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The Money Programme Tuesday, 20 November, 2001, 12:46 GMT
We follow Lou Petschi in her quest for the truth
Widow Lou Petschi searches for the truth about her husband's murder in Chechnya
Three Britons and a New Zealander were beheaded by Bin Laden allies as part of a " holy war" against the West, according to claims being investigated by the Foreign Office.

The BBC's Money Programme will reveal that the four men were decapitated by Islamic fundamentalists linked to Osama Bin Laden.

The men were kidnapped while installing a telephone system in the break-away Russian region of Chechnya three years ago.

The killers were a gang led by notorious Islamic warlord Arbi Barayev, an ally of Bin Laden.

Darren Hickey (26), Rudi Petschi (42), Peter Kennedy (46) and New Zealander Stan Shaw (58) were kidnapped from a poorly protected house in the Chechen capital Grozny in October 1998. They were murdered at a disused factory south of Grozny two months later.

The Money Programme tracked down a Russian hostage, held with the men, who revealed that Barayev ordered the atrocity as part of a holy war.

Hostage Abdurakhman Adukhov said he asked Barayev why he killed the engineers. He was told that Barayev hoped to receive more money if he killed them than if he freed them.

Barayev was negotiating a ransom with the men's employers, BT and Surrey-based telecoms company Granger Telecom.

Murdered engineer Rudi Petschi
Rudi Petschi - killed as part of a holy war?
He told Adukhov that by killing them, he stood to receive "not ten but 30 million dollars." The money would be paid by "Arab friends."

Barayev is reported to have said: "We're waging holy war. And we're involved in big politics. We ourselves will answer for everything before Allah."

Bin Laden paid vast sums to Islamic extremists in Chechnya to help them spread fundamentalism through the region, according to intelligence sources.

Adukhov was later released.

The Foreign Office is now investigating new evidence in the case uncovered by the Money Programme.

Granger Telecom won a 180m contract with Chechen Telecom in 1997 to install a telephone system. Victims Rudi Petschi from Devon, Darren Hickey from Surrey and New Zealander Stan Shaw were sent by Granger.

During 1997 and 1998, Islamic extremists were fighting for control of the country with moderates aligned to the West.

The Money Programme reveals how Granger failed to inform its engineers of Foreign Office advice at that time not to travel to Chechnya.

The programme also shows how Granger left security arrangements up to Chechen Telecom - security arrangements which proved utterly inadequate.

While Granger won the contract to supply a domestic telephone system, BT were employed to supply an international gateway.

BT refused to send its own directly employed staff because it was too dangerous - but sent instead freelance contractor Peter Kennedy.

Shak tells Lou the truth about the night of her husband's death
Lou Petschi and Shak Sharukhman
The programme shows how BT's failure to provide proper technical support delayed Peter's return by six days - by which time he was kidnapped.

The Money Programme also reveals that the Foreign Office - despite its warnings - asked Granger to gather intelligence in Chechnya.

The request on August 21st, 1998 came the day after the US first hit Bin Laden training camps in Afghanistan with missile strikes - killing 20.

The Money Programme follows the widow of Rudi Petschi in her quest for the truth about what happened to her husband.

It is a journey in which she meets the only man in world who can tell her the awful truth about what happened to her husband the night he was killed, fellow hostage Shak Sharukhanov.

Widow Louisa Petschi said: "The Foreign Office should have said "pull your men out" not go and gather information."

The Money Programme special edition on the disastrous Granger/BT deal will be broadcast on Wednesday, November 21st on BBC2 at 7.30 pm.

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