Il Telegraph pubblica oggi un articolo in cui afferma che i dissidenti repubblicani sonopronti a sferrare il loro attacco sul territorio del Regno Unito.
Gli ordigni, che vengono assemblati utilizzando fertilizzanti a base di azoto e di esplosivi commerciali, sono sofisticati tanto quanto quelli utilizzati dal Provisional IRA durante gli anni ’80-’90.
Il MI5, che ora ha la responsabilità della raccolta di informazioni in Ulster in seguito alla riorganizzazione del PSNI, ritiene che i dissidenti repubblicani abbiano “capacità e di intenti” per attuare attacchi sulla terraferma.
Gli ufficiali affermano che quella dei dissidenti è “una minaccia reale” per il processo di pace e è ora loro intento diffondere la loro campagna di violenza al di là dell’Ulster.
Una fonte autorevole di Whitehall, ha dichiarato: “Al momento, l’attenzione dei dissidenti è rivolta principalmente all’Irlanda del Nord, ma i servizi di intelligence stanno all’erta sulle loro intenzioni e chiare aspirazioni di attaccare la Gran Bretagna”.
Un ufficiale dell’esercito con sede in Irlanda del Nord ricorda un ‘adagio’ di dieci anni fa, ma ancora molto attuale: “una bomba a Londra vale dieci volte una bomba nell’Ulster’.
“Sappiamo che i dissidenti vorrebbero attaccare la terraferma e sappiamo che hanno acquisito la capacità di costruire sofisticate auto bomba. Se possono farlo, lo faranno”.
La fonte ha anche aggiunto che vi è un crescente sostegno alle frange più estreme dell’IRA. “Ci sono persone appartententi all’IRA che inizialmente hanno sostenuto il processo di pace, ma ora sono delusi e sono molto lieti degli attacchi portati a segno dai dissidenti a spese del PSNI e dell’esercito britannico”.
Il numero di dissidenti, stando agli ultimi dati, varierebbe tra i 300 e i 600 elementi ed i reclutamenti pare stiano avvenendo anche appoggiandosi a siti web e a social network.
Il RIRA sembra anche stia ricostituendo i suoi arsenali con esplosivi e fucili automatici e Michael Campbell, presunto membro dell’IRA è attualmente detenuto nel carcere di Vilnius in Lituania con l’accusa di traffico d’armi.
A questo proposito il parlamentare (Tory) Patrick Mercer, ha dichiarato: “Chi pensa che il movimento armato repubblicano sia andato via, sta sognando”.
Dissident Irish republicans are believed to be planning a mainland bombing campaign, according to senior security sources.
Irish terrorists are believed to be planning a series of attacks in the UK in a renewed bid to derail the Ulster peace process.
MI5 is convinced dissident groups have managed to recruit former IRA bomb makers following an upsurge of republican violence in Northern Ireland.
The bombs, which are made using nitrogen-based fertilisers and commercial explosives, are understood to be as sophisticated as those used by the Provisional IRA during the Troubles in the 1980s and 90s.
MI5, which now has responsibility for intelligence gathering in Ulster following the reorganisation of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, believes that the dissident republicans have both the “capability and intent” to mount attacks on the mainland.
The Republican splinter groups include the Real and Continuity IRA, and Oglaigh na hEireann, all of which are opposed to the peace process and have stated that members of the security forces are legitimate targets.
In March, members of the RIRA and the CIRA were responsible for the murders of two British soldiers at Massereene Barracks in Antrim and the killing of a policeman in Lurgan.
Officials said that the dissidents posed “a real threat” to the peace process and were now intent on spreading their campaign of violence beyond Ulster.
A senior Whitehall source said: “At the moment, the dissidents’ focus is primarily on Northern Ireland but the security service keeps an open mind on their intentions and clearly they have aspirations to attack the mainland UK.”
An Army officer based in Northern Ireland added: “The adage: ‘one bomb in London is worth ten in Ulster’, stands as true today just as it did for the IRA ten years ago.
“We know the dissidents would like to bomb the mainland and we know they have acquired the capability to build sophisticated car bombs. If they can do it, they will.”
The source also said that there was growing support within the more extreme elements of the IRA for attacks on the security forces.
The official added: “There are people in the IRA who initially went along with the peace process but who are now disillusioned and were quite pleased to see that the dissidents were attacking the police and the army.”
MI5 have noticed growing levels of sophistication in dissident attacks in Ulster over the last 18-months, which culminated in the murders of the three members of the security forces last month.
It is understood that one of the splinter groups has managed to recruit a top former IRA bomb-maker who was believed to have been involved in a failed car bombing earlier this year.
A 300lb car bomb, which was abandoned outside Castlewellan in County Down in January, was similar to the one used in the Omagh atrocity in 1998 which killed 29 people, including a woman who was pregnant with twins.
The car bomb was destined for the British Army base at Ballykinler. Oglaigh na hEireann, which claimed responsibility for the attack, said that it had planned to drive the bomb through the gates of the barracks before detonating it.
The RIRA has also recently stated that it intends to attack Britain “when it becomes opportune”.
In its Easter Message, the group also appeared threaten Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness after he accused dissidents of treachery.
In its message the group said: “Let us remind our former comrade of the nature and actions of a traitor. Treachery is collaborating with the enemy, treachery is betraying your country. The republican movement has a long memory.”
On Friday The PSNI informed Mr McGuinness that dissidents were plotting to kill him.
The RIRA is also known to be attempting to restock its arsenals with explosives and automatic rifles and one of its alleged members is currently standing trial for arms smuggling in Lithuania.
In the past year the various republican splinter groups have launched a series of attacks against the Police Service of Northern Ireland and two weeks ago the RIRA threatened to execute young Catholic recruits to the police service.
Dissident groups are now actively recruiting young members using social websites and the support base for the groups, although small, is starting to grow. Current estimates suggest that the dissidents number could be between 300 and 600.
Patrick Mercer, the Tory MP for Newark and a former infantry commander, who completed nine tours of duty in Northern Ireland, said: “Anyone who thinks that armed Irish republicanism has gone away is dreaming.
“The threat is real and dangerous and whilst the political process is encouraging, there are plenty of people who would still wreck it if they could.”