Vermeer's The Concert

Vermeer's The Concert

Friday, December 18, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Gardner Art Recovery, The Wait Continues !!!

Republican terrorists are thought to have created a new IRA organisation, drawing membership from the Continuity IRA (CIRA) and two factions of the Real IRA.

The security services believe the group, which is not aligned to any political party, is led by hardline dissidents and Provisional IRA members who oppose Sinn Fein’s decision to join the Policing Board in Northern Ireland. Among those suspected of involvement in the new alliance is a former member of the IRA army council.

The group has yet to declare its existence, but may announce its intentions in the new year. “In terms of its capability to mount attacks, it represents the most potent threat in terms of launching a new campaign,” said one republican hardliner.

The group has chosen not to give itself a name, with the idea of making it more difficult for supporters to be charged with IRA membership and in a bid to confuse the security services.

To avoid infiltration by the security services, the new group is understood to be “hand-picking” terrorists who have already carried out attacks or proven their credentials as members of paramilitary groups.

“It is choosing people from CIRA, RIRA and the other groups and leaving those they consider to be compromised on the outside,” said the republican source. “They don’t want republicans who are involved in smuggling and other activities that could compromise them. They might use them to generate finance or even mount an operation, but they won’t be allowed to join.

“This group is highly secretive and paranoid about informants and their identities being revealed. They are serious operators who know what’s involved in running a [terrorist] campaign. They’ve done it before.”

The new group’s ranks have been bolstered by defections from the various splinter groups of the RIRA, the terrorist group which murdered 29 people when it bombed Omagh in August 1998. It has also drawn support from members of the CIRA who have defected in Tyrone, Fermanagh and Armagh.

Some hardliners believe the CIRA army council, which is dominated by members of Republican Sinn Fein, no longer considers the use of violence justified but is refusing to state this.

There has been a upsurge in republican terrorism this year. In March, the Real IRA shot two soldiers outside Massereene Barracks in Antrim. Stephen Carroll, a member of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), was shot by the CIRA in Craigavon, Co Armagh, 48 hours later. Last month a 400lb car bomb — almost as big as the one in Omagh — was used to attack the Policing Board headquarters in Belfast.

Alleged republican terrorists tried under the Offences against the State act in the republic are usually classified as members of Oglaigh na hEireann — the Irish term for the IRA. When suspects are charged, this all-encompassing term is usually followed by a reference to a faction.

Kevin McQuillan, a spokesman for the Republican Network for Unity, a forum for dissidents, said there had been a “re-alignment” within dissident republican groups.

“I think the turning point amongst the armed groups, ironically enough, happened in March when Martin McGuinness called the republicans who attacked Massereene ‘traitors’. The use of that terminology by an iconic republican figure shocked us,” said McQuillan.

He believes attacks by IRA factions have become more strategic and frequent. “I think there is a meeting of minds among dissident republicans. There has been an increase in attacks and those operations are more organised and strategic,” he said. “There is no appetite whatsoever on the ground for military engagement with the British security forces, but these groups are growing.”

The threat posed by republican dissidents has never been greater, according to both gardai and MI5.

However, some security sources say there is an “intelligence deficit” on dissidents.

“The main players are under surveillance but there is so much activity it’s almost impossible to decipher what is happening. They are meeting and planning the whole time. Dissidents from different factions are meeting each other and hardliners from the IRA, who have drifted away from them and Sinn Fein,” said one source. “The dissidents have the capacity to kill and bomb, but not in a sustainable way.”

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