The plan was simple. An eight-strong group, including SAS members and two spies, arrived near Khadra in Libya under cover of darkness.
Swooping in by helicopter their aim was to, among other things, open negotiations with Colonel Gaddafi’s opponents.
But it all went wrong when local people rounded up the “elite fighting squad” and the spooks.
Locals were entirely reasonably suspicious of a bunch of heavily armed men with multiple passports, wads of cash in different currencies and a large amount of covert equipment.
The rebels, “armed farmers” according to reports, disarmed them, gave them breakfast, asked who they were and then sent them back to the British government.
The undercover mission was a farce and foreign secretary William Hague looks a fool.
But as well as incompetent, the operation is also a warning of Britain’s determination to interfere in Libya’s revolution.