Last weekend a newspaper reported the death of an alleged UVF member and further alleged that he was the author of Killing For Britain, by John Black. We will never betray the identity of any source under any circumstances.
The newspaper article contained many errors. It states that Killing For Britain was published “15 years ago”. It was published in 2008.
Also, the article refers to the FRU (Force Research Unit) as being active in 1975. However, the FRU was only formed in 1979. Certainly, it was a later incarnation of what had started as the MRF (Military Reaction Force) formed in late 1971. But, is was not, as has been contended, simply the same organisation under a different badge. The structure of the FRU was different to the MRF and it was more acknowledged within the Army.
It surely performed many of the same types of operations (selecting targets for assassination, assisting Loyalist paramilitaries to execute actions the British Army did not want to be intimately associated with). It also had a similar raison d'etre, namely to discourage the Irish Nationalist community from either supporting or tolerating Irish Republican paramilitaries. FRU contacts however claimed that the FRU did so by targeting known Republican activists as opposed to simply any Catholics. The selection of Catholics for assassination by British Army intelligence and MRF in the early 1970s was mostly random, or if based on “intelligence”, it was based on deeply-flawed “intelligence”. Some MRF operatives, like John Black, believed most of the time the targets of their actions were either IRA men or close supporters and enablers. However, the truth was darker.
Those directing the MRF and other “secret squirrel” operations were using a millennium old strategy; hurt your enemy at home and he can’t come to war. Hitting ordinary uninvolved Catholics in Northern Ireland in the early 1970s was simply the continuation of counter-insurgency techniques used since Roman times, if not before. The intended effect was to put so much pressure on the civilian population that they “gave up” the gunmen or at least stopped “providing succour”. Stating such obvious truths was considered giving voice to republican propaganda – until very recently, when the reality of Collusion became impossible to deny without looking silly.
The FRU’s activities in the mid to late 1980s were described to me by an intelligence officer of the time as “Nearest and Dearest”. By this he meant that they aimed for the “terrorists” but if they were not “at home” then they’d hit the nearest target “by accident” which in turn would put pressure on said “terrorists” to desist for fear of what other “accidents” might befall their family. This was, without any hint of irony, considered by this contact “a refinement” of the early 1970s random target selection.
It should also be noted that many of the targets for assassination were provided by Brian Nelson, a former British soldier who was head of the Loyalist UDA/UFF intelligence and, at the same time, of course, a proven paid British agent handled and directed by the British Amy’s FRU.
When you consider all the above, it puts John Black’s claims (once considered outlandish, but not now) into some sort of logical frame.