For those not familiar with Collusion and State sponsored murders in Ireland, Project Echoes was an alleged Operation Gladio linked secret joint venture involving Apartheid South Africa’s notorious Vlakplaas unit, Civil Co-operation Bureau (C.C.B), the RUC Special Branch, Armscor, Loyalist paramilitaries and members of the British security services. Some of the key players will be fairly well known, for instance Brian Nelson, British military intelligence’s Force Research Unit’s top agent and UDA chief intelligence officer. Project Echoes was just one of a series of Gladio-related operations in Ireland.
Other Project Echoes’ players from the South African Apartheid regime, such as ex-pat Loyalist, Charlie Simpson, Leon Flores, Eugene De Kock and Pamela Du Randt, will not be household names but they were key players in a murky world of collusion, torture, murder and international intrigue. Former Tory MP, for Basingstoke, turned Paisleyite Democratic Unionist Party member, Andrew Hunter, who had long been in the pay of British intelligence, also figures prominently in the Project Echoes story.
An important part of the Project Echoes story, are the joint operations that resulted in the murders, or attempted murders, of exiled opponents of the Apartheid regime. Arguably at the top of their hit-list was Dick Coetzee, a former hit-man for the Vlakplass unit, who ‘defected’ to the ANC in the late 1980s. Although, it should be stressed that Coetzee’s defection was more for self-preservation reasons, than any ideological conversion to anti-racism or multi-culturalism!
Dulcie September, ANC Paris rep murdered by ‘Project Echoes’ operatives
Dirk Coetzee survived several assassination attempts, including one very near miss in London by a joint RUC/Loyalist paramilitary hit squad. Many others were not so lucky, including the ANC’s representative in France, Dulcie September, who was murdered by a similar squad in March 1988. A South African born academic, Adrian Guelke, who was a lecturer at Queens University, Belfast, was shot and badly injured by a pro-British loyalist hit-squad, in September 1991. The unsuccessful murder bid occurred at his Fitzwilliam Street home, just off the Lisburn Road, in South Belfast. This attempted murder was a payment in kind to the Apartheid intelligence services by Loyalist paramilitaries based in Belfast and Mid-Ulster.
Another Irish academic, this time at the Coleraine campus of the University of Ulster, was also targeted several times by Loyalist paramilitaries at the behest of the Apartheid state. British military intelligence spooks linked to Project Echoes planted false stories in the media, wrongly linking the unfortunate lecturer to armed Republican groups in an attempt to primarily sabotage his career. Their other intention was to further raise his profile as a prospective target for assassination by pro-British Loyalist death squads.
Paul Larkin in an expose on ‘Collusion’ and State sponsored murder in Ireland, has a chapter on the subject of Project Echoes in his book, A Very British Jihad. The Pat Finucane Centre and the Troops Out Movement also have some material on Project Echoes, which was available on their respective websites.
A name that constantly crops in all areas of this phase of the British Collusion project with Loyalist paramilitary terrorists is Irish born ex-pat, Charlie Simpson. Simpson, was a Loyalist paramilitary and British intelligence asset who served with units of the then Rhodesian Special Forces and later in Apartheid South Africa’s dirty world of state sponsored murder. In many respects, Simpson seems to have been the link man during key stages of Project Echoes, having accumulated years of specialist military training and indoctrination into the far-Right values of the various organs of the Apartheid state.
At some stage, hopefully, there will be a more in depth, comprehensive insight published into the foul and murky world of British state collusion with Loyalist paramilitaries and the murders of Irish citizens, often at the behest of foreign intelligence agencies. These brutal sectarian murders often occurred at the behest of reactionary, true Rogue States, such as Apartheid South Africa and Israel or as payment in kind for receiving military ordinance or training.
Paul Larkin’s book mentions assassination attempts on Apartheid South African dissidents and even London Mayoral candidate, Ken Livingstone, by joint RUC/UVF death-squads exported to London and guaranteed safe passage back to the North of Ireland. These contract murder attempts, at the behest of Apartheid South Africa, involved the late Loyalist Godfather and British security service asset, Billy King Rat Wright and Mid-Ulster RUC Special Branch members. The attempted hit on Ken Livingstone, was planned to take place as he made his way to work on the tube, to the then Greater London Council’s Headquarters.
Project Echoes remains an element of state-sponsored collusion that has largely escaped the glare of publicity and for many in this supposed era of so-called ‘new dispensation’, it will be an inconvenient truth. Mid-Ulster, since the first years of the post-1969 period of conflict referred to as The Troubles, has always been at the heart of collusion between British state agencies and Loyalist paramilitaries. In many ways, that particular area of the north of Ireland, with it’s blurred lines between policing, British military intelligence and Loyalism, functioned as an open air, counter-insurgency laboratory. It can therefore be no surprise, that some of the North’s most prolific and most protected Loyalist serial murderers originated in Mid-Ulster, for instance, Robin the Jackal Jackson and Billy King Rat Wright. The details of Project Echoes may never be fully exposed and like all dirty state secrets concerning British collusion in Ireland, the British government although clearly culpable, will censor, obstruct and frustrate those who seek the truth.
(I originally published a shorter version of this article in 2010 under the pseudonym ‘Iskra’ which was later shared by the Revolutionary Communist Party of Great Britain/Marxist Leninist’s website)