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24 August 2000 Edition

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Stevens raids Army HQ

BY FERN LANE

Detectives working for the Stevens Inquiry into collusion mounted a raid on the British Army Headquarters at Thiepval Barracks in Lisburn last Thursday, 17 August and recovered thousands of classified intelligence documents. A number of these are believed to relate to the killing of solicitor Pat Finucane and the alleged role of British military intelligence in facilitating his assassination.

At the core of the investigation are the activities of the covert Force Research Unit (FRU) and the role played by one of its members, Brian Nelson, who was also an intelligence officer with the UDA and who provided the murder squad with the information and photographs it needed to carry out the killing. There are suggestions that at some point during the 1980s, British intelligence made a deliberate decision to employ the UDA/UFF rather than the SAS to carry out attacks on specific targets and provided them with the necessary resources to do so.

The two Special Branch handlers of UDA man William Stobie, who has been charged with carrying out the killing, are now being questioned by detectives. After his arrest last year, Stobie told the Stevens inquiry team that he had informed RUC of the UFF's intention to murder Finucane on two separate occasions in the weeks leading up to the shooting.

The raid and seizure of documents, together with the recent revelations about the extent of collusion by a former British FRU agent known as Martin Ingram and the admissions of former loyalist paramilitaries themselves, simply confirm again what Pat Finucane's family, human rights campaigners and Sinn Féin have been arguing for over a decade. There was systematic collusion between British forces and loyalist paramilitaries, sanctioned at the highest level, to target republicans and others labeled as enemies of the British state.

These latest developments will add to the pressure on the British government to hold a full, independent public inquiry into the deaths of Pat Finucane and others killed by loyalist death squads.
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