature and the irregularity was therefore very newsworthy.
Initially the film shows that extensive crowd barriers had been placed around the central garden pavements of St. James Square and also to one side of the Libyan Peoples Bureau. In addition, all cars apart from two official vehicles had been cleared from the square. Both features prove the Libyan claim that the 'hooded' demonstration had been planned well in advance. The tightly controlled grouping of the demonstrators in the central portion of the square also provided a clear killing ground devoid of any obstructions on the roadway surrounding the central gardens. The latter feature was almost certainly accidental but remains highly significant.
With the demonstrators separated from the Bureau by a phalanx of British police it is very obvious from the film that Libyan personnel were under no immediate threat when the shots were fired. Thus no 'panic' situation existed within the Bureau as might be expected if the building was under physical siege. At the time the shots were fired there was no visual motivation for any Libyans to have taken such action: quite the reverse because the police can be seen providing very tight security in front of the Bureau building.
A camera crew positioned with its back to the Bureau was filming the hooded and masked demonstrators behind the barriers in the centre of the square. The camera traversed to its left, showing demonstrators stretching across the entire width of the central gardens. When the shots were fired this camera zoomed in and filmed the demonstrators flattening themselves on the ground towards the camera's left. So the instinctive fear response of the demonstrators was to a loud noise coming from their own left-hand side: exactly the position of No. 8 St. James Square. If the shots had been fired from the Bureau behind this camera crew, the spontaneous crowd reaction would have been away from the Bureau and camera, not to the camera's left hand side.
Perhaps most extraordinary was a policeman standing in the road roughly halfway between the Libyan Bureau and the crowd of hooded demonstrators. When the shots were fired he hardly batted an eyelid and merely looked casually to his right towards number 8, before turning round to look questioningly at his sergeant outside the main door of the Libyan Bureau. If the shots had been fired from the Libyan Bureau the supersonic 'crack' as they flew over his head would have produced a violent reaction. London policemen are known for being very cool in dangerous situations, but not as cool as that...
Although the noise of the shots sounds very loud on the sound track this was probably due to the proximity of the camera microphone to the source of the shots. In fact the sound of the shots swamped the microphone for a split second. What is even more noteworthy is that the crowd to the camera's far left hand side facing the Bureau did not try to dive for cover, indicating strongly that the sound at that range was perhaps no more menacing than a car backfire. This is borne out by policemen filmed in other parts of the small square looking puzzled but taking no evasive action whatever.
The intensity of sound generated by a weapon is generally very loud within 90 degrees of either side of the muzzle, then decreases the further back behind the weapon an observer happens to be, proving the Libyan Bureau was not the source. If it had been, reaction to the shots would have panicked the entire front line of the crowd facing the Bureau but failed to do so.
Eye witness B. Cartmell stated on camera: "Whoever fired the machine gun must have fired between thirty and fifty rounds..." This is proved incorrect by the film. A good average cyclic rate for an ordinary machine gun is around 600 s.p.m. (shots per minute) which implies a continuous three second burst for 30 shots or a continuous five second burst for 50 shots. The film sound track gives no indication that more than two, possibly three shots were fired with echo from the square adding distortion. There can be no doubt the clatter and whine of 30 to 50 jacketed military rounds striking the ground and ricocheting around the square would have had every policeman and member of the media diving for cover. Not one of them did so.
A second TV camera located at the far end of the Square zoomed in to show WPC Fletcher rolling from side to side on the ground clutching her abdomen. The film shows clearly that there was no blood on the ground underneath WPC Fletcher at that point in time or much later on. Thus the bullet that hit her did not pass through her body and leave an exit wound, which raises serious ballistic questions. The second camera crew also filmed police officers treating other injured persons who, like WPC Fletcher, did not leave any trace of blood on the pavement. Nor was there any evidence of bullet holes in the outer clothing of the other (hooded) injured. Indeed, a policeman was filmed looking without success for the entry point of a wound sustained by one of the masked, khaki clad demonstrators.
The lack of blood generally is the most enigmatic part of the overall film footage. If all 11 injured people were shot by a high velocity machine gun and were then treated on the same pavement, there would have been buckets of blood staining the paving. The film shows no blood on the pavement or road at all.
There was a complete lack of gouge marks on the road behind WPC Fletcher as she lay rolling on the ground. If a long 30 to 50 round burst had been fired with at least one bullet hitting WPC Fletcher in the abdomen, there should have been at least two or three clear tracks on the ground behind her from near misses as the weapon wavered. No matter whether the bullets were fired from number five or number eight the path of the bullet that hit WPC Fletcher in the abdomen was downwards at an angle. The lack of gouge marks to her rear at first seems inexplicable.
Eye witness Brian Cartmell was a man with remarkable powers of observation which is very fortunate. His statement on camera was concise, assured and very detailed:
"Whoever fired the machine gun must have fired between thirty and fifty rounds because the chippings came up from the pavement [between WPC Fletcher and the demonstrators], and I saw a young policewoman, blonde in her late twenties, fall on her right hand side and her hat rolled into the gutter, and she fell clutching her groin and her stomach. And about three officers ran to her assistance." [Author's insertion.]
The direction in which a gunshot victim falls is dictated to a large degree by the retained kinetic energy of the bullet acting on the victim and the point at which the bullet hits the body. Therefore if WPC Fletcher had been shot in her right arm the tendency would be for that retained energy to spin her to the right hand side. WPC Fletcher was shot almost dead-centre in the abdomen, which is roughly her centre of gravity. Thus the 'fall on her right hand side' proves the bullet came from her left, with its retained energy knocking her to the right towards the inner pavement where B. Cartmell saw the 'chippings' coming up. Any bullet fired from the Bureau would be in a straight line, knocking WPC Fletcher backwards rather than sideways and missing the inner pavement completely.
Further, any stray bullet fired straight down the square from the Libyan Bureau that missed WPC Fletcher would continue straight on and bypass the crowd in the centre of the square. This is borne out by the limited noise 'reaction zone' in front of the Bureau, and the policeman standing in front of the Libyan Bureau looking puzzled when he should have been diving for cover. If a very long 30 to 50 round continuous burst had been fired in a raking right to left traverse, it is certain that everyone standing in front of the Libyan People's Bureau would have reacted instantly to the noise.
It is no great secret that many embassies stock weapons for use in self defence, which are normally limited to handguns loaded with, jacketed or solid lead bullets of standard military type designed to remain intact and not expand on entry to the body. Such handguns (and compact sub machine guns which fire identical ammunition) have a strictly limited range and are generally inaccurate beyond about 25 metres or 75 feet. In like manner their retained kinetic energy falls swiftly over distance as they are only designed for close range work. WPC Fletcher was well out of killing range for any such weapon fired from the Libyan People's Bureau. Only 9mm defensive cartridges were allegedly found in the Bureau later by British authorities.
In the case of the common 9 millimetre 123 grain bullet fired by these defensive weapons, energy falls from 341 foot-pounds as the bullet leaves the barrel to 241 foot-pounds at 100 yards. Quite enough to cause serious injury but rarely death if hit in the abdomen at extreme range with hospital facilities only ten to fifteen minutes away, especially if the victim is young, healthy and fit as WPC Fletcher certainly appeared to be on the film. Conversely, the retained energy from high velocity automatic assault rifles such as the American Springfield M14 or German Heckler and Koch firing a 180 grain standard military round is a massive 2,288 foot pounds at 100 yards. Enough to go straight through two policewomen standing back-to-back if the bullet was a military full-jacketed variety.
It seems unlikely the Fletcher autopsy report will ever be made public but it would provide one of the missing answers to what happened on that day: why WPC Fletcher died from a bullet in the abdomen which did not have the velocity to leave an exit wound, but nonetheless induced unconsciousness within minutes and her death shortly afterwards.
There are three high velocity rifle bullet types specifically designed to cause massive damage without going through the body and exiting on the far side. The best known is the 'dum-dum' where a simple cross is cut on the nose of the bullet with a hacksaw, causing it to break up on entry and ensure heavy injury. The crude cross on the nose can cause severe inaccuracy so 'dum-dum' rounds are never used by professional assassins.
The 'Hollow Point' and 'Silvertip' fall into the second category and are professional hunting bullets. On impact either bullet uniformly expands to twice its diameter, causing the full retained kinetic energy to be expended inside the body, encouraging very rapid bleeding and swift unconsciousness.
Third is a bullet designed for one purpose only - assassination. Known as the 'Fragible' bullet it is designed to enter the body and then shatter into tens of high velocity splinters or shot that cause colossal damage in the body cavity itself, though there is little external indication of the damage sustained.
Although the film microphone recorded only two or three shots, the sound proves the bullets were fired by a high velocity weapon. Eyewitness Cartmell stated he saw between 30 and 50 rounds judged by the 'chippings' from the pavement between WPC Fletcher and the demonstrators, so fragible bullets must be considered the most likely villains. If three fragible bullets were fired but only one hit WPC Fletcher the remaining two would explode on impact with the paving, throwing up dozens of minuscule razor sharp metal shrapnel fragments and hard granite chippings. Quite enough to injure a large number of bystanders but not kill them. This would also account for the blood missing from the pavement, and the policeman looking unsuccessfully for a bullet entry point on the demonstrator dressed in khaki. Each shrapnel puncture wound would be tiny and almost invisible to the naked eye i.e. blood on hands and faces, but no obvious bullet holes.
Once again, with the demonstrators carefully contained behind barriers in the central part of the square, the bullets must have been fired from a point to WPC Fletcher's left-hand side rather than from her front as she stood facing the Bureau.
Without access to the film, and knowledge of the CIA linked multinational located at 8 St. James Square, it would be very difficult for the police or public to comprehend what motive either side might have had in murdering an innocent, unarmed policewoman in the prime of her life. The Jamahiriya Review got very close to the truth with a single sentence in 1984:
"It served the purpose for which the demonstration was staged, and fitted into the pattern of the American campaign to present a false image of the Libyan people..."
The demonstration certainly did that, but the Libyans apparently missed the main point of the exercise at that early stage in the proceedings. It was the assassination of WPC Fletcher which was to play the major role in presenting a 'false image' of the Libyan people during the years to come.
There are few things more sacred to the British public than the safety of its proudly unarmed police force, a fact the Central Intelligence Agency was well aware of. Therefore the slaughter of a young unarmed policewoman on the streets of London itself would generate feelings of intense loathing in the British public and direct raw hatred towards the supposed killers. That it did, but the British public rem-ained unaware of the real culprits as the horrifying television film was flashed across the nation into millions of homes.
The British police must have had suspicions of course. The shots rang out for no obvious reason, and even the most junior constable would have realized that for the Libyans to kill an unarmed policewoman in broad daylight would be tantamount to committing complete diplomatic suicide.
But what else could the British police do at the time? There were no other obvious suspects and the police (later) found 9mm cartridges in the Libyan People's Bureau: cartridges that could easily have been planted by the occupants of 8 St. James Square the night after the last Libyan left the People's Bureau. Number 8 was only a few metres away, and entry would have been simplicity itself for an agency as skilled as the CIA.
The British Government and intelligence services were clearly certain that WPC Fletcher was not killed by Libyans located in the People's Bureau, because after a bloodless siege that lasted until 22 April 1984, Britain broke off diplomatic relations with Libya and ordered the occupants of the People's Bureau to leave the country within seven days. They were allowed to depart unhindered without a single 'suspect' being arrested and charged with WPC Fletcher's assassination.
It was not until 2 May 1984 after the Libyans had left that the British suddenly 'found' 3,600 rounds of 9mm ammunition and an automatic pistol in the Bureau. If it was Libyan property it would certainly have been loaded into one of the 18 Libyan diplomatic bags which left the country unopened.
The sceptical reader should compare British Government behaviour during April 1984 with later events in 1991 when the British Government stridently demanded the extradition from Tripoli on very shaky evidence of two Libyan nationals merely suspected of being 'involved' with the downing of American Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie in Scotland. Back in 1984 the British Government had the entire staff of the Libyan People's Bureau in the palm of its hand, but rather than make arrests it ordered all Libyan personnel out of the country within seven days.
Central Intelligence Agency motives for the assassination are not hard to establish. It is no great secret that the agency was outraged when the American military was ejected from Libya after Colonel Al Qadhafi came to power in 1969. Following on from that there are documented incidents of covert CIA action against Libya, primarily in the form of training insurgents in Chad to undermine the Al Qadhafi government in Tripoli, all of which failed. And so it was that American F111 bombers streaked off British runways during 1986 en-route for the civilian populations of Tripoli and Benghazi.
The choice of Britain as the launching point for that attack has long puzzled many strategic analysts. Why fly all that way in relatively old-fashioned F111s when the job could have been carried out more efficiently and with less warning by American carrier-based fighter-bombers in the Mediterranean? There is no answer other than CIA determination to reinforce hostile British sentiment against Libya. In addition the CIA awarded itself a bonus by murdering Colonel Al Qadhafi's 15 month old daughter Hannah with a 2,000 pound laser bomb, guided unerringly to its tiny defenceless target by an American F111. Years later it was established conclusively that the German 'incident' used as an excuse for the bombing raids was not the work of the Libyans at all but deliberate, calculated CIA disinformation.
To judge by current developments with blanket sanctions continuing against Libya at the behest of the US, the CIA probably considers the calculated assassination of WPC Fletcher one of its finest achievements. With less than a handful of bullets the Central Intelligence Agency brought Libya to its very knees using deception alone.
Anyone outside the CIA will probably view the assassination in a different light. Much is known about CIA assistance with the successful assassinations of Congolese strong man Patrice Lumumba and President Trujillo of the Dominican Republic, and of CIA assassination attempts against Castro of Cuba, Qadhafi of Libya and Hussein of Iraq. Despicable though all those attempts were, they somehow seem distant and disconnected from the real world. But just like the events in St. James Square during 1984, every assassination or attempted assassination was planned for geopolitical motives, and to influence the populations of the countries in question. The CIA might even have sincerely believed that the human targets it selected deserved to die.
Any such rationale vanished the day WPC Fletcher's assassination was ordered by CIA headquarters. At that precise point in time the Central Intelligence Agency crossed an invisible ethical line when it decided to assassinate an innocent, unarmed British policewoman in a coldly-calculated, cynical psychological warfare operation designed to manipulate and distort the belief mechanisms of the entire British population. That single bestial operation proved once and for all time what many have suspected for decades: that 'Covert Action' officials within the CIA have become mentally unstable and are now completely out of control.
Joe Vialls is a Western Australia-based freelance journalist with [by the time the above article was published] 30 years' direct experience of international military and oilfield operations.
Alleged ammunition in Libyan People's Bureau - Whitaker's Almanac, Annual Volume, 117th Edition 1985.
Ballistics data St. James Square 1984 - Libyan Siege, TV documentary video 17 April 1984, sound by BBC's Mike McKay. ABC TV Archives, Int. 84/431, Shelf VI84/19. Sydney, Australia.
British expulsion of Libyan diplomats '84 - Whitaker's Almanac, as above.
CIA: Earlier covert action against Libya - New Dawn Special Supplement, Undated periodical 1992.
CIA: Overseas political assassination planning - The CIA-Mafia Link, Ashman, J, Manor Books, New York 1975.
CIA: Proven links with multinational - Citizen Hughes, Drosnin, M, Hutchinson, London 1985.
Crowd reaction to shots in St. James Square '84 - Libyan Siege, as above.
Libyan reaction to WPC Fletcher's death - Al Jamahiriya, The Main Event, Hillgate Street, London 1984.
multinational presence, st. james square 1984 headed multinational documents, dated 1 february, 2 april and 6 april 1984. also january 85.
Multinational telephone contact numbers 1984 - Confidential Multinational Memo, signed by the Group Vice President and dated 6 April 1984.
Police and demonstrator positions St. James '84 - Libyan Siege, as above.
(Extracted from New Dawn Special edition, 1994)
© 1994 by Joe Vialls