This is a series. You don’t want to miss part one and part two.

A British soldier roams the crowded bazaar. His tour in that hell hole called Aden almost over, he seeks to buy something for his sweetheart. Whilst he bargains his way to a smart linen dress, he doesn’t notice the two Arabs trailing him. But why should he? The sandal-and-turban wearing men look like just another couple of locals rushing through their afternoon shopping. Looks, however, can be deceiving. These “Arabs” pack suppressed 9mm Hi-Power Brownings underneath their cotton robes. These “Arabs” are, in fact, his sole protection in a city frothing with hatred for the foreigners. These “Arabs” are Special Air Service (SAS) troopers on a covert counter-terrorism mission.

A terrorist campaign began not long after the British government declared, in 1964, its intention of withdrawing from Aden within four years.

Colonel Gamal Abdel Nasser’s 1952 coup in Egypt had set the water of Arab nationalism in the region simmering. The British announcement made it boil.

In the north, an Egyptian-backed coup d’état had established in 1962 the communist Yemen Arab Republic (North Yemen). Its Marxist creed lost no time in snaking its way south to the mountains and streets of Aden.

The result was the National Liberation Front (NLF). This pro-Soviet terrorist group received Egyptian support and sought to oust the British from the whole of South Yemen. On the other hand, the rival Front for the Liberation of Occupied South Yemen (FLOSY), which was made up mostly from Aden townspeople and also received Egyptian support, focused its terrorist activities within the port of Aden. And like two famished pigs scrapping over a rotten apple, the two groups fought one another with as equal intensity as they fought the British, who tried, unsuccessfully, to use this rivalry to their advantage.  

Between 1963 and the British withdrawal in 1967, the NLF and the FLOSY conducted a campaign of shootings, bombings, and grenade attacks on public, military, and civilian targets. Dubbed the “Cairo Grenadiers,” they often lobbed grenades over schools’ walls whilst children were playing. Snipers picking off British dismounted patrols were also common. At the time, Aden wasn’t unlike what Belfast and Ramadi would be in the future.

SAS Aden urban counter-terrorism