A Very British Jihad by Paul Larkin
A Very British Jihad: Collusion, Conspiracy and Cover-up in Northern Ireland ranks as one of the best ever exposes of state-sponsored murder in Ireland available on the market, written by award winning journalist Paul Larkin, a former producer of the BBC’s Spotlight current affairs programme. A Very British Jihad is 300 odd pages of compulsive reading for anyone with even the most casual interest in Irish affairs. The author comes across as a decent, honest human being whose role as Truthseeker led him to some very dark and sinister places within the British colonial establishment’s so-called Counter-terrorism community. The title refers to the undercover war, fought with almost religious zeal by the British occupational forces in Ireland and their ‘Loyalist’ allies.
A Very British Jihad delves into a murky world of spooks, agents, Loyalist bosses and a plethora of British government sanctioned sectarian murder, where the blurred edges of their dubious morality was refracted by much smoke and splintered mirrors. It’s 22 chapters surpass anything thrown up in Martin Dillon’s’The Dirty War’, which always struck me as merely hinting at collusion , in a very timid fashion. Paul Larkin builds a much more solid construct of British state-collusion in sectarian murder, which compliments and even surpasses Sean McPhelimy’s groundbreaking ‘The Committee.’
Larkin begins his book with his arrival on the Belfast political journalistic scene, where he meets his first Loyalist/military contact, the closet homosexual taxi driver and shady part-time UDR soldier ‘Howard, ‘ literally before he even exits the cab he had hailed from the city’s Central station. In the following chapters Larkin interviews the late Billy ‘King Rat’Wright in his ultra-camp, yet fortress-like home in Portadown. As Larkin narrates, readers are left in no doubt that Wright was the epitome of the ‘British Jihadist’.
The author meets a brace of assorted Unionist paramilitaries, spies, touts ,Special Branch men, ‘Stickies’, South African Apartheid-era hit-men and bizarrely, the UDR on ‘peacekeeping’ duty in Bosnia plus many other assorted and unsavoury characters. Even the most streetwise and politically savvy readers will feel like they have sampled a parallel world, where the lights are constantly dimmed and there are no friendly faces for the likes of us or anyone else to the Left of Eugene Terreblanche.
The chapter “A very fine Soldier” deals with British infantryman Cameron Hastie’s trial for involvement in a state-sponsored murder conspiracy and his subsequent unduly lenient sentence. Larkin devotes several chapters to pro-British death squad boss, the late Billy ‘King Rat’ Wright . (Billy Rat was later spectacularly assassinated by the INLA while still held in Long Kesh prison camp.) The late Marty O’Hagan, the Sunday World journalist assassinated by Billy Wright’s LVF, gets numerous positive mentions in Larkin’s book. The author reveals how Jim McDowell, the Northern editor of the Sunday World, effectively handed several pages of the Northern edition over to the then mid-Ulster UVF and Billy Wright, to clarify their threats against his exiled colleague, Martin O’Hagan! These dubious actions by McDowell were doubly ironic, as the late Martin O’Hagan read of the UVF”s clarification’ in his own newspaper, while he was in hiding in Cork under threat from Wright’s paramilitary gang who eventually made good on their very public threat to the investigative journalist in September 2001. O’Hagan passed Wright’s Special Branch ‘codename’ to Larkin and it is exclusively disclosed in Larkin’s book as “Bertie”
Another chapter “Sticking to their Guns” deals with the Workers Party’s not so secret links to the Official IRA and Larkin narrates of a very close shave with already media angered Sticks during an encounter at their now, raised to the ground, Twinbrook social club.
Copies of Paul Larkin’s excellent expose A Very British Jihad are now retailing at between £90 to £110 used on Amazon, presumably this meteoric rise in value from it’s original retail price of £10.99 is because it has gone out of print. Hopefully A Very British Jihad will sometime soon be available at less extortionate prices. Anyone who has a copy should treasure it as it is an invaluable insight into the neo-Kitsonian collusion model that few of us get to understand concisely.
Readers are left in no doubt that all Republicans and numerous apolitical Catholics were targetted by a British state-sponsored murder machine. All it took was a name to be entered into the ‘system’ on the most spurious of suspicions at a British military checkpoint or a sighting in the supposed ‘wrong company’, for the gears of a Kitsonian sectarian murder-machine to rotate into action. In the not too distant past, many people only knew they had been included in that murderous ‘project’ when it was much too late and the state-sponsored Loyalist murder gangs had departed, leaving splintered door frames and shattered lives.
In conclusion, A Very British Jihad should be compulsory reading for anyone wishing to scratch beneath the surface of ‘authorised’ and revisionist versions of the period of Anglo-Irish conflict popularly known as ‘The Troubles’ Larkin’s book exposes the British counter-insurgency ‘jihadists’, which the establishment unleashed in post-1969 Ireland and leaves the reader in no doubt of their hidden hand in a plethora of Loyalist paramilitary murders. High profile victims of collusion such as human rights lawyers, Pat Finucane or Rosemary Nelson were merely the tip of the iceberg, a brief glance at the ‘Collusion Wall’ on Beechmount Avenue, Belfast will give readers an insight into the number of victims of British imperialism’s victims throughout the height of the recent Anglo-Irish conflict.