In recent years, several security services around the world acquired ADE 651s, a device purported to detect from a distance the presence of explosives in cars. They are produced by ATSC in the United Kingdom and distributed by a number of companies, including Cumberland Industries UK in Europe and Prosec of Lebanon in the Middle East.

In the post-9/11 anti-terrorist climate, some twenty countries have equipped their security forces (including the Chinese police) to curb the transportation of explosives and detect car bombs. However, the major ADE 651 users were the contractors and the security forces in Iraq.

In light of this success, a competitor soon appeared: the GT200, produced by Global Technical LTD, another UK-based company. It encroached on the already existing markets and opened new ones, notably in Mexico and Thailand.

On 22 January 2010, ATSC’s Managing Director Jim McCormick was arrested in the UK. The ADE 651 was found to be totally useless and the GT 200 to be no better.

These devices carried a price tag of 17 000 euros apiece, against a production cost slightly over 170 euros. As for the Iraqi Government, it purchased 1 500 pieces and was overcharged 41 000 euros each.

The trust placed in these gadgets by security forces has led to reckless behaviour on their part resulting in tragic situations. In Iraq alone, this swindle has cost several hundred lives. The Government of Nouri al-Maliki has decided to file a lawsuit against ATSC.