26 September 2005 — InvestigatingImperialism
This month Geoff Hoon, the Defence Secretary, announced the establishment of a new regiment, the Special Reconnaissance Regiment (SRR), to provide covert surveillance expertise for operations by the SAS and the Special Boat Service. Although he did not specify which experts he had in mind, the new regiment is largely based around the surveillance specialists of the 14th Intelligence Company, also known as “the Det” (Detachment), which has operated in Northern Ireland for many years. (The Times, April 2005)
This is Brigadier Gordon Kerr, identified as being involved in the deaths of at least fifteen Irish Republicans during his tenure as head of the FRU or the Force Reconnaissance Unit in Northern Ireland. Promoted from Lt. Colonel to Brigadier for his efforts, Kerr was given the job as military attaché in Beijing, largely to keep him out of the way of an investigation into the activities of the FRU in the assassination of human rights lawyer Pat Finucane and as many as fourteen other people.
THERE’S a phrase set aside in the British army for men like Brigadier Gordon Kerr and it’s “Green Slime’’. Soldiers don’t mince words, and to regular squaddies and military brass, Kerr and his Intelligence Corps are on roughly the same level as pond life. Highly effective, immensely powerful and very dangerous pond life, but pond life nevertheless.
This is from an article by Neil Mackay on Kerr written in November 2000 for the Sunday Herald. That pond life has been given the job of ‘democratising’ Iraq speaks reams about the real objectives of the occupation of Iraq and surely should disabuse anyone of the idea that we’re there to bring ‘human rights’ to the Iraqis.
Assigned by foreign secretary Jack Straw before the invasion of Iraq took place, to ‘de-Baathify’ Iraq, it will come as no surprise that he was subsequently handed the task of heading up the re-branded FRU, now known as the Special Reconnaissance Unit (SRR) in Iraq, almost certainly the group that the two agents provocateurs captured by Iraqi police in Basra, belonged to if not directly, then because of the relationship between the SRR and the SAS.
The FRU’s collusion with right-wing death squads in northern Ireland is a fact established by the so-called Stevens Commission into collusion between the British state and groups like the UDA (the Ulster Defence Association) and the now disbanded (or again, re-branded) Royal Ulster Constabulary in the assassination of leading Republican activists. The FRU passed on intelligence to groups like the UDA obtained via plants or in some cases, ‘freelance’ operatives who played fast and loose with the facts in order to get their monthly pay cheque. It was dis-information that led to the assassination of Pat Finucane in front of his family.
These loyalist double agents, including the Ulster Defence Association’s chief of intelligence, Brian Nelson, were handed packages of photographs and military reports detailing the movements and addresses of potential targets, which in turn were passed to loyalist murder gangs. In total, an estimated 15 civilians died as a result of FRU collusion with loyalist terrorists. One victim of this collusion was the Catholic solicitor, Pat Finucane, who counted a number of prominent republicans among his clients. Other victims included known Provos and high ranking republicans; but a handful – perhaps five – were so-called innocents, people who had no other reason to die other than the fact they were Catholic.
– Neil Mackay, The Sunday Herald, November 26, 2000
Prior to Kerr’s involvement in northern Ireland, he had already established a reputation as a hard-line Cold-War ‘warrior’ when he was stationed in Berlin in the 1980s where his group known as the Int Corp almost succeeded in wrecking intelligence operations against the Soviets.
And it is important to note that Kerr was no ‘loose cannon’:
[A]ccording to FRU sources, [Kerr] was not a maverick – he was sanctioned from the top. After leaving the FRU … Kerr returned to Berlin on more intelligence matters and was then promoted to brigadier – hardly evidence that military top brass and the government were displeased with his undercover operations in Ulster.
In army terms, Kerr has what’s termed ‘’protezione’’ – a Mafia term meaning protection. Kerr has connections going right to the heart of the British establishment and his [former] position as military attache to Beijing makes him the effective joint number two in Britain’s entire military intelligence operation. – Neil Mackay
Although I can’t prove it, what the capture of the two SAS/SRR operatives reveals is the obvious attempt on the part of the occupation forces to destabilize the situation in Iraq by attempting to divide the resistance, a classical colonial tactic that the Brits are so damn good at.
So here we have two provocateurs badly disguised as Iraqis, in a car packed with weapons and explosives who were intercepted by the Iraqi police and who clearly didn’t want to be exposed, hence the fire fight. The obvious conclusion to draw is that they were going to plant bombs that would then be blamed on the ‘insurgents’ and/or the Iranians.
The events in Basra have to be set in the historical context not only of the fictitious ‘war on terror’ and its role in justifying US/UK policies and the subsequent repressive measures being used to curb domestic opposition, but in the creation of the ‘bogeyman’ ‘al-Zarqawi’ who is certainly a creation of Western propaganda agencies (whether he actually exists or not).
And equally importantly as far as US/UK domestic audiences are concerned is the role played by the media in peddling such trash to a public that is overwhelmed with a continuous barrage of ‘al-Qu’eda’ this and ‘al-Zarqawi’ that on a daily basis, without a single shred of evidence to substantiate such claims that either are involved in the Iraqi resistance to the occupation. The occasional story that makes it through the minefield of corporate/state media gets lost in the welter of propaganda.
The following two stories, both from the Times on Sunday reveal just how closely the ‘official’ story and the one put out by the media are in lockstep with each other. Note that all the British sources (government/MoD) are anonymous, whereas the Iraqi-sourced are named.
The main thrusts of the ‘line’ that allegedly explains what the SAS were up to is as follows: First, the Iraqi forces are not to be trusted, infiltration by ‘insurgents’ etc, and second, yet more infiltration only now it’s the Iranians, thousands according to an Iraqi source.
There are of course, no references to the role (or history) of Kerr or the FRU let alone the allegations concerning the alternative explanation as to what the SAS/SRR operatives were up to.
The first story in the Times on Sunday (25/9/05) pretty well sums up one ‘line’ being peddled:
British officials say Iranian Revolutionary Guards and intelligence officers are active inside Basra, surreptitiously funding both the Badr brigades, blamed for the recent killings of Sunni Muslims in Iraq, and the “Mahdi” army of the firebrand cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.
Though the article doesn’t present one piece of proof that this is the case. Instead, we get assertions that “thousands” of Iranian agents are inside Iraq. The piece then goes on to quote the usual unnamed British source:
“Since the increase in attacks against UK forces two months ago a 24-strong team of SAS soldiers has been working out of Basra to provide a safety net to stop the bombers getting into the city from Iran,” said a source with inside knowledge of the operation last week.
“The aim is to identify routes used by insurgents and either capture or kill them.”
As part of that mission two SAS troopers, dressed in Arab clothes, were driving through Basra in a white Nissan on “close recce patrol” last Monday morning.
And the reason the SAS men opened fire on the Iraqi police? The Times piece regurgitates the original Brit government allegation that the Iraqi police are not to be trusted. Once more, an unnamed source tells the Times:
According to one former [British] officer with experience of Iraq, troopers believe the Iraqi police are never to be trusted because their ranks are plagued by militia members and insurgents.
“It is commonly accepted that if you are captured by the Iraqi police there is every chance you will be handed over to the militia – which is akin to a death sentence,” he said. “So the rule of thumb is to avoid being captured at all costs.”
How convenient. The second story in the Times makes it plain that it’s all Iran’s fault. Titled ‘SAS in secret war against Iranian agents’, where we learn that the:
TWO SAS soldiers rescued last week after being arrested by Iraqi police and handed over to a militia were engaged in a “secret war” against insurgents bringing sophisticated bombs into the country from Iran.
Again, the source for this is the British government, and of course, the Iraqi ‘government’, anxious to show that it can’t be Iraqis who are doing the ‘infiltration’ into their own armed forces. Moreover, the Basra authorities denied that the two men had been handed over to militia even though the Times story states categorically that ‘[t]hey were freed from a nearby house’.
The story continues:
“Since the increase in attacks against UK forces two months ago, a 24-strong SAS team has been working out of Basra to provide a safety net to stop the bombers getting into the city from Iran,” said one source. “The aim is to identify routes used by insurgents and either capture or kill them.”
If so, what were they doing in Iraqi clothes shooting at Iraqi police? What the two stories quite clearly reveal is the fact that over the time since the SAS men were nabbed, the British and Iraqi authorities have had time to get their story together, replete with all the usual suspects, ‘foreign infiltrators’ and the not to be trusted Iraqi police. The Times stories takes as fact the British government line even though the actions of the SAS men simply doesn’t fit the scenario described in the two stories.
The Force Research Unit