LONDON – Irish Republican Army terrorists identified Buckingham Palace and other London landmarks as possible targets in a 1970s bombing campaign, newly disclosed documents revealed Wednesday.
Files released by Britain's National Archives show that a group responsible for a spate of murders and bombings in 1974 and 1975 had considered the palace's art gallery as a potential location for a strike.
The group also drew up lists of lawmakers, police and military personnel — though individual names have not been released by the archive, and officials insisted at the time the notes did not constitute a "death list."
According to historians, the information was uncovered in Metropolitan Police Special Branch searches of an apartment used by the group in north London.
Almost 100 London landmarks were noted down by the terrorists, including the British Museum, the Imperial War Museum, the London Stock Exchange and the Royal Courts of Justice.
Included on the list was the Queen's Gallery, a public art gallery at Buckingham Palace.
The group — known as the Balcombe Street gang — were responsible for about 40 bomb attacks and the deaths of around 35 people, including Ross McWhirter, a coeditor of the Guinness Book of Records.
Bill Innes, then private secretary at the Home Office, wrote to Prime Minister Harold Wilson, with a list of the targets.
"It is a compilation of a vast amount of low-grade 'intelligence' material found in the flat, which has yet to be assessed and evaluated," he said.
In reply, Wilson wrote that much of the information was "scrappy."
Members of the bombing gang — Martin O'Connell, Edward Butler, Harry Duggan and Hugh Doherty — were seized by police in Dec. 1975 after a six-day siege in Balcombe Street in London's swank Marylebone district.
All four men were jailed for life in 1977, but released in April 1999 under the Good Friday Agreement, the peace accord that spurred IRA disarmament.