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A strategy of tension? October 30, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

I’d never heard of this even though I’ve some interest in Stay Behind networks – those being the covert guerrilla groups that supposedly were established to fend off a Soviet invasion but appear to have had a more then-contemporary function of organising anti-communist and other forces utilising far-right factions and arming same. Consequently there is some evidence of links with efforts to generate a strategy of tension by the far right during the 1970s and after in various European states, perhaps most obviously Italy. Daniele Ganser has conducted some interesting but far from uncontested research in this area which is well worth a read (you can get his books through the Central Library).

A former policeman in Belgium confessed on his deathbed to involvement in this particularly unpleasant series of murders…

The “Crazy Brabant Killers” – a gang that killed 28 people and left a further 40 injured in a string of robberies in the early 1980s.

During a three-year spree, the Brabant Killers staged more than a dozen raids on supermarkets, hostels and a gunsmiths, during which they shot customers, staff and even children. They suddenly ceased their activities and disappeared in 1985.


The killers’ proficiency in handling weapons raised suspicions at the time that there was a link with the gendarmerie, a former paramilitary police force of Belgium. Theories circulated that the group was part of an attempt by the far left or right to undermine the state, something that the Belgian government confirmed on Tuesday remained “a possibility”.

And note the following in relation to language.

The Brabant gang, who were French speaking, and would taunt and roar at their victims, terrorised Belgian society. They have retained a hold on the public imagination since their sudden unexplained disappearance.

In a state like Belgium which is always prey to issues in relation to language, culture and political representation one can imagine the effect of such grim events.

There’s more on the wiki page here. Again the potential Stay Behind aspect is discussed.

Whatever the motivation an almost incredible number of crimes carried out in a very short space of time relatively speaking.


1. EWI - October 30, 2017

‘A strategy of tension as British policy in the Republic of Ireland in the 1970s. Discuss’


Michael Carley - October 30, 2017

For the proposition: various deeds which would have been equivalent to what happened in, especially, Italy.

Against the proposition: there weren’t enough deeds to be a full “strategy”; most of the tension was being generated by the Irish state (e.g. the Heavy Gang).


EWI - October 31, 2017

I’m thinking of extremely suspicious episodes such as the spate of bombings in the south, the adventures of the Littlejohns, etc. I would also suspect that, given what we now know of the history and practice of anti-communist operations, certain southern politicians, academics and media figures would start to live charmed (and well-funded) lives from here on in.

I admit that I don’t know enough about the Heavy Gang – obviously enough, something that our FG- and Labour-friendly media wouldn’t want to discuss. What reading would you recommend?


Michael Carley - October 31, 2017

I haven’t read much about the Heavy Gang, and I just threw the name out as a possible element of a “strategy of tension”. I certainly think the “spate of bombings in the south, the adventures of the Littlejohns, etc.” could have been part of a strategy of tension, but if there was a strategy, it was more likely to have been run from Dublin, maybe by “responsible elements” in the security services, with the cooperation of friendly powers, as it was in Italy.

There were informers inside the Gardai who were passing information to British security services: could that have been part of a broader strategy?


Jim Flynn - October 31, 2017

Were the Provos part of such a strategy?


Michael Carley - October 31, 2017

If there was such a strategy (and we’re into serious speculation here), the Provos probably weren’t part of it, though given the number of informers in it, would there have been some advantage to the state in allowing certain actions to go ahead, even if they could have stopped them?


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