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On 1st August, 1990, British Airways Flight 149 departed from Heathrow airport, destined for Kuala Lumpur. It never made it there, and neither did its nearly 400 passengers. Instead, Flight 149 stopped to refuel in Kuwait, as Iraqi troops amassed on the border – delivering the passengers and crew into the hands of Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi army, to be used as ‘human shields’ during their invasion. Why did BA flight 149 proceed with plans to refuel in Kuwait City, even as all other flights were rerouted – and even though British and American governments had clear intelligence that Saddam was about to invade? The answer lies in an exchange of favours at the highest echelons of government, and a secret, unaccountable organization – authorised by Margaret Thatcher – carrying out a ‘deniable’ intelligence operation to sneak in a group of intelligence offers into Kuwait aboard the flight.