24th May 13:16
Gerry Adams = Fidel Castro's Best Friend
Gerry Adams = Fidel Castro's Best Friend
David Trimble. "IRA Does Double-Talk on Terrorism." The Irish American
Post. Nov./Dec. 2002. vol. 3, iss. 5.
To its numerous American backers and to officials in the American
government, Sinn Féin, the political wing of the Irish Republican
Army, is adept at speaking the language of reason and reconciliation.
But Sinn Féin speaks to its Irish followers through its in-house
newspaper, An Phoblacht, from the other side of its mouth.
[Just like arafat and the PLO saying one thing in English and the
opposite in arabic. Ed.]
The IRA's lengthy connections with people such as Moammar Gadhafi and
the Basque separatist group ETA are well known. The arrest of three
Irish republicans in Colombia on suspicion of collaborating with FARC
narco-terrorists demonstrates that, despite the IRA "cessation," it is
unable or unwilling to sever such ties. What is truly remarkable is
that even after Sept. 11, 2001, the Irish republican press remains as
anti-American as ever.
Perhaps even more surprising is that it continues to get away with it.
On hearing the news of the 9/11 attacks, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams
told his followers in the United States that this was "ethically
indefensible terrorism." But away from American eyes and ears, an
editorial in An Phoblacht on Sept. 12 made it clear what Irish
republicans really thought about the attacks.
They were indeed "atrocities," but there was "an even greater danger"
that the U.S. government would "lash out and make innocent civilians
in other countries pay for what it is describing as an act of war. . .
.. We only know too well," it was claimed, "how in the Middle East and
in Central America the pursuit of a militaristic and aggressive policy
by U.S. governments and by those governments it sponsored led to the
deaths of innocent people."
And to whom did they apportion the blame? "The perpetrators of the
atrocities in Washington and New York may well have had their origins
in the political disaster area which is the Middle East. But it is a
disaster for which the 'West' and its client governments bear much
Sinn Féin's hostility to America was applied not just to conservatives
or perceived hard-liners. In 1995, there was a bitter personal attack
on Gen. Colin Powell. Nobel Peace Prize winner Jimmy Carter should, in
the opinion of An Phoblacht, appear before a war crimes tribunal, and
Bill Clinton has been attacked for his "endless display of military
might." In the past seven years, there have been at least 30 articles
attacking U.S. policy toward Cuba and also anti-American articles
regarding Panama, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala. In
August 2001, Douglas Hamilton, effectively An Phoblacht's Cuban
the Balkans, East Timor, Colombia, or Iraq."
This sentiment has, if anything, intensified in the past year. The war
in Afghanistan with its "indiscriminate bombings," it was argued,
"violates international law." In July, a correspondent attacked
President Bush's continued support for Israel and warned that the
"international community can no longer close its eyes to Israeli state
terrorism." Its support for Yasser Arafat was unambiguous.
This is not the work of rogue intellectuals at the fringes of the
republican movement. An Phoblacht is part of a well-oiled Sinn Féin
party machine. It is perhaps for this reason that the most stinging
personal attack on Bush was published in Gaelic. "Bush As Smacht," an
article published in February, translated into English simply as "Bush
Is Out of Control." "We already know that George W. Bush is out of his
mind," ran the translation, "and he is inclined to make difficulties
worse instead of solving them. It seems likely that the Bush authority
wants to keep the world under control with the biggest bombs he has."
At the same time, Sinn Féin representative Aengus O Snodaigh --\0
recently elected to the Irish Parliament with the help of the American
money that has made Sinn Féin the best-funded party in Western Europe
-- has made no secret of the fact that Sinn Féin opposes the Irish
government's permission to the U.S. Air Force to use Shannon Airport
for refueling as part of its preparations for possible military
intervention in Iraq. Irish republicans are, of course, entitled to
their view. But one wonders whether any other group expressing such
views would also be entitled to access to the White House and millions
of American dollars.
After the recent alleged discovery of an IRA spy ring at the heart of
the Northern Ireland government, Prime Minister Tony Blair is
effectively calling for the disbanding of the IRA. The question is
whether the continued support and assistance that Irish republicans
receive in the United States is any sort of incentive for the IRA to
comply with these demands. Sinn Féin raised $500,000 at a single
dinner recently in New York. Sadly, it is money that will be paid for
in blood elsewhere in the world.
David Trimble is leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, first minister
of the suspended Northern Ireland Assembly and a Nobel Peace Prize
Rachel Ehrenfeld. "IRA + PLO = Terror." National Review.
Following the Israeli incursion into Jenin earlier this year, Paul
Collinson, a British explosives expert working with the Red Cross,
identified hundreds of explosive devices found there and noted that
"the pipe bombs I found in Jenin are exact replicas of ones I found in
The incident came on the heels of a shooting spree of ten Israelis
with a bolt-action rifle, perpetrated by a single sniper who left his
rifle behind. This technique was also identified as a Irish Republican
Army (IRA) trademark.
But the IRA's connections are not limited to the Middle East or the
Palestinians. On April 24, 2001, the House of Representatives
Committee on International Relations published the findings of its
investigation into IRA activities in Colombia. Their report clearly
demonstrated a longstanding connection with the Revolutionary Armed
Forces of Colombia (FARC), mentioned at least 15 more IRA terrorists
who have been traveling in and out of Colombia since 1998, and
estimated that the IRA had received at least $2 million in drug
proceeds for training members of FARC.
A more recent report, published in May by the Federal Research
Division of the Library of Congress, identified Hezbollah, Hamas, and
a number of other Middle Eastern terrorist organizations as active in
Colombia and the Triborder Region (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and
Globalizing Terrorism: The FARC-IRA Connection By Mark Burgess, Center
for Defense Information Research ****yst
Underlying recent allegations of collusion between the Revolutionary
Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Provisional Irish Republican
Army (IRA) is the oft-neglected fact that al Qaeda is not the only
international terrorist network. Long before Osama bin Laden's Islamic
organization achieved notoriety through its attacks in America on
Sept. 11, 2001, other terrorist groups established operational bonds
with their counterparts and sponsors across the world. Such
collaboration flourished in the 1990s, and members of the
international terrorism community are believed to have trained in many
countries, often -- but not always -- with local government approval.
The list of countries in which such training has occurred includes:
Afghanistan; Bosnia-Herzegovina; Chile; Colombia; Iran; Iraq; Lebanon;
Libya; Mexico; North Korea; Pakistan; Peru; Russia; South Africa;
Sudan; Syria; and Turkey.
As this indicates, reports that foreign terrorists have been operating
within Colombia are neither entirely new nor particularly surprising.
Colombian groups such as FARC have long been known to contract
military experts and terrorists from overseas, with European terrorist
organizations reported to have often brokered such deals. The Red Army
Faction is believed to have been especially active in such activities,
using mostly Middle Eastern contracted trainers. Former British,
Israeli, and U.S. military personnel are also reputed to have been
involved in such training in the past. According to Gen. Fernando
Tapias, chairman of the Columbian Joint Chiefs of Staff, nationals
from Iran, Iraq, Nicaragua, Ecuador, El Salvador, Venezuela, Israel
and Germany have been identified by FARC informants and deserters as
carrying out recent training for the Columbian terrorist group.
Such statements tally with that made in March by the acting commander
in chief of U.S. Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Gary D. Speer, who stated
that links existed between Latin America and transnational terrorist
organizations including the IRA, Hezbullah, Hamas, Islamyya al Gama'at
(IG), and the Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA). Speer also said
that Southern Command had long been monitoring terrorist activities in
the region, including such incidents as the bombing of the Israeli
Embassy in 1992 and the Jewish-Argentine Cultural Center in Argentina
in 1994 (attributed to Hezbullah), the capture of the Japanese
ambassador's residence in Peru by the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary
Movements (MRTA) in 1996, and the pattern of narco-terrorism in
Colombia generally. However, The IRA training of FARC members
represents an alarming development, not least as the Irish group is
widely held to be among the most proficient practitioners of terrorism
in the world. Moreover, if claims that such training has occurred are
believed, it may cost the RA heavily in terms of the support it has
traditionally enjoyed in the United States, and lead to the
organization being viewed as having a global reach.
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. Monaghan's skill in making this weapon has earned him the
nickname "Mortar Monaghan." Similarly, MaCauley and Connolly are
reported to be among the IRA's 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, IRA's political
wing. The appointment was initially denied but later admitted by the
party. Sinn Fein's 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
Fein's] 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 FARC's
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 FARC's terrorist proficiency on the ground and in urban warfare,
which the Columbian authorities believe is attributable to IRA
training." This improvement in FARC's 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
country's 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 in the 1970s, as well as
meeting with other such groups in Libya in the 1980s. Moreover,
according to reports as recent as last month, the Mossad, the Israeli
intelligence service, has asked British security services to check on
movements of IRA operatives in an attempt to identify a sniper who
killed three civilians and seven soldiers in 25 minutes.
Sinn Fein denies that the IRA has trained FARC, as does the Irish
terrorist organization itself, claiming that the whole episode has
been fabricated by those who wish to derail the peace process in
Northern Ireland. Such an argument, while not implausible, fails to
explain why Monaghan, McCauley, and Connolly used aliases and traveled
with false passports. Such subterfuge appears unnecessary were the men
there to engage in talks on a peace process. Moreover, dispatching
three known explosives experts on such a mission rather than Sinn Fein
politicians who are skilled in peace negotiations seems a rather
curious course of action, albeit somewhat less bizarre than the notion
that the three men should be engaged in eco-tourism in the heart of
FARC country. For the Columbian authorities to muddy the contentious
issue of their receiving U.S. aid for their war against terrorism by
raising the emotive issue of a FARC-IRA connection without due cause
also lends such claims a certain legitimacy. Certainly, the IRA has
enough enemies to ensure that some will use the current allegations as
an opportunity to inflict a serious public relations blow upon the
Republican terrorists. Against this must stand the powerful, if
cir***stantial, evidence against the three Irishmen currently
imprisoned in Columbia.
Looked at through a post-Sept. 11 prism, that the IRA would train such
terrorists in America's back yard appears tantamount to a political,
and possibly military, suicide. However, the links currently being
investigated appear to have been established long before terrorist
attacks on New York and the Pentagon created a hostile strategic
environment in which terrorist groups now operate. Moreover, Sinn Fein
has weathered the risk of damaging it levels of support in the United
States before, such as when Adams visited Cuba last December. British
intelligence claim that the IRA may have earned as much as $2 million
for training FARC, perhaps a conservative estimate as the Columbian
terrorist group's annual income from illicit drugs sales is estimated
at $1 billion. Such financial incentive may have convinced the IRA
that training FARC was worth the risk, especially if reports from
Russia's intelligence services that the Irish group has recently
purchased a shipment of the new AN-94 assault rifle prove true. Such
armaments do not come cheap, especially if undertaken while
decommissioning selected stockpiles of existing weapons. Moreover, the
FARC-held region of Columbia offers the IRA an unsurpassed training
area to perfect its own weapons and tactics. This is more vital than
ever now that the political expediencies of the Northern Ireland peace
process effectively put the IRA's historical training areas in the
Irish Republic out of bounds. The risk of the Irish authorities
discovering that the IRA are engaged in terrorist training while
ostensibly observing a ceasefire outweigh the benefits of the
organization's engaging in such activities. Using Columbia as a
testing ground carries far less risk. It is also possible that the IRA
may simply have become overconfident that the support they enjoyed in
America was something they could depend on whatever the case may be.
Sept. 11 may have changed that forever.
From the U.S. point of view the IRA's alleged training of FARC is of
immediate concern. Latin American narco-terrorists like FARC's are
believed to be responsible for some 90 percent of the cocaine and 70
percent of the heroin sold in America. U.S. Southern Command has said
that it "recognized a viable terrorist threat in Latin America long
before Sept. 11," adding, "If not further exposed and removed, that
threat poses a serious potential risk to our own national security as
well as to our hemispheric neighbors." If the IRA, one of the world's
most dangerous and successful terrorist groups, has indeed trained
FARC, that risk has multiplied exponentially. Charges that such
training has occurred must be investigated thoroughly and cannot be
held to ransom because of a peace process that will be put at far
greater risk by any failure to move against such cross-pollination
among terrorists. As such incidents show, the globalization of
terrorism is larger than al Qaeda.
Committee on International Relations, U.S. House of Representatives,
"Summary of Investigation of IRA Links to FARC Narco-Terrorists in
Columbia," April 24 2002
Maj. Gen. Gary D. Speer, United States Army, Acting Commander in
Chief, United States Southern Command, "Posture Statement Before the
107th Congress", 5 March 2002.
Thomas Hunter, "Bomb School: International Terrorist Training Camps,"
Janes Intelligence Review, March 1997.
Various articles from: BBC Online; Daily Telegraph (UK); Washington
Post; and, Washington Times.