The Column 88 and Combat 18 Operations Compared

Searchlight themselves have drawn attention to C88: C18 parallels, stating that "those who have watched C18 have noted that in some ways it resembles a little [Page 25] too closely a nazi underground group called Column 88. C88 turned out to be a 'honey trap operation' set up by British intelligence... [and] disappeared into the wilderness of mirrors that is intelligence once Searchlight and Members of Parliament started to ask too many questions and even infiltrate its ranks." [57] With hindsight, what are we to make of this? Aside from the posthumous rehabilitation of Dave Roberts, this account of how C88 panned out is an inversion of the true sequence of events. For as we have seen it was Searchlight's publicising C88 in 1975 and feeding stories to the media and MPs in 1976 concerning the Savernake forest exercise and so on that led to the effective launch of C88 nationally, without which it could not have functioned as a 'honey trap.' And as I have repeatedly stated, there is no evidence MI5 created C18, indeed the only motive suggested by Searchlight for them doing so is preposterous, that concerning Ulster Loyalists. For virtually all 'extra-parliamentary' groups Ulster Loyalist paramilitaries are the most susceptible to infiltration by the state. The case of the UDA's Chief Intelligence Officer 1987-1990, state asset Brian Nelson, under whose auspices Loyalist paramilitaries were flooded with arms via South Africa, springs immediately to mind. Given that in any fascist-Loyalist co-operation the Loyalists would unquestionably be the senior partner, MI5 would already know, via their assets inside the Loyalists, precisely what 'joint activities' might be going on; indeed they'd be in a good position to organise them! C18 has far more of a reality and street presence (although a patchy record on functioning cells) than C88 ever appeared to have, so the parallels there are not exact. No significant reports of substantial power struggles within C88 were ever filed, this is not the case concerning C18, for close observers like myself. There are two similarities between C88 and C18 though. The first is one that would not unduly perturb Searchlight: the operations (real/imagined) of both are clearly matters within the province of the secret state generally, both Special Branch and MI5. The second similarity is one which would, and should, make Searchlight very uncomfortable indeed were it to gain wide circulation, and will hopefully already be apparent to those of you who have read this far. Just as Searchlight lied about C88 on behalf of the state when it mattered, so they have already done, and are still doing, in relation to C18. If C18 is a 'honey trap' then Searchlight have helped it become effective, by building it up so much; the first TV programme featuring it was co-produced by them and old friend Andrew Bell for 'World in Action' April 1993. On the 'honey trap' scenario, Searchlight acted in exactly the same way concerning C18 as they did with C88. On the other hand if C18 (no matter how distasteful a band of neo-nazi thugs they evidently are) is at present run by a leadership who are largely independent of state control, by lying about the allegiance of this Mark I original leadership, Searchlight are facilitating a take-over by real state operatives. Such a take-over would not be undertaken for pacifist purposes, that much is for sure.