Sunday, March 5, 2017

MI5 undercover officer publishes book Soldier Spy which shows his bravery and his undoing

MI5 undercover officer publishes book Soldier Spy which shows his bravery and his undoing

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The officer, who has now written a book using the alias Tom Marcus, said: “The strike team smashed and pulled back the windscreen on the car. Like a rag doll the man was dragged through the windowless front.
“As the two huge men zip-tied his hands, another placed a black hood over his head, bundling him into the back of a windowless Transit van.
“In the car boot were six homemade pipe bombs. Special Branch also found Chinese Type 56 assault rifles with eight full magazines of ammunition.
“His target was a school. He planned to attack two coaches of teenagers returning home after a school trip to France. Around 60 children, their teachers and their waiting parents. He was going to kill them all.”
Another UK terror plot had been smashed. Nobody would ever realise the tramp sitting quietly by the notorious Finsbury Park Mosque in North London would play such a vital role.
A police control room in Perth that watches suspicious activity.
A police control room in Perth that watches suspicious activity.Source:News Corp Australia
Tom Marcus was one of the most successful MI5 undercover surveillance officers of his time.
He foiled major jihadi plots and tracked Chinese spies all over the UK.
But in his gripping new memoir Soldier Spy — to be published on Thursday and exclusively quoted in The Sun — he tells how the job left him broken.
His former employers MI5 have authorised the publication but Tom is keeping his true identity hidden for fear of reprisals.
Tom grew up in a northern city. His abusive, alcoholic dad killed himself when Tom was six and he had to spend time on the streets. He joined the Army at 16 and became the youngest person to complete the punishing special operations selection, during which he worked undercover.
He met wife Lucy when she joined as a Special Ops recruit.
Tom writes: “She is one of the very few women to have ever passed the course. It was love at first sight.”
It was soon after the 7/7 bomb attacks in 2005 that Tom got a tap on the shoulder to join MI5, with the recruiters keen on someone who was “comfortable on the streets”.
Tom spent months in additional training, including advanced ­driving and foot surveillance, before being recruited into MI5, where he had to follow targets for weeks without being spotted.
One of his regular tricks was the tramp cover so he could watch targets from the street.
He writes: “When people think of spies, they don’t imagine me.
“The people we hunt never know we’re there and when they end up in court they still don’t know how they got caught.
“By letting our targets go about their daily lives it lets us see their cell.
“It’s not about ­taking one particular attack out of the equation, it’s about using it to identify, and stop, ten ­others.”
He added: “They’re your ­neighbours, colleagues, people you pass on the street. That’s why people like me exist. To hunt these f***ers and destroy them.”
Forensic investigators examine the remains of the bombed-out bus in Tavistock Square in London in 2005, one of six targets in terrorist bombings that paralysed the public transport system.
Forensic investigators examine the remains of the bombed-out bus in Tavistock Square in London in 2005, one of six targets in terrorist bombings that paralysed the public transport system.Source:News Corp Australia
One of Tom’s missions took place before the London Olympics in 2012, when he helped smash a four-man terror cell based in Bradford in England’s north.
He said: “Their intent was to blow up targets around the country.
“The group was highlighted because the ringleader made an unusual mistake after we’d watched him for nearly a year.
“A British IP address showed up on an extremist website promoting jihad. That was the day we tore his life apart.”
They unearthed everything about him and watched him 24 hours a day. Their suspect later threw a SIM card into a public bin — crucial intelligence which “allowed us to find another 32 targets”.
Another mission was to watch a Chinese intelligence officer believed to be operating out of a house in Moss Side, Manchester. Tom turned up in the park opposite into his home, drank homemade beer and pretended he’d split from his wife. But he soon became the ­target — of a local gang.
They attacked him and spotted his covert radio. Tom convinced them he was an undercover cop looking for a paedophile.
He said: “It wasn’t until I got back to the Operations Centre that it started to sink in what danger I had been in.
“I started getting undressed out of this chav-tastic tracksuit. I caught the reflection of myself — scratches on my arms and two large, fist-shaped bruises on my chest.”
His team was also tasked with tracking a woman primed by the ­Russian secret service to start a relationship with a satellite engineer in order to steal military tech secrets.
Tom explained: “She left university with debts and had been trying to support herself as an escort. The Russian intelligence officer promised her a new identity, a home and a job if she helped.”
Tom saw her hand over top- secret information at a service ­station. Staying in the shadows, he called the police to intervene.
They pulled the car over for a “routine” check, the woman was arrested and questioned before being given a new identity in Scotland. The Russian agent was escorted to the airport, while the engineer was quietly reprimanded by his boss. Like dozens of his missions, the incident never made the news.
Tom had to deal with the death of colleagues during his career.
One was a motorbike surveillance rider called Stu, who was hit by a lorry after being called in by Tom to track a would-be Tube (London Underground) bomber.
Tom also struggled financially, saying: “I was surrounded by death and destruction.
“I wondered why I was risking my life to save everyone else’s when I was drowning in debt.”
With his mental state in decline he sought help and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress.
Doctors said his hyper-vigilance was his undoing, as he was never able to switch off. Tom left MI5 with a pension and, through prescribed drugs, rehab and a fitness regime, has now recovered.
He said: “Watching the news, you could be fooled into thinking the world is descending into chaos.
“Let me set that straight: You are safe. Go about your lives loving those close to you, be aware of your surroundings but don’t live in fear.
“There are people working night and day in the shadows all around the world, stopping those who wish to cause you harm. There are thousands of people like me.
“I am a soldier and a spy, our enemy’s worst nightmare and the country’s darkest asset.”
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