Peter Hoskin

Cameron’s close shave

Cameron's close shave
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As Paul Goodman notes, being Prime Minister means taking risks. So perhaps we shouldn't be surprised to read in the Times (£) that, during his recent trip to Afghanistan, the security threat to David Cameron was more urgent than previously thought:

"At the time Downing Street played down the incident, saying that it should not be seen as a huge security issue. But The Times can reveal that senior military figures are demanding changes to the way in which future visits to war zones by Mr Cameron and other senior Whitehall figures are conducted.

They believe that the Taleban knew which helicopter was carrying Mr Cameron and are deeply concerned over the increasingly sophisticated nature of the enemy’s intelligence operation.

One Whitehall source suggested that the threat, on June 10, was 'much closer than anyone said at the time'.

Although no shots were fired, two Taleban conversations about an attack were intercepted, the second containing precise information about the helicopter containing the Prime Minister. Mr Cameron had visited Kabul first, holding a press conference with President Karzai which was broadcast on Afghan TV, before going to more dangerous parts of the country."

Besides the grisly what-ifs, the most striking feature of this story is just how organised the Taliban are; another reminder that it is too early to be setting timetables for departure.