Northern Ireland 1972: A 'model' of sectarian 'divide & rule'
The secret Military Reaction
Force (MRF) was tasked with conducting plainclothes
'drive-by' shootings of Republican IRA
It's taken 40 years for taxpayers to be told the truth about how their money was being spent by Edward Heath's 1972 Conservative government. Around Belfast's 'no-go' areas, under Nationalist control, at least one hidden firearm was thought to be held at every street barricade. Anyone manning or even walking past these piles of rubble blocking off side roads was seen by some in the MRF as a legitimate target to gun down.
The BBC documentary'Panorama: Britain's Secret Terror Force' aired just a day after Northern Irish Attorney General John Larkin called for an amnesty on atrocities committed during the Irish troubles. He may be right to break this taboo, but was he lobbied by British soldiers and their friends who fear justice taking its course as this evidence comes to light?
Lethal allies: British collusion in Ireland
Last month the Pat Finucane Centre book'Lethal Allies: British Collusion in Ireland' was published. Drawing on previously unpublished reports from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI)'s Historical Enquiries Team, author Anne Cadwallader confirms the extent to which the British-controlled Northern Irish state apparatus was itself, along with Ulster's network of Masonic Orange Order lodges, a lawless terrorist organization.
Cadwallader shows how the British government in the form of the police (RUC), army (UDR), secret services (MI5) as well as secret units such as the Force Research Unit (FRU) systematically targeted Republicans, pouring petrol on the flames of an already bloody sectarian conflict in which over 3,000 people died.
Panorama's revelations firm up evidence that the state was shooting dead rather than attempting to arrest and try suspects. This so-called 'shoot to kill' policy was vehemently denied by Westminster politicians of all colors through two decades of troubles.
Even the more extreme accounts of state terrorism, such as the much ridiculed 1996 'Nemesis File'book by supposed former SAS soldier Paul Bruce begin to look credible.
Bruce 'confesses' to being part of an elite SAS team kidnapping, torturing, interrogating and killing Republican suspects. Bruce's book even has color Ordnance Survey maps purporting to show 'where the bodies are buried'.
It is one thing for British taxpayers, through the Ministry of Defense, to have been supporting Loyalist paramilitaries with 'targeting intelligence', names and addresses, places of work, times and locations where IRA suspects could most easily be killed. It is another to hand Loyalist terrorists bomb-making equipment, explosives, detonators and timers.
But the troubles, and IRA recruiting, really moved up a gear when British soldiers donned mufti, hopped into civilian cars and began tooling around Nationalist areas. Rather than a force for good, they became ghastly players in a horror show world of sectarian killings of parents in front of children portrayed graphically in Alan Clarke and Danny Boyle's graphically shocking 1989 feature film 'Elephant'.
Turn Queen's evidence or face full force of the law
Each of these new collusion revelations show previous 'exhaustive' reports, such as the 2003 Stephens Inquiry, to be half-baked. Nevertheless as both Nationalist and Unionist families who lost innocent loved ones renew their calls for justice, it would be wrong to focus attention on middle-ranking officers and the soldiers on the ground.
The real responsibility for these atrocities lies close to the door of 'untouchable' senior soldiers of the day, whether now living or dead. General Sir Mike Jackson has admitted he knew of the MRF and Brigadier Gordon Kerr, who ran the previously-uncovered Force Research Unit (FRU), should turn queen's evidence. Military advisers Colonel David Stirling and counter-insurgency dirty tricks 'guru' General Frank Kitson as well, are unlikely to have been far from the crime scene.
But high-ranking army officers are rarely stupid men. Secret operations like the MRF only get legs once the military chain of command secure themselves a 'get out of jail free' card. They need to know the criminality is being quietly sanctioned from the very top.
Egged on by Ministry of Defense advisers such as Kitson, the prime minister, Northern Ireland and the defense secretary of the day would have signed off MRF's shooting of innocent unarmed civilians not with a signature, but with a nod and a wink, on the understanding that nothing would be officially recorded.
Conservative Prime Minister Edward Heath died in 2005, but then-Defense Secretary Lord Peter Carrington is still alive. Carrington will be relieved that BBC Panorama's editor John Ware didn't include "Lord Carrington declined to comment" in this week's film, but not just for his Northern Ireland role.
As chairman for nearly a decade of the controversial elite Bilderberg meetings of NATO-zone big business, royalty and bankers, founded by former SS officer Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, Panorama may have a string as long as your arm of impossible questions for him to answer.
Cashing in on poison of collusion
In the last few weeks, campaign group Corporate Watch has revealed what looks like a post 'troubles' cottage industry for former British soldiers and police officers in Northern Ireland. Robbed of their own sectarian conflict British police colleges are now training Britain's old colonial powers such as Bahrain and Sri Lanka in the niceties of destroying the organized resistance of oppressed people.
A recent report on Belfast security consultancy 'The Ineqe Group' suggests a modern-day program along the lines of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) which brought US 'adviser' Dan Mitione, potrayed by Costa Gavras in his 1972 film'State of Seige', to train Uruguay's fascist police in operational tactics.
From gathering intelligence on organizers of peaceful 'Arab spring' protests, through torture techniques, to planting bombs at synagogues, mosques and churches to inflame sectarian tensions. A whole toolkit has been developed to get factions fighting each other rather than their tyrannical regime.
Suicide bombers that are nothing of the sort, hapless individuals hit by a Hellfire missile from a drone but labeled a kamikaze by the press before the truth has a chance to catch its breath. As the gruesome War on Terror rumbles on these 'skills' are in demand by every well-heeled despot on the planet.
Sectarian strife as learning experience
It's par for the course that you'll hear people again and again saying of Ireland's 'troubles' that this all happened a long time ago and that we must move on. But if we shrug our shoulders and turn our backs on the past we may lose the opportunity to learn one of modern history's most valuable lessons.
In South Africa, post-Apartheid truth and reconciliation has had an enormous impact on reinforcing state structures, helping to bolster them. There the keynote is to forgive, but not to forget. To open up high offices to public scrutiny, to work together to stop corrupt soldiers and politicians at the top repeating the deliberate 'divide and rule' tactics of the past.
How Truth and Reconciliation plays out in Northern Ireland is crucial, and may, like the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement, set an example to the world. How sectarian strife, orchestrated from the very top both in Northern Ireland and the rest of the world, can be brought round to a peaceful and just society, fit to hand on to our children.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.