British State Terrorism from Northern Ireland to Syria
By Finian Cunningham
December 16, 2012 "Information Clearing
- This story connects far-flung places. Kenya,
Malaya, Northern Ireland and now Syria. The one over-arching
theme is British counter-insurgency strategy, or more
plainly, the use of state terrorism by British forces to
achieve political objectives.
story came alive again this week with two seemingly
unrelated news developments. First, we learn of deeper
involvement of Britains military in the violence
raging across Syria. British military officers and
Special Forces are reportedly training - in Jordanian
territory - foreign-backed militants to step up their
campaign of terrorism across Syria.
These terror gangs, whom the Western mainstream media
call freedom fighters, have been plunging
Syria into bloody chaos for the past 22 months, with car
bombs ripping through civilian neighbourhoods and death
squads massacring whole villages, the latest being Aqrab
in Hama Province where over 125 people where murdered
this week. Ample evidence shows that the mercenaries,
recruited from various countries including Libya, Saudi
Arabia and Iraq, are covertly supplied with weapons and
training from the US, Britain and France via the conduits
of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey.
The surge in violence and killing of civilians, with a
notable agenda of inciting sectarian war, is proof that
the British expertise in fomenting terror is paying
dividends for the Western imperialist objective of
destabilizing Syrian society and the government of
President Bashar al-Assad.
The second development this week was the publication of
an official British report into the murder 23 years ago
of Belfast lawyer Pat Finucane. The two issues, Syrian
violence and the killing of Mr Finucane, are intimately
related - although the British government and its media
have done their best to bury any connection.
Lets unravel the layers of obfuscation.
When the review of Mr Finucanes murder by Sir
Desmond de Silva QC was published this week, British
Prime Minister David Cameron offered an apology to the
family of the Belfast man. I am deeply sorry,
said Cameron in the British House of Commons, and he went
on to acknowledge that the killing pointed to shocking
levels of collusion between British security forces
and loyalist death squads. The latter were paramilitaries
recruited from Northern Irelands pro-British
civilian population that perpetrated many heinous murders
during the conflict in that territory between 1969-1994.
However, the widow of Mr Finucane and their children
denounced the latest review as a white wash.
Geraldine Finucane has good reason to dismiss the report
because it portrays the murder of her husband as a rogue
act of violence. Cameron added to the white wash by
saying that the case represented a failing by
the British military forces to prevent the murder.
This is typical official British deception. For what the
murder of Pat Finucane reveals is not a failure, but
rather a successful deployment of Britains policy
of state terrorism - a policy that involved the
systematic collusion between British military
intelligence and loyalist death squads. This practice was
and is a central part of British counter-insurgency
tactics - a policy that was overseen from the highest
office of British government in Downing Street.
Much of Britains dirty war strategy, as
an institutional practice, can be attributed to one of
its most decorated military commanders - General Sir
Kitson published his war manual - Low Intensity
Operations - in 1971. It has since become a standard text
for British military counter-insurgency techniques, or as
we have noted, state terrorism.
Kitson developed his techniques from his involvement in
suppressing popular uprisings in the British colonies of
Kenya during the Mau-Mau rebellion (1953-55) and in
Malaya (1957) against a communist
In 1970, the then Brigadier was dispatched to Northern
Ireland, which itself was on the cusp of a renewed Irish
republican struggle against British rule in that province
of the United Kingdom. One of Kitsons innovations
was the recruitment of what he called counter gangs.
For his endeavours and meritrocious service,
he was later knighted by the British Queen, later going
on to serve as her aide-de-camp and elevated to Commander-in-Chief
of UK land forces from 1982-1985.
callous objective devised by Kitson was to use
British proxy death squads to sow as much terror and
mayhem as possible in order to destroy popular
insurgency. This was the beginning of Britains
policy of collusion in Northern Ireland, which
operated for nearly three decades and claimed
hundreds of lives. From the British government point
of view, one great advantage of this policy was to
provide plausible denial to the
authorities for the state terrorism that they were
unleashing. This advantage still pertains to this day,
as can be seen from the latest review into Pat
Finucanes murder and the hollow apology from
David Cameron for shocking levels of collusion.
There is little doubt that the British state at the
highest level ordered Mr Finucanes assassination.
During the 1980s, he was a formidable young lawyer,
successfully defending dozens of individuals who had
fallen foul to the British system of repression and
corruption of the legal process. Finucane was a thorn in
the side of the British establishment, exposing its
vicious policies of criminalising republican political
On 17 January 1989, British cabinet minister Douglas Hogg
addressed the House of Commons and denounced what he
called solicitors who are unduly sympathetic to the
IRA [Irish Republican Army]. Hogg later said that
he had been briefed by people who knew -
meaning British intelligence. On that fateful day, Hogg
effectively signed Pat Finucanes death warrant.
Less than a month later, on 12 February 1989, a loyalist
death squad sledgehammered its way into the Finucane home
in Belfast while the family was having Sunday dinner. In
front of his wife and three children, the gunmen shot Pat
Finucane 12 times in the head as he lay prone on the
floor of the kitchen, his terrified children huddled
under the dining table as shot after shot rang out.
After 23 years of the familys courageous
campaigning for justice, David Cameron admitted this week
that the murder was carried out by loyalists in collusion
with British intelligence, which had provided the killers
with target details and helped in their escape on the day
of the killing.
But this appalling murder is but the tip of a sordid
iceberg that reveals systematic state terrorism by the
British government and its military over decades in
A year before Pat Finucanes murder, British
military intelligence oversaw the smuggling of hundreds
of high-powered weapons from South Africa to their
loyalist paramilitary operatives in Northern Ireland.
The consignment included AK47 assault rifles, Browning
semi-automatic pistols and fragmentation grenades.
In a seminal investigative study by Belfast-based
civilian campaign group, Relatives For Justice, titled
Collusion: 1990-1994, it was found that this supply of
firepower by British intelligence to loyalist death
squads resulted in a dramatic escalation of murders by
these same gangs. Based on forensic and ballistics data,
the weapons from South Africa were used in as many as 300
murders by loyalist death squads - nearly 10 per cent of
the total death toll during the entire conflict. Some of
the victims of state-sanctioned murder were republican
activists, but many more were just ordinary civilians.
The murder of Pat Finucane is just one out of hundreds of
killings in Northern Ireland that the British authorities
perpetrated in their policy of collusion with death
squads. It is a policy that grew out of its terror
campaigns in East Africa and Asia and which was optimized
in Northern Ireland. The political objective was to
terrorise the population in the North of Ireland into
accepting a peace process during the 1990s
that falls way short of the legitimate claim to national
self-determination and independence of a united Ireland.
Unfortunately, it may be seen as having been a partial
British success given that Northern Ireland still remains
a sectarian territory under British jurisdiction -
despite the aspirations of the majority of Irish people
across the entire island.
Syria, of course, the political conditions are
different. There, the majority of Syrian people
support the government in Damascus and are opposed to
foreign interference. The so-called uprising that the
Western governments and their servile propaganda news
media trumpet is nothing but a foreign covert
criminal war of aggression fuelled by foreign
weaponry and mercenaries.
one can still discern the malevolent hand of British
state terrorist expertise: the training, weapons,
intelligence and logistics. Moreover, the use of terror
gangs to inflict mayhem and sectarian bloodletting is
straight out of the British military manual, as devised
by General Sir Frank Kitson.
As car bombs tear through the bodies of Syrian
schoolchildren and as loved ones end up in side-street
gutters with bullets in the head - this is classic
British policy of using terroristic means to achieve
nefarious political ends: in this case, the dismemberment
of Syrian society and the implementation of regime change.
Originally from Belfast,
Ireland, Finian Cunningham (born 1963) is a prominent
expert in international affairs. The author and media
commentator was expelled from Bahrain in June 2011 for
his critical journalism in which he highlighted human
rights violations by the Western-backed regime. He is a
Masters graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and
worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of
Chemistry, Cambridge, England,