BBC journo to sue Newsweek over missile story

The FBI is said to be “fuming” after the BBC ran its missile sting “exclusive” on the 10 O’clock News on Tuesday night.

According to Newsweek, the FBI was furious after the BBC aired the news that London businessman Hemant Lakhani had been arrested for his part in trying to sell Russian-made surface-to-air SA-18 missiles to FBI agents posing as terrorists.

The magazine printed remarks on Wednesday from US Justice Department officials saying they wanted to use Mr Lakhani as an informant to capture terrorists trying to buy weapons.

The BBC’s breaking news story had effectively put an end to the 18-month story, official said.

The story “may have blown a rare opportunity to penetrate Al Qaeda’s arms-buying network,” the magazine read.

Moreover, despite all the “hoopla” over the case, the official said, it was a “sting” which never involved any contact with actual terrorists.

But Mr Mangold, the BBC correspondent who pushed the story, said ABC News had received a “news flash” about Mr Lakhani’s arrest at 16:22 ET, 30-minutes before the story went to air in the UK.

The FBI criticised Mr Mangold’s unsubstantiated claims that the missile was destined for use in a terrorist plot to attack Air Force One, the presidential aircraft.

Separately, Mr Mangold has told his lawyers, Mischon de Reya, to launch legal action against Newsweek for alleging that the story scuppered the FBI’s covert anti-terror infiltration plans.

Christopher Christie, the US attorney for New Jersey, said it was “absolutely not” that the BBC report had wrecked the investigation.