A British businessman, Jim McCormick, has been freed on bail after his arrest on suspicion of fraud, and the government has banned exports to Iraq and Afghanistan of his explosives detection device.
McCormick claims his device, the ADE 651, can in ideal conditions detect things like TNT a kilometre away. Iraq alone has spent over 50 million euros buying the devices from McCormick’s ATSC company, based near Yeovil, but scientists are united in saying the device is useless.
Iraq’s Interior Minister went on the defensive after calls from parliamentarians to abandon the use of the device, especially in the light of recent deadly bomb attacks in Baghdad which have killed hundreds of people.
McCormick claims the device harnesses forces similar to those used in dowsing, and was in Baghdad recently to demonstrate it. But British experts have dismantled the device and say they discovered a basically empty casing, and cut open the supposedly electronic cards that are used with it.
It is claimed each is pre-programmed to detect a specific substance or chemical, but once cut open the cards are said to have held nothing more than an anti-theft sticker commonly used to protect CDs.
The devices have been widely sold throughout the Middle East, but are not used by any Western security forces. Iraq’s prime minister has ordered an investigation into the bomb detectors.