Britain’s Seven Covert Wars


Britain’s Seven Covert Wars

by Mark Curtis

Britain is fighting at least seven covert wars in the Middle East and North Africa, outside of any democratic oversight or control. Whitehall has in effect gone underground, with neither parliament nor the public being allowed to debate, scrutinise or even know about these wars. To cover themselves, Ministers are now often resorting to lying about what they are authorising. While Britain has identified Islamic State (among others) as the enemy abroad, it is clear that it sees the British public and parliament as the enemy at home.

Syria

Britain began training Syrian rebel forces from bases in Jordan in 2012. This was also when the SAS was reported to be ‘slipping into Syria on missions’ against Islamic State. Now, British special forces are ‘mountinghit and run raids against IS deep inside eastern Syria dressed as insurgent fighters’ and ‘frequently cross into Syria to assist the New Syrian Army’ from their base in Jordan. British special forces also provide training, weapons and other equipment to the New Syrian Army.

British aircraft began covert strikes against IS targets in Syria in 2015, months before Parliament voted in favour of overt action in December 2015. These strikes were conducted by British pilots embedded with US and Canadian forces.

Britain has also been operating a secret drone warfare programme in Syria. Last year Reaper drones killed British IS fighters in Syria, again before parliament approved military action. As I have previously argued, British covert action and support of the Syrian rebels is, along with horrific Syrian government/Russian violence, helping to prolong a terrible conflict.

Iraq

Hundreds of British troops are officially in Iraq to train local security forces. But they are also engaged in covert combat operations against IS. One recent report suggests that Britain has more than 200 special force soldiers in the country, operating out of a fortified base within a Kurdish Peshmerga camp south of Mosul.

British Reaper drones were first deployed over Iraq in 2014 and are now flown remotely by satellite from an RAF base in Lincolnshire. Britain has conducted over 200 drones strikes in Iraq since November 2014.

Libya

SAS forces have been secretly deployed to Libya since the beginning of this year, working with Jordanian special forces embedded in the British contingent. This follows a mission by MI6 and the RAF in January to gather intelligence on IS and draw up potential targets for air strikes. British commandos are now reportedly fighting and directing assaults on Libyan frontlines and running intelligence, surveillance and logistical support operations from a base in the western city of Misrata. <= ***which involves of AlQaeda, Isis and other Radical groups.

But a team of 15 British forces are also reported to be based in a French-led multinational military operations centre in Benghazi, eastern Libya, supporting renegade Libyan general Khalifa Haftar. In July 2016, Middle East Eye reported that this British involvement was helping to coordinate air strikes in support of Haftar, whose forces are opposed to the Tripoli-based government that Britain is supposed to be supporting.

Yemen

The government says it has no military personnel based in Yemen. Yet a report by Vice News in April, based on numerous interviews with officials, revealed that British special forces in Yemen, who were seconded to MI6, were training Yemeni troops fighting Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and also had forces infiltrated in AQAP. The same report also found that British military personnel were helping with drone strikes against AQAP. Britain was playing ‘a crucial and sustained role with the CIA in finding and fixing targets, assessing the effect of strikes, and training Yemeni intelligence agencies to locate and identify targets for the US drone program’. In addition, the UK spybase at Menwith Hill in Yorkshire facilitates US drone strikes in Yemen.

Britain has been widely reported (outside the mainstream media) as supporting the brutal Saudi war in Yemen, which has caused thousands of civilian deaths, most of them due to Saudi air strikes. Indeed, Britain is party to the war. The government says there are around 100 UK military personnel based in Saudi Arabia including a ‘small number’ at ‘Saudi MOD and Operational Centres’. One such Centre, in Riyadh, coordinates the Saudi bombing campaign in Yemen and includes British military personnel who are in the command room as air strikes are carried out and who have access to the bombing targets.

The UK is of course arming the Saudi campaign: The British government disclosed on 13 October that the Saudis have used five types of British bombs and missiles in Yemen. On the same day, it lied to Parliament that Britain was ‘not a party’ to the war in Yemen.

A secretmemorandum of understanding’ that Britain signed with Saudi Arabia in 2014 has not been made public since it ‘would damage the UK’s bilateral relationship’ with the Kingdom, the government states. It is likely that this pact includes reference to the secret British training of Syrian rebels in Saudi Arabia, which has taken place since mid-2015. Operating from a desert base in the north of the country, British forces have been teaching Syrian forces infantry skills as part of a US-led training programme.

Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, the public was told that British forces withdrew at the end of 2014. However, British forces stayed behind to help create and train an Afghan special forces unit. Despite officially only having ‘advisors’ in Afghanistan, in August 2015 it was reported that British covert forces were fighting IS and Taliban fighters. The SAS and SBS, along with US special forces, were ‘taking part in military operations almost every night’ as the insurgents closed in on the capital Kabul.

In 2014, the government stated that it had ended its drone air strikes programme in Afghanistan, which had begun in 2008 and covered much of the country. Yet last year it was reported that British special forces were calling in air strikes using US drones.

Pakistan and Somalia

Pakistan and Somalia are two other countries where Britain is conducting covert wars. Menwith Hill facilitates US drone strikes against jihadists in both countries, with Britain’s GCHQ providinglocational intelligence’ to US forces for use in these attacks.

The government has said that it has 27 military personnel in Somalia who are developing the national army and supporting the African Union Mission. Yet in 2012 it was reported that the SAS was covertly fighting against al-Shabab Islamist terrorists in Somalia, working with Kenyan forces in order to target leaders. This involved up to 60 SAS soldiers, close to a full squadron, including Forward Air Controllers who called in air strikes against al-Shabab targets by the Kenyan air force. In early 2016, it was further reported that Jordan’s King Abdullah, whose troops operate with UK special forces, was saying that his troops were ready with Britain and Kenya to go ‘over the border’ to attack al-Shabaab.

Drones

The RAF’s secret drone war, which involves a fleet of 10 Reaper drones, has been in permanent operation in Afghanistan since October 2007, but covertly began operating outside Afghanistan in 2014. The NGO Reprieve notes that Britain provides communications networks to the CIA ‘without which the US would not be able to operate this programme’. It says that this is a particular matter of concern as the US covert drone programme is illegal.

The Gulf

Even this may not be the sum total of British covert operations in the region. The government stated in 2015 that it had 177 military personnel embedded in other countries’ forces, with 30 personnel working with the US military. It is possible that these forces are also engaged in combat in the region. For example, the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Philip Jones, has said that in the Gulf, British pilots fly US F18s from the decks of US aircraft carriers. This means that ‘US’ air strikes might well be carried out by British pilots.

Britain has many other military and intelligence assets in the region. Files leaked by Edward Snowden show that Britain has a network of three GCHQ spy bases in Oman – codenamed ‘Timpani’, ‘Guitar’ and ‘Clarinet’ – which tap in to various undersea cables passing through the Strait of Hormuz into the Gulf. These bases intercept and process vast quantities of emails, telephone calls and web traffic on behalf of Western intelligence agencies, which information is then shared with the National Security Agency in the US.

The state of Qatar houses the anti-IS coalition’s Combined Air Operations Centre at Al Udeid airbase. The government says it has seven military personnel ‘permanently assigned to Qatar’ and an additional number of ‘temporary personnel’ working at the airbase. These are likely to be covert forces; the government says that ‘we do not discuss specific numbers for reasons of safeguarding operational security’.

Similarly, the government says it has six military personnel ‘permanently assigned’ to the United Arab Emirates and an additional number of ‘temporary personnel’ at the UAE’s Al Minhad airbase. Britain also has military assets at Manama harbour, Bahrain, whose repressive armed forces are also being secretly trained by British commandos.

Kenya and Turkey

Kenya hosts Britain’s Kahawa Garrishon barracks and Laikipia Air Base, from where thousands of troops who carry out military exercises in Kenya’s harsh terrain can be deployed on active operations in the Middle East. Turkey has also offered a base for British military training. In 2015, for example, Britain deployed several military trainers to Turkey as part of the US-led training programme in Syria, providing small arms, infantry tactics and medical training to rebel forces.

The web of deceit

When questioned about these covert activities, Ministers have two responses. One is to not to comment on special forces’ operations. The other is to lie, which has become so routine as to be official government policy. The reasoning is simple – the government believes the public simply has no right to know of these operations, let alone to influence them.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon told parliament in July that the government is ‘committed to the convention that before troops are committed to combat the House of Commons should have an opportunity to debate the matter’. This is plainly not true, as the extent of British covert operations show.

Similarly, it was first reported in May that British troops were secretly engaged in combat in Libya. This news came two days after Fallon told MPs that Britain was not planning ‘any kind of combat role’ to fight IS in Libya.

There are many other examples of this straightforward web of deceit. In July 2016, the government issued six separate corrections to previous ministerial statements in which they claimed that Saudi Arabia is not targeting civilians or committing war crimes in Yemen. However, little noticed was that these corrections also claimed that ‘the UK is not a party’ to the conflict in Yemen. This claim is defied by various news reports in the public domain.

British foreign policy is in extreme mode, whereby Ministers do not believe they should be accountable to the public. This is the very definition of dictatorship. Although in some of these wars, Britain is combatting terrorist forces that are little short of evil, it is no minor matter that several UK interventions have encouraged these very same forces and prolonged wars, all the while being regularly disastrous for the people of the region. Britain’s absence of democracy needs serious and urgent challenging.

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Britain destroyed documents showing the imperialistic crimes

Thousands of documents, proving the crimes committed by Britain against peoples fighting for their independence from the United Kingdom, was destroyed by the authorities.

These documents date from the’50s and ’60s , when they started the wave of independence within the British Empire and referred mainly to Malaysia, the Kenya and Jamaica. Also, the documents including some relating to the bloody suppression of the uprising of the Mau-Mau in Kenya in the period 1952-1960. Recall that the discovery of some forgotten content of the Foreign Office boxes of such documents forced last June in London to compensate thousands of Kenyans, almost 60 years after the suppression of the uprising of the Mau – Mau, a particularly dark period in the history of British colonialism.

The newspaper “Times» , which published data from these files reveals that official orders were aimed at four types of documents : “What might embarrass the government of Her Majesty and other governments,” “what could to embarrass the police, army, civil servants and other people between those informants ‘,‘ what could incriminate the secret services ‘and’ what could be used in an unethical manner by government ministers. ” 

 

Britain destroyed documents showing the imperialistic crimes

OBAMA’S BROTHER LINKED TO MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD


OBAMA’S BROTHER LINKED TO MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD

by JEROME R. CORSI

abongo-barack-obama

NEW YORK – President Obama’s half-brother in Kenya could cause the White House more headaches over new evidence linking him to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and establishing that controversial IRS supervisor Lois Lerner signed his tax-exempt approval letter.

Malik Obama’s oversight of the Muslim Brotherhood’s international investments is one reason for the Obama administration’s support of the Muslim Brotherhood, according to an Egyptian report citing the vice president of the Supreme Constitutional Court of Egypt, Tehani al-Gebali

In a news report on Egyptian television of a Gebali speech, translated by researcher Walid Shoebat, a former Palestinian Liberation Organization operative, Gebali said she would like “to inform the American people that their president’s brother Obama is one of the architects of the major investments of the Muslim Brotherhood.”

“We will carry out the law, and the Americans will not stop us,” she said. “We need to open the files and begin court sessions.

“The Obama administration cannot stop us; they know that they supported terrorism,” she continued. “We will open the files so these nations are exposed, to show how they collaborated with [the terrorists]. It is for this reason that the American administration fights us.”

Shoebat said Gebali explained the news is important to Americans who are concerned about their president’s actions, calling it “is a gift to the American people,” implying there were more revelations to come.

In an interview on Egyptian television, Gebali said the cost to Egypt has been great, and she vowed her country will not allow any conspiracy against its people or the Egyptian state. She insisted that pushing Egypt to bankruptcy is unacceptable, because it would plunge her country into a dire state similar to Iraq and Libya.

Shoebat said that if the reports are correct, Turkey appears to play a central role in the alleged conspiracy. He emphasized that Egypt has asserted to the international community that it will not tolerate any attempt to push the country to bankruptcy.

Shoebat’s blog linked to three “very credible sources” that corroborate the report on Gebali’s comments.

Shoebat reported in May that Malik Obama is the executive secretary of the Islamic Da’wa Organization, or IDO, a group created by the government of Sudan, which is considered by the U.S. State Department to be a terrorist state.

In 2010, Malik Obama attended an IDO conference in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum. One of the objectives of the IDO is to spread Wahhabist Islam across the African continent.

Sudan President Omar Al-Bashir supervised the conference. Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court on seven counts related to crimes against humanity.

Shoebat asserted the evidence places Malik Obama “in bed with terrorists, working in a terrorist state as an official of an organization created by terrorists.”

Malik’s tax-exempt problems

WND reported in May that funds contributed in the U.S. to a 501(c)3 foundation run by Malik Obama have been diverted to support Malik’s multiple wives in Kenya, an expert on Islamic extremism has charged.

Lois Lerner, the director of the IRS tax-exempt division currently under congressional investigation, signed the letter approving tax-exempt status for the Malik Obama’s Barack H. Obama Foundation.

Lerner, currently on paid executive leave from her IRS supervisory position, took the Fifth Amendment before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on May 22 rather than answer questions on inappropriate criteria used by her IRS department to delay or otherwise deny tax-exempt status for tea party and “patriot” groups.

Shoebat has detailed his allegations in a 22-page investigative report titled “New IRS Scandal: Islamic Extremism and Sex Slaves: Report Reveals Obama’s Relatives Run Charities of Deceit,” published on his website

After a thorough examination of available evidence, Shoebat explained to WND his allegations against the Obama family tax-exempt foundations:

When Malik Obama and Sarah Obama raised money in the United States as the respective heads of foundations claiming to be charities, not only did the Internal Revenue Service illegally grant one of them tax-deductible status retroactively, but these foundations have supported – to varying degrees – illegal operations that acquire funding for personal gain, philandering, polygamy and the promotion of Wahhabism, the brand of Islam practiced by Al-Qaeda.

For the past two years, since long before the current IRS scandals became public, WND has been reporting irregularities in two IRS-approved 501(c)3 organizations operated in the U.S. by Obama’s half-brother and step-grandmother in Kenya.

WND reported in September 2011 the Barack H. Obama Foundation apparently received IRS approval one month after an application was submitted in May 2011. The IRS determination letter June 11, 2011, granted a highly irregular retroactive tax-exempt approval only after the group came under fire for operating as a 501(c)3 foundation since 2008 without ever having applied to the IRS.

In October 2012, WND reported a separate foundation, the Mama Sarah Obama Foundation, created on behalf of Obama’s step-grandmother in Kenya, has transferred funds, 90 percent of which are raised from U.S. individuals and corporations, to send Kenyan students to the top three most radical Wahhabist madrassas in Saudi Arabia.

Since its founding in 2008, the Barack H. Obama Foundation, operating out of a commercial mail drop in Arlington, Va., has solicited tax-deductible contributions on the Internet, listing addresses and telephone numbers both in the U.S. and Kenya, without disclosing the group lacked an IRS determination letter.

In September 2011, the IRS confirmed to WND that the Barack H. Obama Foundation had received a determination letter in June 2011, awarding the group tax-exempt 501(c)3 status retro-actively to 2008

Malik Obama, best man at the wedding of Barack H. Obama, Oct. 3, 1992

ax-exempt polygamy?

On March 3, 2013, Andrew Malone, reporting for the London Daily Mail, documented that Malik’s youngest wife in Kenya, Sheila Anyano, 35 years his junior, had spent the past two years living with three of Malik’s other wives at the “Barack H Obama Foundation rest and relaxation center,” a restaurant complex that profits from visitors drawn by the family’s connection to the American president.

According to the Daily Mail, members of his extended family in Kenya have accused Malik, a practitioner of Islam and a polygamist, of being a wife-beater and philanderer. Malik is accused of seducing Sheila, the newest of his estimated 12 wives when she was a 17-year-old schoolgirl – a crime in Kenya, where the legal age of consent is 18.

Malone tracked down Sheila’s mother, Mary, who explained to the reporter that Malik Obama had “secret trysts” with the girl after spotting her attending prayers at the mosque he has built in Kogelo, the family’s ancestral home.

Sheila, now age 20, told Ambrose that marrying Malik, now age 55, was the “worst decision” of her life and confirmed that she and Malik kept their marriage “a secret,” because she was 17.

“At first he was good, after he started speaking to me at the mosque,” Sheila told the Daily Mail. “But he has changed. Marrying him has been the biggest mistake of my life. He beats me, but mostly he’s just nasty and quarrelsome.”

Shoebot charged that Malik Obama is abusing non-profit funds.

There is no evidence to suggest that Malik is building any houses in Kogelo for widows and orphans as claimed,” Shoebat said.

Neither is there evidence that the Mama Sarah Foundation has built any homes for widows, orphans and HIV/AIDS victims.

“The only evidence where monies were spent involves the Barack H. Obama Recreation and Rest Center in Kenya, which housed Malik’s 12 wives in a facility that includes a restaurant and a mosque with a madrassa(school),” he said.

“While building mosques is legally considered charity, evidence shows the entire funding came directly from entities and individuals from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain,” Shoebat said. “There is nothing of charitable nature to show for all the funds Malik raises from the United States. To date, there is no evidence for any accomplishments toward building homes for orphans, widows and AIDS victims in Kogelo or anywhere else in Kenya.”

Limited financial reporting

An IRS Form 990-EZ required for tax-exempt organizations was filed on May 23, 2011, only days before the IRS determination letter was sent.

Barack H. Obama Foundation, Form 990-EZ, filed May 23, 2011, page 1

The Form 990-EZ appears to have been hand-written by Malik Obama himself, complete with an unorthodox page of calculations evidently included to back up the amounts entered into the form.

The Form 990 reported the foundation had received $24,250 total gross income for 2010, derived from contributions, gifts and grants.

“We were not very successful this year because of limited contributions,” Malik reported on the Form 990. “The Foundation sponsored a Youth Tournament (sic) and embarked on construction of community bridges.”

Malik surfaced during the 2008 presidential campaign, dressed in African garb and holding a photograph of Barack Obama in African garb.

Abongo “Roy” Malik Obama displays a 1980s-era photograph of Barack Obama in Kenya

Born in Kenya to Kezia

Born in Kenya, on March 15, 1958, Abongo Malik “Roy” Obama was the first child born to Barack Obama Sr.

The son of Kezia, Obama Sr.’s first wife, Malik was only 18 months old when Barack Obama Sr. arrived in New York Aug. 8, 1959, on a BOAC flight in transit from Kenya to begin his undergraduate studies at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu.

Having abandoned Kezia in Kenya, Obama Sr. subsequently married Stanley Ann Dunham, Barack Obama Jr.’s mother, while in Honolulu, according to the account Obama relates in his autobiography “Dreams from My Father.”

Obama family portrait taken in Kenya. Abongo “Roy” Malik Obama stands to Barack Obama Jr.’s immediate left

source: www.wnd.com

 

Israel Eyes Strong Ties with East African States


Israel Eyes Strong Ties with East African States

Al-Manar | November 18, 2011

Israel is looking at Africa’s east as an important strategic interest, and trying to step up ties with nations in the region under the name of “controlling the spread of Islamic extremists”.

The Associated Press reports that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hosted the leaders of Uganda and Kenya earlier this week.
Kenyan leader has said that the Zionist entity has promised to provide ‘security assistance’ to his country to help protect its borders.

Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga has said Netanyahu promised to help build “a coalition against fundamentalism,” bringing together the countries Kenya, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Tanzania. The African country also has said Israel’s president, Shimon Peres, has told him Israel is ready to make “everything available to Kenya” for internal security.

For the Israeli part, Netanyahu’s office refuses to comment on Odinga’s claims, while Peres’ office suggests the Kenyan leader has gone too far.

An official in the Peres’ office says he has boasted that Israel is one of the most advanced countries in the world regarding homeland security and would be happy to share its expertise with any country fighting “global terror.” But the official, speaking on condition of anonymity says no specifics have been discussed.

Another Israeli official says an alliance with Kenya and other eastern African countries is natural.

An agency quotes Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev as saying: “We have joint interests and we believe that mutual cooperation can be beneficial to us all”.

Uganda and Kenya have been battling al-Shabab, a Somalia-based ‘al-Qaeda’ linked group.

According to AP, the Zionist entity also has intentions to build strong ties with the newly liberated South Sudan whose president has held a meeting with Netanyahu at the United Nations in September.

In Israel’s eyes, eastern Africa poses a potential hinterland where ‘al-Qaeda’ and other militants can potentially forge ties with similarly minded groups just to the north in Egypt and Gaza. Israeli officials already believe that Sudan is a pathway for smugglers providing weapons to militants in Gaza and the Sinai, and that ‘al-Qaeda’ linked groups in Egypt have been behind a deadly cross-border raid in August that killed eight Israelis.

The Zionist entity already has military ties with several African countries, including Nigeria, Tanzania and the Ivory Coast.

Relations with Kenya, Uganda and South Sudan have not yet reached that stage, though Israel’s “Defense” Ministry has given clearance for private Israeli security firms to operate in those nations, including some arms sales. Israeli defense officials say intelligence sharing is limited to a few close allies at this stage.

“The Ministry of Defense has excellent relations with a number of friendly nations in Africa, especially internal security and counterterrorism,” an official said, refusing to elaborate. He was not allowed to be identified under ministry regulations.

Israel has a long history of involvement in Africa, sending experts in agriculture and development, as well as military advisers and mercenaries, over the years.

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The Ghosts of Empire Are Returning To Haunt Britain – and the US

By Johann Hari – May 28, 2009

In a few weeks, a group of quiet, dignified elderly men and women will arrive in London to explain how the forces of the British state crushed their testicles or breasts with pliers. It was part of a deliberate policy of breaking a civilian population who we regarded as “baboons”, “barbarians” and “terrorists.” They will come bearing the story of how Britain invaded a country, stole its land, and imprisoned an entire civilian population in detention camps – and they ask only for justice, after all this time.

As a small symbol of how we as a country have not come to terms with our history, compare the bemused reaction to the arrival of these Kenyan survivors of Britain’s gulags to the recent campaign supporting the Gurkhas. We have all waxed lyrical over the Nepalese mercenaries who were, for two centuries, hired by the British Empire to fight its least savory battles. Sometimes they were used in great causes, like the defeat of Nazism. Sometimes they were used to viciously crush democratic movements in India or Malaya or Pakistan. But they obediently did the bidding of the Empire – so they are a rare bunch of foreigners who the right will turn moist over and welcome to our island.

I too strongly supported their rights to reside in Britain, out of simple humanity – if they’re good enough to die for us, they’re good enough to live with us. But isn’t it revealing that even in 2009, we can cheer the servants of Empire but blank the people mutilated and murdered by it? There will be no press campaigns or celebrity endorsements for the survivors of the Kenyan suppression when they issue a reparations claim in London next month. They will be met with a bemused shrug. Yet their story tells us far more.

The British arrived in Kenya in the 1880s, at a time when our economic dominance was waning and new colonies were needed. The Colonial Office sent in waves of white settlers to seize the land from the local “apes” and mark it with the Union Jack. Francis Hall was the officer of the East India Company tasked with mounting armed raids against the Kikuyu – the most populous local tribe – to break their resistance. He said: “There is only one way of improving the [Kikuyu] and that is to wipe them out; I would only be too delighted to do so but we have to depend on them for food supplies.”

The British troops stole over sixty thousand acres from the Kikuyu, and renamed the area “the White Highlands.” But the white settlers were aristocratic dilettantes with little experience of farming, and they were soon outraged to discover that the “primitives” were growing food far more efficiently on the reserves they had been driven into. So they forced the local black population to work “their” land, and passed a law banning the local Africans from independently growing the most profitable cash crops – tea, coffee, and sisal.

The people of Kenya objected, and tried to repel the invaders. They called for “ithaka na wiyathi” – land and freedom. After peaceful protests were met with violence, they formed a group, dubbed the Mau Mau, to stop the suppression any way they could. They started killing the leaders appointed by the British, and some of the settlers too. As a result, the London press described them as “evil savages” and “terrorists” motivated by hatred of Christianity and civilization. They had been “brainwashed” by “Mau Mau cult leaders”, the reports shrieked.

The 1.5 million Kikuya overwhelmingly supported the Mau Mau and independence – so the British declared war on them all. A State of Emergency was announced, and it began with forced removals of all Kikuyu. Anybody living outside the reserves – in any of the cities, for example – was rounded up at gunpoint, packed into lorries, and sent to “transit camps”. There, they were “screened” to see if they were Mau Mau supporters. One of the people locked up this way for months was Barack Obama’s grandfather.

Professor Caroline Elkins, who studied the detention camps for five years for her remarkable book ‘Britain’s Gulag: The Brutal End of Empire in Kenya’, explains the tactics adopted by the British to snuffle out Mau Mau. “Electric shock was widely used, as well as cigarettes and fire,” she writes. “Bottles (often broken), gun barrels, knives, snakes, vermin and hot eggs were thrust up men’s rectums and women’s vaginas. The screening teams whipped, shot, burned, and mutilated Mau Mau suspects.”

The people judged to be guilty of Mau Mau sympathies were transferred to torture camps. There, each detainee was given a number which they had to wear on a band on their wrist. They were then stripped naked and sent through a cattle dip, before the torture would begin again. “Detainees were frog-marched around the compound and beaten until blood ran from their ears,” Elkins writes.

The Kikuyu survivor Pascasio Macharia describes some of the tortures he witnessed: “The askaris [guards[ brought in fire buckets full of water, and the detainees were called on by one, [my friend] Peterson first. The asakaris then put his head in the bucket of water and lifted his legs high in the air so he was upside down. That’s when [one of the camp commandants] started cramming sand in Peterson’s anus and stuffed it in with a stick. The other askari would put water in, and then more sand. They kept doing this back and forth… Eventually they finished with Peterson and carried him off, only to start on the next detainee in the compound.”

Another favoured torment was to roll a man in barbed wire and kick him around until he bled to death. Typhoid, dysentery and lice sycthed through the population. Castration was common. At least 80,000 people were locked away and tortured like this. When I reported from Kenya earlier this year, I met elderly people who still shake with fear as they talk about the gulags. William Baldwin, a British member of the Kenya Police Reserve, wrote a memoir in which he cheerfully admits to murdering Kikuya “baboons” in cold blood. He bragged about how he gutted them with knives while other suspects watched. Another British officer, Tony Cross, proudly called their tactics “Gestapo stuff.”

For the civilians outside, life was only slightly better. Women and children were trapped in eight hundred “sealed villages” throughout the countryside. They were surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards, and forced at gunpoint to dig trenches that sealed them off from the world.
There was always another, honorable Britain who fought against these crimes. The Labour left – especially Barbra Castle and Nye Bevan – fought for the camps to be exposed and shut. They didn’t succeed until the British imperialists were finally forced to scuttle away from the country entirely. We will never know how many people they murdered, because the colonial administration built a bonfire of all the paperwork on their way out the door. Elkins calculates it is far more than the 11,000 claimed by the British government, and could be as many as 300,000.

Yet in Britain today, there is a blood-encrusted blank spot about Empire. On the reality show The Apprentice, the contestants recently had to pick a name for their team, and they said they wanted “something that represented the best of British” – so they settled on “Empire.” Nobody objected. Imagine young Germans blithely naming a team “Reich”: it’s unthinkable, because they have had to study what their fathers and grandfathers did, and expunge these barbarous instincts from their national DNA.

This failure to absorb the lessons of Empire is not only unjust to the victims; it leads us to repeat horrifying mistakes. Today, we are – with the Americans – using unmanned drones to bomb the Pakistan-Afghan borderland, as we did a few years ago in Iraq. Nobody here seems to remember that the British invented aerial counter-insurgency in this very spot – with disastrous consequences. In 1924, Arthur ‘Bomber’ Harris bragged that all rebellion could be stopped with this tactic. We have shown them “what real bombing means, in casualties and damage: they know that within 45 minutes a full-sized village can be practically wiped out and a third of its inhabitants killed,” he said. Yet instead of “pacifying” them, it radically alienated the population and lead to an uprising. If we knew our history, we would not be running the same script and expecting a different ending.

Gordon Brown said last year (in India, of all places) that “the days of Britain having to apologise for its colonial history are over.” The survivors of England’s blanked-out torture camps are entitled to ask: when did we start?

To read my series of articles criticizing the imperialist historians Niall Ferguson and Andrew Roberts, click here, here and here.

Johann Hari is an award-winning journalist who writes twice-weekly for the Independent, one of Britain’s leading newspapers.

The Ghosts of Empire Are Returning To Haunt Britain – and the US