Political violence on the streets of London (pre 2000) Knightsbridge & Mayfair
History can be fascinating, it can be invigorating, it may be tiring, fun, and sometimes dull, and fill some with terror, but the one thing we cannot do, is ignore the simple fact that it has happened. In this series of three walks, Ade will attempt to show you, and help you understand a little better the complex and darker side of London in relation to what is known to most as ‘terrorism’ or political violence. This walk will not touch however on any ‘terror attacks’ post millenium, and will deal with primarily political violence, with a little ‘intelligence service’ espionage thrown in, since the first main attacks took place here in the latter part of the 19th century.
London as we know has been at the forefront of world politics for nearly five hundred years, and upon becoming a world superpower gained many enemies, garnered a few dodgy comrades, and dealt plenty of questionable activities throughout this time. Many of these actions came back to haunt the Capital, but as we will learn on this walk, and on my other two walks on the subject in other parts of the city, many of the atrocities, at least on the face of it, had no direct relation to British policies around the world.
Walk 3 in the series will start over in Kensington. The traditional home of many embassies and so therefore the centre of attention for many political activities. At the beginning of this walk we hear about the notorious ‘Black September movement’, which struck fear into the hearts of many governments around Europe and Middle East in the early seventies. Hear about their formation, their ideologies and their actions.
We follow the path of Hyde Park on this walk, coming to the Iranian Embassy. Famously the setting for one of the most captivating live scenes on television, when in 1980 during a siege here, the SAS stormed the building. From here we move east and learn of tactics employed by the most prolific of terror outfits in London’s history, the IRA. Stopping outside Harrods and then onto Hyde Park, we will learn of the horrific bombs and ensuing loss of life through sp called politicl violence that took place there.
As we turn up Park Lane we will be intrigued with the story of Abd Ar-Razzaq Al Naif, an ex Iraqi military chief involved in a coup, who fled to London to escape assassination in his own country, only to be murdered in London in 1978 in a operation (sanctioned by Saddam Hussein) that took many years to get at him, but reveals a fascinating story and a very bizarre character indeed.
Abu Nidal, a man known by name to some, was born in Jaffa, Israel, who went on to form the radical movement of Fatah in Palestine. Before using more political means, Abu Nidal set off bombs around Europe, including here in London during the 70’s. The prolific IRA come under more scrutiny along the route to the finish at the now infamous ‘Siege of Balcombe Street’ just before christmas, 1975, where the perpetrators of many of the attacks on London got holed up in a flat on this ordinary of London’s Marylebone’s thoroughfares, as the SAS were once again called into action to subdue this act of political violence.
Some of these acts of terror are more well known and the others less so. I have found the research into these groups, organisations or armies (whatever you wish to call them) absolutely fascinating and I would dearly love to pass on some of this information to you.
So please, get in touch if any of my walks interest you, and I hope to have a chat with you soon. Don’t forget, if you are interested in this subject, I plan to run two more similar walks, but covering different assailants in other parts of London.
Take a stroll with Ade, a qualified London Borough Guide
‘Enthusing the enthusiastic’