Interesting comments from Robert Fisk on the Iranian crisis:
The Iranian security services are
convinced that the British security services are trying to provoke the
Arabs of Iran's Khuzestan province to rise up against the Islamic
Republic. Bombs have exploded there, one of them killing a truck-load
of Revolutionary Guards, and Tehran blamed MI5. Outrageous, they said.
The Brits made no comment, even when the Iranians hanged a man
accused of the killings from a crane; he had, they said, been working
Are the SAS in south-western Iran, just as the British claim the
Iranians are in south-eastern Iraq, harassing the boys in Basra with
new-fangled bombs? (Independent)
What gives these comments a certain piquancy is the fact that Fisk is
the man who exposed the presence of the SAS in Northern Ireland in the mid-1970s.
I now expect to receive his final report on 13 March 2007. It is my intention to publish the report as soon as possible after it is received. However, I am required by law to consider certain issues prior to publication. This is likely to involve requesting legal advice from the Attorney General. I will also submit it to the Cabinet prior to publication. The timescale involved between receipt of the report and publication is impossible to estimate in advance but I certainly wish to publish the report as quickly as possible. If at all possible, I will do so while the House is sitting, before the Easter break. (Oireachtas report)
Only just noticed this from the Sunday Telegraph about the Joint Research Group, the latest acronym for the Force Research Unit:
Working alongside the Special Air Service and the American Delta Force
as part of the Baghdad-based counter-terrorist unit known as Task Force
Black, they have supplied intelligence that has saved hundreds of lives
and resulted in some of the most notable successes against the myriad
terror groups fighting in Iraq. Only last week, intelligence from the
JSG is understood to have led to a series of successful operations
against Sunni militia groups in southern Baghdad. (Sunday Telegraph)
I wonder why Sean Rayment's sources have chosen to spoke out about the FRU's role with the Americans now? Could it have anything to do with this development on 30 January?
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. House of Representatives today approved a resolution introduced by U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) that calls on the British government to continue to advance the recent historic progress in the Northern Ireland peace process by following through on their promise of full “independent public judicial” investigation into the murder of Northern Ireland defense attorney Pat Finucane. (Rep. Chris Smith - House.gov)
The Connolly Association brings us news of a Bloody Sunday commemoration meeting in London on Sunday. The collusion theme looks very timely. It will be interesting to hear from Alan Brecknell (who I interviewed last year) in the wake of the recent Ombudsman's report. The fact an election has just been announced might also bring a spark to the SDLP and SF contributions.
Remembering Bloody Sunday January 30, 1972 Public Meeting: 2.30pm Sunday 4th February 2007 London Irish Centre, 50 - 52 Camden Square, NW1 9XB
Speakers: JOHN KELLY - Bloody Sunday Relative JOHN McDONNELL MP ALAN BRECKNELL Pat Finucane Centre RAYMOND McCARTNEY - Sinn Fein COLUM EASTWOOD - SDLP
The full public version of the report is available here.
O'Loan's conclusion that that the officers running informers "could not have operated as they did without knowledge and support at the highest levels of the RUC/PSNI," is noteworthy given that Sir Ronnie Flanagan, now Her Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary, was appointed head of Special Branch in 1994, and Chief Constable in 1996.
Raymond McCord senior posed the key question for him today:
"I also challenge Ronnie Flanagan to say whether he knew about this or
not. If he didn't, he was a poor Chief Constable and should be sacked
as HM Inspector of Constabulary and, if he did, he should be stripped
of his knighthood." (Belfast Newsletter)
The Sunday Business Post has a good series of articles on the 1976 state papers by Rory Rapple. One particularly interesting piece concerns the official deployment of the SAS to Northern Ireland, and the relationship between the SAS and the Special Reconnaissance Unit.
Mason also consulted prime minister Callaghan over
the recruitment of troops for a plain clothes Special Reconnaissance
Unit (SRU) which, according to his top secret letter dated September 8,
had been operating in Northern Ireland since at least March 1974. Mason
wanted Callaghan to drop the ban which had previously prevented ex-SAS
members joining the SRU until they had been out of the regiment for at
least two years.
The SRU’s role, according to Mason, was
‘‘surveillance of both republican and Protestant extremists’’, an area
in which it had amassed ‘‘much exceptionally valuable intelligence’’.
members of the SRU were actually used to infiltrate paramilitary
organisations is not explicitly stated, but what is certain from
Mason’s note is that the force was always trained by the SAS.
Correspondence on this issue also indicates that the SAS had been in the North for a lengthy period before January 1976. (Sunday Business Post)
My own piece on the SRU, which appeared in the now-defunct Daily Ireland last year, sheds some light on this earlier SAS presence:
In the midst of the Cold War retro coverage of Russian
spies, poisoning and Kremlin conspiracies, a little-noticed report by
the Irish parliament last week cast a grim light on the activities of
Britain's own 'secret state' during the Troubles.
report was from the parliamentary committee which examined the 1975
Kay's Tavern bombing in Dundalk. According to the report, the Dundalk
bombing was one of various atrocities and murders carried out during
the 1970s by a South Armagh-based loyalist gang with the 'widespread'
collusion of British security forces. (The First Post)
Bertie Ahern has said it is 'absolutely essential' that the British
Government examine the findings of reports into collusion, and that it
fully co-operates with all investigations into the serious issues that
statement issued after the publication of an Oireachtas Committee
report, he said its findings regarding collusion were 'deeply troubling
and a matter of most serious concern', and painted 'a very disturbing
PFC researcher Alan Brecknell, whose father died in one of the gun/bomb attacks carried out by members of a UVF/RUC/UDR gang based at Glenanne in South Armagh, welcomed the report and called on the Northern Secretary of State to "release the documents which to date have been withheld from the Irish Government, NGOs and families. It's time to come clean on the links between the northern security forces and loyalist paramilitaries."
Potentially very significant story from Colm Heatley at the weekend:
A former senior British Army intelligence officer has claimed that his military career in the North was ended after he raised objections about the murder of a Catholic man in Co Armagh, which he believes was carried out in collusion with loyalist paramilitaries.
Lieutenant Colonel Nigel Wylde, who served in the North during the early to mid-1970s, told The Sunday Business Post the murder was carried out after information was passed from the British Army to a loyalist gang who then shot dead an innocent Catholic with no political connections. (Sunday Business Post)