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22 February 2007 Edition

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Mary Nelis

Mary Nelis

From Belfast to Baghdad

“Imagine a place torn by sectarian strife. Death squads roaming the streets. A military occupation exacerbating tensions and providing targets for bombs and snipers. And behind the scenes, covert units of the occupying power, running agents on both sides of the war, aiding and sometimes directing assassinations, torture, and the terrorising of communities.”

Most of us reading the above would agree that it is a fairly accurate description of life in Belfast during the worst days of the conflict. But it’s not. It’s a description of the current situation in Baghdad, written by an American journalist, Chris Floyd, in a magazine aptly named Truthout.

Floyd informs readers that one of Britain’s most secret military units is operating in Baghdad, controlling and directing many of the killings we see and hear about daily on our TV screens. American covert soldiers are right there working alongside the British covert military unit the Joint Support Group. This unit, aptly named “Task Force Black”, is at the centre of the Anglo-American “dirty war” in Iraq. Its equivalent in the North of Ireland was the FRU, the Force Research Unit of the British Army.

According to Floyd, the JSG was lauded in the Sunday Telegraph for its role in running dozens of double agents in Iraq, many of whom had infiltrated the various insurgent groups and militias.

Through its agents in the UDA, the most notorious of whom was Brian Nelson, the FRU engaged in some of the most vicious sectarian murders committed in the North over the past 35 years.

The man who led the FRU and who promoted Nelson is now in Baghdad. Lt Col Gordon Kerr heads up the Special Reconnaissance Regiment, a force that no doubt includes some of the old sectarian assassins from Kerr’s glory days in the Six Counties.

Kerr regarded Brian Nelson as the jewel in the crown of FRU agents. He supplied the UDA death squads with intelligence files of the targets the FRU wanted ‘taken out’, including the Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane and Sinn Féin elected representatives. Under Kerr’s command the mindset was that the ‘right people’ would be allowed to live and the ‘wrong people’ should die.

Nelson was eventually arrested by the Stevens Inquiry detectives and sentenced to ten years on 23 charges, including conspiracy to murder. He served four years.

Kerr was awarded a military OBE and promoted to the plum job as British military attaché in Beijing before being seconded to Baghdad.

The wrong people - those who oppose the British and American imperialist war in Iraq - are being murdered every day, in the shadowy world where terrorists and Government agents mingle, in the murky world of collusion and dirty tricks. The same mindset that operated in the North of Ireland is now operating in Baghdad, where covert units of the British and American intelligence services allow their agents to torture and murder in the name of “freedom.”

An Phoblacht Magazine


  • The first edition of this new magazine will feature a 10 page special on the life and legacy of our leader Martin McGuinness to mark the first anniversary of his untimely passing.
  • It will include a personal reminiscence by Gerry Adams and contributions from the McGuinness family.
  • There will also be an exclusive interview with our new Uachtarán Mary Lou McDonald.

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