WE BUY BAG OF SEMTEX FROM TERRORISTS
Dec 7 2003
By Graham Johnson Investigations Editor
Our 13.5kg haul of Semtex - in 108 sticks - is one of the biggest ever seized from terrorists and could have potentially armed 30 suicide bombers.
And chillingly the explosive, which we bought for £10,000, was of a form that doesn't show up on metal detectors, making it much easier to smuggle into Britain.
A small amount of the explosive was allegedly found here last week as police arrested more than 20 terror suspects.
Posing as members of the Real IRA, we were also offered three shoulder-held missile launchers, an anti-aircraft gun, and enough machine guns, hand grenades and landmines to equip a small army.
We made our deal in Kosovo, a breeding ground for fanatics with al-Qaeda links.
Our contact was the deputy commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) Niam Behljulji, known as Hulji. The group were trained by Bin Laden's men.
Astonishingly, we met him under the noses of the British Army and UN forces - who remain as peacekeepers following Kosovo's bloody war with Serbia.
Hulji, is said to supply terrorists across Europe and has been accused of massacring Serbian women and children during the war.
He even posed grinning for a photograph, holding the severed head of one his victims.
But we won him over by playing on one of his weaknesses...he is a huge fan of Irish rock band U2.
He couldn't wait to deal with us when we promised him one of the band's CDs - which we had signed with a fake message from lead singer Bono.
He told us: "I can give you enough Semtex for a small war. Do you need it for terrorism?"
Our investigation, carried out with Channel 5 sleuth Donal MacIntyre for his series MacIntyre's Millions, began when we arrived in Kosovo posing as members of the Real IRA.
Our first contact was with a Mafia arms dealer called Sinbad Sadkutz, who acts as a middleman for Hulji.
Sadkutz arranged a meeting with Hulji in a KLA-run cafe which was surrounded by armed guards and had been swept for "bugs".
Hulji said: "The plastics (Semtex) is the old type. No metal strips inside. It cannot be detected at airports. It is untraceable - no chemical markers."
He then offered us an anti-aircraft gun similar to one used by Iraqi dissidents last week to hit a US DHL cargo plane as it landed in Baghdad.
We next met Sadkutz in a Mafia-run brothel called The Massage Club, and agreed to buy 15kg of Semtex for £10,000.
To make sure the deal went through smoothly, Hulji insisted that we hand over a "human deposit" hostage and £7,500 in euros.
Our "deposit" was my fellow investigator Dominic Hipkins. He was to be held in a terrorist-owned bungalow - opposite the British ambassador's residence in Pristina - while the deal was sorted out.
Four days later Sadkutz took our man to collect the Semtex from his nearby home and the pair returned to the bungalow, the explosives packed into a sports holdall.
The grey-brown Semtex, wrapped in brown grease-proof paper marked "explosive", looked and felt like child's play dough.
But when burnt with a lighter it produced an intense blue flame - proving it was Semtex. As a Sunday Mirror investigator tested the explosive, Sadkutz grinned as he said: "15kgs can blow up all this neighbourhood."
After Sadkutz had left, we found the KLA had hidden 1.5kg of lead in the lining of the bag so that the actual Semtex weighed 13.5kg, instead of the 15kg we had negotiated for.
For safekeeping, our investigators buried the Semtex on a hill overlooking the British Army base in Kosovo and took a satellite reading of the exact position.
We then told the British Police in Kosovo, part of the UN presence there, exactly were it was.
It was later retrieved by a our investigators and a Finnish bomb disposal squad - who told us the hill had been mined during the war.
Following our investigation, with the whole country on red alert, 12 local policemen were arrested on terrorist charges.
The officers, said to be members of a secret cell aiding Kosovan extremists, are suspected of plotting to blow up a bridge and a power station.
Sadkutz was arrested on Thursday by British police operating in Kosovo. And there were strong rumours last night that Hulji had been assassinated for compromising the KLA's terror operations.