KILLERS UNMASKED Watch shocking moment Martin McGuinness plants car bomb that maimed 26 in unearthed film exposing IRA’s ruthless killers

 THE stooped figure priming an IRA car bomb is instantly recognisable in the fading cine footage.

For the young Provo warlord is Martin McGuinness, who years later shook the Queen’s hand as Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister and a man of peace.

Passers-by cower as the IRA car bomb explodes in Shipquay Street in Derry city centre in March 1972, injuring 26
Passers-by cower as the IRA car bomb explodes in Shipquay Street in Derry city centre in March 1972, injuring 26Credit: Film images: BBC
Provo warlord Martin McGuinness, with his back to the camera, is seen in the documentary
Provo warlord Martin McGuinness, with his back to the camera, is seen in the documentaryCredit: BBC
The makings of an IRA explosive shown in the film
The makings of an IRA explosive shown in the filmCredit: BBC

And the explosive device he is seen helping to prepare in the never-screened documentary later devastated Londonderry, injuring 26 people.

Forgotten for 50 years, the film shows often unmasked IRA leaders — all wanted men — openly discussing their deadly campaign.

And in shocking scenes, terrorist foot soldiers are followed by the camera team on bloody bombing and shooting missions.

McGuinness, though just 21, was a commander of Derry’s IRA.He is seen in the film handling a bullet and a loaded revolver as wide-eyed children look on.

The IRA insisted they must have approval over the final cut of the film, called The Secret Army.

And if the film makers disobeyed? Then they “would be shot”.

The IRA must have imagined they were carefully stage-managing a propaganda coup that would loosen the purse strings of the US’s millions-strong Irish community to donate to the Republican cause.Yet the movie was shelved without ever being released in its entirety.

It is believed that it — and perhaps some of its makers — had been compromised by the security services.

In a twist worthy of a thriller, its director Zwy Aldouby was — unbeknown to the IRA — a former paramilitary himself who had fought the British administration in Palestine in the fight to set up the state of Israel.

Later he served a jail sentence for trying to snatch an on-the-run Nazi war criminal from Spain.

His own son Ilan suggests Aldouby may have joined the film crew while doubling as a spy for Israeli intelligence service Mossad.

But why would the Israelis want to spy on Irish terrorists?

And why was the film never distributed for the public to see?

Hidden away for half a century, The Secret Army has now emerged, in a box of old video tapes that was given to a BBC researcher.

Its contents are shocking, and the story of its making and subsequent disappearance are truly bizarre.

It is all told in a riveting new BBC documentary — also called The Secret Army — currently on iPlayer.

It traces the experiences of the original US film makers and uses their footage from the 1970s.

The original film begins with a young woman with striking red hair, 17-year-old Geraldine Hughes, being shown how to build a bomb.

A master bomb-maker tells her: “Your det (detonator) is the last thing to connect.”

A glowing light indicates the bomb is live and ready to be activated.

Truly bizarre

Her superior adds: “Now you know what your target is and you know what to do.”

In a later segment, McGuinness is seen with three other men placing a 100lb car bomb with an alarm-clock timer into the back of a Volkswagen estate car.

The camera team then follows the car to Shipquay Street in Derry city centre, where it explodes to devastating effect on March 21, 1972.

News footage from the time shows a woman being carried away with blood streaming from her forehead.

The bomb was part of a two-day IRA blitz that left eight people dead.

So who were the film makers and how did they get such astonishing — and damning — access?

The writer and producer was New York-born J. Bowyer Bell, who once told an interviewer: “I associate with gunmen.”

Bell was a veteran of conflict zones and had made Irish Republican contacts when writing a book called The Secret Army: The IRA 1916–1970.

He claimed he had been bugged, tear-gassed and shot during Belfast riots, and described it as “field work a bit too near the centre of the field”.

Bell and his fly-on-the-wall camera team arrived in Northern Ireland soon after January 30, 1972 — or Bloody Sunday, when the British Army killed 14 unarmed civilians, and the province was close to civil war.

There were IRA bombings or shootings almost daily.

Composer Jacob Stern — who provided the music for the film — remembers meeting Bell at Dublin Airport and being tailed by spooks.

McGuinness and accomplices place the bomb in the VW estate
McGuinness and accomplices place the bomb in the VW estateCredit: BBC
Children gather at McGuinness’s car as he shows them a bullet
Children gather at McGuinness’s car as he shows them a bulletCredit: BBC

Now 88 and living in Arizona, he told the BBC: “Bow (Bowyer Bell) said to me, ‘If you look out of the back window you’ll see the tan-ish automobile behind us, and it’s Irish Special Branch’. And behind that car, there was another automobile, and Bow said, ‘That’s MI6’.

“And we pulled up in front of this sandwich shop, and I thought we were going to go in and get a sandwich.

“But no, no. We walked in the front door and straight through the shop, out the back.

“And there was a car waiting for us, and we got in it and drove to a different street.”

Stern revealed the IRA’s reasoning for taking part in a production that would identify many of its paramilitaries apparently committing crimes.

He said: “The purpose of the film was to show the legitimate cause of the IRA.”

And he explained that the organisation wanted “more favourable opinion in America, and maybe it could raise more money that way”.

Under the deal which the movie makers had struck with the IRA, the film would be edited, including sound, in Ireland — hence Stern had been flown in to provide the music.

Aldouby, the film’s Jewish director, was a shadowy figure who had been born Herbert Dubinsky in Romania in 1931.

During the Holocaust many of his relatives were butchered but he managed to escape to Palestine after the war.

There he joined the Palmach, an elite unit of paramilitary organisation the Haganah, which was fighting the British to try to create the state of Israel.

After Israel gained independence in 1948 Aldouby joined the new state’s internal intelligence agency Shin Bet.

If somebody had told me Martin McGuinness was a tout [informer], I might have shot his accuser. But I’m not so sure now

Former IRA Commander

Later a source told the CIA that Aldouby worked as a Vienna-based Nazi hunter for Israeli intelligence.

By the 1950s he had moved to the US to work as a journalist.

In 1961 he planned to kidnap Belgium’s leading wartime Nazi collaborator Leon Degrelle — of whom Hitler had said: “If I had a son I would have loved him to be like you” — from his bolthole in Spain.

But the plot was foiled by Spanish police and Aldouby spent the next three years behind bars.

He arrived in Ireland in 1972 just as Israel’s bitter enemy — Libya’s Colonel Muammar Gaddafi — was supplying weapons to the IRA.

Was Aldouby a Mossad plant?

The intelligence service denied to the BBC that he was a member.

But Richard Kerr, retired deputy director of the CIA, said Aldouby was “almost certainly” feeding information to Israel.

In a further twist, Bell was linked to the CIA.

His daughter Becky Waring confirmed he had acted as a consultant for the agency but that it was “inconceivable” that he was a CIA officer or informant.

However, two former IRA men seen in The Secret Army are “almost certain” that Aldouby and Bell had followed a plan laid down by intelligence agencies.

So what happened to the film? The 16mm raw footage had to be sent to London for processing as there was nowhere in Ireland that could do the job.

Executive producer Leon Gildin said Aldouby and Bell had told him British intelligence had viewed every frame.

McGuinness greets the Queen in Belfast in 2012
McGuinness greets the Queen in Belfast in 2012Credit: AFP
IRA paramilitaries on patrol in the White Rock area of Belfast during the Troubles
IRA paramilitaries on patrol in the White Rock area of Belfast during the TroublesCredit: Pacemaker Press

When he eventually took the film to the US he showed it to distributor Viacom, which “immediately offered me a contract for worldwide rights”.

As it turned out, Viacom “never sold a copy” — but the deal ensured no one else could distribute it.

The final mystery is that if British intelligence really did view the footage, then why weren’t McGuinness and his associates arrested?

A former Derry IRA commander told author Richard O’Rawe: “They had him on tape helping to put a bomb in a car, and then the bomb goes off in the middle of Shipquay Street, and McGuinness isn’t charged.

“For f***’s sake, he’s filmed showing kids guns.

“The tape disappears for 40 years, or til he’s dead.

“Had that been me, I’d have got 20 years.

“How come he wasn’t charged?”

The former Provo leader added: “Years ago, if someone had said to me that (IRA British Intelligence mole) Freddie Scappaticci was a dodgy boy, I’d have said, ‘You’re full of s**t’.

“Same thing with Martin.

“In fact, if somebody had told me Martin was a tout, I might have shot his accuser.

“Not so sure now.”

A tout is Northern Ireland slang for a grass or informant.

British former intelligence officer Ian Hurst believes it was remarkable that McGuinness was never convicted in Northern Ireland during 30 years of bloodshed.

He said McGuinness was “so lucky he should have been buying lottery tickets”.

Author and journalist Ed Moloney — one of the foremost experts on the IRA — said that “every single one” of the IRA operatives in the film “would be vulnerable to pressure from the authorities” if British intelligence had indeed viewed it.

He added: “Did they use it to recruit not just Martin McGuinness, but other people who were in the film to become agents?“That’s going to be one of the great unanswered questions of the Troubles, I think.”

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