IRA ‘tried to kill Queen’s husband’ during Australia visit

Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth in 1973By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org
The Provisional Irish Republican Army tried to assassinate Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh and husband of Queen Elizabeth II, during an official Royal visit to Australia in the early 1970s, according to a new book. The claim is detailed in the book Shadow of a Spy, written by Warner Russell, a veteran Australian reporter and retired military intelligence officer. The alleged assassination attempt was uncovered in Sydney on March 15, 1973, during the Prince’s two-day visit to Australia. While there, the Queen’s husband attended a conservation meeting and led an official opening ceremony of a Royal Australian Air Force war memorial in capital city Canberra. According to Russell, two “crude explosive devices” were discovered in Sydney at locations that had been scheduled to be visited by the British Royal entourage. The first device was detected in a trash can in Dowling Street, in Sydney’s downtown Potts Point neighborhood. The second device was found inside a luggage locker at Sydney’s Central Station, a few miles away from the location of the first bomb. The book claims that the two other “suspicious packages” were found, one in a local government building located across the street from an officer’s club that the Prince was due to visit, and another in a trash can at Taylor Square, less than a mile from Central Station. Eventually, the two “suspicious packages” were determined to be “decoys”, says Russell. But the other two devices contained explosive material and were defused by an Australian Army bomb disposal team before being secretly taken to a forensic laboratory for examination. Russell claims that the bombs were defused just minutes before Prince Philip’s group arrived at the two Sydney locations, and Australian authorities were so nervous that they ordered the Prince’s motorcycle escort and protection team to “take evasive action” as they approached Dowling Street. Read more of this post

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Police ‘error’ reveals secret deal between IRA, UK government

Provisional IRA muralBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org
An alleged police error, which has prompted the release from custody of a former Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) volunteer accused of killing British soldiers, has revealed a secret agreement between the PIRA and the British government. British authorities have long suspected John Downey of involvement in a 1982 bomb explosion in London’s Hyde Park, which killed four British soldiers and injured scores of bystanders. But Downey was released from custody yesterday, after a judge was shown a letter that the suspect had been provided by the British government, assuring him that he was not wanted for outstanding crimes related to PIRA operations. The letter was given to Downey in 2007 by Britain’s Northern Ireland Office; it stated that the former PIRA volunteer would be able to travel outside Northern Ireland “without fear of arrest”. British authorities said that the letter had been sent “in error” and that it should have been withdrawn prior to Downey’s recent detention. But the case has exposed what appears to be a “discreet agreement” between the British government and republican paramilitaries. The agreement is undoubtedly connected to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. The multi-party accord permitted —among other things— power-sharing between Northern Ireland’s loyalist and republican political parties, in exchange for the decommissioning of weaponry held by paramilitary groups on both sides. But it also stipulated that all prisoners held for crimes related to sectarian violence in Northern Ireland were to be freed. By 2000, most of these prisoners had been released, based on the British government’s belief that paramilitary groups on both sides were unlikely to refrain from violence while many of their members remained in prison. However, there was nothing in the Good Friday Agreement to cover the cases of those “on the run”, namely paramilitaries —most of them republican— who were at large and wanted by the British state for crimes connected with paramilitary activity. Read more of this post

Al-Qaeda attack on Chinese ship uncovers IRA smuggling racket

Provisional IRA muralBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org
An attack by Islamist militants on a Chinese cargo ship has unveiled a massive smuggling racket by Irish gangs consisting of former members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army, commonly known as Provisional IRA. The revelation has inflamed existing tensions between Irish Republican militants linked to Sinn Fein –the political wing of the IRA– and a host of smuggling gangs operating on the border areas that connect the Irish state with Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom. The smuggling case was originally unearthed back in July of this year, when a group of militants linked to al-Qaeda fired two rocket-propelled grenades at Cosco Asia, a Hong Kong-registered Chinese commercial vessel, which is one of the world’s largest cargo ships. The attack, which occurred as the ship was sailing through the Suez Canal, shook the maritime-security world at the time, as it illustrated the rising lawlessness of the Sinai Peninsula following the Arab Spring uprising in Egypt. Ironically, the attack literally blew the lid off a complex smuggling operation. Specifically, one of the RPG rockets struck a container that, according to the ship’s manifest, was supposed to contain furniture. Inspectors who examined the damaged container, however, found that it was full of packets of cigarettes, which were destined to a company in County Louth, Ireland. Upon further investigation, it was discovered that the firm didn’t exist, but was rather a front company for a smuggling gang operating in the Irish borderlands. Shipping inspectors contacted the Gardai, Ireland’s police force, as well as customs officials in Dundalk, Ireland, who proceeded to seize the cargo in September. A subsequent police investigation found that the smuggled cigarettes, which had an estimated street value of €4.3 million, had been purchased by “a consortium” of IRA-linked factions operating in County Louth. In a new report published last weekend, Ireland’s Independent on Sunday said that the same gangs who were behind the failed smuggling operation are also involved in laundering diesel fuel throughout South Armagh in Northern Ireland. Read more of this post

MI5 wants secret court session over IRA informant’s lawsuit

Martin McGartlandBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Britain’s domestic intelligence agency, MI5, has requested a secret court hearing to deliberate a lawsuit from a high-profile spy who infiltrated the Provisional Irish Republican Army, commonly known as IRA. The mole, Martin McGartland, of Belfast, Northern Ireland, was recruited by the Special Branch of the Royal Ulster Constabulary in the 1980s. The information he supplied to the security agencies over several years is widely credited with having saved the lives of at least 50 British police officers and soldiers. His autobiographical experiences formed the basis of the 2008 motion picture 50 Dead Men Walking, written and directed by Kari Skogland and starring Jim Sturgess as Martin and Ben Kingsley. McGartland’s cover was dramatically blown in 1991, when the IRA began suspecting that he might be an MI5 mole. After several hours of interrogation by the IRA’s Internal Security Unit, McGartland managed to escape his captors and throw himself out of a third-floor window. He survived serious injuries and was taken into hiding by MI5, living in a series of safe houses across Britain for nearly a decade. However, in 1999 the IRA caught up with him at an MI5 safe house in North Tyneside, in the northeast of England, where he was shot by an IRA hit team while walking to his car one morning and left for dead. McGartland is now suing MI5 and its institutional patron, the British Home Office, claiming that they failed to support him after he was shot by the IRA. In his lawsuit, McGartland claims that government funding he was receiving for treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder was withdrawn after he publicly criticized the British government’s counterterrorism policies. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #829

Raymond Allen DavisBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Irish police responds to claims of IRA collusion. For nearly two years, the Smithwick Tribunal in Dublin, Ireland, has been hearing allegations that the Provisional Irish Republican Army had supporters inside the Garda Síochána, Irealand’s police force. This past week, the Garda’s Crime and Security Branch gave the Tribunal a 51-page response to the allegations. The tribunal said it “needed time to read the response” before holding another open session next week.
►►How CIA spy Raymond Davis helped turn Pakistan against the US. The New York Times‘ Mark Mazzetti has penned an excellent retrospective analysis of Raymond Allen Davis imbroglio. In 2011, the CIA contractor was arrested in Lahore for shooting dead two men who allegedly tried to rob him. Davis was only released after the US government offered monetary compensation to the families of the dead men. Mazzetti argues that the furor over the Davis incident threatened to shut down most CIA operations in Pakistan and derail the intelligence-gathering operation in Abbottabad.
►►New book explains CIA shift from spying to killing. Speaking of Mark Mazzetti, he has a new book out called The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth. In it, he explores the post-9/11 transformation of the CIA from its original mission –spying– to a facilitator of targeted killings for the Pentagon. He told National Public Radio that “the CIA has become a machine for killing in many ways. The counterterrorism center has become [...] the sort of beating heart of the agency that does man-hunting. And these question of ‘Should the CIA stay in the killing business?’ [...] is something that is unresolved but is certainly being discussed”.

News you may have missed #817 (assassinations edition)

Patrick FinucaneBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►British PM apologizes in killing of IRA lawyer. The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, David Cameron, has apologized after a government report found that British intelligence officials had colluded with loyalist paramilitaries in the 1989 killing of lawyer Patrick Finucane in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Finucane, who had represented members of the Irish Republic Army in court, was shot dead by two gunmen from a Protestant paramilitary group while having a Sunday dinner at his home with his wife and three children.
►►Behind the plot to kill Afghanistan’s spy chief. On December 11, we reported that the Afghan government accused Pakistani intelligence of having played a role in the assassination of Assadullah Khaled, who heads Afghanistan’s National Directorate for Security. But how was the attempt on Khaled’s life carried out, and how did the aspiring assassins get so close to the controversial intelligence chief? Time magazine reports that it was Khaled’s self-confidence “bordering on recklessness” that almost got him killed. Sources say that, even after taking over the NDS, Khalid frequently drove around without bodyguards.
►►How Mossad bid to kill Hamas leader ended in fiasco. Khaled Mashal’s recent presence in the Gaza Strip will have rudely reminded Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, of one of the greatest fiascos in the history of special operations, writes The Daily Telegraph‘s David Blair. Fifteen years ago, Netanyahu authorized a risky attempt to assassinate Mashal in the Jordanian capital, Amman. Everything went wrong. The Jordanian security forces responded to this brazen daylight attack, arresting two of the Israeli operatives and forcing three to hide in their country’s embassy, which was promptly surrounded by troops.

Irish government ‘refused cooperation’ with probe into IRA attack

Warrenpoint ambushBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS| intelNews.org |
The government of the Republic of Ireland allegedly ordered senior police officials not to assist an investigation into a 1979 attack by the Provisional Irish Republican Army that killed 18 British soldiers in the UK province of Northern Ireland. The attack, known as the Warrenpoint ambush, took place in the afternoon of August 27, when a British military convoy was blown up by a remote-controlled 500-pound fertilizer bomb hidden in a lorry loaded with straw bales. It was soon followed by a second massive bomb blast at a nearby house, and resulted in the British Army’s greatest loss of life in a single incident during the Northern Ireland Troubles. Now a retired officer of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), as the British police body in Northern Ireland was then known, has told an official government inquiry that the Irish government refused to collaborate with the investigation into the Warrenpoint ambush, and even ordered its senior police officers to distance themselves from it. The man, who testified behind closed doors through a video link from Belfast, cannot be named and is instead referred to in tribunal documents as ‘Witness 68’. All that is known about him is that he is a retired detective and retired from the RUC with a rank of Deputy Assistant Chief Constable. He told the Smithwick Tribunal that the government of the Republic of Ireland instructed its intelligence and law enforcement personnel to view the Warrenpoint ambush as a political crime and to abstain from the British-led criminal investigation into the killings. Consequently, in April 1980, when British RUC officials met with senior officers from the Garda’s (Irish police) Criminal Intelligence Division in Dublin, the Irish delegation informed British officials that the Irish Prime Minister, Jack Lynch, had given specific instructions that “no assistance would be given to the RUC”. Subsequently, the RUC discovered that a site located in the Republic of Ireland, which the British suspected had been used to detonate the bomb that exploded a few yards away at Warrenpoint, had been destroyed before forensic teams were able to examine it. Read more of this post

Half of all IRA leaders were government spies, report claims

Ian HurstBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A report to be presented before an Irish government inquiry states that nearly half of the leadership of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) during the ‘Troubles’ of the 1960s and 1970s consisted of informants working for British or Irish intelligence services. The 24-page report is part of a larger dossier of evidence that is soon to be presented before the Smithwick Tribunal, a judicial inquiry into the 1989 killing by the Provisional IRA of two police officers of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (see previous intelNews coverage here). The evidence dossier has reportedly been prepared by Ian Hurst, former member of the Force Research Unit (FRU), a secretive body within the British Army’s Intelligence Corps, tasked with running agents inside militant groups. Hurst, who worked in the Intelligence Corps from 1981 to 1990, was responsible for handling informants and agents inside Irish paramilitary groups, including the Provisional IRA. He is believed to be the first-ever member of the FRU to have spoken publicly about his experience. In the report, which was leaked to The Belfast Telegraph, Hurst suggests that approximately one in every four volunteers of the Provisional IRA was an agent of an intelligence organization, and that among leading members this number increased to one in two. Among them was allegedly the British agent codenamed STAKEKNIFE, identified by some as Freddie Scappaticci, a senior member of the Provisional IRA Northern Command’s Internal Security Unit (ISU), tasked with counterintelligence operations (Scappaticci denies these claims). Read more of this post

News you may have missed #649

María del Pilar Hurtado

María Hurtado

►►US-Russian tensions over stranded Kosovo aid convoy. A stranded aid convoy of more than 20 Russian trucks was stopped Tuesday by US soldiers at a Kosovo border with Serbia, increasing tensions in the volatile region. American forces say they believe the convoy’s cargo consisting of canned food, blankets, tents and power generators appears, is intended for minority Serbs, who reject Kosovo’s statehood, and have been blocking roads in the Serb-run north of the country to prevent Kosovar authorities from taking control.
►►IRA spy in Irish police was ‘open secret’. Former British army agent Kevin Fulton, also known as Peter Keeley, who infiltrated the IRA in the 1980s, has said it was an open secret in the IRA that it had a “friend” among the gardaí (Irish police) in Dundalk. Speaking to the Smithwick Tribunal, he named the “friend” as retired detective sergeant Owen Corrigan. See here for previous intelNews coverage of this issue.
►►Colombia asks Panama to extradite ex-spy chief (again). Panama’s Foreign Ministry says Colombia has asked it to extradite former Colombian intelligence director Maria del Pilar Hurtado (pictured) to face conspiracy, wiretapping and abuse of authority charges. Hurtado headed Colombia’s now-defunct DAS domestic intelligence agency in 2007 and 2008.

Inquiry examines whether IRA had mole inside Irish police

Provisional IRA muralBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
An Irish government investigation has unearthed intelligence reports claiming that an informant within the Irish police, the Garda, helped the Provisional Irish Republican Army plan the killings of a judge and two senior British police officers in the 1980s. Sir Maurice Gibson, a Lord Justice of Appeal for the British Crown, was killed along with his wife, by a remote-controlled car bomb, as they drove over the Irish border back into Northern Ireland on 27 April 1987, following a holiday. A little less than two years later, on March 20, 1989, Royal Ulster Constabulary officers Harry Breen and Robert Buchanan, were killed in an IRA road ambush in South Armagh. The two RUC officers, who were killed as they drove back from a meeting with Garda officers in the Republic of Ireland, were targeted despite the fact that they were riding in an unmarked car. This has sparked rumors that the victims’ travel itinerary had been supplied to the IRA by an inside source, possibly an officer in the Garda. In 2000, Jeffrey Donaldson, a British Member of Parliament, told the House of Commons that Garda Detective Sergeant Owen Corrigan was the IRA mole that leaked the itineraries of Judge Gibson and the two RUC officers. The Smithwick Tribunal in Dublin, which was set up in response to Mr. Donaldson’s allegations, is scheduled to conclude at the end of this month, following public testimony by several individuals. One of those is Detective Superintendent Brian Burton, of the Dundalk Garda station, the very same station in which Det. Sgt. Corrigan served at the time of the IRA killings. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #516

  • UK government will continue to spy on Muslims says official. Britain’s Home Secretary, Theresa May, says she does not see “anything wrong with identifying people who are vulnerable to being taken down a certain route”.
  • UK government outed IRA double agent. Senior Irish Provisional Army volunteer Denis Donaldson, who spied for the British government, was deliberately outed by the government to send a message to the IRA that he was expendable, and that it had another, more valuable informant within the IRA leadership ranks. The revelation is contained in a leaked US diplomatic document published by whistleblower website WikiLeaks. Donaldson was shot dead shortly after his role as an MI5 informant was revealed.
  • Legendary CIA airline now in danger of crashing. There was a time, not so long ago, that CIA-linked contractor Evergreen International Aviation was doing quite well for itself. Today, the venerable intelligence-helpers have fallen on hard times. The other day, it had to unload its 200 million square foot maintenance facility in southern Arizona in order to help pay off its debts.

Suspicion mounts as US unlocks Moussa Koussa’s foreign assets

Moussa Koussa

Moussa Koussa

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Eyebrows were raised in intelligence circles on Monday, after the United States lifted its freeze of foreign assets belonging to Libya’s former intelligence chief, who defected to London last week. Libya’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Moussa Koussa, who headed the country’s intelligence agency from 1994 to 2009, managed to escape to the UK from Tunisia on a Swiss-registered private airplane. He is currently reported to be in an MI6 safe house in England, allegedly being interrogated about his inside knowledge of the regime of Muammar al-Gaddafi. But Koussa is also thought to be the mastermind behind the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed nearly 300 people. The 57-year-old defector is also believed to have facilitated Libya’s funding of the Provisional Irish Republican Army and to have authorized the assassination of several Libyan dissidents living in Britain. In light of that, the news that Washington lifted its sanctions on Koussa’s sizeable fortune abroad is worth noting. It is also interesting to note that Britain’s Foreign Secretary, William Hague, is reportedly pressuring European Union member-states to follow the US’ example in also unfreezing Koussa’s foreign assets. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #331

  • CIA deputy director to step down. The Agency has denied it for months, but now the longtime rumor that its powerful deputy director, Stephen R. Kappes, was planning to resign has came true. Jeff Stein reports that “recently, grumbling about Kappes from within the CIA and without, on issues ranging from his nit-picking management style to his ties to the old order, has gotten louder. And now, apparently, Kappes has heard enough”.
  • US eyes cash deal for Kyrgyzstan base. How will the recent coup in Kyrgyzstan affect US-Kyrgyz arrangements on the Manas Air Base? A lot will depend on oil purchase deals between the US military and Kyrgyz autocrats.
  • Court case may reveal IRA spy’s role. Freddie Scappaticci, an IRA spy alleged to be the British army agent ‘Stakeknife’ could be forced into court by the wife of another IRA informer, who claims she suffered nervous breakdown after being kidnapped by him.

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Analysis: Forged Irish passports have long history

Passports

Passports

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
At least six of the nearly 30 Mossad assassins who killed Hamas military official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh last January in Dubai, used forged Irish passports to enter and leave the United Arab Emirates. This upset the Irish government, but did not surprise intelligence observers familiar with the long history of forged Irish passports in the international espionage and smuggling worlds. The Mossad and the CIA are among several intelligence agencies known to routinely rely on cloned Irish passports to enable their agents to move around the world undetected. In 1986, several Iran-Contra affair insiders, including US National Security Council member Oliver North, covertly traveled to Iran using forged Irish passports. The Provisional Irish Republican Army is also known to possess significant quantities of false Irish passports, which it uses to enable its senior members to network with supporters abroad. Read more of this post

Spanish spies remain active in UK territory of Gibraltar

Gibraltar

Gibraltar

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
The British Crown has ruled Gibraltar since the early 1700s, but Spain has never ceased to claim national rights over the territory. Today, la Cuestión de Gibraltar (the Gibraltar question) is as critical an issue in Spanish-British relations as it has been for over 300 years. A recent article in Gibraltar’s English-language Panorama news site reminds us that, even though the two countries are NATO and European Union allies, Spanish intelligence agents remain active in the territory. It is true that the Rock is frequented by agents of Spain’s Centro Nacional de Inteligencia (CNI), who are mostly concerned with assessing economic and political life in the British possession. The article lacks sources, but its views are probably not far from the truth, considering Gibraltar’s immense geostrategic significance. Read more of this post

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