Keenie Meenie: The British Mercenaries Who Got Away with War Crimes

Book Review by Joe Glenton,, January 29, 2020

That Britain outsources aspects of her habitually violent foreign policy is no revelation. The wars in Afghanistan and Libya, but perhaps most especially Iraq, saw a veritable mercenary gold rush as the unregulated hard men of disaster capitalism, mostly ex-soldiers, flooded into the lawless zones created by Western intervention to make a quick buck as contractors providing security for oil firms, media crews, diplomatic missions, NGOs and more besides.

Before all of this there was Keenie Meenie Services (KMS): a shadowy private military firm set up in the 1970s by hardened SAS men and hidden away in the posh end of London. It discreetly carried out the dirty work of the British establishment, into which it was deeply embedded as this book shows – for the right price, naturally. That dirty work saw Keenie Meenie employees at the centre of repressive actions as far afield as Latin America and Sri Lanka and in support of autocrats across the Middle East. Whether it was training, advice, armed men or technical expertise, KMS provided it. No client too mad or bad, as long as it furthered British aims.

The pace and narrative are Le Carre-esque, but made even more compelling by the fact that the events are true.

The book’s author, Phil Miller, who has recently joined the staff of new investigative website Declassified UK, has been covering security and defence issues for a number of years, becoming one of the best critical defence journalists in the business. The book continues his established pattern of deep research, excellent writing and an uncanny ability to get people who have every reason to avoid talking openly to tell him things about their involvement in dark deeds.

Keenie Meenie, a name still uttered in hushed tones in military circles, is exposed not simply as a historical organisation, a thing which has ceased to be, but as a model for subsequent UK mercenary activity. The links between KMS and the British establishment are laid bare to the full extent allowed by Britain’s entrenched system of official secrecy, up to and including a solid body of evidence of collusion in human rights abuses, over an extended period of time, in the service of British interests.

The pace and narrative are Le Carre-esque, but made even more compelling by the fact that the events are true. That a journalist who has never had the resources afforded by a major news organisation has achieved the work is doubly impressive, although it’s unlikely that a mainstream organisation would even pursue this kind of story to the extent evident here. With this book, and having finally found the journalistic platform he deserves, Miller looks set to take the national security patch by storm. Something which, having worked on defence and security myself, is sorely overdue.

Keenie Meenie: The British Mercenaries Who Got Away with War Crimes by Phil Miller is available now, published by Pluto Press.

Disclosure: the reviewer is an adviser to Declassified UK.

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  1. Ananda

    This book, “Keenie Meenie: The British Mercenaries Who Got Away with War Crimes” by the author Phil Miller must be bought and read by everyone.
    It reveals how the colonial “Deep State” is fully entrenched and is virulent as never before in the human history.
    It will be a milestone in the annals of military to be read by future generations to understand the vile and deceit behind the neo colonialism or the so-called free world masquerading as International Community (IC).
    This book also reveals how the Indian army (IPKF – a misnomer like Gandhian India) unashamedly used the (mercenary) white pilots to provide air cover for their heinous atrocities committed with such blatant impunity in the Tamil heartland of mother Sri Lanka.
    In fact, it was the unchecked and unpunished War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity committed by the Indian army the harbinger of all the future atrocities to follow in the Tamil homeland of Sri Lanka.
    This is an excerpt from the article in The Tribune (Voice of the People) posted on 6 February 2020.
    India used British pilots in fight against LTTE: Book
    London, February 6
    British mercenary pilots helped Indian troops in their battle against the Liberation Tigers for Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels in Sri Lanka in the 1980s, a new book reveals for the first time.
    The Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) received air support from these for-hire British pilots despite Indian diplomats publicly condemning the presence of UK mercenaries in Sri Lanka, according to the book, ‘Keenie Meenie: The British Mercenaries Who Got Away With War Crimes’, authored by UK-based investigative journalist Phil Miller.
    “Despite India publicly opposing the presence of British mercenaries in Sri Lanka, my research reveals that by 1987 the Indian military were using white pilots to provide air cover for their operations in Jaffna in what appears to have been a case of my enemy’s enemy is my friend,” said Miller.
    India’s secret use of British mercenaries lasted for four months after the Indo-Lanka accord was signed between former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and then Sri Lankan president Junius Jayewardene in 1987.
    The book also traces the involvement of British mercenaries in atrocities against Tamil civilians that occurred prior to the arrival of the IPKF.
    “Johnson’s counter-insurgency experience came to the attention of Jayewardene at the start of Sri Lanka’s civil war in 1983, when the Anglophile leader was looking for British aid to defeat the Tamil Tigers.”