Jeffrey Stern

The $80 Million Fake Bomb-Detector Scam—and the People Behind It

1 June 2015 | Vanity Fair

The $80 Million Fake Bomb-Detector Scam—and the People Behind It

When Baghdad bought tens of millions of dollars’ worth of British-made A.D.E. 651s, advertised as a foolproof bomb detector, the Iraqi government thought it would be saving countless lives. But the devices were laughable—based on a toy—and, in the end, have led to many deaths. Iraq is not the only country that has been fooled.

On a Sunday morning in the fall of 2009, a 26-seat bus carrying one ton of explosives made its way toward the Ministry of Justice in Baghdad. Security in Iraq had been improving for more than a year. A U.S. troop surge seemed to have worked, and in a demonstration of the country’s stability, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had ordered security measures reduced. Blast walls were taken down. Traffic was allowed closer to government buildings.

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