Scottish National Liberation Army

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The Scottish National Liberation Army (SNLA), sometimes dubbed the Tartan Terrorists, was a small militant group which aimed to bring about Scottish independence from the United Kingdom. The SNLA has been proscribed by the UK government.[1] The group has been reported to have been founded by Adam Busby, a former soldier from Paisley after the 1979 devolution referendum, which the organisation claimed was fixed.[2]

There have been claims that the SNLA are a false flag organisation, designed to blacken the name of Scottish independence.[3] This theory is based on the fact that certain UK government security documents relating to the SNP in the 1970s have been sealed for 50 years.[4]


In 1983 letter bombs were sent to Diana, Princess of Wales and to the Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. The device sent to Thatcher was active and was opened by parliamentarian Robert Key: there was no explosion. Busby fled to Dublin in 1983 after the letter-bombing campaign; he was jailed in connection with that campaign in 1997.[2]

In 1993 Andrew McIntosh was jailed for 12 years for conspiring to coerce the government into setting up a separate government in Scotland. The High Court in Aberdeen heard McIntosh had masterminded a campaign of disruption and fear which included placing bombs outside oil industry offices and sending letter bombs to the Scottish Office in Edinburgh. McIntosh served six years and was released in 1999. He died in 2004 after being arrested on firearms charges.[5]

In 2002 Cherie Blair became a target of a renewed campaign by the SNLA when she was sent an anonymous parcel containing a vial that was crudely labelled as containing 'Massage Oil', but which on investigation actually proved to contain caustic acid. In addition a renewed letter bomb campaign was waged against Scottish politicians, parcels were recovered after a man claiming to be from the SNLA made an anonymous phone call to the police at London's Scotland Yard. Professor Paul Wilkinson opined at the time: "The SNLA has surfaced from time to time."[6] Meanwhile, in 2006 it was reported that Busby may be targeted for extradition to the United States to face terror charges following a series of e-mails to the country about how to contaminate US water supplies.[1]

In February 2007 SNLA involvement was claimed in the fatal Grayrigg derailment of a Virgin train traveling from London to Glasgow. A points failure was later found to be responsible. Preliminary investigation indicated that there was probably no sabotage.[7]

In January 2008 two men, Wayne Cook and Steven Robinson were convicted in Manchester of sending miniature bottles of vodka contaminated with caustic soda and threatening to kill English people 'with no hesitation or compunction' by poisoning the country's water supply, echoing a previous threat in 2006. The accompanying letters were signed 'SNLA'. Cook and Robinson were each sentenced to six years for these offences.[8]

In June 2009, Adam Busby Jr., the son of the SNLA founder, was jailed for 6 years for sending a total of 6 packages to various political figures, including First Minister Alex Salmond, Liberal Democrats MSP Mike Rumbles and Glasgow City Council. The packages contained shotgun cartridges and threatening notes. Police linked the crimes to Busby after calls made to journalists claiming SNLA responsibility for the actions were traced to his mobile phone.[9]

In July 2010 Adam Busby Sr. was sentenced by an Irish court to four years in jail after being convicted in June 2010 of making hoax bomb threats against transatlantic flights.[10]

Associated organisations[edit]

The Scottish Freedom Party (SFP) has been described as the political wing of the SNLA. The SFP and John MacLean Society were formed in 1995 by former members and supporters of the SNLA. Both groups want to reverse English immigration into Scotland and promote Scottish Gaelic as the country's national language.[1]


  1. ^ a b c SNLA threat to poison water supply by Mark Macaskill and Jason Allardyce, The Sunday Times Scotland, 10 September 2006
  2. ^ a b Who are the 'tartan terrorists'? BBC News Website, 2 March 2002
  3. ^ 'Sad individuals' behind toxic mail BBC News Website, 2 March 2002
  4. ^ "Government SNP files sealed for 50 years". Sunday Herald, 21 August 2005.
  5. ^ Firearms charge man dies in jail BBC News Website, 18 October 2004
  6. ^ Politicians on alert over mail scare BBC News Website, 2 March 2002
  7. ^ Jacobs, Bill (27 February 2007). "Second train 'minutes away' from hitting crash wreckage". Edinburgh Evening News. Scotsman Newspapers. Retrieved 22 March 2007.
  8. ^ Batty, David (25 January 2008). "Nationalists jailed over poison plot". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 September 2019.
  9. ^ Six years for 'tartan terrorist' BBC News Website, 18 June 2009
  10. ^ Carrell, Severin (23 July 2010). "Scottish separatist Adam Busby jailed for Heathrow bomb hoaxes". The Guardian. London.

External links[edit]