Wednesday, April 11, 2007

jewish 1940s plot to assassinate bevin, bomb parliament

Middle Eastern insurgents, bent on forcing out an occupier country, travel to that country with the mission of assassinating its foreign minister and carrying out other terror acts including blowing parliament to pieces. Does this sound like some Islamist extremist plot from today, perhaps related to Iraq? The insurgents concerned were actually Jewish, and the plot dates back to the years immediately following the Second World War. The story was related today at 1.30pm in a repeat of an instalment of the BBC Radio 4 series Document first broadcast last July. The half-hour programme A Date with Bevin on "Jewish insurgency in Palestine and a plot to assassinate Britain's foreign secretary Ernest Bevin", can be listened to via the Document website.

From the website:

"In 1946, not long after the Second World War was won, Britain was again under threat. Jewish insurgents, who had long been fighting a bloody insurgency campaign against British troops in Palestine, were about to take their war to London. Previously top secret documents reveal that assassination squads were being sent to the capital armed with a hit list. On it were the names of several top government figures. These included Britain’s Foreign Secretary, Earnest Bevin.

"Extremist groups like The Stern Gang (or Lehi) and Irgun, were determined to end the British mandate in Palestine and replace it with a Jewish homeland. Hundreds of their fighters, along with many British soldiers, were killed or injured in a struggle that escalated after the end of the war. Desperate to achieve a breakthrough after the arrest or deaths of many of their members, the two groups set up underground cells in Britain. It wasn’t long before British security services got wind of what was happening and in early 1946 they issued this top secret internal warning: 'Members of the Stern group are now being organised and are under training. It is expected that they will be sent to the United Kingdom to assassinate important members of his majesty’s government, particularly, Mr Bevin.'

"In the months that followed a number of bombs exploded in London and an attempt was made to drop on a bomb on the House of Commons from a hired plane. This last effort was only stopped after French Police discovered Stern Gang members preparing to cross the channel in a plane containing a large bomb.

"Mike Thomson and the Document team track down the assassin sent to kill Ernest Bevin and the man who gave him the explosives to do it."

In Jerusalem, Document interviews a former Stern-gang member who is still bitter about the disappearance in May 1947 of his then best friend, a 16-year -old Stern gang member Alexander Rubovitz , who had been taken for questioning by the much-decorated Captain Roy Alexander Farran. There were rumours that Farran, who fled to Syria before being arrested, had tortured and killed him although no body was ever found. The murder case against Farran was dropped due to lack of evidence and he was found not guilty at a court martial. Police members of Farran's former squad and some military men applauded in court when the verdict was announced. The former Stern gang member is still convinced that Farran tortured Rubovitz to death, saying that when Farran was caught in Syria he asked not to be sent back to Palestine "because I killed a Jewish terrorist and the Stern Gang is after me." Captain Roy Farran's brother Rex was killed in 1948 when he opened a parcel bomb addressed to Roy at their home in England. At the time the programme was made it tracked Roy Farran to Canada although he declined to speak to Document on the phone and has since died.(The Guardian published an obituary).

The programme has recorded in Israel interviews with several of the former plotters of attacks that were to be carried out in Britain. But Yaakov Heruti, a member of Lehi who was sent to London to assassinate Bevin and was responsible for the bomb that killed Rex Farran instead of his brother would only provide a written statement to the BBC after backing out from giving an interview. Heruti did confirm he had been in England to assassinate Bevin, had received explosives from America and had played a part in the inadvertent killing of Rex Farran. Heruti told the BBC in his written statement that "the atmosphere in Britain today is unfortunately and for no good reasons anti-Israeli" and he that did not see a "fair chance of an objective public discussion of the 1948 war of Israeli independence."

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