Feature Article

Phil Miller’s work reveals British role in dividing Tamils and Muslims in East: Dr Malathy

[TamilNet, Sunday, 15 March 2020, 18:46 GMT]
The British mercenary outfit Keenie Meenie Services (KMS), made up mostly of ex-SAS personnel, and serving the ‘anglophile’ SL President, the late Richard Junius Jayewardene by secretly training the Sinhala Special Task Force (STF) commandos against the armed struggle of Eezham Tamils back in the 1980s. The STF advised by the KMS on divide-and-rule and use of religion, recruited Tamil-speaking Muslims to commit massacres. All of this was done with full awareness of the British government, which too was worried about the solidarity between the Tamils and the Muslims, writes New Zealand based Dr N.Malathy in her book review on the recent book by UK-based Phil Miller. “Keenie Meenie: The British Mercenaries Who Got Away With War Crimes,” is making this vital revelation, writes the Tamil diaspora survivor of SL State’s 2009 genocidal onslaught on Eezham Tamils in Vanni.

Eelam Tamils and the Muslims of eastern Tamil Eelam too will soon come to see the short history of this divide orchestrated from outside, Malathy writes further.

Full text of the book review by N. Malathy follows:

Dr. N. Malathy
Dr. N. Malathy
This book is essentially the story of how private mercenaries arose in Britain after decolonization to compensate for the loss of power of Britain and the resulting loss to the British interests in the former colonies. In particular it traces the growth and the activities of one such outfit Keenie Meenie Services (KMS) that operated extensively in two ex-colonies, namely Oman and Sri Lanka.

Eelam Tamils will be well aware of the “white mercenaries” assisting the Lankan government during 80’s to bomb out Tamil areas. That was when the Sinhala air force has not gained the training to fly such helicopters and planes from which to bomb and strafe Tamil civilians.

Many of us thought it was Israel that was behind these white mercenaries. Thus, the name “Mosaddu” was used by the Tamils at the receiving end of the actions of these mercenaries.

Phil’s book demonstrates the central role played by the British government through the KMS mercenary outfit.

Phil’s painstaking investigative work on the happenings three to four decades ago sieving through declassified British documents and documents obtained through Freedom of Information, tracking down the personalities involved and their connections and sometimes interviewing them is truly staggering. He weaves a highly readable story using only facts and filling in the missing bits with intelligent speculation.

The British mercenary outfit KMS was made up mostly of ex-SAS (British Special Air Service) personnel. Sometimes even reserve SAS members were active in KMS. Phil draws out the connections KMS had with other British government departments as well.

“Deniability” is a word that appears again and again pointing to the use of the mercenaries to do what British government could not do openly in its ex-colonies. The book strings together such activities from Oman to Sri Lanka and also from El Salvador to Argentina where the USA wanted to do similar work.

Phil’s book starts with the story of the massacre in Piramanthanaru where one eyewitness had recounted seeing a white man standing next to the helicopter that brought the Sinhala military to her village to carry out a carnage.

The deposing of Oman’s sultan and replacing him with his son is one of the handy works of the British SAS. As part this project the SAS also crushed a Marxist rebellion in Dhufar in Oman.

The tactic was to use ‘development model’ to divide rebellion and use the defectors to fight their old comrades.

Religion was used to give these defectors a sense of ideology.

It is all the standard tactics of divide-and-rule and use of religion. It worked for the Spanish to defeat the Incas and it still works today.

On page 40 onwards the description about a particular battle in Oman against the rebels is revealing. It is a battle won by SAS. It has been made into a legendary victory and was subject of many memoirs and cinemas.

Phil shows the other side of this story through the words of locals. A stunning example how any story becomes the story of the powerful.

Next SAS moves to the part of Ireland occupied by Britain. From there they illegally cross the border to independent Ireland and abduct an IRA leader who was visiting his fiancé. Within minutes of the abduction he was shot and killed by SAS. The shots were heard by the people in the house.

When the case becomes public British government claimed the border crossing was due to map reading error by SAS and the shooting was because the IRA leader was trying to overpower SAS members!!!

Lies that become truth from the mouths of the powerful happens with the British soldiers just like it does with Sri Lankan soldiers.

Around this time, a British diplomat was killed in Netherlands by the IRA. Now the British establishment starts hiring private security firms to protect its ambassadors overseas. KMS made up of many ex-SAS men and reserve SAS men becomes its choice for bodyguards.

KMS was employed as bodyguards not only in Europe but also in Argentina where a military government is fighting Marxist rebels.

KMS bodyguards were also used to protect British ambassadors in the Central American state of El Salvador where again rebels were fighting against the USA supported regimes of landowners.

Can you see the pattern that the book exposes?

One of the 60 odd SAS men who took part in the 1980 Iranian mission to release 20 hostages including many western diplomats, was among the SAS men to arrive in Colombo few weeks later to secretly train Sri Lankan military’s fight against the LTTE.

Sri Lanka was under Jayawardhana’s presidency. Phil shows that Jayawardhana was an anglophile raised by an English nanny.

A British ambassador in Colombo had later told Phil about Jayawardhana, “ … has this Romantic dream all along, that the best thing that could happen to you would be to be sit in a golden coach opposite the Queen and bowled down the Mall and be treated to a state banquet at the end of it”.

To my generation of Eelam Tamils this revealing desire of a Sri Lankan President is as unbelievable as saying that people saw with their eyes God physically coming down to earth. That was a measure of the distance of Eelam Tamils from the reality of the Sri Lankan state.

The Dhufar rebels of Oman, Argentine rebels fighting the US supported military regime, El Salvador rebels fighting the corrupt government of landowners, Tamil rebels fighting the anglophile Sinhala government were all fighting governments that were overtly and covertly supported by the British government through this SAS-KMS partnership. Perhaps most of the people supporting these rebels were aware of this SAS-KMS involvement except the Eelam Tamil people supporting the Tamil rebels. Something for the Eelam Tamils to reflect on.

The book goes on to explore the role played by SAS and KMS in training Sri Lankan security forces. The role of STF of Sri Lankan police, its training by KMS and subsequently STF recruiting Muslim homeguards to massacre Tamils are laid out in the book.

All of this was done with the full awareness of the British government which too was worried about the solidarity between the Tamils rebels and the Muslims, who too joined the rebels.

The role of STF in breaking this solidarity is an important revelation. Tamils and Muslims of eastern Tamil Eelam too will soon come to see the short history of this divide orchestrated from outside.

It maybe also useful here to quote Phil talking to media about the deportation of Eelam Tamil asylum seekers from Britain:

“The Home Office was saying it was safe to send Tamils back…, reports emerged that Tamils were being arrested upon arrival and tortured…. that got me thinking - why is the UK government sending people to be tortured when supposedly we are a country that respects human rights and opposes torture?... I kind of realised that if you understand the 1970’s and the 1980’s, up until the IPKF time, then you can really understand the middle and end of the conflict and what has happened since. Because you see particularly how the international powers behave and what they say in private about what their interests really are and where their red lines are drawn.”

If only more people of the world come to such awakening…

Keenie Meenie: The British Mercenaries Who Got Away With War Crimes, Pluto Press, 2020

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