Response to IRA and the UK Government

Were British Special Forces Soldiers Planting Bombs in Basra?
Suspicions Strengthened by Earlier Reports

by Michael Keefer
September 25, 2005

Does anyone remember the shock with which the British public greeted
the revelation four years ago that one of the members of the Real IRA
unit whose bombing attack in Omagh on August 15, 1998 killed
twenty-nine civilians had been a double agent, a British army soldier?

That soldier was not Britain's only terrorist double agent. A second
British soldier planted within the IRA claimed he had given
forty-eight hours advance notice of the Omagh car-bomb attack to his
handlers within the Royal Ulster Constabulary, including "details of
one of the bombing team and the man's car registration." Although the
agent had made an audio tape of his tip-off call, Sir Ronnie Flanagan,
chief constable of the RUC, declared that "no such information was
received" (

This second double agent went public in June 2002 with the claim that
from 1981 to 1994, while on full British army pay, he had worked for
"the Force Research Unit, an ultra-secret wing of British military
intelligence," as an IRA mole. With the full knowledge and consent of
his FRU and MI5 handlers, he became a bombing specialist who "mixed
explosive and … helped to develop new types of bombs," including
"light-sensitive bombs, activated by photographic flashes, to overcome
the problem of IRA remote-control devices having their signal jammed
by army radio units." He went on to become "a member of the
Provisional IRA's `internal security squad'—also known as the `torture
unit'—which interrogated and executed suspected informers"

The much-feared commander of that same "torture unit" was likewise a
mole, who had previously served in the Royal Marines' Special Boat
Squadron (an elite special forces unit, the Marines' equivalent to the
better-known SAS). A fourth mole, a soldier code-named "Stakeknife"
whose military handlers "allowed him to carry out large numbers of
terrorist murders in order to protect his cover within the IRA," was
still active in December 2002 as "one of Belfast's leading
Provisionals" (

Reliable evidence also emerged in late 2002 that the British army had
been using its double agents in terrorist organizations "to carry out
proxy assassinations for the British state"—most notoriously in the
case of Belfast solicitor and human rights activist Pat Finucane, who
was murdered in 1989 by the Protestant Ulster Defence Association. It
appears that the FRU passed on details about Finucane to a British
soldier who had infiltrated the UDA; he in turn "supplied UDA murder
teams with the information" (

Recent events in Basra have raised suspicions that the British army
may have reactivated these same tactics in Iraq.

Articles published by Michel Chossudovsky, Larry Chin and Mike Whitney
at the Centre for Research on Globalization's website on September 20,
2005 have offered preliminary assessments of the claims of Iraqi
authorities that two British soldiers in civilian clothes who were
arrested by Iraqi police in Basra on September 19—and in short order
released by a British tank and helicopter assault on the prison where
they were being held—had been engaged in planting bombs in the city


A further article by Kurt Nimmo points to false-flag operations
carried out by British special forces troops in Northern Ireland and
elsewhere, and to Donald Rumsfeld's formation of the P2OG, or
Proactive Preemptive Operations Group, as directly relevant to Iraqi
charges of possible false-flag terror operations by the occupying
powers in Iraq

These accusations by Iraqi officials echo insistent but
unsubstantiated claims, going back at least to the spring of 2004, to
the effect that many of the terror bombings carried out against
civilian targets in Iraq have actually been perpetrated by U.S. and
British forces rather than by Iraqi insurgents.

Some such claims can be briskly dismissed. In mid-May 2005, for
example, a group calling itself "Al Qaeda in Iraq" accused U.S. troops
"of detonating car bombs and falsely accusing militants"
For even the most credulous, this could at best be a case of the pot
calling the kettle soot-stained. But it's not clear why anyone would
want to believe this claim, coming as it does from a group or
groupuscule purportedly led by the wholly mythical al-Zarqawi—and one
whose very name affiliates it with terror bombers. These people, if
they exist, might themselves have good reason to blame their own
crimes on others.

Other claims, however, are cumulatively more troubling.

The American journalist Dahr Jamail wrote in April 20, 2004 that the
recent spate of car bombings in Baghdad was widely rumoured to have
been the work of the CIA:

"The word on the street in Baghdad is that the cessation of suicide
car bombings is proof that the CIA was behind them. Why? Because as
one man states, `[CIA agents are] too busy fighting now, and the
unrest they wanted to cause by the bombings is now upon them.' True or
not, it doesn't bode well for the occupiers' image in Iraq."

Two days later, on April 22, 2004, Agence France-Presse reported that
five car-bombings in Basra—three near-simultaneous attacks outside
police stations in Basra that killed sixty-eight people, including
twenty children, and two follow-up bombings—were being blamed by
supporters of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr on the British. While
eight hundred supporters demonstrated outside Sadr's offices, a Sadr
spokesman claimed to have "evidence that the British were involved in
these attacks" (

An anonymous senior military officer said on April 22, 2004 of these
Basra attacks that "It looks like Al-Qaeda. It's got all the
hallmarks: it was suicidal, it was spectacular and it was symbolic."
Brigadier General Nick Carter, commander of the British garrison in
Basra, stated more ambiguously that Al Qaeda was not necessarily to
blame for the five bombings, but that those responsible came from
outside Basra and "quite possibly" from outside Iraq: "'All that we
can be certain of is that this is something that came from outside,'
Carter said" (
Moqtada al-Sadr's supporters of course believed exactly the same
thing—differing only in their identification of the criminal outsiders
as British agents rather than as Islamist mujaheddin from other Arab

In May 2005 `Riverbend', the Baghdad author of the widely-read blog
Baghdad Burning, reported that what the international press was
reporting as suicide bombings were often in fact "car bombs that are
either being remotely detonated or maybe time bombs." After one of the
larger recent blasts, which occurred in the middle-class Ma'moun area
of west Baghdad, a man living in a house in front of the blast site
was reportedly arrested for having sniped an Iraqi National Guardsman.
But according to `Riverbend', his neighbours had a different story:

"People from the area claim that the man was taken away not because he
shot anyone, but because he knew too much about the bomb. Rumor has it
that he saw an American patrol passing through the area and pausing at
the bomb site minutes before the explosion. Soon after they drove
away, the bomb went off and chaos ensued. He ran out of his house
screaming to the neighbors and bystanders that the Americans had
either planted the bomb or seen the bomb and done nothing about it. He
was promptly taken away."


Also in May 2005, Imad Khadduri, the Iraqi-exile physicist whose
writings helped to discredit American and British fabrications about
weapons of mass destruction, reported a story that in Baghdad a driver
whose license had been confiscated at an American check-point was told
"to report to an American military camp near Baghdad airport for
interrogation and in order to retrieve his license." After being
questioned for half an hour, he was informed that there was nothing
against him, but that his license had been forwarded to the Iraqi
police at the al-Khadimiya station "for processing"—and that he should
get there quickly before the lieutenant whose name he was given went
off his shift.

"The driver did leave in a hurry, but was soon alarmed with a feeling
that his car was driving as if carrying a heavy load, and he also
became suspicious of a low flying helicopter that kept hovering
overhead, as if trailing him. He stopped the car and inspected it
carefully. He found nearly 100 kilograms of explosives hidden in the
back seat and along the two back doors. The only feasible explanation
for this incident is that the car was indeed booby trapped by the
Americans and intended for the al-Khadimiya Shiite district of
Baghdad. The helicopter was monitoring his movement and witnessing the
anticipated `hideous attack by foreign elements'."


According to Khadduri, "The same scenario was repeated in Mosul, in
the north of Iraq." On this occasion, the driver's life was saved when
his car broke down on the way to the police station where he was
supposed to reclaim his license, and when the mechanic to whom he had
recourse "discovered that the spare tire was fully laden with explosives."

Khadduri mentions, as deserving of investigation, a "perhaps unrelated
incident" in Baghdad on April 28, 2005 in which a Canadian
truck-driver with dual Canadian-Iraqi citizenship was killed. He
quotes a CBC report according to which "Some media cited unidentified
sources who said he may have died after U.S. forces `tracked' a
target, using a helicopter gunship, but Foreign Affairs said it's
still investigating conflicting reports of the death. U. S. officials
have denied any involvement."

Another incident, also from April 2005, calls more urgently for
investigation, since one of its victims remains alive. Abdul Amir
Younes, a CBS cameraman, was lightly wounded by U.S. forces on April 5
"while filming the aftermath of a car bombing in Mosul." American
military authorities were initially apologetic about his injuries, but
three days later arrested him on the grounds that he had been "engaged
in anti-coalition activity"

Arianna Huffington, in her detailed account of this case, quite
rightly emphasizes its Kafkaesque qualities: Younes has now been
detained, in Abu Graib and elsewhere, for more than five
months—without charges, without any hint of what evidence the Pentagon
may hold against him, and without any indication that he will ever be
permitted to stand trial, challenge that evidence, and disprove the
charges that might at some future moment be laid. But in addition to
confirming, yet again, the Pentagon's willingness to violate the most
fundamental principles of humane and democratic jurisprudence, this
case also raises a further question. Was Younes perhaps arrested, like
the Iraqi whose rumoured fate was mentioned by `Riverbend', because he
had seen—and in Younes' case photographed—more than was good for him?

Agents provocateurs?

Spokesmen for the American and British occupation of Iraq, together
with newspapers like the Daily Telegraph, have of course rejected with
indignation any suggestion that their forces could have been involved
in false-flag terrorist operations in Iraq.

It may be remembered that during the 1980s spokesmen for the
government of Ronald Reagan likewise heaped ridicule on Nicaraguan
accusations that the U.S. was illegally supplying weapons to the
`Contras'—until, that is, a CIA-operated C-123 cargo aircraft full of
weaponry was shot down over Nicaragua, and Eugene Hasenfus, a cargo
handler who survived the crash, testified that his supervisors (one of
whom was Luis Posada Carriles, the CIA agent responsible for the 1976
bombing of a Cuban civilian airliner) were working for
then-Vice-President George H. W. Bush.

The arrest—and the urgent liberation—of the two undercover British
soldiers in Iraq might in a similar manner be interpreted as casting a
retrospective light on previously unsubstantiated claims about the
involvement of members of the occupying armies in terrorist bombing
attacks on civilians.

The parallel is far from exact: in this case there has been no
dramatic confession like that of Hasenfus, and there are no directly
incriminating documents like the pilot's log of the downed C-123.
There is, moreover, a marked lack of consensus as to what actually
happened in Basra. Should we therefore, with Juan Cole, dismiss the
possibility British soldiers were acting as agents provocateurs as a
"theory [that] has almost no facts behind it" (

Members of Britain's Elite SAS Forces

It appears that when on September 19 suspicious Iraqi police stopped
the Toyota Cressida the undercover British soldiers were driving, the
two men opened fire, killing one policeman and wounding another. But
the soldiers, identified by the BBC as "members of the SAS elite
special forces" (,
were subdued by the police and arrested. A report published by The
Guardian on September 24 adds the further detail that the SAS men "are
thought to have been on a surveillance mission outside a police
station in Basra when they were challenged by an Iraqi police patrol"

As Justin Raimondo has observed in an article published on September
23 at, nearly every other aspect of this episode is disputed.

The Washington Post dismissively remarked, in the eighteenth paragraph
of its report on these events, that "Iraqi security officials
variously accused the two Britons they detained of shooting at Iraqi
forces or trying to plant explosives"
Iraqi officials in fact accused them not of one or the other act, but
of both.

Fattah al-Shaykh, a member of the Iraqi National Assembly, told
Al-Jazeera TV on September 19 that the soldiers opened fire when the
police sought to arrest them, and that their car was booby-trapped
"and was meant to explode in the centre of the city of Basra in the
popular market" (quoted by Chossudovsky). A deliberately inflammatory
press release sent out on the same day by the office of Moqtada
al-Sadr (and posted in English translation at Juan Cole's Informed
Comment blog on September 20) states that the soldiers' arrest was
prompted by their having "opened fire on passers-by" near a Basra
mosque, and that they were found to have "in their possession
explosives and remote-control devices, as well as light and medium
weapons and other accessories" (

What credence can be given to the claim about explosives? Justin
Raimondo writes that while initial BBC Radio reports acknowledged that
the two men indeed had explosives in their car, subsequent reports
from the same source indicated that the Iraqi police found nothing
beyond "assault rifles, a light machine gun, an anti-tank weapon,
radio gear, and medical kit. This is thought to be standard kit for
the SAS operating in such a theater of operations"

One might well wonder, with Raimondo, whether an anti-tank weapon is
"standard operating equipment"—or what use SAS men on "a surveillance
mission outside a police station" intended to make of it. But more
importantly, a photograph published by the Iraqi police and
distributed by Reuters shows that—unless the equipment is a plant—the
SAS men were carrying a good deal more than just the items
acknowledged by the BBC.

I would want the opinion of an arms expert before risking a definitive
judgment about the objects shown, which could easily have filled the
trunk and much of the back seat of a Cressida. But this photograph
makes plausible the statement of Sheik Hassan al-Zarqani, a spokesman
for Al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia:

"What our police found in their car was very disturbing—weapons,
explosives, and a remote control detonator. These are the weapons of
terrorists. We believe these soldiers were planning an attack on a
market or other civilian targets…" (quoted by Raimondo)

The fierce determination of the British army to remove these men from
any danger of interrogation by their own supposed allies in the
government the British are propping up—even when their rescue entailed
the destruction of an Iraqi prison and the release of a large number
of prisoners, gun-battles with Iraqi police and with Al-Sadr's Mahdi
Army militia, a large popular mobilization against the British
occupying force, and a subsequent withdrawal of any cooperation on the
part of the regional government—tends, if anything, to support the
view that this episode involved something much darker and more serious
than a mere flare-up of bad tempers at a check-point.

US-UK Sponsored Civil War

There is reason to believe, moreover, that the open civil war which
car-bomb attacks on civilians seem intended to produce would not be an
unwelcome development in the eyes of the occupation forces.

Writers in the English-language corporate media have repeatedly noted
that recent terror-bomb attacks which have caused massive casualties
among civilians appear to be pushing Iraq towards a civil war of
Sunnis against Shiites, and of Kurds against both. For example, on
September 18, 2005 Peter Beaumont proposed in The Observer that the
slaughter of civilians, which he ascribes to Al Qaeda alone, "has one
aim: civil war"
But H. D. S. Greenway had already suggested on June 17, 2005 in the
Boston Globe that "Given the large number of Sunni-led attacks against
Shia targets, the emerging Shia-led attacks against Sunnis, and the
extralegal abductions of Arabs by Kurdish authorities in Kirkut, one
has to wonder whether the long-feared Iraqi civil war hasn't already
And on September 21, 2005 Nancy Youssef and Mohammed al Dulaimy of the
Knight Ridder Washington Bureau wrote that the ethnic cleansing of
Shiites in predominantly Sunni Baghdad neighbourhoods "is proceeding
at an alarming and potentially destabilizing pace," and quoted the
despairing view of an Iraqi expert:

"'Civil war today is closer than any time before,' said Hazim Abdel
Hamid al Nuaimi, a professor of politics at al-Mustansiriya University
in Baghdad. `All of these explosions, the efforts by police and
purging of neighbourhoods is a battle to control Baghdad.'"


Whether or not it has already begun or will occur, the eruption of a
full-blown civil war, leading to the fragmentation of the country,
would clearly be welcomed in some circles. Israeli strategists and
journalists proposed as long ago as 1982 that one of their country's
strategic goals should be the partitioning of Iraq into a Shiite
state, a Sunni state, and a separate Kurdish part. (See foreign
ministry official Oded Yinon's "A Strategy for Israel in the 1980s,"
Kivunim 14 [February 1982]; a similar proposal put forward by Ze'ev
Schiff in Ha'aretz in the same month is noted by Noam Chomsky in
Fateful Triangle [2nd ed., Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 1999], p. 457).

A partitioning of Iraq into sections defined by ethnicity and by
Sunni-Shia differences would entail, obviously enough, both civil war
and ethnic cleansing on a massive scale. But these considerations did
not deter Leslie H. Gelb from advocating in the New York Times, on
November 25, 2003, what he called "The Three-State Solution".

Gelb, a former senior State Department and Pentagon official, a former
editor and columnist for the New York Times, and president emeritus of
the Council on Foreign Relations, is an insider's insider. And if the
essays of Yinon and Schiff are nasty stuff, especially in the context
of Israel's 1981 bombing attack on Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor,
there is still some difference between speculatively proposing the
dismemberment of a powerful neighbouring country, and actively
advocating the dismemberment of a country that one's own nation has
conquered in a war of unprovoked aggression. The former might be
described as a diseased imagining of war and criminality; the latter
belongs very clearly to the category of war crimes.

Gelb's essay proposes punishing the Sunni-led insurgency by separating
the largely Sunni centre of present-day Iraq from the oil-rich Kurdish
north and the oil-rich Shia south. It holds out the dismembering of
the Yugoslav federation in the 1990s (with the appalling slaughters
that ensued) as a "hopeful precedent."

Gelb's essay has been widely interpreted as signaling the intentions
of a dominant faction in the U.S. government. It has also, very
appropriately, been denounced by Bill Vann as openly promoting "a war
crime of world-historic proportions"

Given the increasing desperation of the American and British
governments in the face of an insurgency that their tactics of mass
arbitrary arrest and torture, Phoenix-Program or "Salvadoran-option"
death squads, unrestrained use of overwhelming military force, and
murderous collective punishment have failed to suppress, it comes as
no surprise that in recent military actions such as the assault on Tal
Afar the U.S. army has been deploying Kurdish peshmerga troops and
Shiite militias in a manner that seems designed to inflame ethnic hatreds.

No one, I should hope, is surprised any longer by the fact that Abu
Musab al-Zarqawi—that fictional construct of the Pentagon's serried
ranks of little Tom Clancies, that one-legged Dalek, that Scarlet
Pimpernel of terrorism, who manages to be here, there, and everywhere
at once—should be so ferociously devoted to the terrorizing and
extermination of his Shiite co-religionists.

Should we be any more surprised, then, to see evidence emerging in
Iraq of false-flag terrorist bombings conducted by the major occupying
powers? The secret services and special forces of both the U.S. and
Britain have, after all, had some experience in these matters.

Global Research Contributing Editor Michael Keefer is Associate
Professor of  English at the University of Guelph. He is a former
President of the Association of Canadian College and University
Teachers of English. His most recent writings include a series of
articles on electoral fraud in the 2004 US presidential election
published by the Centre for Research on Globalization
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole
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Iraqi violence hits new peak for British troops
By Kim Sengupta in Basra
10 October 2005

The front of the building had crumbled to rubble. Inside the
smouldering ruins was the dead body of a woman and her child, and
those of five others injured. Outside was a deep crater gouged where
the suicide bomber had detonated his car packed with explosives.

The bombing in the early hours of yesterday was just the latest
example of the violence sweeping through British-run Shia southern
Iraq which, until recently, was held up as a haven of peace and
stability compared to the mayhem in Sunni areas.

The target yesterday was Hassan al-Rashid, former governor of Basra
and the current strongman of the Iranian- supported Badr Brigade. But
the British military, too, are very much in the firing line in what
they say is the most dangerous period they have faced since the war,
with attacks taking place weekly. Particularly lethal had been a new
type of infra-red roadside bombs which have killed eight British
soldiers and which, the British government claims, were supplied to
Shia fighters by Iran.

The British military has taken measures to combat the devices. But,
according to diplomatic sources, the militia too are trying to adapt
their tactics.

Most of the attacks, however, are by rockets and mortars and launched
from some distance away.

Standing on the top of the control tower at Basra aiport, the
commander Group captain Ian Wood points to an area with several
stationary aircraft "That's where we had machine gun fire yesterday,
that's where some rockets went over yesterday as well. There is no
doubt we have seen a steady rise in violence over the recent period as
we approach some pretty important matters like Saddam Hussein's trial
and then there is, of course, the referendum."

One of the reasons the airport is being attacked is that it will be
the place where the ballot papers for the referendum will be
delivered. The British base where the media are gathering to cover the
vote was also hit by mortar fire at the weekend.

The referendum is bitterly contentious. It will pave the way for a
federal constitution that the Shia believe will give them political
and economic power for the first time in 100 years, and the Sunnis
bitterly complaining that, in reality, it will lead to the break-up of
the country.

With the recriminations has come an upsurge in bombings and shootings,
much of it sectarian, shocking even by the anarchic standards of
post-war Iraq.

The Iraqi government asked the populace yesterday to defy the
insurgents who had called for a boycott. The insurgents have also
warned that those who vote will suffer.

"These insurgents are like rats spreading plague among the people,"
said government spokesman Laith Kuba. "Rats are very small, but the
disease they spread is horrible. Iraq should get rid of these dirty rats."

However, Mr Kuba also acknowledged that more than 500 corpses have
been found in Iraq since its interim government was formed April.
About 320 others have been killed in a wave of suicide bombings,
roadside blasts, drive-by shootings and beheadings. "Combating the
killing of innocent civilians is now the nation's number one
challenge", he said.

Two US soldiers were killed at the weekend in western Iraq, bringing
to eight the number of American fatalities in a series of offensives
the US and Iraqi forces have launched against insurgents in
preparation for the referendum.

A "yes" vote in the referendum and the subsequent federal constitution
will lead to a fundamental shift of power to the Shia south with its
lucrative oilwells. And, with the high stakes involved, the region is
now an amphitheatre for heavily armed militias fighting each other as
well as the British forces.

It was unclear last night who was responsible for the attempt to kill
Mr al-Rashid, whose Badr Brigade is the military wing of the Supreme
Council of Islamic Revolution, (SCIRI), the largest Shia party in the

The Jordanian-born leader of the Sunni group al-Qa'ida in Iraq, Abu
Musab al-Zarqawi, has threatened to "eradicate"the "apostates" of the
Badr Brigade. But Badr fighters have also been skirmishing with the
al-Mehdi Army led by the radical Shia cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr.

Adding to the combustible mix is the shadowy Jameat organisation, a
group with several hundred police officers among its members, who are
accused of running death squads and who recently held two British
special forces soldiers - an act which led to a British rescue mission.

Men in police uniforms have been responsible for the murders of a
number of journalists, including American Stephen Vincent.

Sunnis complain that in the south they are the victims of ethnic killings.

Sheikh Abdul Karim al-Dosari, a leader of the Iraqi Islamic Party,
said " Every week, there are one or two incidents where the police
come to arrest people and then we find their bodies."

The Shia also complain of kidnapping and extortion. A Basra
businessman, Hakim, said " They say they are policemen and they come
and demand money, we know they are connected to the militias.

"They are policemen but they kill people. The British must bear much
blame, they let these people into the police and then for a long time
did nothing."

Created By: Dr Raeder Anderson