Grannys' Terror Front
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The Grannys' Terror Front, or GTF, was an armed group formed during the early 1970s. Considered by the British Secret Service to have been the most dangerous terrorist group operating in the UK up until its eventual demise, the organisation is known to have had active cells in most major British cities as well in several hundred smaller towns and villages, in addition to a network of safe houses both in their home nation and abroad.
edit Early History
The GTF arose as a result of a rift that developed in the Finchingfield branch of the Women's Institute during the 1970s. Two distinct factions had emerged with very different beliefs and politics - the first became known as the Scones Group, which advocated a conservative attitude based around afternoon tea and jam-making. The second group based their beliefs on anarcho-Maoist philosophy and advocated a violent uprising opposed to capitalism and American imperialism. Eventually, the WI branch split after ugly scenes during their weekly meeting at the local church hall during which the anarcho-Maoists inflicted terrible injuries on their ex-comrades by attacking them with cake-slices and jars of preserved apricots. Deciding to form a new group, the anarchists styled themselves as the Old Ladies' Popular Front and began carrying out sporadic attacks on targets such as premises owned by American businesses and banks, none of which were particularly successful and were considered merely a nuisance by the authorities.
By 1973, the group had established links with the Rote Armee Fraktion (Baader-Meinhof Gang) of West Germany and had been supplied with weapons by them. Around this time, the group became more organised and new leadership formed, with a Mrs. Dorothy Jenkins-Harris becoming the group's commander. Under her regime, the previously-rather ramshackle OLPF took on a worrying new shape as she developed training methods and formed links with other groups experienced in bomb-making. The first attack carried out using explosives took place in July 1974 when a device was detonated inside a US Airforce base in Suffolk, causing several hundreds of thousands of pounds damage. The following day, a letter was received by the US Embassy in London demanding a full withdrawal of all American military presence in the British Isles immediately, in the name of the Free British People. The letter was signed Grannys' Terror Front (GTF). These three letters would become infamous during the next two decades as the Front carried out an escalating campaign of terror and violence that would end only with the eventual arrest of the organisation's leaders.
edit Links With Other Groups
As mentioned previously, under the leadership of Jenkins-Harris, the GTF began to forge links and alliances with other left-wing and anarchist groups. Most notable of these was the Rote Armee Fraktion (RAF) or Baader-Meinhof Gang, the hardline Trotskyite-Maoist group active in Europe from the late 1960s until their self-imposed disbandment in the late 1990s.
It was through the RAF that the GTF got their first weapons, a crate of Kalashnikov AK-47s somehow smuggled into Britain in late 1973. Mrs. Gladys Price, a GTF operative, flew to Berlin where she met with Andreas Baader, leader of the RAF, in that year. Baader was reported to have been highly impressed by Mrs. Price, and announced his belief that the GTF would soon take their place at the vanguard of the proletarian struggle. He personally arranged the arms shipments and may also have supplied explosives. The GTF is also known to have had links with the following groups:
- Revolutionary Organization 17 November (Greek)
- People's War Group (Indian)
- Brigate Rosse (the Red Brigades) (Italian)
- Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) (Peruvian)
- Symbionese Liberation Army (USA)
- Earth Liberation Front (Worldwide)
- ETA (Basque)
From these groups, the GTF gained knowledge and sent operatives on training missions. In 1978, a platoon of 25 elderly ladies travelled to Peru where they stayed for six months and learnt kidnapping techniques with Shining Path. Further delegations travelled to Northern Spain to study bomb-making with ETA and to Greece where they were trained in assassination techniques.