RETIRED General Frank Kitson is being sued over the Loyalist murder of a Roman Catholic, Eugene Heenan in Northern Ireland in February 1973 and is accused of allowing Loyalist death squads to conduct criminal operations in the north.
This case has certainly thrown the cat amongst the pigeons with the Daily Telegraph insisting in its editorial of yesterday that this was ‘An Army law to rip up’; adding that this case is ‘another reason why urgent action is required to protect the Armed Forces from vexatious litigation’.
The then Brigadier Frank Kitson assumed overall command of British forces in Belfast in early 1970 until his removal by Secretary of State William Whitelaw in April 1972 in the aftermath of the Bloody Sunday mass murder of peaceful Republican demonstrators by the paras.
It was in Malaya in operations against the Communists in the 1950s, and in Kenya in the war against the Mau Mau Land and Freedom Army, also in the 1950s where Kitson learnt his trade of organised butchery.
David Anderson in ‘Histories of the Hanged’, writes of the ‘war’: ‘Kenya’s hanging judges were kept busy. Between April 1953 and December 1956. The Special Emergency Assize Courts tried a total of 2,609 Kikuyu on capital charges relating to Mau Mau offences in 1,211 trials. Around 40% of those accused were acquitted, but 1,574 were convicted and sentenced to hang over this period . . . In total approximately 3,000 Kikuyu stood trial between 1952 and 1958 on capital charges relating to the Mau Mau movement . . . In all, 1,090 Kikuyu would go to the gallows . . . The actual number of white civilians killed during the uprising was 32.’
Kitson developed the tactic of ‘black on black gangs’. This was where British troops blacked up and took chemicals to darken their eyes so that they could infiltrate the Mau Mau and kill them, or carry out murderous actions against ordinary Kenyans that the Mau Mau could be blamed for. He also took part in the war against the Eoka Freedom fighters in Cyprus.
However, Kitson was in fact developing counter-revolutionary tactics for use at home, in the UK. The British Army strategy and tactics were based on those that Kitson had formulated from the repressive operations in Malaya, Kenya, Aden and Cyprus.
In Northern Ireland he practised the formation of ‘countergangs’ or ‘pseudogangs’ that could be used by British imperialism in murder ops.
From early 1970 the British Army also started to develop its card index profiles of every Catholic family in the working class areas of North and West Belfast through systematic interrogation of each household. The securitisation tactics were not applied to either Protestant areas or, indeed, middle class areas with large Catholic populations. Over time the British army and security agencies would develop a systematic computerisation of personal and vehicle records.
It was on this basis that those who were about to die were identified and their details handed over to the Loyalist death squads. Indeed, as reported in the memoirs of General Mike Jackson, Kitson fumed at commanders who he perceived to be too soft, and it was he who briefed and admonished Wilford, the commander of the first battalion of the parachute regiment, on the evening of 30th January 1972 because he ‘didn’t go on and sort the whole bloody mess out’.
In fact, Kitson’s book-manual ‘Low Intensity Operations’ stresses that the whole tactic is in fact training to sort out the British working class when a time arises that tens or hundreds of thousands of workers take to the streets with just grievances and the most resolute, ruthless and determined army intervention is required to crush this revolt.
All of Kitson’s earlier ‘exploits’ were preparations of the state for ‘Bloody Sundays’ in the UK, to crush workers. Kitson’s exposure is timely since the capitalist crisis is driving the class struggle to a decisive conflict in the UK at a record pace.
To win this struggle and establish socialism it is necessary to build up rapidly the revolutionary leadership of the WRP, to mobilise the millions of the working class to smash the capitalist state to go forward to socialism.