Attlee warned over Jewish terror

THE Labour prime minister Clement Attlee was warned by MI5 that Jewish extremists planned an IRA-style terror campaign in Britain, according to secret files made public today.

MI5 warned that "special reference" had been made to the then foreign secretary Ernest Bevin as a possible assassination target by militant Zionists pressing for a Jewish state in Palestine.

The files, released to the National Archives, reveal that police also broke up what they believed was an attempt by Jewish terrorists to drop high explosives on London using war surplus aircraft.

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The immediate aftermath of the Second World War saw a sharp rise in Jewish terrorism in Palestine, which was still controlled by Britain, in an effort to put pressure on the Labour government to make good what were seen as British promises to create a Jewish state.

One terrorist group, the Stern Gang, blew up the King David Hotel, the main British administrative centre in Jerusalem, killing about 80 people.

The other main terrorist group, Irgun, hanged two British sergeants in retaliation for the executions of Jews convicted of terrorist attacks.

Against this background, in August 1946 the director-general of MI5, Percy Sillitoe, personally warned Attlee that Irgun and the Stern Gang could come together if 18 more Jewish men sentenced to death were executed.

"Our Jerusalem representative has received information that Irgun and Stern Group have decided to send 5 ‘cells’ to London to work on IRA lines," Sillitoe wrote in his note for the meeting.

"To use their own words, the terrorists intend to ‘beat the dog in his own kennel’."

An internal report on "Zionist activity" spelled out MI5’s concerns.

"The Stern Group has been steadily recruiting in recent months, and may now number as many as 600 followers, most of whom are desperate men and women who count their own lives cheap," it said.