ITWASSOOTED: A senior security source said: "This is a huge cock-up

Sunday, October 30, 2005

A senior security source said: "This is a huge cock-up

Exclusive By Rupert Hamer, Defence Correspondent

BRITISH diplomats had a satellite phone stolen in Baghdad...and only noticed it was missing after a bill for FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND POUNDS was run up.

The invoice shows thousands of phone calls made to Yemen and Saudi Arabia, bases for al-Qaeda terror networks. MI6 spy chiefs fear the "Thuraya" phone was used by insurgents to plot a wave of suicide bombings across Iraq.

Now furious Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has launched a major investigation into how the theft was allowed to happen - and why nothing was done until the huge bill was uncovered.

The theft was discovered in June when shocked staff at the British Embassy in Baghdad noticed the massive charges.

Even more shocking, it appears the phone may have been in the wrong hands for over two years. Thuraya has a flat rate of 70p per minute - meaning that the phone would have to have been used non-stop for nearly 18 months to run up such a bill.

A senior security source said: "This is a huge cock-up. We've got enough problems in Iraq without our own sat phones being intercepted and used by insurgents. It has to be the ultimate irony when terrorists use our equipment to organise suicide bombings and talk to their supporters elsewhere around the world."
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