1860-1899 | 1980-1989 | Backing terror operations | Burning villages | Collective punishments | India | Lebanon | MI6 crimes | Punitive operations



Sheikh Fadlallah at a meeting with the British ambassador to Lebanon in 2008. By then the Foreign Office was describing him as a ‘leading Shia scholar.’ – CC License – FCO – via Flickr.

[ 8 March 1985 ]

On 8th March 1985, MI6 assisted CIA and Saudi agents in their attempt to assassinate Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, an author and scholar who called for armed resistance to the Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank. The means used was a massive car bomb placed outside a mosque in a Beirut market. It was timed to go off just as worshipers were leaving Friday prayers. It failed to kill the Sheikh, but it obliterated eighty people, including many women and children, and injured 256.

Lebanese journalist Noura Boustany, writing for the Washington Post, reported that the blast ‘burned babies in their beds. It killed a bride buying her trousseau in a lingerie shop. It blew away three children as they walked home from the mosque and it left a nine year old girl permanently disabled with a chunk of shrapnel in her brain that cannot be removed.’1 It was only several years later that Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward revealed that the indiscriminate act of terror was carried out on the orders of CIA director William Casey, but with the willing cooperation of MI6.2


[ 8 March 1894 ]

A punitive column of troops had been dispatched in February under Captain Maxwell to take reprisals against the Abors (now known as the Ali people) in the Abor Hills of North Eastern India following the murder of three military police sepoys in November 1893. Rather than engage in any police action to arrest those responsible, the decision was taken to burn all villages deemed ‘unfriendly,’ including Membu.3 Maxwell’s force arrived at the village on 8 March, finding it heavily stockaded, but the villagers fled these defences after a brief but heavy bombardment. A correspondent for the Calcutta based newspaper, The Englishman, reported that ‘they fled into the jungles before the force could get on to them, and only four Abors were killed. The guns, however, must have killed and wounded several of them, as blood marks were found besides fragments of shells near the stockades. Membu was burned and the force returned to camp on the river.’4


  1. Noura Boustany, Beirut Bomb’s Legacy Suspicion and Tears, The Washington Post, 6 March 1988 accessed online on 27 December 2018 at url https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/1988/03/06/beirut-bombs-legacy-suspicion-and-tears/28371cdd-e9ac-4792-89df-88bf0c0c64c7/?utm_term=.f19355f2d58c
  2. Bob Woodward and Charles Babcock, Anti-terrorist Unit Blamed in Washington Bombing, Washington Post, 12 May 1985 and Noam Chomsky, Who Rules The World, Hamish Hamilton, New York, p. 26.
  3. ‘Burning of Membu,’ The Englishman, 14 March 1894, p. 22.

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