Arms dealers shipping bombs and assault rifles to mass killers via messenger app

Arms dealers are shipping bombs and assault rifles used by mass killers to the UK via an encrypted messenger app, a Daily Star Sunday investigation can reveal.

Terrorists can buy the deadly explosive Semtex for just £330.

AK-47s used by Islamic extremists, sub machine guns and even rocket launchers are also being trafficked to our shores.

Our investigators set up a deal with a gun runner after an exchange over the dark web. He asked us to contact him on Telegram – a free phone app that ­encrypts messages.

Asked if he sold explosives and ­assault rifles, he replied: “We have all of that. What do you need and how soon?”

He said orders would be shipped to the UK within three days once we’d put in our request.

The shadowy dealer said he had a store in Russia and had clients all over the world including the Middle East and the US.

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He sent us pictures of the hardware along with a note bearing a message and the date to prove he wasn’t a scammer. They included snaps of an AK-47 and an AR-15 assault rifle. The AR-15 – ­designed for the battlefield – was among the weapons used by Stephen Paddock when he opened fire into a festival crowd in Las Vegas, killing 58 people in 2017.

Crazed Adam Lanza also used one when he stormed Sandy Hook school in Connecticut and slaughtered 20 children and six staff in December 2012. The Telegram trafficker told us: “A piece costs 550 Euros from Russia and payment is by bitcoin. We do discreet shipping and it comes all at once.

“You don’t have any problems. Our connections at the borders are wide.

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“It will reach you safely. It’s our job for 10 years. We shipped last to the UK in December – AKs and Glock [sub machine guns].” Chillingly, he also revealed that he sold “launchers”, grenades and deadly explosives capable of blowing up buildings.

He sent us a picture showing a ball of Semtex – used by IRA terrorists to murder and maim during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

He said: “All measures are in place to ensure a safe delivery.”

Europol special adviser Rik Ferguson said complex encryption and limited identity checks made apps like Telegram attractive to arms gangs.

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Mr Ferguson, who also leads research at cyber-security firm Trend Micro, ­added: “Criminals operate increasingly like businesses today, and they need ­reliable communication tools to get their job done.

“Telegram has become the tool of choice for criminals but it is not the first app to be put to nefarious use.

“Channels such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger had their day in the criminal underworld too, so Telegram will likely not be the last.”

Telegram said it is engaged in “proactive searches” to find and remove illegal activity on its platform.

The Daily Star Sunday did not purchase any of the weapons offered. Our dossier is available to authorities.

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