AUGUST 11, 2001 : (COLUMBIA : IRA MEMBERS MONAGHAN, MCCAULEY & CONNOLLY - THE LATER ALSO SINN FEIN'S OFFICIAL REPRESENTATIVE TO CUBA- ARE ARRESTED; CONNOLLY IS THOUGHT TO HAVE INITIATED CONTACT WITH FARC THROUGH THE SPANISH TERROR GROUP ETA-- See ETA-FARC-IRA-CUBA CONNECTION) Allegations of a FARC-IRA connection arose after the arrest of three Irishmen in Bogotá in August 11, 2001. The men, James Monaghan, Martin McCauley, and Neil Connolly, were traveling using false passports, and found to have traces of explosive on their belongings. All three were subsequently charged with training FARC members in the use of explosives. Security sources in both the United Kingdom and the Irish Republic say the men are IRA members.
Monaghan is believed to have designed the IRA homemade mortar. Originally developed with Libyan help in the early 1970s, the primitive Mark I prototype has evolved into the much more sophisticated Mark 18 "barracks buster," named for its effectiveness in targeting security force bases in Northern Ireland.
Monaghans skill in making this weapon has earned him the nickname "Mortar Monaghan." Similarly, MaCauley and Connolly are reported to be among the IRAs best explosive experts.
Connolly is believed to have initiated contact with FARC through the Spanish terrorist group ETA five years ago, and known to be the official representative in Cuba of the Sinn Fein, IRAs political wing. The appointment was initially denied but later admitted by the party. Sinn Feins President Gerry Adams claimed that Connolly was appointed without his knowledge or that of the international department of Sinn Fein, while confirming that "one of our [Sinn Feins] senior members asked Niall Connolly to represent the party in Cuba." When asked by Columbian authorities, Monaghan, MaCauley, and Connelly had initially insisted that they were in FARCs semi-autonomous safe-haven as eco-tourists, but later claimed to be in Columbia to view the peace process and exchange experiences on this and the one in Northern Ireland.
Adams denied that any training had taken place and refused to attend an April hearing into any FARC-IRA connection, saying he did not want to prejudice the trial of the three captive Irishmen. U.S. Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.), chairman of the House International Relations Committee, said at the hearing that there had been a "quantum leap in the FARCs terrorist proficiency on the ground and in urban warfare, which the Columbian authorities believe is attributable to IRA training." This improvement in FARCs capabilities is apparent from the huge expansion in attacks in the past 18 months that has left 400 Columbian Army and police personnel dead. The attacks saw a shift to economic and urban targets as well as the increased use of car bombs a development that has caused the death of 10 percent of the countrys bomb disposal experts since January. Columbian forces have also been increasingly targeted by secondary devices explosive devices used to ambush anyone responding to other, more apparent bomb threats. Longer range mobile mortars such as those pioneered by Monaghan have also recently become a new weapon in the FARC arsenal.
Such strategy, tactics, and equipment bear remarkable similarities to those used by the IRA, greatly heightening the suspicion that Monaghan, McCauley, and Connolly were in Columbia for reasons other than eco-tourism or an exchange of experience on peace negotiations. Moreover, indications that the IRA retains international links with other terrorist groups do not stop in Columbia.
There have also been reported links between the Irish terrorists and their Palestinian counterparts. According to a former British Army bomb disposal expert with extensive Northern Ireland experience, the improvised explosive devices recently diffused by him in the Jenin refugee camp are identical to those he had only previously seen used by the IRA. Paul Collinson, who now works for the Red Cross, says the Palestinian devices were also placed using IRA-style tactics he had seen used in Armagh, Londonderry, and Belfast. Collinson, who has worked on bomb disposal in the Palestinian territories, as well as in Afghanistan, Columbia, and Egypt, says this is the first time he has seen IRA weaponry and tactics used outside of Northern Ireland.
Links between the IRA and Palestinian groups is not a new concern for Israel. The Irish group is known to have established contacts with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine [* My note : the PFLP is supported in part by Saddam Hussein of Iraq] in the 1970s, as well as meeting with other such groups in Libya in the 1980s.
--------- CDI Terrorism Project: "Globalizing Terrorism: The FARC-IRA Connection," CENTER FOR DEFENSE INFORMATION , June 5, 2002
posted on 05/13/2007 7:14:49 PM PDT
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MARCH 12, 2004 : (BOSTON, MASS : US SENATOR JOHN KERRY MEETS WITH IRA / SINN FEIN LEADER MARTIN MCGUINNESS) [Photo Caption] John Kerry and Martin McGuinness, the IRA's and Sinn Fein's chief in Boston on March 12, 2004. McGuinness was second-in-command in the IRA in Londonderry at the time of Bloody Sunday on 30 January 1972. He served two prison terms in the Irish Republic, and was denounced by Mr Merlyn Rees - a former Home Secretary - as a terrorist. 'The Observer': He was "widely held to have headed the IRA Londonderry Brigade." ---------AP, 3/13/04, via (Observer 17.4.83).
posted on 05/13/2007 7:32:44 PM PDT
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