One of America’s most influential terrorist enemies traces its lineage back some thirty years — and it isn’t a Muslim organization.
In splinter groups like the Continuity IRA and more recently the Real IRA, Irish terrorists have positioned themselves at the center of a network connecting revolutionary FARC rebels in Colombia, Hezbollah in the Middle East, al-Qaeda in Iraq, and Taliban forces in Afghanistan currently fighting and killing American troops. The IRA and PFLP have trained together and coordinated attacks, weapons smuggling, and other illegal activities for decades. FARC and the IRA have a similar relationship.
What’s more, Irish terrorists may even link America’s foes abroad to its enemies at home. As Pajamas Media previously reported, federal agents earlier this year raided the homes of revolutionary Marxist-Leninist “peace activist” Mick Kelly and Hamas-connected “Arab-American leader” Hatem Abudayyeh as part of a multi-state sweep seeking to uncover the web of relationships between Kelly’s Minneapolis circle of American communists and terrorist militant groups in Colombia, Palestine, Syria, and Jordan.
Though federal agents have not disclosed an interest in the role played by Irish groups in American support for terror, a closer look at Irish Republican activities reveals a myriad of dots ready and waiting for investigators to connect — if they haven’t already.
As previously reported by Pajamas Media, among Mick Kelly’s colleagues at Fight Back! News is Conor McGrady, a New York-based “activist” from the north of Ireland who “organizes” with the city’s chapter of the Palestinian right-of-return organization Al-Awda. Fight Back! News closely and favorably covered the so-called Colombia Three, who were arrested and convicted in a Colombia court for traveling to rebel territory with false passports to train FARC militants. Successfully fleeing arrest by way of Venezuela or Cuba, as the Associated Press reported in 2005, “the trio’s unexpected reappearance on Irish soil sent shock waves through Northern Ireland’s peace process” — no surprise considering the identity of the Three.
Jim Monaghan, say British police, was the IRA’s senior engineer. Martin McCauley was another IRA explosives expert. After denying knowledge of Niall Connolly, IRA political arm Sinn Fein admitted — subsequent to his arrest — that Connolly represented the party in Latin America.
With notable timing, the September 24 sweep targeting Mick Kelly and his associates took place one day after Great Britain raised its terror alert status and issued a terror warning regarding potential Real IRA attacks on the mainland. On October 4 of this year, following an August car bombing, the Real IRA carried out another car bomb attack on an Ulster bank. On September 14, the Real IRA told the Guardian it considered London financial institutions to be potential targets. Two days later, the head of Britain’s MI5 security service, Jonathan Evans, used a rare public speech to warn of the increasing Irish terror threat, announcing that hundreds of followers were being organized for attacks on financial institutions on the mainland. A week after that, British intelligence published — for the first time — threat levels for “Irish related terrorism,” adopting the same system used for international terror.
In fact, Irish and international terror are two sides of the same coin. Irish techniques and technology have spread throughout the terror world for decades.
As documented by Mia Bloom and John Horgan in the journal Social Research, Irish terrorists pioneered the use of “proxy bombs,” vehicle-born explosives operated by drivers who have been “coerced into participating.” FARC mortars and booby-traps, Bloom and Horgan explain, are “similar” or “identical to those used by IRA Active Service Units in Northern Ireland[.]”
Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, “proxy bomb techniques perfected in Ireland have spread to the Taliban.” Writing in Ireland’s Sunday Independent, Jim Cusack reported in 2007 that NATO has called in a senior Irish Army Ordnance Corps officer to train coalition forces in dealing with terrorist bomb tactics “perfected in Ireland by IRA engineers and electronics experts.” IRA bombing techniques, reports Cusack, have also been “passed on to Hezbollah who used it against the Israeli Defense Forces during the 1980s and 1990s.”
As the Daily Record declared in 2003, IRA-Palestinian links “go back for more than 30 years,” with Irish terrorists trained in Lebanon “so proficient that they are now in demand by foreign groups.” Then as now, “engineers” trained in bombing were prized above all. The Real IRA, the Record reports, recruited “almost all the IRA engineering section.” Links with Muslim terror organizations “have become so close,” the report continues, “that Palestinian flags have been seen in Republican areas of Belfast” in Ireland.
IRA terrorists conducting proxy bombings, Bloom and Horgan note, failed to anticipate the intense backlash among fellow Catholics who learned of the heinous practice. But in a case of global terror coming full circle, the Belfast Newsletter reported last year that a defector from the Real IRA has claimed that the organization is “teaming up with Islamic terrorists” to “launch a fresh terror campaign” on British soil. “We were going to use the Muslims,” he said, “and they were going to use us.” From Islamic terror groups, the defector revealed, the Real IRA had already learned to abandon mobile phones and leave messages in draft emails shared through a common account. In 2007, Cusack revealed in another report, the U.S. government urged Ireland to deny top Hezbollah spokesman Ibrahim Mussawi entry to the country at the invitation of the Irish Anti-War Movement
If the FBI sting targeting Mick Kelly, Hatem Abudayyeh, and associates is any indication, federal investigators suspect that the latticework of relationships linking Irish, Muslim, and Colombian terrorists reaches into American left-wing activist communities as well. With the Kelly and Abudayyeh raids timed so close to top-level British moves against a resurgent Irish terror threat, a fuller picture of America’s homegrown foes may be soon to emerge.