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T.A.L. DOZER

 

 

 

 

THE USE OF PSEUDO GANGS AGAINST THE MAU MAU

By Leroy Thompson

Particularly in the later stages of the Kenyan counter-insurgency campaign, use by Special Branch of pseudo gangs to infiltrate and then kill or capture roving bands of terrorists proved particularly effective. Initially, these pseudo gangs had been formed to gain intelligence within the Reserves but they evolved into fighting groups as well. Led by European officers in black face make-up, they were able to get close enough to the enemy to kill or capture them. Such pseudo groups were composed of loyal Kikuyu, sometimes drawn from tribal police or regular constables, white officers, and turned Mau Mau. The latter were most important for lending credibility, since they knew the latest secret signs, finger snaps, oaths, etc., with which to convince the Mau Mau of their authenticity.

Their white officers trained turned Mau Mau in the use of small arms and grenades and in close combat, and in return learned about the Mau Mau and bushcraft. When operating with the pseudos, the European officers used potassium permanganate solution to give their skin the right colors. Eventually, as the Mau Mau learned of the existence of these pseudo gangs, it was often necessary for European officers to paint their entire bodies, in case a shirt was suddenly jerked up to look for white skin. A weaker potassium permanganate solution was also used to give their eyes the proper yellow coloration. The hair was normally the most obvious giveaway for white pseudos and though they tried using floppy hats, eventually many used wigs, often obtained from the hair of dead terrorists. So they would not give away their group, Europeans had to learn to squat, eat, take snuff, and in general act as genuine Mau Mau. To get the proper look and smell they wore captured Mau Mau clothing, and did not wash. Even so, each white in a pseudo group had a cover man or bodyguard, whose primary job was to draw attention away from him.

Like the gangs, the pseudos would call at villages at night for food, but in the process would gain information. The night hours offered the advantage of making it easier for the Europeans to escape notice, but it was also the time when the real Mau Mau came. Often the information they gained about Mau Mau gangs would be passed to tracker-combat teams consisting of three Europeans, fifteen African constables, and a Wanderobo tracker, but in some cases the pseudo gangs would follow up their own leads by merging with other gangs before arresting or ambushing them. As might be expected, the pseudo gangs had to be very careful not to get into firefights with the security forces.

The system of using turned Mau Mau in this way worked, and throughout the pseudo operations there were virtually no instances of converts going back over to the Mau Mau. Normally, pseudo gangs consisted of eight to ten, often with one or two women members, since real Mau Mau gangs had female members. In general, pseudos did not receive pay, but many shared rewards for the terrorists they had accounted for. Such pseudo operations were not new, but it was in Kenya that they were formalized into a highly successful counter-insurgent tactic. Later in Rhodesia, the Selous Scouts would perfect the technique.

(END)

***Source*** This article was obtained from the book: DIRTY WARS- elite forces vs. the guerrillas. By leroy Thompson. Printed 1988.

7.62 FN FAL rifle.

 

 

 

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