From an article in Times Newspaper [31st October 99]



A BRITISH security company which is under investigation by Scotland Yard over an alleged plot to kill a guerrilla leader proposed the use of radiation to poison Kurdish prisoners.

Aims Ltd, of Salisbury, Wiltshire, which has close links to British intelligence and the SAS, offered to arrange to irradiate Kurdish rebels held by the Turks in northern Iraq.

The company told Turkish military authorities that after the Kurds were released the radiation would make it possible to track their movements and follow them to their bases.

It added that the prisoners could fall ill from radiation poisoning within 21 days.

Aims is already being investigated by Scotland Yard after The Sunday Times revealed that it had plotted to assassinate Abdullah Ocalan, leader of the Turkish PKK guerrilla group, for a fee of 5.75m.

Now it faces fresh allegations that it has engaged in a string of mercenary activities. Confidential documents seen by The Sunday Times show that Brian Smith, the company's boss who goes by the name of "Tom", suggested the radiation poisoning in a five-page briefing document prepared for the Turkish security authorities. After discussing options for tracking the rebels, including heat detection or ultraviolet or infrared viewers, he wrote: "Radiation detection. This is a method in which a radioactive source is placed in the target and the source is then monitored.

"This can be done by aircraft or satellite. The downside is that the target succumbs to radiation poisoning in approximately 21 days. This has been used by certain nations when they have released PoWs."

A security official involved in the deal said Aims proposed to irradiate the prisoners from a source hidden in a metal box on a table in an interrogation cell.

In a separate paper Aims proposed to supply ex-SAS men to help the Turks "neutralise" suspected Kurdish bases in southern Cyprus. The plan also involved the destruction of Exocet anti-ship missiles and mini-submarines in Greek Cypriot military sites in the event of war between Turkey and Greece.

Aims said it could also provide intelligence experts to gather information on Kurdish rebels in each of the European Union countries. For 57,500 a month including commission, Smith would provide information on their sources of funds, public relations and "their connections with various governments". In the past 15 years, 30,000 people have died in the conflict between Turkey and the Kurds.

Aims has not restricted offers of help to the Turks. In August last year the firm offered to train dozens of Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) guerillas. A source said British mercenaries were supplied to the KLA in the build-up to the war with Serbia. The deal was arranged through the Turkish army's KLA liaison officer in Albania.

The source also said that Aims supplied the KLA with Russian-made RPG-7 and shoulder-fired anti-tank missiles. Both deals may have breached United Nations sanctions which forbid the supply of mercenaries and weapons to the KLA.

One Turkish security official who was involved in the deals said: "Smith told us that what he was doing was with the full approval of the British government. He said he had a full licence to sell weapons - he was legitimate."

The disclosures come a few days after Scotland Yard completed a preliminary inquiry into the allegations that Aims plotted to kill Ocalan, who was captured in Kenya by Turkish special forces earlier this year and returned to Turkey. This provoked protests from thousands of Kurds across Europe. One London schoolgirl doused herself with petrol and set herself alight, almost dying in the process. Ocalan was convicted and in June was sentenced to death. He is being held on a remote island in the Sea of Marmara.


Aims was one of two British firms which were paid hundreds of thousands of pounds for providing military equipment and training facilities to members of the Turkish special forces who captured Ocalan. The case, disclosed in The Sunday Times two months ago, was referred to Jack Straw, the home secretary, by Donald Anderson, chairman of the foreign affairs select committee.

Scotland Yard said: "This case has been under consideration by our specialist operations department. A file has recently been passed to the Crown Prosecution Service and we await their decision."

Smith, a former NCO in the British Army, spent several years as a special military adviser to the military leadership in Ghana. He claims to have close links to Special Branch and has boasted to business colleagues that he is connected to a former MI5 officer who is said to be a close friend of the Duke of Edinburgh.

Aims was set up in the early 1980s.

In its advertising brochure the company says it represents "military advisers and procurement agents to overseas governments". Smith runs it from a cottage near Salisbury. Yesterday he declined to comment on the alleged murder plot and other mercenary activities.

However, Customs and Excise monitors sanctions busting cases and a spokesman for the organisation said: "We are very concerned about these allegations and will be reviewing the matter closely."

Insight: David Leppard, Paul Nuki and Gareth Walsh