Military base where on-the-run Daniel Khalife worked is at heart of UK communications

Any breach of base security would give enemies access to most sensitive signals on UK deployments

Ministry of Defence Stafford is the headquarters for 1st Signal Brigade, which transmits high-level communications to Britain’s armed forces. Photo: Ministry of Defence
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At the heart of the Ministry of Defence Stafford base in central England is some of the most UK's sensitive military communications covering global operations.

It is the headquarters for 1st Signal Brigade which transmits high-level communications to Britain’s armed forces deployed around the world.

Daniel Khalife, 21, who was based at MoD Stafford, is charged with eliciting information from the Defence Joint Personnel Administration System which was “likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism”.

The former soldier, who is on the run having escaped HMP Wandsworth in south London on Wednesday, is also facing charges that he passed information to Iran, as well as planting fake bombs.

He denied the charges at the Old Bailey in central London in July.

Mr Khalife is due to face trial in November.

If Iran or any other enemy of the UK had the opportunity to exploit a weakness in the base's security it would potentially have access to secret military communications with the ability to know who is doing what and where.

With access to email communications, possibly including encrypted passwords, Iran could gather enough information to launch a crippling cyberattack on the UK’s military.

1st Signal Brigade provides communications for every overseas deployment at a strategic level for British forces.

This includes the multinational Allied Rapid Reaction Corps, whose headquarters are in Gloucestershire, western England, as well as Permanent Joint Headquarters in London that is the hub of all UK military operations.

Every senior level commander on any deployed operation overseas will rely on MoD Stafford for their communications – from warships to ground troops and Royal Air Force bases.

MoD Stafford will also be dealing in sensitive information involving America and other close allies.

“This is all potentially a major breach of security across several high-profile sensitive organisations,” said military analyst Tim Ripley. “We don't actually know what has been done or accessed at MoD Stafford but it is clear that the risk assessment is now off the roof.

“If Iran could penetrate their enemy’s secret communications, it would mean that they have an inside track on British news and communications and gives them a decisive advantage.”

If Iran had access to confidential military personnel files this would also give them key information to be used as leverage in blackmail or compromise, to create fake identifications or possibly for kidnap.

Tehran would also be able to gather profiles with email address to launch cyberattacks or to intercept, and potentially rewrite, confidential messages

While the Staffordshire base provides communications for regular military units, the UK’s special forces have their own signals unit for teams on operations.

MoD Stafford is also the base for the Defence Electronics and Components Agency, which mainly repairs and upgrades military radios.

Updated: September 08, 2023, 12:14 PM