Tartan terrorist's bid for a free Scotland ends at his own hands

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The Independent Online

The council tower block overlooking Aberdeen's windswept beach is a far cry from the terrorist training camps of al-Qa'ida but, sandwiched between the grey waves of the North Sea and the drab granite of Scotland's third biggest city, it provided a refuge for the fantasy life of a would-be "freedom fighter".

The council tower block overlooking Aberdeen's windswept beach is a far cry from the terrorist training camps of al-Qa'ida but, sandwiched between the grey waves of the North Sea and the drab granite of Scotland's third biggest city, it provided a refuge for the fantasy life of a would-be "freedom fighter".

It was from here that Andrew McIntosh, a self-proclaimed patriot and militant nationalist, planned to hold an anti-English march through Aberdeen next month as part of his lifelong mission to achieve independence.

Unlike his previous attempts to highlight the separatist cause the march promised to be non-violent and council officials were due to consider his application on Monday. However, the bid will almost certainly fail because McIntosh, a convicted terrorist and member of the Scottish National Liberation Army (SNLA), was found hanging in a jail cell on Monday, shortly before he was to face charges over an alleged plot to disrupt the royal opening of the Scottish Parliament.

Unless some other member of his shadowy organisation comes forward to take over the application, the militants' proposed show of force - just like McIntosh's terrorist career - looks likely to be little more than a damp squib.

McIntosh, 49, was found hanged in his cell at Aberdeen's Craiginches Prison, hours before he was due in court with two other men on firearms charges. He had been in custody for nine days after he was arrested in a police swoop on a number of suspects on the Forth road bridge before the Holyrood opening on 9 October.

For the man police described as an "inconsequential loner" it appears that the prospect of a long prison term may have been too much. As a self-confessed former area commander of the SNLA, a fringe group of tartan terrorists which tried to model itself on the IRA, he had already served six years of a 12-year sentence for a campaign in the early 1990s. Released in 1999, McIntosh faced the prospect of completing his sentence plus anything extra imposed if convicted of fresh offences.

"I would think that he probably couldn't face another long jail term," said David Capatanchik, a terrorism specialist at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, who has himself faced death threats from the SNLA.

"The SNLA are not serious terrorists, although McIntosh was exceptional in that it took almost six months to catch him the first time. He was also knowledgeable on firearms and he alone could have caused damage, but the SNLA are not in the same league as al-Qa'ida. In fact, they're not in any league."

Andrew was born in Aberdeen and grew up with strong nationalist views, which manifested themselves in a hatred of the English and what he considered was their dominance over Scotland. He worked as a warehouseman in the city before being employed as a courier. Police sources say he was considered a loner who rarely socialised with colleagues and only became animated discussing his nationalist views.

He joined a group called Siol nan Gaidheal (Seed of the Gael), but left after deciding it was not radical enough. As a former member of the Territorial Army he was fascinated by weapons and explosives, and joined a shotgun club where members used a military-style shooting range.

"McIntosh was the sort of guy who would sit around in the pub listening to anti-English talk and then pipe up that everyone else was all talk but he was a man of action who knew how to make the authorities sit up and listen," said David Capatanchik. Eventually, McIntosh's eagerness for "direct action" got him involved with the SNLA.

McIntosh married in 1991, but failed to settle down, and it was his involvement with the SNLA which eventually resulted in him being jailed the following year. His wife divorced him while he was in prison.

His name resurfaced recently as a co-ordinator of a new militant group called the Scottish Patriots, whose website claims to fight the "oppressive government" of England. His arrest on 9 October, along with that of two other men - Alan McIntosh, aged 50, and a younger Glasgow man - came as part of a major anti-terror sweep surrounding the Holyrood opening. Alan McIntosh was released on bail awaiting trial on gun and explosive charges after he appeared at Aberdeen Sheriff Court just hours after Andrew McIntosh was found dead. Another man, Graeme Robert Otterson, 32, was released on police bail without charge.

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