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Declassified intelligence files show MI5 attempts to crack down on Stern Gang

British intelligence files show failure to detect all of the Zionist paramilitary group's operations

    A wanted poster of the Palestine Police Force during the 1920-48 Mandate period: Stern Gang members Yaakov Levstein, left, Yitzhak Shamir and Natan Yellin-Mor. Credit: Palestine Police Force
    A wanted poster of the Palestine Police Force during the 1920-48 Mandate period: Stern Gang members Yaakov Levstein, left, Yitzhak Shamir and Natan Yellin-Mor. Credit: Palestine Police Force

    Declassified security service records have provided new details of attempts by MI5 to crack down on the Stern Gang prior to the establishment of the state of Israel. 

    The newly released British intelligence records show how the Zionist paramilitary group dispatched cells to carry out a bombing campaign in the UK.

    The records also detail how MI5 failed in their attempts to properly detect some terrorist operations. 

    One Stern Gang member, Yaacov Levstein, was using the alias Jacob Elias when he was arrested. 

    Despite being imprisoned in Palestine and Belgium for his activities - including an attempt on the life of the British high commissioner - Mr Levstein was able to send operatives into the UK who smuggled in explosives.

    One of his accomplices, Robert Mishrani, a French student, was linked to an attempted coat bomb attack on the Colonial Office in London in 1947. 

    The MI5 files confirm there was no evidence that they had detected the plot. 

    In the wake of the attempted attack on the Colonial Office and a letter bomb campaign against British politicians, MI5 attempted to place known Jewish terror supporters under surveillance. 

    In one internal memo, an MI5 officer wrote: “These terrorists are hard nuts to crack.”

    The Stern Gang - also known as Lehi - was founded in 1940 and openly stated its belief that terror could evict the British authorities from Palestine to allow unrestricted Jewish immigration and the founding of Israel. 

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