Wednesday 22 November 2017

British Army ran secret terror unit that murdered civilians in bid to beat IRA

Greg Harkin

THE British government ran a secret terror unit during the Troubles in which unarmed civilians were routinely shot, according to a BBC investigation.

The Military Reaction Force (MRF) was a forerunner of several secret British Army units which operated throughout the Troubles on both sides of the Irish Border.

Three unnamed members of the unit will appear in a BBC1 programme tonight in which they boast of their secret role, with one former British soldier insisting he was "proud" of what he did, adding: "I'd go back and do it again."

The BBC investigation team spent four years investigating numerous incidents in 1972 and concludes that two innocent civilians were murdered and 12 others injured in shootings carried out by an MRF unit.

On one occasion, the MRF shot two brothers, mistaking them for IRA members – one of whom was a close friend of Gerry Adams. IRA leader Jim Bryson was shot dead a year later.

"We were not there to act like an army unit, we were there to act like a terror group," said one former MRF soldier on the programme 'Britain's Secret Terror Unit'.

"We were there in a position to go after IRA and kill them when we found them," he said.

Some of the soldiers said they would shoot their 'targets' even if they were unarmed. On one occasion, a sergeant in the MRF went on patrol armed with a Thompson sub machine gun which was not a standard army weapon – and one favoured by the IRA.

Tony Le Tissier, a major in the Royal Military Police, told 'Panorama': "They were playing at being bandits, they were meant to be sort of IRA outlaws. That's why they were in plain clothes, operating plain vehicles and using a Thompson sub-machine gun."

Some of the soldiers said they would also 'drive by' barricades manned by nationalists in West Belfast and open fire. One said this would happen even if they did not see anyone brandishing a firearm.

BBC Panorama – 'Britain's Secret Terror Force' – BBC1 tonight, 9pm

Irish Independent

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