Stationed on a driveway just yards from their target's £1million home, British police were said to have spent several weeks tracking the movements of Saad Al-Hilli at the start of the last Gulf War.
Officers thought to be from Special Branch maintained constant surveillance on the aeronautical engineer and his family, regularly following Mr Al-Hilli – who fled Iraq as a boy – and his brother whenever they drove off.
Last night Philip Murphy, a neighbour in the wealthy village of Claygate, Surrey, recalled how police asked if they could use his driveway to spy on the massacre victims' mock-Tudor house.
The retired finance director said:
'I watched them from the window and they were watching Mr Al-Hilli and his brother. I thought they were from Special Branch. They would sit there all day in their parked car just looking at the house.
'When Mr Al-Hilli came out and drove off, they would follow him. It was all very odd. I never told the family they were being watched.'The surveillance happened as the invasion of Iraq by US and British forces began in March 2003.
Any operation on the family would almost certainly have been backed up by bugging devices within their detached home. Last night it remained unclear why a surveillance team would be sent to watch a man who, on the outside at least, was a respected engineer.
A close friend told how Mr Al-Hilli's father Kadhim, a former factory owner, and mother Fasiha fled Baghdad in the late 1970s. The friend told how Mr Al-Hilli's father had fallen out with the Ba'ath party and was forced to flee the country.