Did French Alps murder victim’s secret work on space satellite contract make him prime assassination target?

Introduction – September 9, 2012

The fact that Iraqi born Saad Al-Hilli and his family were murdered in a professional assassination was obvious from the outset, even if most of the corporate media didn’t realise it.
Watching media coverage over the past few days it’s obvious that most of the media whores still don’t have an inkling over what is involved.
From the outset it was clear that the killings bore all the hallmarks of a targeted hit; the double hits to the heads of each of the victims being the chief characteristic of such killings.
Moreover, the fact that the Iraqi-born Al-Hilli worked for a British based high-technology firm was also a clear indication that more may have been involved in the killing than a family feud over money.
Only now have some of the corporate media whores realised Al-Hilli’s work with Surrey Satellites Technology may have been a factor. As the Mail on Sunday reports below:

“Mr Al-Hilli was part of a team involved in an undisclosed project linked to European Aeronautic Defence and Space (EADS) – a pan-European defence giant which has contracts with Russia, China and the Foreign Office.”

This may well have been a factor behind the killing but the Mail on Sunday almost on reflex speculates on Iranian involvement. It omits to mention however that the cyclist who is thought to have interrupted the killers and who was also killed was:

“Mr. Mollier worked for CEZUS, a subsidiary of AREVA, the global leader in the market for zirconium, the metal used, among other things, for nuclear fuel cladding. CEZUS’s operations are distributed over six sites. One site in Ugine handles production of ingots and transformation of zirconium, titanium, tantalum, and hafnium into semi-finished products. Cezus also have an R&D site in Ugine.” (Source)

So the cyclist who ‘interrupts’ the killers also worked in a highly sensitive field. Was he killed, not because he stumbled across the killings by accident, but because like Al-Hilli he knew too much?

Did French Alps murder victim’s secret work on space satellite contract make him prime assassination target?

Robert Verkaik, Dennis Rice and Nick Constable – Daily Mail September 9, 2012


Al Hilli worked on map making satelittes and police have discovered that he was working on a secret project for one of Europes biggest defence companies

French detectives are to quiz work colleagues of murdered Briton Saad Al-Hilli, after they discovered he was killed while working on a secret contract for one of Europe’s biggest defence companies. 

The inquiry’s focus will switch  to Surrey Satellites Technology Limited (SSTL) near Guildford this week when gendarmes will question the workforce about whether Mr Al-Hilli’s job may have made him a target for assassination.

As fears grew that Mr Al-Hilli and his family were the victims of contract killers, it emerged that:

  • All four of the adults who died were shot twice in the head – the hallmark of professionals.
  • Two mobile phones found within the Al-Hillis’ car could provide vital clues for police.
  •  Police are investigating a theory the killers ‘shadowed’ the Al-Hillis as they travelled through France.

British and French police yesterday conducted a forensic search of the Al-Hillis’ £1.5 million home in Claygate, Surrey, as two members of the extended family arrived in France to comfort the orphaned daughters, Zeena, four, and seven-year-old Zainab, who remains in an induced coma after suffering a fractured skull during a suspected pistol-whipping.

Iraqi-born aerospace engineer Mr Al-Hilli, 50, his 47-year-old wife Iqbal, and his Swedish mother-in-law were killed in a hail of about 25 bullets in the French Alps on Wednesday. Local cyclist Sylvain Mollier, 45, was also murdered after disturbing the killers.

The Mail on Sunday can reveal that Mr Al-Hilli was part of a team involved in an undisclosed project linked to European Aeronautic Defence and Space (EADS) – a pan-European defence giant which has contracts with Russia, China and the Foreign Office.

SSTL, which was acquired by EADS in 2008, has raised security levels at its glass-fronted offices since the murders last week, with grieving staff barred from speaking about the tragedy.

EADS lists bodies including NASA, the European Space Agency, and MoD defence contractor Thales as clients. A key partner in the Eurofighter project, the company also designs and launches satellites for clients who want an ‘eye in the sky’ for commercial, civil or security purposes.

The Mail on Sunday has discovered that in December Mr Al-Hilli visited a sub-division of SSTL called DMC International Imaging, which has recently signed a contract with the Chinese to help map the country via satellite imagery. DMC also has a lucrative satellite-mapping deal with Russia and is working with the Foreign Office in Afghanistan to monitor illicit opium poppy cultivation.

Mr Al-Hilli, a civilian contractor, has worked as a mechanical design engineer at SSTL for the past two years and was popular with colleagues. Several are listed as his friends on Facebook, but mysteriously none posted any comments on a tribute page set up on the social networking site last week.

Now, as the murder inquiry broadens, French and British police are to probe his business dealings and the possibility that the sensitive nature of his work may be linked to the shootings.

One line of inquiry is that Mr Al-Hilli had access to information that would have been valuable to a commercial competitor – or that he had become a victim of blackmail.

Yesterday Claude Moniquet, director of the Brussels-based European Strategic Intelligence and Security Centre (ESISC), said: ‘Satellite technology, along with drone technology, is the new frontier of science and a market which is worth billions of pounds.

‘Competition in a corporate sense is intense, as there is the potential to make a lot of money with each development ahead of your rivals.

‘Mr Al-Hilli’s company was also a renowned leader in satellite mapping, and if it was secretly doing this in countries which would not welcome such an intrusion, then we have a possible motive.’

He said another area French police may explore is whether a Middle Eastern group may have been involved. ‘The Iranians, for example, are desperate to acquire cutting-edge technology which they cannot legally obtain. If somehow they were either getting it from Mr Al-Hilli, or hoped to get it from him and he refused, they would not think twice about killing him.

‘Also bear in mind that the Iranian intelligence service works in tandem with many private companies and this is a very lucrative market.’

None of Mr Al-Hilli’s businesses appear to have been making much money, something which has raised questions about how he financed his lifestyle.

Shtech, the aeronautical business he ran with his wife Iqbal and which had sub-contracted with SSTL, registered profits of just £8,330 last year.

Mr Al-Hilli’s brother, who has a background in public relations, was the company secretary since its formation but was abruptly removed in favour of Iqbal in January last year.

His Swindon-registered aerial survey company, AMS1087, generated just £2,118 in profits according to its latest accounts.

Last night an SSTL spokesman pointedly refused to disclose the precise nature of Mr Al-Hilli’s work, citing commercial confidentiality.

In a statement issued to the media, SSTL chief executive Matt Perkins paid tribute to his dead colleague, saying his murder had left him deeply shocked and saddened.

‘Saad’s colleagues will remember him as an experienced and committed engineer who worked as part of a tight-knit team,’ he said. Yesterday, there was a strong security presence outside Mr Al-Hilli’s workplace in Guildford.

Police and security staff, as well as two senior executives, were stopping all visitors entering the headquarters. Staff declined to answer questions about Mr Al-Hilli and it was not until late on Friday that they finally confirmed his link to the company.

The Mail on Sunday can reveal that Mr Al-Hilli subscribed to the Google Circles social networking website, where he recorded his own movements.This showed that on December 14 and 15 last year he had been working at DMC Imaging, a subsidiary of SSTL.

On December 16 he left the Brittany Ferries dock in Portsmouth Harbour on a business visit to France.

Senior security sources said last night that the murders in France had no link to Britain’s national security, but declined to speculate on whether Mr Al-Hilli may have been caught up in industrial espionage.

French investigators have said they would look at all aspects of his work. But Surrey Police, who confirmed that they are working with a team of French police, declined to say when officers would be speaking to Mr Al-Hilli’s work  colleagues.

Two mobile phones found in bullet-riddled BMW in which the three family members were shot may hold ‘crucial clues to the murder.

Detectives hope details of the victims’ last calls and text messages – along with phone network records showing their movements – will help explain why they were targeted on a remote forest road.

A French police source said: ‘The phones are crucial to the enquiry. They are now being analysed by specialist officers.’

It may also help build a better picture of exactly which route the family took on their 600-mile, 12-hour drive through France. If the family were not the victims of a random shooting, it is possible their killer or killers followed them.

In Claygate yesterday, a  procession of Surrey Police officers in scene-of-crime suits was seen entering and leaving the Al-Hillis’ home.

French prosecutor Eric Maillaud said there was still a great deal of suspicion about the relationship between 50-year-old Saad and his brother Zaid, 53.

Mr Maillaud said: ‘We have raised the conflict between the two brothers as we try to find as much as possible about the companies that he [Saad] worked for and the assets he owned to see if there was any conflict between the two.

‘Everyone talks of a dispute, but we have to try to establish that this is true.’

But acquaintances of Saad in Mijas, Southern Spain, where his father Kadhim owned a small £40,000 flat above an expat bar, yesterday played down reports of a family feud over money.

Saad put a block on his late father’s will after he died in Spain in August last year, halting his brother Zaid’s claim to any inheritance.

Zaid has denied any feud after going to a police station near his home in Kingston, Surrey, to speak to detectives.

And a source close to the  family insisted yesterday it was nothing more than a ‘minor squabble’.

Ali Al-Hilli, cousin of Zaid and Saad, said Zaid was distraught following the death of his brother and cannot understand why his brother would be targetted by gunnmen.

He told The Sunday Telegraph: ‘When I spoke to him he was clearly devastated. he kept saying, ‘why, why, why? How did this happen?’

Police are also looking into the possibility that the Al-Hilli family may have been lured into an ambush by the murderers.

Asked whether an ambush was a possible scenario, prosecutor Eric Maillaud said: ‘Yes. It is something we would like to look at of course.’


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