The Killing Years in Ireland

Johannes Schneider Johannes.Schneider at
Tue Feb 20 05:35:42 MST 2001

>From the German magazine Telepolis:

Enquiry : The Killing Years in Ireland

Anon = Maharajah   20.02.2001
British security authorities resort to intimidation to cover up a series of
state-sponsored killing

British journalists, police officers and Army undercover intelligence agents
are increasingly in battle with each other as an intelligence scandal
threatens to expose a series of state-sponsored killing of the kind more
commonly associated with former South American dictatorships than with a
modern western European nation.

For the last two years, British security authorities have resorted to legal
duress and intimidation tactics to conceal the identity and activities of
Army intelligence operators who played a key role in a secret unit that set
up innocent civilians to be murdered, actively collaborated with and fed
intelligence to death squads, and then set fire to police offices to destroy
their files and prevent an investigation uncovering their activities.

The secret unit, called the Force Research Unit (FRU) was a high level
intelligence unit tasked with handling undercover agents in Northern Ireland
and the Irish Republic. It was set up in the early 1980s to take over
previously unco-ordinated agent running activities, placing them all under a
single professional command structure.

The lawless misconduct of FRU has come to light over the last two years as a
result of an extended police enquiry into controversial assassinations by
the Protestant terrorist organisation, including the Ulster Defence
Association (UDA). The enquiries originally focussed on the slaying of
prominent republican lawyer Pat Finucane in February 1989.

It has since emerged that Finucane's killing was planned by the UDA's
intelligence officer, Brian Nelson. But, unknown to his terrorist
colleagues, Nelson was a British intelligence agent. He was being run by the
FRU, to whom he reported routinely, exchanging information on republicans
whom the UDA sought to kill. The UDA's quartermaster, William Stobie, who
provided the murder weapons and hid them afterwards, was also a British
agent. He worked for the Special Branch of the Royal Ulster Constabulary,
the police force of Northern Ireland.

Former members of the FRU have told journalists that up to 13 Irish
Catholics were killed in this way. One case which came to light last year
was the 1987 murder of a Catholic pensioner living in West Belfast,
Francisco Notorantonio. Notorantonio, aged 66 when he died, had not been
involved in politics for 30 years. He was set up to be killed by the FRU, as
a sacrificial victim to protect a top British agent.

Shortly before the murder, FRU had been informed of a plan to kill a leading
member of the IRA, who was secretly a British intelligence agent. Codenamed
STAKEKNIFE, the agent was and still is British intelligence's longest term
and most successful informant inside the Irish terrorist group. When they
learned of the plot, the FRU panicked. To head the killers away from
STAKEKNIFE, they prepared and handed over a false dossier, suggesting that
the innocent and harmless Notorantonio would be a better target for their

The existence and importance of Agent STAKEKNIFE has recently been publicly
confirmed by the police investigation which is determined to undercover the
truth of the FRU affair. The investigation is headed by Sir John Stevens,
the Commissioner of the Metropolitan (London) Police. He is Britain's most
senior police officer. Ten years earlier, when he was in a less senior
position, Stevens was first asked to investigate the killings in Northern
Ireland. As he and his team started to uncover the nature of Army collusion
with protestant terrorists, he faced an arson attack. The teams' offices,
which were located in a highly secure police headquarters building with
multiple alarm systems, went on fire, destroying the files. The attack
effectively brought Stevens' first enquiry to a fruitless end.

The mystery of how sophisticated alarms had been disabled to get in and burn
the files was solved when a former member of the FRU came forward and
revealed that they had been responsible for the crime. The breaking,
entering and fireraising had been carried out by a team from Army
intelligence's CME (Covert Methods of Entry) unit. Called in by the FRU
commander to destroy the incriminating evidence accumulating in police
hands, the CME team flew in from England and carried out the arson attack on
the police. They crudely attempted to disguise the fire as having been
started by a cigarette left in a waste bin.

Three years ago, Sir John Stevens, now promoted to be the commissioner of
the Metropolitan police, was asked to conduct another enquiry into collusion
in Northern Ireland, focusing on the murder of Patrick Finucane. Since then,
he and his operational assistant, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Hugh Orde,
have made it clear that they are not going to be deflected by Army dirty
tricks and disinformation.

The former soldier who came forward used the pseudonym "Martin Ingram". The
Ministry of Defence responded ferociously. One soldier whom they believed to
be Ingram was charged under the Official Secrets Act. Journalists to whom he
spoke were threatened with prosecution. The charges meant that while one
police enquiry was relying on him as a key witness, another police enquiry
was trying to silence him.

But, with increasing controversy surrounding British secrecy laws, the
charges against "Ingram" had to be dropped. Harassment then started from a
new quarter. A group calling itself "friends of FRU" started circulating
personal information about him. One former FRU colleague e-mailed dozens of
newspapers giving details of "Ingram" 's identity, address and activities.
He was being set up.

The former FRU soldier behind the e-mail campaign was arrested for
harassment. But then the charges were dropped. Fearing that the police could
not protect him safely, "Ingram" withdrew his evidence from the Stevens

Two weeks ago on Ulster Television, another member of FRU came forward to
talk about what the unit had done. Agreeing that there had been a policy of
"shoot to kill by proxy", the former the FRU member said that his unit had
acted as "judge, jury and executioner ... [it was] immoral and probably

FRU is still operating, running agents in Ireland. Since it became
controversial, it has adopted a new cover name. This is JCU(NI). It stands
for the Joint Collection Unit (Northern Ireland). It works directly with the
British Security Service ("MI5"), which also has offices and technical teams
on the ground in Northern Ireland.

To confuse the many British journalists who are now investigating the
activities of FRU, another intelligence unit was renamed FIU. This is the
Force Intelligence Unit. It has nothing to do with FRU, but runs more
orthodox intelligence activities, such as the computer called CAISTER which
holds "fine grain" intelligence files on most of the Northern Ireland
population. It was formerly called 12 Intelligence Company.

A third group in the undercover world of Northern Ireland is the Joint
Support Group (JSG). Formerly known by a variety of names such as "14
Intelligence Company" or "The Dets", it provides undercover surveillance
teams for long-term surveillance activities. Its teams work closely with the
SAS detachment based in Northern Ireland.

Until now, mystery has surrounded the identity of the agent handler who was
Brian Nelson's link to the Army and who passed on the critical instructions
and government intelligence to enable the protestants to murder the Army's
selected targets. But the name leaked out late last year.

Early in December, the government threatened legal action to gag the Sunday
Herald, a Scottish newspaper, after former colleagues of Nelson's handler
revealed her identity to their journalists. The paper was compelled under
threat of legal order to undertake that it would not reveal her name,
location or identify her by printing a photograph.

Then the case for conspiracy to murder against her and the officers who gave
her orders grew stronger, after police Commissioner Orde revealed that he
had recovered boxes of army intelligence documents called "contact forms"
and MISRs (Military Intelligence Source Reports). The contact forms give
details of every meeting between agents and their handlers. The MISR
reported detailed and assessed the intelligence provided by the agents. The
police found that some of the reports were "incriminating".

The officer who commanded the Force Research Unit during the killing years
was Lt Colonel Gordon Kerr. He has since been promoted to Brigadier. As the
British police homed on his importance, he was sent to the other side of the
world, to serve as the British military attaché in Beijing.

The intelligence operator who handled Brian Nelson - whose name is banned in
Britain - is Captain Margaret Walshaw. Although any British newspaper editor
who published her name is threatened with imprisonment, she is openly listed
in the current official British government publication, the "Army List". At
the time she ran agent Brian Nelson and supervised his murderous activities,
she was a non commissioned officer (sergeant) in Britain's Intelligence

On 1st April 1998, Sergeant Walshaw was promoted from the ranks to become an
officer. She has also been awarded the "British Empire Medal" for her

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