Assassination Intercepted at GCHQ

  • 19 Aug 2010

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Assassination Intercepted at GCHQ
EAVESDROPPERS at GCHQ in Cheltenham intercepted a signal from a Liberian war lord to a BBC journalist, it has emerged. Correspondent James Brabazon has revealed the centre received intelligence that Charles Taylor had put a price on his head. Mr Brabazon says the order was put out by Taylor after being "infuriated" by his reports for the BBC on the Liberian conflict in summer 2003. Writing in the Daily Mail, the reporter said the Benhall-based Government Communications Headquarters, discovered a US $10,000 reward would go to any Liberian government soldier who killed him. Liberian President Charles Taylor, who ignited civil war, is currently on trial at the International Court in The Hague for 11 counts of alleged war crimes. These include the plundering of the region`s diamond mines. The case grabbed the headlines when supermodel Naomi Campbell was called to testify after she`d allegedly accepted "blood diamonds" from Taylor, following a 1997 charity dinner in South Africa. Mr Brabazon revealed he had also been approached with diamonds – but in very different circumstances. He said: "My stones were handed to me in far more harrowing surroundings. "I was filming on the front line of the Liberian civil war as anti-government rebels advanced towards the capital, Monrovia. "As the clatter of gunfire echoed all around me, I was approached by a grinning rebel commander who poured some pebbles into my hand. "Most of them were just as Naomi Campbell described her own jewels at Taylor`s trial — `very small and dirty looking`. "But in among them was a clear green stone about half the size of my fingernail. "I held it up to the light. As I gazed through the stone, the sounds and smells of conflict were all around me." He said: "Rocket-propelled grenades thudded through the jungle; nearby, the corpse of a government soldier gave the air a rancid stench. "But for a brief moment, the sight of that green gem transported me far from the abattoir of war." Mr Brabazon told the captain, armed with a Kalashnikov assault rifle, the jewel was beautiful. And the captain said "Charles Taylor can`t have them!" The journalist said: "Immediately, I handed back the gem, unsettled by their power to make men kill each other." In her theatrical performance at Taylor`s trial, Campbell denied any knowledge at the time of the gift of Taylor`s brutal record. "Personally, I find this rather hard to believe. War-torn Liberia and Sierra Leone were, after all, front-page news at the time of her 1997 dinner." A spokeswoman for GCHQ said the base was unable to comment on "operational activities".

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