British authorities, fearful of attacks by "Zionist terrorists" in the period after World War II, monitored all Jews arriving in the United Kingdom from the Middle East, documents revealed this week show.
The internal MI5 security service documents, written after the 1946 bombing of the British headquarters at the King David hotel in Jerusalem, show that London feared Zionists were planning to set up assassination and sabotage cells in Britain along the lines of Irish Republican Army paramilitaries.
"Our Jerusalem representative has since received information that the Irgun and Stern groups have decided to send five `cells' to London to work on IRA lines," the head of Britain's MI5 domestic intelligence network wrote in notes for a meeting with then-prime minister Clement Atlee in August 1946. "To use their own words, the terrorists intend to `beat the dog in his own kennel,'" he wrote.
The Irgun and Stern groups were radical Jewish paramilitary organizations. Irgun was controlled by "a certain Menachem Begin on whose head a reward of 2,000 pounds has been placed by Palestinian police," the note said, referring to the future Israeli prime minister who would win a Nobel Peace Prize for his peace deal with Egypt.
The notes said police would monitor Jewish groups in Britain and spy on Jews "known to have expressed sympathy with terrorist activity in Palestine, and who might be a point of contact for any terrorist arriving in this country."
"All applications for UK visas by Jews in the Middle East are scrutinized by local security authorities," the MI5 notes said. "Immigration officers at UK ports report to Home Office, Special Branch and MI5 the particulars of all Jews, including seamen, arriving from the Middle East."