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Year 2005 No. 98, July 19, 2005 ARCHIVE HOME JBBOOKS SUBSCRIBE

Not In Our Name!

Articles in the Wake of the London Bombings

Workers' Daily Internet Edition: Article Index :

Not In Our Name!
Statement of International Action Centre
London 7/7 Attack: Creating the Enemy
You Reap What You Sow
Terror Is Terror, Whether It's in London or Cuba

For Your Information: Bush Speech: Elaborating the Strategy of Fascism and War

"Staying Behind": NATO's Terror Network

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Statement of International Action Centre

- July 7, 2005 -

While the people of London and worldwide were grieving for those who were slain and injured, and as the International Action Centre extends heartfelt sympathy and condolences to all who have lost loved ones in today's bombings in London, the Bush Administration has wasted no time in taking advantage of tragedy to once again advance its own agenda of endless war and colonial occupation. 

The news is not that bombs killed more than 40 people today; it is that those people live in London rather than Basra. The US and British occupation of Iraq causes the death of an average of 20 people a day, every day. Bush and Blair do not stop their meetings to grieve over these deaths, nor do the news channels stop everything to give round the clock updates on these casualties because the victims of these crimes are Iraqi civilians and their deaths are considered unimportant by the corporate-owned media and politicians. 

In his response to the events in London today, Bush declared, "the war on terror goes on," signalling that he will cynically use this tragedy to justify the continued occupation of Iraq, an occupation that brings death, destruction, and torture to the people of Iraq on a daily basis.

Bush and Blair claim to be fighting terror, but everything they have said so far has been a lie. The truth is that their illegal war and the ongoing occupations of Iraq, Palestine, Haiti, and Afghanistan are themselves acts of terror. 

We cannot allow George W. Bush to manipulate genuine feelings of grief and anguish to justify a violent occupation of Iraq, which has left families grieving for 100,000 dead, many more injured, and thousands imprisoned and tortured. The incident today cannot be used to rain greater destruction on the people of Baghdad, Najaf, and Gaza. 

The Bush Administration raised the terror alert to orange and Bush said that he had been in contact with the Department of Homeland Security and other police and security forces, instructing them to be "extra vigilant". 

We know from the past several years what this "vigilance" has meant to Arab and Muslim communities – mass roundups and detentions, deportations, disappearances, and rendition. We must be vigilant and take action to stop the Administration from using today's tragedy to perpetrate more harassment, violence, and abuse on Arab and Muslim people.

We do not know who was behind the events today. We do know that as hundreds of thousands of people were gathered to protest the G-8 policies of corporate global plunder, Bush and Blair are exploiting today's tragedy to advance their agenda of global domination. We know that we must continue to do everything in our power to oppose that agenda. 

The only way to respond to today's bombing is to extend condolences to the families of those who perished or were injured; build solidarity with people around the world struggling against war, racism, and colonial occupation; to stand in solidarity with Arab and Muslim communities who have been targeted by the Bush Administration; and to continue building the movement to stop the oppression that inevitably brings resistance.

Article Index



London 7/7 Attack: Creating the Enemy

- Ghali Hassan*, Centre for Research on Globalisation, July 14, 2005 -

Instead of saying, it is too early to say who is responsible for the 7/7 London bombing, Tony Blair immediately accused Muslims and Islam of the crimes. No evidence, no names and no documentation were provided to support his accusations. This happened despite the fact that all Muslim nations have strongly condemned the attacks on innocent people. They do so, Blair said, because they "hate our way of life" and "our values".

Why these 'Muslim terrorists' chose Britain of Blair not Switzerland or Sweden? The word why has simply disappeared from the language of both politicians and the media. Western media, pundits and commentators were quick to jump on the Blair-Bush bandwagon and continue to amplify and encourage this anti-Muslim prejudice.

To blindly accuse Muslims and Islam of violence is to ignore the real purveyors of today's violence and terrorism in the world. Do few individuals represent the whole faith of Islam or Christianity? Those responsible 'have no respect for human life,' Blair said. Do those who participated in the barbaric "Shock and Awe" bombings of Baghdad and in the destruction of Iraqi towns and cities have respect for human life? What kind of terrorists have the capacity to perpetuate the criminal atrocity inflicted on the Iraqi people? Baghdad was the heart of the Muslim world and cultural capital of Islam for more than seven centuries.

Since March 2003, there has been a London bombing in Baghdad every day. The holy cities of Najaf and Fallujah have been destroyed. Hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi men, women and children have been murdered. Tens of thousands of Iraqis are imprisoned, and tortured every day.

The whole fabric of the Iraqi society has been deliberately decimated. Why? The British public was told that the London bombings bear "all the hallmarks of al-Qaeda attacks". Even if the 'terrorists' are 'white,' the British daily, The Independent, assured its readers, the 'terrorists' have to be "'mercenary terrorists' hired by al-Qaeda to carry out these attacks".

Al-Qaeda is now the West's label for everything Muslim. What is al-Qaeda? Al-Qaeda (the 'Base' in Arabic) was the CIA sponsored training camp for the Afghan Mujahideen, including Osama bin Laden and his fighters. The group was created and financed by the US administration against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

They were called "freedom fighters" by former US president Reagan. In fact after meeting a group of bearded Mujahideen in the White House, the former president said: "These are the moral equivalent of America's founding fathers."

So, not long ago Mr Bin Laden and his men were the equivalent of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln. Al-Qaeda has become a convenient phantom to justify an ongoing war.

The continuing existence of al-Qaeda is a very useful pretext for the Blair-Bush axis and allies. It provides the necessary tool to create fear and manipulate public opinion.

The 7/7 London bombing was next to impossible to conduct in the middle of high security without the intelligence and coordination of important people in Britain. Like the 9/11 attacks, the 7/7 London bombing remains a mystery, and the crimes against innocent people will provide Blair's government with enough pretexts to: (1) justify the introduction of unpopular new British identity card; (2) implement intrusive surveillance and policing of Muslims and the Muslim community; (3) introduce new draconian legislations that will curtail freedom, civil liberties, and limit dissent, such as protest; (4) continue to support Bush's war of terror against defenceless nations; and (5) divert public attention from the "pre-emptive" terrorism and the war crimes committed against the Iraqi people.

Throughout the Cold War, which was a pretext for a state of fear, Western secret agents and NATO collaborated in attacks against civilian targets, which they then blamed on left-wing groups in order to create panic and force the public to turn to governments for more security and protection.

One of these right-wing groups, implicated in attacks on civilians, was code-name Gladio. The existence of this group only became known in Italy in the 1990s and the Italian Senate, amid public protests, had to close it down, because it 'was beyond democratic control.'

In other words, the lies became too big to hide from the public.[1] Criminals are not difficult to find to instil fear and panic in the population.[2]

It is not surprising that just before the 7/7 bombing, the pretexts for the war on Iraq and the Occupation have changed. In order to continue the Occupation of Iraq, and justify ongoing crimes against the Iraqi people, the Blair-Bush axis and their agents are fabricating new "packs of lies".

Iraq is now the "focal point of terrorism" and "we have to stay the course", we are told. Nonetheless, the US aim remains the same: the colonisation of Iraq and the promotion of the US imperial agenda of dominating the world through control over energy resources.

War is not the way to fight terrorism. War is the most violent form of terrorism. Terrorism is not an ideology; it is a method of fear. Terrorism can only be fought through collaboration and exchange of intelligence between law-abiding nations.

It should be borne in mind that terrorism is less of a threat to human survival than war, mass hunger or disease, and it is much less difficult to deal with the root of terrorism. If Blair, Bush and their allies are serious about removing the scourge of terrorism, they need to take a hard look in the mirror and ask themselves one single question: Do people like to be occupied, killed, abused, tortured and humiliated by foreign forces? Western powers are too busy condemning the retail terrorism created by their own intelligence apparatus, while turning a blind eye to their own state terrorism. In fact this retail terrorism, resulting in the deaths of innocent civilians is an integral part of their own terrorist agenda. The Blair-Bush axis should take an important lesson from the history of Iraq when Iraqis have shown fierce Resistance against foreign occupation and imperialism. The 1920 and 1958 revolts against the British are still marked with annual celebrations in Iraq. The best that could happen to Iraqis, Brits and Americans is for the Blair-Bush axis to withdraw their forces from Iraq immediately, end this brutal Occupation and return Iraq to full sovereignty.

Notes

1. Cited in Secret Warfare: Gladio, by Daniele Ganser

2. See Fear: A political tool: http://www.onlinejournal.com/Commentary/050305Hassan/050305hassan.html

* Contributing Editor Ghali Hassan lives in Perth, Western Australia.

Article Index



You Reap What You Sow

- Angel Rodriguez Alvarez, Agencia Cubana de Noticias, July 14, 2005 -

Logic would say that heads of state and especially those of world powers arrive at their posts because of certain skills and virtues. Wisdom, a sense of responsibility, analytical capacity and common sense are top among them.

But unfortunately that is not always the case. To illustrate this, there is no better example than US President George W. Bush, based on his track record of four and a half years in the White House. His self importance and arrogance have prompted more than a few irrational and erroneous decisions.

It would suffice to recall his rabid and irrational reaction to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York City, on September 11, 2001. The war on terrorism, billed as a serious and just effort, was launched by Bush in Wild West style, forgetting the more effective and less expensive ways of pursuing this goal without losing so many human lives.

Unlike any other nation, the United States has enough political and diplomatic clout as well as the material resources to lead this battle.

Sincere and wise advice to the president was not lacking.

On that very same fatal day, Cuban President Fidel Castro, foreseeing an erred reaction from the White House sent a message to President Bush. After condemning the brutal attacks, he suggested wise ways to lead the fight against terrorism.

Since then, on many occasions the Cuban leader has pointed to the wrong and opportunistic course followed by the Bush administration, warning about the grave consequences of fighting terrorism with war.

A portion of Fidel Castro's May Day speech in 2004, was devoted to this issue.

"I reiterate that none of the world's problems, not even terrorism, can be solved with the use of force, and every act of force, every reckless use of force anywhere, will seriously aggravate the world's problems."

"The way is neither the use of force nor war," he said. "Only by applying an intelligent policy based on reason and the strength of consensus and the support of international public opinion can such a predicament be definitively solved.... The international struggle against terrorism cannot succeed by killing a terrorist here and another one there that is, by using similar methods to theirs, sacrificing innocent lives. It can only be resolved by putting an end to State terrorism and other repulsive crimes, by putting an end to genocide and by honestly pursuing a policy of peace and respect for moral and legal standards. The world cannot be saved unless a path of international peace and cooperation is pursued."

The events over the almost four years since the attack on the Twin Towers have confirmed the Cuban leader was right.

Terrorism was rampant again in Madrid on March 11, 2004. It was also reported in Indonesia and other countries. The supposed leaders of Al Qaeda remain at large and in Iraq alone, the numbers of fatalities are several times the victims of September 11.

It is not difficult to forecast that if the current level of resistance actions continues in Iraq, within the coming months, the amount of US soldiers killed in that Arab nation will equal or surpass the number of people killed on September 11.

You reap what you sow, says an old proverb. Unfortunately it is being ignored by George W. Bush and the hawks of his administration.

Article Index



Terror Is Terror, Whether It's in London or Cuba

- Jim DeFede, Miami Herald, July 10, 2005 -

Bodies were still being pulled from the wreckage Thursday when US Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen issued a statement condemning what she called the "barbaric" terrorist attack in London.

"The targeting of innocent lives is insidious and shows the utter disrespect that perpetrators of terror have for humanity," the Miami Republican declared. "Those who committed this callous act must know that our determination to neutralise terrorism is unshaken and that we will not yield in the face of such perfidy."

Strong words.

But where was the congresswoman's outrage when she came to the defence of Luis Posada Carriles, a man who bragged about masterminding a series of hotel bombings in Havana that killed an Italian tourist? A man suspected of blowing up a Cuban airliner?

Where was her desire to "neutralise terrorism" when she pleaded two years ago with the president of Panama to release Pedro Remón, Guillermo Novo and Gaspar Jiménez? Those men, along with Posada, were convicted in Panama of endangering public safety, a charge stemming from an alleged plot to blow up a university centre where Fidel Castro was scheduled to visit.

Ros-Lehtinen, along with fellow Reps. Lincoln and Mario Díaz-Balart, quietly wrote to Panamanian President Mireya Moscoso asking that she pardon the four men. And in one of her last acts before leaving office, Moscoso did just that.

Ros-Lehtinen and the Díaz-Balarts defended the letter, which The Herald recently uncovered in Panama, saying the four men were being held "under questionable legal and procedural circumstances".

Ros-Lehtinen is currently vying to become the next chair of the House International Relations Committee, which would make her one of the leading voices in Congress on matters of foreign policy and the worldwide fight against terrorism.

But what moral authority can she bring to such a post when she helps individuals who many consider to be terrorists themselves? Remón, for example, pleaded guilty in 1986 of trying to blow up the Cuban Mission in New York.

Novo, a member of the violent anti-Castro group Omega 7, was convicted in the 1976 bombing murder of Chilean diplomat Orlando Letelier. The verdict was overturned on appeal.

Jiménez and another man served six years in prison after they tried to kidnap a Cuban diplomat in Mexico and killed his bodyguard instead. Federal prosecutors also indicted him for placing a bomb in the car of radio commentator Emilio Milián, who lost both his legs in the blast. A new US attorney quashed the indictment, citing problems with a witness.

And finally, there is Posada.

How is placing bombs in hotels and restaurants in Havana any different from placing bombs on trains and buses in London?

Posada – who denies blowing up the Cubana jetliner – bragged to the press about the Havana hotel bombings.

When his bragging caused problems for his supporters in Miami, he recanted. Today he won't discuss the bombings.

I wanted to talk with Ros-Lehtinen. Friday morning I called her press secretary and explained precisely what I was working on. He said he would get back to me, but I never heard from him or the congresswoman, despite subsequent calls.

Ros-Lehtinen's efforts on behalf of these four men shouldn't have surprised anyone. When she first ran for Congress, she came to the aid of another Cuban militant, Orlando Bosch, and it helped her get elected.

But what wins elections in some parts of Miami will likely smack of hypocrisy elsewhere.

Either you believe that terrorism is barbaric or you don't.

Either you believe those who commit such acts disrespect humanity or you don't.

The nobility of your cause cannot be a justification for terror, because every terrorist believes that what he is doing is right.

Which is why the only way to fight terrorism is to condemn it in all its forms and not just when it is politically convenient.

Article Index



For Your Information

Bush Speech at Fort Bragg:

Elaborating the Strategy of Fascism and War

-Voice of Revolution*, July 10, 2005 -

President George W. Bush spoke at Fort Bragg, in Fayetteville, North Carolina on June 28, the one-year anniversary of the fraudulent transfer of power in Iraq. As Bush put it, a year ago the US "restored sovereignty to the Iraqi people". A year of occupation later, Bush emphasised that the war against Iraq will continue and no troops will be withdrawn.

Bush spoke before a military audience of Special Forces and Airborne troops. Outside, military families and activists organised a protest, demanding an end to the war in Iraq and impeachment of Bush for lies and war crimes. Fayetteville, a long-standing military town, was also the site of a large anti-war action March 19, part of a global day of action when hundreds of thousands of people in the US and worldwide stood up for humanity and demanded an end to imperialist wars and aggression. It is likely not an accident then, that Bush chose Fayetteville to elaborate the US strategy for war and fascism worldwide.

Bush began his speech speaking as the Commander-in-Chief. He also imbued the role of the president with militarist content saying, "My greatest responsibility as President is to protect the American people." Throughout the speech, Bush makes clear that the role of the president is not providing for the security and well being of the people, but to "protect" them using military force.

A main aim of this speech was to defend and justify the US "war on terrorism" and brutal acts of aggression to "take the fight to the enemy". Consistent with the Pentagon's national defence and military strategies, Bush emphasised that the US will take pre-emptive military action and do so anywhere. He said, "We fight today because terrorists want to attack our country and kill our citizens and Iraq is where they are making their stand. So we’ll fight them there, we’ll fight them across the world, and we will stay in the fight until the fight is won."

Bush spoke to the war in Iraq almost exclusively from this perspective of the "war on terrorism". There was no mention of regime change, no mention of weapons of mass destruction, no mention of the lies now well known. Instead, the war in Iraq is being fought because Iraq is a "central front in the war on terror". Bush said, "Our mission in Iraq is clear. We're hunting down the terrorists." He added, "The principle task of our military is to find and defeat the terrorists," and to train the Iraqis to do the same.

Bush insisted that progress has been made in Iraq over the past year and that the US will not withdraw troops or leave Iraq until its "mission is complete". While evidently forgetting that he proclaimed "mission accomplished" more than a year ago, Bush said, "To complete the mission, we will continue to hunt down the terrorists and insurgents." Equating the resistance with terrorism, he claimed that those opposing the occupation in the streets of Baghdad are "followers of the same murderous ideology that took the lives of our citizens in New York, in Washington and Pennsylvania. There is only one course of action against them: to defeat them abroad before they attack us at home."

Bush seems to think that the best way to sell war and fascism to Americans is to remind them of September 11 and terrorise them with the prospect of another one. He emphasises the chauvinism of the ruling circles that proclaims that lives everywhere else are nothing and that any crime can be carried out in the name of "saving American lives". This chauvinism, along with all the lies about war against Iraq, is being rejected, as was reflected in the actions in Fayetteville. Americans increasingly oppose the war in Iraq on principle – oppose it as an aggressive illegal war, its entire conduct a crime against humanity.

Bush also elaborates a key part of the current strategy to develop a single joint military force that includes allies, all under US command. He explains that "NATO is establishing a military academy near Baghdad to train the next generation of Iraqi military leaders and 17 nations are contributing troops to the NATO training mission. Iraqi army and police are being trained by personnel from Italy, Germany, Ukraine, Turkey, Poland, Romania, Australia and the United Kingdom". He adds that "we are partnering coalition units with Iraqi units", and "embedding 'transition teams' inside Iraqi units. These teams are made up of coalition officers and non-commissioned officers who live, work and fight together with their Iraqi comrades. Under US command they are providing battlefield advice and assistance to Iraqi forces during combat operations. Between battles they are assisting the Iraqis with important skills, such as urban combat, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance techniques."

Bush made clear that the only "free Iraq" acceptable to the US is one modelled on US-style democracy and serving as an ally in the "war on terrorism". This includes having a market economy, US-style elections, and "equality under the law", said the Commander in Chief of Abu Ghraib prison.

He said that "the rise of freedom in this vital region will eliminate the conditions that feed radicalism and ideologies of murder and make our nation safer". He repeated, "the rise of [US-style] democracy will be the ultimate triumph over radicalism and terror." In this way Bush speaks to the battle now raging worldwide for radical change that favours the people. Bush is expressing the terror of the ruling circles with their own defeat, with the ultimate triumph expressed in the people's call Another World is Possible!

To try and block this drive, life is turned on its head. Those rising in resistance are branded as terrorists and given the characteristics of the US imperialists. Bush claimed, "We're fighting against men with blind hatred – and armed with lethal weapons – who are capable of any atrocity. They wear no uniform (this in a room full of Special Forces!), they respect no laws of warfare or morality. They take innocent lives and create chaos for the cameras. They are trying to shake our will in Iraq just as they tried to shake our will on September the 11 2001. They will fail."

Bush attempts here not only to equate resistance with terrorism, but to create a sense of shame in all those calling to end the occupation, especially among Americans. According to Bush, imbued with imperialist chauvinism, those calling for withdrawal are unable to meet the "test" to defend the "great ideal of freedom entrusted to us in a special way". He emphasised that meeting this "test" means getting behind the war and joining the military, saying there is "no higher calling than service in our Armed Forces". He concludes with an appeal that makes the US and the military one and the same, saying that all those he brands enemies "are no match for the United States of America and they are no match for the men and women of the United States military".

The Iraqi people are daily showing that a people defending their rights are a determined match for US imperialism. History has and is showing that the greatest calling for human beings is to contribute to the advance of humanity and the principles it has given rise to. And the growing broad struggle of the peoples for their rights here and abroad shows that even the dark reaction that is US imperialism cannot stop this forward march.

* Voice of Revolution is a publication of the US Marxist-Leninist Organisation.

Article Index



"Staying Behind": NATO's Terror Network

- Fighting Talk, May 1995 -

As the 50th anniversary of the end of the war is celebrated, some unpleasant truths will become further buried beneath the myth of the "triumph of freedom and democracy" over fascism. For if fascism itself was the great evil that had to be stopped at any cost, how are we to explain the total failure of the British, French and American governments to do anything about the war in Spain from 1936 to 1939, when Franco's fascist forces, openly supported with arms and troops by Hitler and Mussolini, destroyed the "democratically elected" republican government? The answer is not hard to find. For Western capitalism the real enemy was not fascism but the popular revolution inaugurated by the Spanish working class.

Whilst a great many of those actively engaged in the war against Hitler genuinely fought under an anti-fascist banner, whether in the various official armed forces or the guerrilla networks, the war was essentially a diversion from the ongoing concern of the European and American elites. German expansion had to be stopped because it challenged the economic and political interests of those elites. Having been defeated, business as usual could be resumed, specifically the business of preventing any internal threat to the ruling classes in the form of popular revolution.

This may sound far fetched and, if it does, the reason is that following 1945 the so-called Cold War assumed a dominant position. The Soviet threat to Western "freedom" was to provide the necessary external focus whereby post-war governments could re-consolidate their position as part of the European Alliance.

An essential requirement of this consolidation was that the "left" should not come to power in Western Europe as a result of internal developments.

The reversion to business as usual began even before May 1945. Between 1943 and 1947 Britain and America were involved in a war against those who had fought the Nazi occupation in Greece.

By 1943 the Greek National Liberation Front (EAM), the main resistance grouping, and its armed wing ELAS were effectively in control of liberated zones in the country. This organisation was certainly dominated by communists, but it had wide support from a populace that did not want a return to the pre-war days of monarchy and dictatorship. However, Churchill was determined that the left should not come to power and that monarchy should be reinstated, despite it being clear that this would lead to civil war.

From 1943, the British and Americans began infiltrating special units into Greece specifically in order to prevent a communist/republican government being established. They worked alongside a right wing resistance group known as EDES which collaborated with the Nazis. As the Germans withdrew from October 1944, EAM controlled 90% of the country. But the British set about establishing an "interim government", in which EAM were given only 1/3 representation and some insignificant ministerial positions. Meanwhile the Greek king (and his fascist-inclined wife) showed no intention of renouncing any claim to rule. In November 1944 the Allied forces ordered ELAS to disarm. On December 3rd the gloves came off: police fired on a mass demonstration in Athens and fighting broke out between British troops and ELAS.

Under the "interim government" the army, police and civil service stayed firmly in right wing hands, with former collaborators often allowed to remain in position whilst left wingers were excluded. The British and Americans did everything they could to support the right wing and ensure its success in elections held in 1946. British interference subsided, but only because the Americans took virtual control of the country from 1947, pumping in massive economic and military aid. The extent of American control was such that the Greek prime minister's documents had to be counter-signed by the American mission in order to become valid. Meanwhile, in the mountains, US "military advisors" supervised campaigns against ELAS, involving mass arrests; court martials; imprisonments and executions. All leftist activity was banned, and activists who were not killed sent into political "re-education" camps or exiled.

This policy kept the Right in power until the 60s, when there was a resurgence of popular dissent and industrial unrest.

The response of the establishment was the military coup of April 21, 1967, leading to seven years of right-wing military dictatorship. This coup was organised by the CIA, and is believed to have involved members of an armed and trained paramilitary unit, run by the CIA from some time in the 50s and only "officially" disbanded in 1988. This long-term operation was codenamed "Operation Sheepskin". It has been suggested that the period immediately prior to the coup they were involved in applying the tactics of "state of emergency creation": black propaganda, terrorist bombings and other provocations to be blamed on the Left.

The British and Americans learnt much from the Greek experience about effective ways to combat popular anti-capitalist movements and preserve the free market interests of business in their own backyard. This involved bankrolling the right wing parties, particularly the Christian Democrats; smearing Left candidates and other more unpleasant tactics. Whilst the Christian Democrat governments might have been lukewarm about American domination of Europe, they were desperate to prevent the Left coming to power.

"As part of this effort the Americans and British helped recreate the internal security machines of most European countries. The most willing and experienced people they found were ex-Nazis, Fascists and collaborators. Highly-trained and fervent anti-communists, these were the people who would use the brutality it was necessary to deploy against the Left ... The Americans in effect planted an intelligence network into the heart of the European countries to ensure the 'deal' (the anti-Left/pro-American and pro-capitalist deal) was kept. These forces would ensure that attempts to renege on the deal would be militarily challenged." (Open Eye)

In fact the Greek based "Operation Sheepskin" mentioned in relation to the 1967 coup was but one part of a European wide "Stay Behind" network, established by the British and Americans.

Ostensibly this network existed to provide the nucleus of a guerrilla army to fight on after any Soviet invasion, using arms and explosives which had already been planted. However, the evidence leaves little doubt that this network also had the intention of resisting "internal subversion".

The Stay Behind network was conceived by the US Joint Chiefs of Staff and put into operation in 1948 by the National Security Council which set up the Office of Policy Co-ordination to run it, staffed and funded by the CIA. Ultimately, coordination of the network took place under the auspices of NATO. It involved personnel from the "official" security services in each country and received covert funding from industry and the state. Indeed funding and support of such groups was one of the main tasks of the newly-formed CIA. However, members of the network were mainly recruited from the civilian population, notably "ex-fascists" and others whose "anti-communist" credentials were unimpeachable, no matter what they'd been up to during the war years.

The existence of the Stay Behind network was not a matter for public knowledge. However, the activities of the Italian branch – codenamed Operation Gladio – was exposed in a series of judicial investigations, particularly between 1990 and 1992.

Operation Gladio was set up in 1958 with help from British Intelligence and the CIA, with funding from the latter. This assistance continued, with Gladio units being trained in Britain in the early 1970s and by US instructors at a military base in the Canary Islands from 1966 to the mid-70s. Gladio was controlled by the Italian secret services from "Office R". It had strong links with P2, a fascist Masonic Lodge composed of most of the top military officers, political leaders, industrialists, bankers and diplomats in Italy. P2 has been described as effectively constituting a right wing parallel government in Italy. In addition, Gladio became a focal point for fascist members of "Marine Star" a veteran's group set up after the Second World War, and was to make use of other fascist groups in the 70s and 80s.

From the outset, Gladio's concern was wider than the official anti-Soviet justification. A briefing minute of June 1st, 1959 reveals Gladio's concern with "internal subversion and that it was to play a determining role ... not only in the general policy levels of warfare, but also in the politics of emergency". The "emergency" as far as they were concerned was to come with the growth during the 60s and 70s of the popular anti-capitalist movement, industrial unrest and an apparent shift from centre to left by the ruling Christian Democratic Party.

Those involved in Gladio/P2 began planning a coup 1964, drawing up lists of thousands of politicians, trade unionists and activists to be rounded up. An actual coup attempt was made in 1970 led by the navy commander Prince Valerio Borghese, a supporter of the main Italian fascist party MSI. The plot came to nothing and Borghese was tried.

In fact Gladio was deeply involved in the so-called "strategy of tension" in the late 60s and 70s. The aim of the strategy, of which the principle tactic was "terrorist outrages" carried out by fascists, was to spread panic and unrest and to directly attack the Left and provoke them into an armed response, which would both justify increased state power under the pretext of a "national emergency" and isolate the Left from popular support. General Gerardo Serravalle, head of "Office R" from 1971-1974, revealed that at a Gladio meeting in 1972 at least half of the upper echelons "had the idea of attacking the communists before an invasion. They were preparing for civil war."

In an early but well known incident, a bomb was exploded in December 1969 in the Banca Nazionale dell' Agricoltura in Milan.

Police immediately blamed and arrested anarchists, but the real perpetrators were the fascists Franco Freda and Giovanni Ventura.

Ventura was in close contact with Colonel Guido Giannettinni of the SID (part of the secret services), who was a fervent supporter of the MSI. The subsequent trial of the two fascists was obstructed and delayed until 1981, when they were given life sentences, only to be cleared on appeal.

As the fascists embarked on a wave of bombings and shootings, civil rights in Italy began to be severely curtailed, with a 1975 law restricting popular campaigning and radical political discussion. Many people were locked up under "anti-terrorist" legislation or expelled from the country. As expected, the Left, in the shape of the Red Brigades, resorted to armed struggle to defend themselves against this assault. This simply strengthened Gladio/P2's hand – the Red Brigades were blamed for fascist outrages, systematically infiltrated by the secret services and used to carry out actions which supported the hidden agenda.

The Italian far right claimed responsibility for many of its actions and its members were actively pursued by the Italian police. Some fled to Britain in the aftermath of the August 1980 bomb at the Bologna railway station and were provided with safe-housing by British fascists in the League of St. George.

However, it was the Bologna bomb that led to the unravelling of the link between Italian fascist paramilitaries; P2; the secret services and Gladio. The 1982 testimony of a P2 member in prison in Switzerland, revealed that the outrage was instigated by that organisation and involved elements of the secret services. Subsequent investigators revealed that the explosive used probably came from Gladio arsenals.

In effect Gladio had both "official" and "unofficial" wings, with the latter initiating its own "anti-communist" operations but receiving both sanction and funding from the "official" wing.

General Pietro Corona head of "Office R" in 1969/70 told a Venice enquiry into a bombing in Peteano that there was an "alternative clandestine network, parallel to Gladio, which knew about the arms and explosives dumps and had access to them". General Nino Lugarese, head of SIMSI (a branch of the Italian secret service) from 1981-1984, revealed the existence of a "Super Gladio" of 800 members responsible for internal intervention against domestic political targets.

Gladio was "officially disbanded" by the Italian government in December 1990 after the story broke. On January 29th, 1992 it was officially declared to have been a clandestine and illegal "armed band" involved in subversion, by an Italian parliamentary commission on terrorism.

The 1990 revelations in Italy had a wider impact. After all, Gladio was simply the Italian branch of a European wide network.

The Belgian, French, Dutch, Greek and German governments all officially acknowledged that they took part in the covert NATO network, with the Belgian prime minister revealing that a Europe wide meeting of the network had been held as recently as October 1990. Of course the respective governments were at pains to deny that the network had been intended for anything other than to enable post-invasion guerrilla warfare. Intervention in domestic politics could only be the work of "uncontrollables" following their own agenda.

The British authorities have refused to comment officially on any similar network in this country. However, General Sir Anthony Farrar-Hockley revealed in November 1990 that a secret arms network had in fact been set up. In the same article other (anonymous) sources also claimed that the organisation had a further aim – "combating the takeover of civil government by militant left wing groups". Yet is there any evidence of destabilisation activities similar to those carried out on the continent?

During the 70s, the same time as the Italian "strategy of tension" was escalating, elements of the right wing establishment in this country perceived a genuine threat to their vested interests. In the midst of economic collapse trade unions seemed to be unstoppable, indeed the miners had effectively destroyed the Tory government, and Labour under Wilson came to power in 1974. Edward Heath was seen as having betrayed the Tory party, not just by the upper echelons but by the thousands of ordinary supporters defecting to the far right.

Thanks to the testimony of Colin Wallace, an army officer engaged in black propaganda in Northern Ireland, we now know that elements in the security services (specifically MI5) deliberately set out to destabilise the Wilson government. Moreover, leading figures in the military, industrial and political sphere began to talk in terms of a state emergency and the desirability or need to establish a civilian volunteer force or patriotic groups to help the "maintenance of public order". Thus in 1972-1973 the Tory MPs Winston Churchill; John Biggs Davison and Patrick Wall were all calling for increased military involvement in the growing industrial conflict and even for the creation of a "special anti-terrorist force and mobile squad of motorised troops to counter the forces of red fascism" (Davison). All three were Monday Club members and on the extreme right of the Tory Party.

At the same time George K. Young, deputy head of MI6 until 1961, was working in conjunction with General George Walker to set up a network "to meet the contingency of a total political break down". This network, called the Unison Committee for Action (Unison), was set up in early 1973 and its existence announced to the press in July 1974. This seems to have dissolved into another organisation fronted by Walker, known as Civil Assistance. Ross McWhirter was very involved in Walker's activities, and subsequently went on to play a key role in the National Association for Freedom (or Freedom Association as it is now known). At around the same time (May 1974), SAS founder David Stirling, who described Unison as "apparently highly militaristic and very right wing nature", was proposing a broadly similar group to be called GB75 and was consulting with contacts in the armed forces, industry and the Tory Party.

Colin Wallace says British Intelligence provided covert assistance to Unison; Civil Assistance and GB75. However, the extent and even existence of such "patriotic groups", other than on paper, is a matter of debate. Wallace and others have described them as psychological operations. By this we understand that talk of such measures channelled through the media was intended to heighten the sense of social breakdown and of the "red" threat, particularly in 1974.

The full story of such concerns in the British establishment during this period has probably yet to emerge. Whether the use of overtly fascist groups in a "strategy of tension" was contemplated is unknown. But clearly, in a period when the Tory Party was in disarray, under a "weak" leader; with mass industrial unrest and a so-called socialist party coming to power, the extreme right of the Tory Party, together with elements in industry, the military and the secret services, were looking to a non-parliamentary solution to preserve their interests. In the end, however, the election of Mrs. Thatcher to leadership of the Tory Party and the 1979 election victory ensured the success of their aims, probably beyond their expectations, by a different and "legitimate" route.

The most important lesson to be learnt from the Gladio story; the whole Stay Behind network and the situation in Britain during the 70s is that the right-wing establishment will, quite literally, stop at nothing to prevent a popular anti-capitalist movement (or one perceived as such) displacing it from power. In such a context the establishment will happily make use of fascist groups, whether as unwitting dupes (via the secret services), or as direct allies – after all, if the choice is stark enough, classical fascist ideology has more than enough in common with that of the right-wing establishment.

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