Document:The MI6 Bombings in Saudi Arabia
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The MI6 Bombings in Saudi Arabia
... or why David Brown needs to talk to Jamie Lee
If we are to believe the Guardian, the BBC (and MI6, who runs them both), the Saudi Arabian government prefers to arrest, torture and behead innocent British subjects for terrorist bombings, rather than troubling the real culprits, who must surely be bearded Muslim fanatics. As with the 911 attack, what really happened is, as usual, very different. Read how Sir Derek Plumbly, and other Foreign Office officials, co-ordinated the murder and maiming of innocent British subjects, while deceiving the bereaved families, and the surviving victims.
The Director-General of SIS, Richard Dearlove is facing a very serious crisis, and has again been forced to fall back on the usual compliance of British journalists to prevent a scandal which threatens to rock the Secret Intelligence Service to its foundations. In Saudi Arabia, five low-level MI6 operatives, as well as a Glasgow-born Canadian and a Belgian, are awaiting sentences for five bombings that took place in the cities of Riyadh and Khobar between November 2000 and March 2001. The first bombing was designed to make an impact on the Saudi government, and a British engineer, Chris Rodway, had an arm and a leg blown off and died of his injuries. Having made a powerful initial effect, a second bomb - which was not designed to kill - was exploded a week later. At this point the Saudi authorities arrested two of the culprits. This placed the British military attache in a difficult position, and he decided to recruit a second group of bombers, mainly in order to create the impression that those already arrested might be innocent. Three weeks later a third bomb, although small, blinded David Brown, a customer relations manager from Edinburgh, Scotland. Several curious features to these bombings were evident. The variety and sophistication of the devices used is less surprising than the fact that only the first was meant to kill someone quite untypical of terrorism in the Arab world, which is generally spectacular when it takes place, with no half measures. The combination of technical sophistication and relative ineffectiveness is very curious, as is the fact that only British citizens were targeted, although American expats are perfectly easy to find in the Kingdom.
Why then did MI6 set about blowing up Brits in Saudi Arabia? Since the role of MI6 in the bombings is an open secret in the Western diplomatic community there, and Sir Richard's patrician brutality is not approved of, it proved to be fairly easy to find out. The MI6 bombings were intended to address a problem that had arisen a month earlier. The problem was reported on October 22nd 2000 in the Guardian in a story entitled "$1bn aid pledge by Saudis" 
The Saudi government had announced a plan to raise a billion dollars to support the Palestinian Intifada. The Intifada had been provoked by a visit paid to the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem by the hated Ariel Sharon with four hundred armed soldiers. This visit trashed what was left of the Democrats' foreign policy record, and in a close-run Presidential election helped the Bush ticket into the White House, while ensuring the downfall of Barak so that Sharon could take charge and form the seamless partnership with the Bush administration that continued right up until 911. In announcing the pledge to raise one billion dollars, the Saudis knew that they would be paying the lion's share, since few of the other Arab countries were able or willing to chip in significant sums. The prospect of Saudi millions made the Al-Aqsa Intifada a much more serious problem: now that the stone-throwing had served Sharon's purpose, how could it be stopped if the Saudi millions were going to feed it (and the families of thousands of Palestinians)? How could the Saudi government be brought back on side?
Somewhere it was decided that a 'pro-Palestinian terrorist organization' had to be created at short notice in Saudi Arabia - one that would carry out an 'anti-Western' bombing campaign and would persuade the Saudi government that support for the Palestinians had got out of hand and a new crack-down was needed. Such a changed political environment would drive a wedge between the Saudi government and the country's militant pro-Palestinian lobby, thus making the government's largess superfluous.
The bombing campaign was the result of contacts between MI6 and Mossad. Mossad - which the 911 attack proved to be the world's senior intelligence service - is able to make offers that others can't refuse, and that includes, we can be sure, MI6, whose real, secret record - during the Cold War for example - is in fact abyssmal, when not merely shabby, as John LeCarre has said, and as this author knows from both personal experience and research.
MI6 should never have undertaken the bombing assignment. The CIA would have thought twice about blowing up US expats, and MOSSAD, for obvious reasons, didn't have any Israelis in Saudi to blow up (and probably wouldn't if they had). The polarization of British society goes a long way to explain how an organization run by public schoolboys like Dearlove decided to used a working class Scotsman to blow up a working class Englishman.
A lack of suitable agents led to the first blunder - the selection of Alexander Mitchell as lead bomber. Mitchell, a Scotsman from Kirkintilloch, ran an Irish pub in Riyadh - no doubt the Embassy was interested to hear what was being said by the Irishmen there. What is important is Mitchell's military background (he taught desert survival techniques to people he helped smuggle out of the country), and above all the fact that he was regarded as the Embassy's Mr Fixit, and paid daily visits to the embassy, although he in fact worked at a military hospital. His well-known connections with the embassy made him a very unsuitable candidate in the event of his being caught, which he was.
It also follows that the Saudis would be most unlikely to frame a man as close to the British Embassy as Mitchell. In fact Mitchell's connections with the Embassy were so close that the morning after his televised confession, British ambassador Derek Plumbly (later routinely knighted to cover up the cock-up on his watch) rushed round to meet the Saudi Minister of the Interior - something quite extraordinary for any ambassador to do in such circu mstances. As if this wasn't enough, the British Foreign Office stated to the Independent that Plumbly would make representations every day if necessary. Four weeks earlier, Baroness Scotland, Minister of State at the Foreign Office, had discussed the Mitchell case not once, but twice with the Saudi ambassador. Just after the New Year, the Foreign Office had sent out Britain's Head of Diplomacy, Sir John Kerr to discuss the crisis. Although Mitchell had been arrested at his home on 17th December, and his arrest was reported a few days later, Sir John lied and claimed the Saudis had kept his arrest a secret, and that he had found out about it by chance - during talks with Saudi officials. Has any ordinary murder suspect ever been accorded such immediate and top level support by the British Foreign Office? Of course not. Every British subject that goes abroad knows that he can expect little help from the Foreign Office if he falls foul of the law.
The bomb that the British military attache gave to blow up Chris Rodway was fairly large and sophisticated, and was placed under the driver's seat. Unlike the later victims, he had been previously selected, since he was to die. Mitchell knew him and the bomb was intended to kill him. It was detonated by Mitchell's partner, a Glasgow-born Canadian called Sampson, from another car by means of a radio signal.
Immediately after the murder of Rodway, Prince Andrew was flown in on a Friendly visit to the Saudi royal family. The sudden upsurge of top level contacts occasioned by this visit was designed to bring maximum pressure to bear on the top Saudi decision makers. Those who were receiving the Prince and his entourage had to be encouraged to see what was obvious: that pro-Palestinian terrorists were responsible for the Rodway bombing and that British citizens must be protected by a crackdown on pro-Palestinian elements.
However, things began to go wrong almost immediately after the Rodway bombing. Mitchell and Sampson were overheard discussing it by a Belgian paramedic, Raaf Schifter. In order to keep their friend Schifter quiet, they had to recruit him for the second bombing. The second bomb, which he is accused of detonating, was smaller and slightly injured three British citizens and an Irish woman on 22nd November. Soon after Sampson was arrested. Things had already come seriously unstuck. At this point, the Embassy realized what they should have done at the very beginning: that the resourceful ex-soldier, Mr. Fixit, was not the man for the job. For lack of real pro-Palestinian terrorists• they recruited another two Brits at the Falah compound in Riyadh: James Lee and James Cottle, so as to divert Saudi suspicions from Mitchell, whom the Saudis had already knew about, though they were hesitant to arrest him because of his close connections with the Embassy.
Having recruited a new team of bombers, MI6 dispatched three detectives from Scotland Yard's Anti-Terrorist Branch to Riyadh on 1st December, not to help the Saudis in the investigation of course, but as camouflage.
On 15th December, the new team of bombers got to work. Cottle and Lee were ordered to drive from Riyadh to the Eastern Province - a new theatre of operations where they were paid a visit to Azizia supermarket in Khobar, and planted explosives in a juice carton at the foot of the windscreen of a car belonging to another Briton, David Brown, the customer service manager of Coca Cola in the Eastern province. Unlike the Mitchell bombs, the juice carton was designed to explode on contact, which it did when Mr Brown tried to remove it, blinding him and wounding him in several parts of the body.
With Mitchell already compromised, the fabrication about the 'turf war' which by default the Saudi media have been encouraged to use, was concocted. It appeared in a British newspaper, The Independent, on 17th December 2000, when an unnamed British expatriate revealed to that he had been told by an American security services employee that "they knew this is a turf war to do with alcohol among the westerners. It does not involve the Saudis or the situation in the Middle East." This statement had been made before Mitchell's arrest, indicating that the intelligence community were priming the media. The fabrication was then taken up by the Saudi press, aided by the fact that the Saudis had already decided to underpin the fiction by arresting five Brits for alcohol offences at the beginning of December, after they had detected Mitchell.
It is not clear when the Saudis actually discovered the involvement of Mitchell and MI6, but clearly Sampson had no interest in covering up the MI6 connection when he was questioned. He would have quickly realized that the British Foreign Office was his best chance of getting out of trouble. It is therefore unlikely that he didn't confess and implicate Mitchell. Realizing the political significance of the bombings, the Saudis would realize the need for inventing a plausible alternative explanation. Hence the series of arrests for alcohol offences at the beginning of December, a we ek after Sampson's probable confession. Thus the Saudis prepared the ground for Mitchell's arrest in such a way as to get the British Embassy of the hook.
The subsequent decoy bombings were thus not intended to deceive the Saudis, but to provide an alibi for the Mitchell group that could be fed to the puppet British media (and local expatriates) to convince them at least of the bombers' innocence. How could they be guilty if the bombs were still going off? This angle was worked on by the British press in their reports of the later bombings. Saudi dissidents were interviewed in Britain, and they erroneously assumed that the continuation of the bombings meant that local extremists were responsible. As is often the case, MI6, which controls John Simpson and indeed the BBC, used third parties to feed disinformation into the media.
The Saudi response to the Brown bombing was to arrest Mitchell two days later, on the 17th December. The fourth bombing, which probably didn't deceive the Saudis any more than t he third one had, took place at the Euromarche supermarket in Riyadh on Jan 10th. Lee and Cottle had persuaded a third Brit, Les Walker to join them. He placed the bomb and detonated it. Fortunately, this bomb did not injure anybody.
Things began to unravel further three weeks later, when on 4th February Mitchell's scripted confession was broadcast on television, along with those of Sampson and Schifter. What was most obviously scripted was what Mitchell et al were not allowed to say: who recruited them, who provided the explosives, and who gave the orders and above all, why. It was in fact the British miltary attache, who was forced a few months later to sell his carpets and move back to London. The accounts of the confessions of both groups of men in the Saudi press emphasise that this information is known, but cannot be disclosed. It is notable that none of the confessions mentions the bootlegging turf war•angle. The fact that the accused are only allowed to discuss welfare matters during consular vis its is a constraint that the Embassy itself needs to impose, in order to avoid unseemly arguments with men that have become an embarrassment.
On 5 February, the Saudi Minister of the Interior stated that the explosives used in the Riyadh attacks had entered the country illegally and were prepared "in a highly skillful way which indicated specialized people were behind it". On 7th February, the Independent - a British newspaper - reported him as saying that foreign countries linked to those arrested were behind the bombings. On 8th February, he was reported in the Saudi press as saying that foreign nationals, not foreign countries were to be blamed for two bomb attacks in Riyadh. This retraction was to be belied however by the Times the very next day, when it published a major revelation entitled "Diplomats in cover-up over British Mr Fixit" , exposing (some of) Mitchell's close links with the embassy. Clearly, journalists in London were beginning to smell a rat. At this point, things could hardly have got worse for MI6, but they did. In February the Saudis arrested Les Walker, who had carried and detonated the bomb at the Euromarche supermarket in January.
On 15th March, Lee and Cottle carried out the fifth bombing took at the Jarir bookshop in Riyadh. A Briton and an Egyptian were slightly injured. The following month Lee was arrested, and in June his partner Cottle was arrested.
The confessions of Walker, Lee and Cottle were televised on 13th August. Whereas the confession of Mitchell in February gave rise to serious suspicions that he had been drugged, the August confessions were more spontaneous. However, once again, the accused were not allowed to identify who gave the orders for the bombings (because it was the British Military attache) although the Minister of the Interior has said that the individual is known and will be revealed in due course. The motive that they gave was that the second series of explosions was to take the heat off Mitchell, and make the Saudi authorities think they were on the wrong track. If this was initially true, the plan quickly became unstuck, and the operation degenerated into a British media operation intended to cast doubt on Mitchell's involvement.
For months now the Foreign Office, quite wrongly, has been accused of inaction. As we have demonstrated, it is highly doubtful whether the Foreign Office has ever reacted so quickly and at such a high level for an accused murderer. Frank Gardner of the BBC, who occasionally tells the truth, said that over 'fifty [sic] representations at ministerial level or above' have been made by the Foreign Office, and wants readers to believe that 'a small clique within the interior ministry' is responsible for the scandal. It is seems that only the Foreign Secretary himself, Robin Cook, was not involved. This is hardly surprising in view of Cook's interest in the Markov and Maxwell murders, which made an enemy of Sir Richard Dearlove and would have played an important part in Cook's removal at the request of the Bush administration, no doubt at the instigation of MI6. It was not until August that the new Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, was officially apprised of the Saudi bombings: the second round of confessions made it unavoidable. However it is extremely doubtful that he was told the truth. It is worth noting that he was informed not by Sir John Kerr, or Baroness Scotland, but by the British ambassador Plumbly. The spook grandees of the Foreign Office were as usual expecting an inferior to do the lying, having abandoned the high profile that they had adopted at the beginning of the year with the Saudis.
Nick Cohen of the Observer wrote at some length about the case on 9th December: He said that Britain's 'quiet diplomacy' is hushed to the point of silence. The Foreign Office has persuaded the families of the arrested men to say nothing. The usually expansive Stephen Jakobi, whose Fair Trials Abroad pressure group represents them, is mute." In all fairness, who can doubt that Mr. Jakobi is one of those ubiquitous well connected puppets that police the British State’s morass of secret crimes. Unfortunately, Britain doesn't have a past as innocent as that of say, Denmark, where so little is rotten.
According to Cohen, "Amnesty International has been taking calls from distracted journalists who want to help but can't find anyone who will talk." Should one be surprised if it turns out that Amnesty is an organization where nobody wants to talk - just like the Foreign Office? This is of course to be expected in a pseudo-democracy such as the United Kingdom's where dissent is so predictably ineffective, and well-managed, often with state funding.
The case of the MI6 bombings in Saudi will not go away. In the present international situation, the Saudi government are sitting on a time bomb. Allowing Mitchell, Sampson, Schifter, Lee, Cottle and Walker to tell the whole truth in public is something that MI6 will prevent at all costs. What would have happened if Mitchell or one of the others had refused to carry out the bombings and gone to London to blow the whistle, and tell say, the Foreign Affairs editor of the Observer, Peter Beaumont? Beaumont, who works under journalistic cover, would have informed his true masters, and the honest whistle blower would have had the hounds set on him, with extreme prejudice if it were expedient.
In fact the deference of Mitchell et al to MI6 is much the same as the deference of Britain’s editors to the censor. Thugs like Dearlove need not only murderers, but spineless journalists that will cover up for them. You can’t have one without the other. If the bombings that Mitchell, Lee, Cottle and Walker are involved in are seriously discussed in the British media, MI6 will be shaken to its foundations, because that will inevitably lead to MI6's other secret scandals, not to mention its clandestine and illegal allegiance to other governments, so as to avoid submission to its own. In order to prevent British society from turning on it, and properly reforming it, MI6 (and Dearlove) have been hiding behind a gagged press - and Uncle Sam. MI6 has become the catspaw of two other pseudo-democracies - that of the electoral cooks of Florida, and that of the murderers of Yitzhak Rabin.
The above story was censored by the British press. If it had appeared, British banker Simon Veness would still be alive. MI6 killed Simon Veness on Thursday, June 20th 2002 - only a few weeks ago. On 25th June, the Saudi Foreign Minister paid an unexpected visit to London, and met British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw to lodge a complaint. The killing of Veness was designed to be very similar to that of Chris Rodway on Friday 17th November 2000. Note that MI6 killers hit at the weekend - when they are off work. It is difficult to smuggle professional hitmen into Saudi Arabia for a one-off hit, so the Embassy is forced to use local Brits. MI6 must ensure that Rodway's father (and the British media) is convinced that Mitchell is innocent otherwise he might not waive Mitchell's death sentence. He must be persuaded that Al-Qaeda is responsible. The Veness killing was timed shortly after the arrest of some apparently genuine Al-Qaeda terrorists who tried to launch a rocket at an American military aircraft. Veness was about to leave Riyadh for good, which was why he was selected. The fact that he had already made preparations for his family's departure reduced the awkward dealings with his widow that would have been required of diplomats if her departure had been unexpected. The whole embassy knows about the reponsibility of MI6, and this is causing strain. It is worth mentioning the career of Ambassador Sir Derek Plumbly (he was recently knighted in spite of the Saudi bombing case). As Director, Middle East and North Africa, at the Foreign Office, he was responsible for the Yvonne Fletcher and Lockerbie cover-ups. (See Joe Veills; John Ashton and Ian Ferguson, respectively). Earlier, as Drugs Coordinator, he was responsible for a very shady area, given the obvious failure to control drug smuggling into Britain, and the fact that intelligence services are known to use the drugs trade for additional finance, while regarding drugs as a useful tool for dumbing down youth in the rudderless mass culture of a country sinking in debt.
The article predates Jamie Lee's confirmation of his confession that he was one of those responsible for blinding David Brown. Lee, like Schifter, does not want to go along with the recantations of the others. The text was drafted before the murders of British banker, Simon Veness, in June 2002, and German businessman Maximilien Graf in September 2002 at the same location, outside a Western compound where British agents placed bombs similar to that used by Sandy Mitchell to kill Chris Rodway in November 2000. The bombs were placed at night within the compound so as to avoid the very efficient Saudi police surveillance which had caught the previous bombers. I have been told that the military attache responsible for the first between November 2000 and April 2001 was naval officer David Gilmour. A Scotsman, he recruited Sandy Mitchell. The 2002 bombings and a recent attempt to kill the author are the responsibility of his successor, Rupert Head.
- $1bn aid pledge by Saudis Guardian 22 October 2000
- "Diplomats in cover-up over British Mr Fixit" The Times 9 February 2001.The article is no longer available through a regular search of the UK Time site. The following is a relevant extract:
"The Foreign Office was last night accused of covering up links with the British man who confessed on television to Saudi bombings. Sandy Mitchell, 44, was apparently so close to British diplomats in Riyadh he was known by some ex-patriots as the Embassy's 'Mr Fixit'. But British officials said that they knew nothing about Mr Mitchell after he appeared on Saudi television saying that he caused an explosion last November that killed another Briton.
Mr Mitchell has claimed to have served in The Parachute Regiment. The Ministry of Defence says that its files show that he was a member of the Territorial Army until 1986. They would not reveal with which units he served."