The War on Terror in Ireland lasted 30 years and killed thousands. In many ways it was the operational prototype for the modern War on Terror, and can be considered part of Operation Gladio. In this episode I explore The Troubles, beginning with the background of the struggle for Irish independence going back over a century. I outline how the struggle has always gone through its peaceful, political phases and its revolutionary violent phases. In every violent phase the British deep state has responded by enhancing the power of the security services.
I pick up the story in some detail in the 1970s, when the British Military Reconnaissance Force (MRF), an intelligence unit, recruited, trained, equipped and radicalized Loyalist paramilitaries to fight against the Republicans. Meanwhile, everyone and his son was infiltrating the Irish Republican Army (IRA), who were being quite openly funded by Irish Americans. I look at the techniques of the ‘own goal’, a type of disguised bombing, and the ‘OOB’ or ‘Out of Bounds’ broadcast, a means for protecting black operations. I round off by briefly explaining the case of Patrick Finucane, a human rights lawyer murdered in collusion with the British state.
This is an excerpt from my second documentary 7/7 Crime and Prejudice where I tried to give a brief overview of the war on terror in Ireland. In truth that little section barely scratches the upper atomic layers of the surface of what happened but I think it provides some useful context for understanding 7/7, which was its purpose in the film.
A Soft Spot
A number of you have asked me to do an episode talking about Northern Ireland and what is euphemistically referred to as The Troubles, and it is obviously something I am very interested in and very disturbed by. I think that’s one of the reasons I haven’t discussed Ireland in any great detail before – it upsets me. Much more so than any individual event like 9/11 or 7/7 upsets me. I should say I’ve been to Ireland, it is a beautiful if somewhat rainy country and on the whole I like Irish people, I feel a natural affinity with them.
So I have a sensitive spot as far as Ireland goes but it also upsets me a lot because what happened there went on for so long. We’re talking 30 years of violence, thousands of people killed, tens of thousands injured. Even the years of lead in Italy – largely fuelled by Gladio, of course – were not this bad. The effect of such sustained violence is not something that’s easy to comprehend unless you’ve lived through it, am of course living in rural England I’ve never experienced anything like that. Sure, the violence spilled over onto the British mainland, and in some periods including during my lifetime the IRA were very active, but it isn’t the same thing. When I read accounts from people who were in Belfast and elsewhere during this period, it’s like reading about Gaza or Fallujah. And we’re talking about a place that’s only a couple of hundred miles from here – I could get to Belfast in a few hours.
So reading about the British military and intelligence services using the same tactics they used against the Mau Mau in Kenya, these horrible post-colonial control techniques, when it is somewhere I’ve actually been to, it just hits me harder than it does reading about it happening in a place I’ve never been anywhere near. It also brings it home to me how the British establishment basically see everyone apart from themselves as little more than animals to be herded and farmed and slaughtered as necessary. So all of these factors combine to make this subject really troubling for me and therefore not something I find it that easy to talk about.
Ireland = Gladio?
Nonetheless it is very important because, like Gladio, it establishes that these techniques and types of operations were well under way, here in the West, for decades before 9/11 and 7/7 and the modern war on terror. For people who will admit that these control techniques are used in Nicaragua or Kenya but refuse to accept that they happen here too, just not as often, both Gladio and Northern Ireland provide abundant evidence that this sort of thing has been going on for a long time. Indeed, as I said when I spoke to James Corbett about Gladio, I consider the Troubles, the war on terror in Ireland, to be part of Gladio.
So what I’m going to attempt to do for you today is outline a brief history of the struggle in Ireland, then explain all the different factions and agencies involved and then look at both the Republicans and the Loyalists, but mostly the Loyalists, as examples of state sponsored terrorists. I’ll focus in on what I think is one of the most outrageous and now well established state murders in the whole 30 year conflict, the assassination of Patrick Finucane. I’ll touch on my own opinion of what all this represents, what this all means.
So, the struggle for an independent Ireland, which in broad terms I support, goes back well over a hundred years. In the midst of the great famine in Ireland in the middle of the 19th century the Fenian movement emerged in the US. Since then the Irish population in the US have always been a major factor in Irish nationalism and the independence and Republican movements. At the height of the IRA’s campaign on mainland Britain their primary funding was not coming from Gaddafi or the Soviet Union, it was coming from Irish Americans in the US. Northern Irish Aid, known as NORAID, collected millions of dollars and sent them to terrorists in Ireland, in part to fund bombings and assassinations here in Britain.
And for some reason, everyone was OK with this. The American government never really did a damn thing, the British government made the occasional objection but nothing that added up to a hill of beans, and so it carried on for quite some time.
But getting back to the history, the Fenian Brotherhood and the Irish Republican Brotherhood were both founded in the US in the years after the famine, in the late 1850s. These were fraternal organisations, i.e. quasi masonic revolutionary organisations aimed at creating an independent Ireland. Just as they did a century later, Irish Americans funded and encouraged and supported Fenian terrorism in Britain. In response the British government founded the Special Irish Branch of the police – the first secret intelligence police in this country’s history. There were government intelligence networks before then, for centuries, but never ones with an office and a departmental budget and so on. This then became just the Special Branch when the anarchists joined in the fun and started blowing things up alongside the Fenians. And one of the senior officers at the Special Branch, William Melville, went on to found the Secret Service Bureau, the forerunner to MI5.
The Jubilee Plot
The highlight of Fenian terrorism in this period was the 1887 Jubilee Plot, the plan to assassinate Queen Victoria during her Golden Jubilee celebrations. The idea was to blow up Westminster Abbey and kill the Queen and half the Cabinet, but sadly the plot was not successful, and perhaps even more sadly it was actually a stitch up. The guy who was in charge of the plot was Francis Millen, a member of Clan Na Gael which was an outgrowth of the fraternal organisations I mentioned before. But Francis Millen was also a spy working for the British government as a sting operative, someone who could draw out Fenians who could then be arrested, and also someone who could provoke and engineer this massive scary terrorist plot that made the Fenian movement look bad.
Millen was outed at the trial but was allowed to escape to the US where he then died in curious circumstances, and in the century and a quarter since then it has become clear exactly what the Jubilee Plot was. This was followed only a few years later by the Walsall Anarchists case which did the same thing for the Anarchist movement, at least in Britain. So these tactics, these techniques, go back a long way.
Irish War of Independence
Skip forward thirty years and in the wake of World War 1 we had the Irish war of Independence. For some decades the Irish nationalist movement had embraced the political route and had a parliamentary party in the British parliament who argued for home rule, i.e. Ireland running itself. Those who became frustrated with the political route’s lack of progress turned back to more revolutionary methods and founded the IRA, the Irish Republican Army, in 1913. This then became all out guerilla warfare against the British government from 1919 to 1921, leading to the Anglo-Irish treaty and the partitioning of Ireland into what we now call the Republic of Ireland, the south, and Northern Ireland, which remains part of the UK.
As always happens when the British government partitions a country, this led to civil war. Same thing happened in Cyprus, India, Palestine, you name it. However, for a few decades the British establishment was more concerned with other things, like fire bombing Dresden and renaming eugenics ‘transhumanism’ to try to sell it to a wider audience, things of that nature.
But in Ireland the issue continued. The majority Catholic and Republican South continued to see the predominantly Protestant and Unionist North as something of an insult – they thought it should all be part of one united Ireland. However, the Protestants didn’t trust the Republicans to let them continue being Protestants – this being an religious conflict that goes back many centuries in the British Isles, and indeed across much of Western Europe. So they thought they were better off staying as part of the United Kingdom. Meanwhile, the minority Catholics in the North were discriminated against, they were usually limited to working class jobs and couldn’t rise up the social ladder. So there was a febrile mix of political, ethnic and religious tensions that inevitably turned violent once more.
It all kicked off again in the late 1960s, at exactly the same time as Italy and other Western European countries saw a massive upsurge in terrorist violence, largely as a result of Gladio. This is, I assume, not a coincidence. Until the mid to late 1990s with the peace process and the Good Friday agreement, Northern Ireland, the border with Southern Ireland, and to some extent southern Ireland and the mainland UK experienced numerous bombings and shootings and all manner of terrorist attacks. Far more than the so called Muslim extremists have ever managed to carry out.
Once again the British government responded by creating new laws to supposedly combat the terrorist menace. Indeed, we did not have permanent counter-terrorism laws in this country until shortly before 9/11 – the previous laws were all temporary provisions that got renewed every year. Among other things they suspended the right to trial by jury and established secret Diplock courts where Irish paramilitaries were tried and convicted. It seems an awful lot of these cases – probably more than half – were so weak that there’s no way a jury would ever have found them guilty.
Loyalists vs Republicans
So that’s my brief history of what led up to the Troubles, so let’s now look at what was going on there, first with the paramilitary groups. On the one side you have the IRA and other republican gangs and splinter groups such as the INLA, a Marxist offshoot, and the Real IRA who pledged to continue the violence when the IRA re-embraced the peaceful political route in the 1990s. Of course you also have Sinn Fein, who are and always were the political front for the IRA, though they often denied having anything to do with them and renounced violence. These were Catholic Republican groups who believed Ireland should be one country. Most of their violence was directed at the British authorities in Northern Ireland, and sometimes on the British mainland too.
On the other side you have the Loyalists, the Ulster Volunteer Force, Ulster Defence Association and their terrorist wing the Ulster Freedom Fighters. They believed in their right to remain part of the UK and in fighting against Irish Republicanism, particular in defending Belfast which was coming under attack from the IRA in this late 60s-early 70s period. Though in truth some of the bombings blamed on the IRA in this period were actually carried out by Loyalists trying to scare their own people into getting involved in the fight against Republicanism. Most of their violence was directed at the Irish Republicans but also at the Catholic population who supported them.
Then we have the intelligence agencies. Obviously MI5 and MI6 but also the RUC – Royal Ulster Constabulary, the British police in Northern Ireland – their Special Branch. And we shouldn’t discount the FBI, who certainly had agents in Ireland, and the Garda, the Republic of Ireland police. We also have the British military and military intelligence, stationed in Northern Ireland, particularly in and around Belfast. So you can see how all of these different factions and agencies added up to a very complex story, and I hope I’ve given you some clarity on who is who and how all this came about.
What is absolutely critical to understand is that both sides of this conflict were heavily infiltrated and manipulated by the British security services. I strongly recommend you read an article from the Belfast Telegraph, ‘half of all top IRA men worked for security services’. It refers to a dossier based on the testimony of a whistleblower who says that as many as 1 in 4 members of the IRA were informers or agents for British intelligence, rising to as many as 1 in 2 in the upper ranks. It also says the Garda, the Irish police, were helping the IRA and that MI5 and British military intelligence infiltrated the Garda to find out more.
If you want specific examples you can look up agent Stakeknife of MI5. He is probably the best known British agent in Ireland, and has been outed as Fred Scapaticci. I will also point you to John Joe Magee – the head of the IRA’s internal security who was also a British government agent. So the guy inside the IRA who was responsible for rooting out traitors and spies was himself a traitor and a spy.
Just a quick point here – this is the problem with the cell structure in terrorist and other radical groups. It is true that having a compartmentalised cell structure does make it harder to infiltrate your organisation, but it also means that once infiltration has succeeded it becomes very hard to counteract. Put more simply, the IRA’s active cells, the real violent hard bastards, often met anonymously, six guys in a room all wearing balaclavas. So, if two or three of those guys are working for some or other government agency, how would you know? You don’t even know what the guy looks like because he’s wearing a balaclava. So when you think about all those early post-9/11 books on Al Qaeda talking about how they had a cell structure like the IRA that made it all but impossible to infiltrate, every single one of those books is talking bollocks. And if their authors were half the terror experts they like to pretend they are, they would know this.
Loyalist Paramilitaries and British Military Intelligence
However, it is the use of Loyalist paramilitaries as proxy forces that is what turned this from a political struggle into an bitter ethnic conflict. When the Republican movement turned back towards violence in the late 60s the Loyalists were inevitably going to fight back. As they saw it, they had a right to remain part of the UK, or at least to make that decision for themselves, not have it forced onto them by Catholic Republican terrorists. By the early 70s this had broken out into urban warfare between Protestants and Catholics, Loyalists and Republicans, on the streets of Belfast.
And this is where the British military intelligence unit the MRF, military reconnaissance force, stepped in. They trained, equipped, organised and radicalised the Loyalist paramilitary organisations to encourage and help them go after the Republicans. I have recently been reading a book called Killing for Britain, written by a former Loyalist terrorist who recruited to be part of this process. He goes by the name John Black, but that’s obviously a pseudonym, and while some stories told by former terrorists are suspect – such as Kevin Fulton, who you will come across when you look into this and I don’t take to be at all trustworthy – I find that this story has the ring of truth about it. A lot of this information can be verified through other sources, and the author seems genuinely regretful and tells a plausible story of how he got caught up in all this, the conflicts within him about what he was doing, and so on.
Killing for Britain
So this book Killing for Britain outlines how he was recruited by Mike, who worked for the Military Reconnaissance Force. Over a period of months, ifnot years, he was taken to a secluded section of a British military base and trained in how to cook explosives, how to use weapons, how to do surveillance and counter-surveillance, and above all in how those Republicans were bastards who needed to be taught a lesson. While at times the British government talked about compromises, and even about handing over Northern Ireland to the Republicans, the intelligence and military officers had a quite different agenda. Those of you who have read Sibel’s The Lone Gladio will know that Greg has this mantra – fuck the Russians any way you can. Virtually identical propaganda was used to whip up the Loyalists into doing truly horrible violence against even just random Catholics, unarmed citizens who weren’t doing anything except walking down a street.
Nonetheless, this tactic of arming, training and radicalising the Loyalists was signed off by the Prime Minister, Edward Heath. Over the following two decades the strategy remained in place, extending beyond individual governments, political parties and prime ministers. This was a strategy of the deep state, not just the overt state.
Exactly how all this worked is a fascinating and absolutely horrifying lesson in state sponsored terrorism. As time went on the MRF was renamed several times, becoming the SRU – Special Reconnaissance Unit – and then the FRU – the Force Research Unit, which is probably its most famous name. But the basic aims and techniques used remained the same.
The MRF were particularly good at the ‘own goal’, i.e. a bombing carried out by loyalists which looked like an accidental bombing by Catholic Republicans. The 1971 bombing at McGurks Bar which killed 15 people was thought for several years to have been an IRA bomb that accidentally exploded. In the late 70s the getaway driver confessed to his role in the mission, and it emerged that it was a Loyalist bombing. What this book adds in is that the aim was to demoralise the Catholic population, the idea being that they would get sick of being blown up by their own side and give up on the struggle, isolating the Republican paramilitaries from their own people. In reality these ‘own goals’ had the opposite effect, often inspiring Catholics to seek revenge, thus exacerbating the violence. I do wonder whether that was the real aim, and that the MRF were just telling the Loyalists it was about demoralisation, rather than provocation, so they would be convinced to carry out the bombing. The fact that this technique continued to be used even after it became clear it was having this effect strongly suggests that was the real idea behind it.
Out of Bounds Broadcast
Another key part of the techniques used by the British military intelligence at this time was the OOB, the out of bounds broadcast. Essentially, when a military-assisted loyalist unit was planning an operation, a shooting, bombing, whatever, the MRF would send out a message saying that a specific part of town was out of bounds. Thus, all the security services – the police, military, whoever, would clear out for an hour or two, on the assumption that some kind of intelligence operation was going down that needed to avoid any kind of risk of discovery or interference. Thus, the state sponsored terrorists were free to get in, do the job, and get out again without being seen by anyone who wasn’t in the loop.
Let us take this techniques and transpose them onto our modern setting. The own goal – the disguised attack made to look like the enemy were killing themselves – does this not have strong parallels with the so called suicide bombings of 7/7 and the so called suicide hijackings of 9/11? Is this not just a slightly modified and updated version of the same tactic? After all, it leaves the alleged culprits dead and unable to answer the accusation against them, so it is perfect from a black ops propaganda point of view.
Likewise, the Out of Bounds messages show that one team within these institutions can wilfully direct everyone else away from their black operations, getting them to turn a blind eye so that the operations can continue. Going back to two episodes ago when I talked about some of the ‘intelligence failures’ leading up to 9/11 – again we’re talking about a slightly modified and updated version of the same technique.
So, both technically and strategically this process in Northern Ireland was another form of Gladio. The purpose was to generate a strategy of tension in Northern Ireland, to keep the two sides divided so they could never agree on a common political goal that they could then pursue peacefully. Instead of that they spent 30 years killing each other. Both sides just kept blaming the other and seeking revenge for the latest outrage and the whole process of Irish independence was stalled. I think this was the overall aim of the British establishment, the deep state, in pursuing these tactics in Northern Ireland.
Killing For Britain puts it a little differently, in the author’s note at the start of the book it says ‘In order to draw the IRA into a sectarian war, the MRF used loyalist paramilitaries as their weapons to incite a sectarian conflict, in order to weaken the provisionals support within the Catholic Community.’
The British State Murder of Patrick Finucane
Before I leave you I do want to point you to one particularly terrible example of this process in action, the assassination of Patrick Finucane in 1989. He was a human rights lawyer who had defended both Republicans and Loyalists from terrorism charges. He had won several major cases against the British government, and so he was seen by some to be an enemy of the state. One evening in February 1989, masked gunman burst into his home while he and his family were eating dinner, shooting him 14 times, injuring his wife and terrorising their three children.
It was long suspected, and is now openly admitted, that the British security services colluded in Finucane’s murder. The case is pretty strong. One of the gunmen, Ken Barrett, was a special branch informer, a spy for the police. He later confessed, and said that he had not only told his RUC handler about the murder plan ahead of time, but that the police had even set up a roadblock to help them get to Finucane’s house. He was arrested in 2003, found guilty, but served only about three years in prison before being released and he has since disappeared.
The man who provided one of the guns, William Stobie, was a loyalist paramilitary quartermaster and another RUC special branch informer. He also says that he told his handler that a killing was about to take place shortly before Finucane’s murder. The gun he provided to the killers had come from a batch stolen from a British army barracks. Stobie was arrested in 1999 but when it came to his trial the key witness refused to testify, and Stobie was released. In 2001 he publicly said he would testify at an inquiry into Finucane’s murder if one was held, and that he would name the RUC handlers of various Loyalist militants. A few months later he was shot dead by Loyalist militants.
If the killer and one of the guys providing the weapons wasn’t enough, the chief of intelligence for this Loyalist gang, the guy who picked targets and found out where they lived and so on, was working for British military intelligence. Brian Nelson served in the Scottish army before joining the Loyalist Ulster Defence Association in the early 70s. He became an informer for special Branch, and in the mid 70s he was arrested and jailed for kidnapping and torturing a Catholic man. He served only three years before being released, and then went and worked in Germany for several years. Nelson was approached by military intelligence – by this time named the Force Research Unit, and asked to infiltrate the Ulster Defence Association. Nelson did this and rose quickly through the ranks, aided no doubt by the fact that the FRU were feeding him useful information on people being targeted by the Loyalists.
So, the guy picking the targets, the guy providing the guns and one of the gunmen were all working for the British security services. It is no wonder than even the official inquires have concluded that the British state colluded in Finucane’s assassination. Indeed, the current Prime Minister David Cameron admitted as much in a private meeting with the Finucane family in 2011, and apologised for it.
Yet there has still been no public inquiry into the murder. According to the Finucane family the Prime Minister told them, ‘It is true that the previous administration could not deliver a public inquiry and neither can we. There are people in buildings all around here who won’t let it happen.’
This admission shows that the justice system in this country has been and continues to be completely subverted by the security services. They are quite literally above the law. And yet this astounding admission got barely a mention in the media, and these days no one really talks about what happened in Northern Ireland.
As for Nelson himself, he went on trial in 1992 and ended up pleading guilty to 20 charges, including 5 of conspiracy to murder. He was given only 10 years, and two counts of first degree murder were dropped as part of his plea deal. It appears he was then dumped into witness protection, and died following a heart attack in 2003.
Before I leave you I just want to make one final observation. The point at which Ireland became more peaceful and the Republicans re-embraced the peaceful, political route, was in the mid to late 90s. That’s at exactly the same time that Gladio evolved into Gladio B, with Muslimists replacing Irishists as the public enemies. So just as the Republicans and Loyalists were decomissioning a lot of their weapons, the likes of Al Muhajiroun were being formed, and just like in Ireland their organisation has been full of spies, informers and agents of influence since its inception in this country. Something tells me that isn’t a coincidence.