Insurgency Lessons Learned from the “Big Fella”





Guerilla Warfare History: The IRA and ‘Fantasy Troubles’


A lot of articles, books, documentaries and news pieces have been produced over the last two decades exploring the origins of the Peace Process in the North of Ireland, and none more so than in the murky world of Britain’s Dirty War. It has become de rigueur in certain British nationalist circles (and amongst their sympathisers) to claim that it was “the Brits wot won it!” thanks to the alleged penetration of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) by various branches of the British intelligence services. It was not boots on the ground that brought about the peace, or even the “hit squads” of the infamous Special Air Service (SAS), but rather “human intelligence” – and in particular informers and double-agents.

The successful penetration of PIRA at all levels by British spies and agents, from top to bottom, helped the British to turn the organisation around, point it in the direction they wanted it to go, convinced it there was nothing further to be gained by continuing the armed struggle, and set it off on the path of peace (a few bumps and hiccups along the way not withstanding). Or so the story goes. Some even go so far as to claim that the British succeeded in a complex, decades-long strategy of bringing Irish Republicans into the governance of the north-eastern part of Ireland on behalf of the British – a masterstroke indeed.

If true.

This particular narrative has gained legs in recent years with the dramatic unmasking of several senior British agents at high levels within the Republican Movement, in both the military and political wings. Not simply the (Provisional) Irish Republican Army but Sinn Féin itself was compromised, it would seem. So the cries went up: the Brits knew everything! The Brits ran everything! The whole last decade of the war, the whole peace process itself was nothing more than a sham.

All of which is complete and utter nonsense.

Read the Remainder at Ansionnachfionn

History of Terrorism: The Bloody History of the Red Right Hand

This is but one of many thousands of chapters of violence in the History of the Fighting between the IRA and the Ulster Volunteer Force (UFV), also called the Red Right Hand. -SF


The six men who died: (From top left) Adrian Rogan, Barney Greene, Dan McGreanor, (from bottom left) Eamon Byrne, Malcolm Jenkinson and Patsy O’Hare

There was collusion between some police officers and loyalist gunmen who killed six Catholics 22 years ago, a report by NI’s Police Ombudsman has said.

It said there was no evidence police had prior knowledge of the Ulster Volunteer Force attack in Loughinisland, County Down, in 1994.

But it confirmed claims by the victims’ families that there was collusion.

It was also highly critical of the initial investigation, listing “catastrophic failings” by the police.

The murdered men were watching the World Cup match between Ireland and Italy when loyalist gunmen burst into the Heights Bar in Loughinisland and opened fire. Five others were wounded.

The men who died were Adrian Rogan, 34, Malcolm Jenkinson, 53, Barney Greene, 87, Daniel McCreanor 59, Patrick O’Hare, 35, and Eamon Byrne, 39.

The Police Ombudsman, Dr Michael Maguire, said: “I have no hesitation in saying collusion was a significant feature of the Loughinisland murders.”

He said police informers were involved in the attack in Loughinisland, and that opportunities to gather evidence were missed.

The report also said police were aware that a “small but ruthless” Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) gang had been operating in south Down and had been involved in previous murders.

It said that if they had been properly investigated that gang could have been brought to justice and may not have been involved in the Loughinisland attack.

Dr Maguire confirmed that an assault rifle used in the attack was part of a huge consignment of South African weapons brought into Northern Ireland by loyalist paramilitaries in the late 1980s.

Read the Remainder at BBC

The History of Terrorism: a Film Anthology

In creating a Memorial Day Movie list it got me to thinking about other movie list, so I thought I would start with a favorite subject of mine: The Study Of Terrorism and Guerilla Warfare.

Here are some films worth watching if you are interested in learning more about this subject. Most of these films can be found on Netflix or Amazon.

Keep an eye out for more “Film Anthologies” like this in the future.

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This is by far one of the best movies ever made in recent times about Political Terrorism in the 70’s and 80’s. Carlos the Jackal was one of the most infamous terrorist and criminals and this movie is extremely accurate in the historical details and action scenes, in particular the Murder of an unarmed Police Officer in Paris in 1975, one of the many crimes which made Carlos a Wanted Man for decades. This movie is quite violent and gritty, but no overly so.

The Baader-Meinhof Complex

With two members of this group recently Back in the News, it would not hurt to watch a movie to refresh your memory on European Political Terrorism in the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s. The RAF or Red Army Faction, (also called the Baader-Meinhof Gang) was one of the key Terrorist groups during this time. The only thing I disliked about this movie is it had quite a bit of flagrant nudity and un-needed sexual situations which had nothing really to do with the plot.

Michael Collins

A Wonderful Biopic of one of the Founding members of The Irish Republican Army. This movie begins where the rebellion of Ireland against Great Britain began, The Easter Uprising of 1914. Collins was responsible for virtually writing the book on Guerilla Warfare and Counter-Intelligence Operations used by the IRA for decades to come. You should watch this and The Wind that Shakes the Barley together, as the two mesh on the historical timeline of the IRA, as the assassination of Collins was due to the Peace Agreement he made with Great Britain. This is one of Liam Neesons finest performances.


More a film about Counter-Terrorism than Terrorism, Steven Spielberg directed this epic film about the 1972 Munich Olympics Terrorist Attack and the proceeding Israeli Mossad Operation (Called Wrath of God) to Assassinate all the Palestinian terrorist involved. This movie is a great historical biopic of not just the Mossad Operation, but European Political Terrorism in the 70’s as a whole. In true Spielberg style this movie is gritty and violent, taking you right into the center of the action. Next to Carlos, this is one of my favorite Films about Terrorism (and Counter-Terrorism).

The Kingdom

This is more of an action film than a terrorist biopic, but none the less I included it because of the Counter-Terrorist aspects. The last 45 minutes of this film is one of the best gunfight scenes in film history. The only gunfight scene that tops it IMO is the one in Heat with Robert De Niro and Al Pacino.

Fifty Dead Men Walking

The semi- True story of a British Police informant who infiltrated the IRA during the period known in Ireland and England as “The Troubles”. Not the best film about the IRA, but no the worst either.

The Wind That Shakes The Barley

A Really Great Historical Film about the early struggles of the IRA, it tell the story of the early Irish Republican Army and the bloody civil war that ensued due to the very unpopular Peace Agreement with Great Britain. A Phenomenal movie about the reality of civil uprisings and the practical applications of Guerilla Warfare. Some have commented this film is too “one-sided” and that it shows the British as the “bad guys”, but I would counter that the early behavior by the “Black and Tans” (British Army) against Irish civilians was brutal and un-called for and was a major factor in why the Irish rose up like they did and fought back.

Flame and Citron

More a film about Urban Guerilla Warfare, this is the True Story of two members of the Danish Resistance in World War II who assassinated high ranking members of the Gestapo and SS. Being a WW2 Historian, I really liked this film and wished more like it would be made. So many Resistance fighters have not been memorialized properly for their fight against tyranny and it is high time books and films were written and made about them.

Stay Alert, Stay Armed and Stay Dangerous!

Guerilla Warfare History: Pictorial History of the IRA and “The Troubles”

A Belfast man on patrol for the Irish Republican Army, 1987. Pacemaker Press International/Belfast Telegraph Archive

A Belfast man on patrol for the Irish Republican Army, 1987. Pacemaker Press International/Belfast Telegraph Archive

From 1968 to 1998, Northern Ireland was the battleground of a guerrilla war known as The Troubles. On one side was the Protestant majority called the Unionists, who wanted Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom. On the other side were the Nationalists, a Catholic minority who sought to become part of the Republic of Ireland.

For 30 years, Northern Island ripped itself apart trying to decide whether to merge with Ireland or stay subject to the British crown. Over the course of the conflict, approximately 3,600 people died, with thousands more injured.

A British soldier drags a Catholic protester during the “Bloody Sunday” killings. THOPSON/AFP/Getty Images

A British soldier drags a Catholic protester during the “Bloody Sunday” killings. THOPSON/AFP/Getty Images

In one of the conflict’s most infamous massacres, Bloody Sunday, British soldiers shot 26 unarmed civilians taking part in a civil rights march protesting the internment without trial of any person suspected of being involved in with the Nationalist Irish Republican Army (IRA). Thirteen died on the spot.

The IRA’s main goal was to unify Ireland under Irish rule, but it was often considered a terrorist group because of its repeated bombings of mainland Britain.

The deadliest attack of The Troubles, however — deadlier than any of those mainland bombings or even Bloody Sunday — occurred on May 17, 1974.

Read the Remainder at All That Is Interesting