The Aden Gang

After Britain sounded the last post in Aden in 1967, many of its dusty warriors wound their way here in 1971.

They dragged with them their attitude towards the native and many of the darker arts of warfare.

They included the infamous Parachute Regiment which won its stripes in the north of Ireland by murdering unarmed civilians in Ballymurphy, Derry, Ardoyne and the Shankill. Captain James Alastair McGregor of 1 Para won his Military Cross in Aden before becoming the second commander of the Military Reaction Force, the covert death squad which Britain unleashed on our streets.

As I discussed in my book and in A Very British Family Affair, McGregor applied what he learned in Aden here although he was also following a long family tradition in extra-legal Keeni Meeni operations as his father was a founding father of the SAS and had provided muscle to the paramilitary Palestine Police Force.

The propagandists of Information Research Department (IRD) were brought from Aden to our shores at the same time and once more began plying their trade in black propaganda under the guise of Information Policy. They included Hugh Mooney with whom I am still looking to speak about IRD activities around the time of the McGurk’s Bar bombing and its subsequent cover-up.

I research Aden because of the British personnel and techniques involved and their deployment in the north of Ireland. Two things startle me.

One is how much information is still redacted in British files even 50 years later, retained under Section 3 (4) of the Public Records Act 1958 which tries to hide files away from any notion of freedom of information.

The second is how little Britain has learned in each theatre of war.

Its training and arming of tribes failed in much the same way in Aden as with the likes of the UDA and UVF.

Gangs and Counter-Gangs in Aden


So too did the targeting of community leaders and their families.

Targeting Awadhi SheikhIts use of internment, torture and so-called deep interrogation techniques failed too.

Had Britain learned much by the time it returned to its old outposts in Iraq and Afghanistan this century?

The short answer is “Hell, no”.

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