Spy agencies failed to share intelligence on Omagh bombing: report
August 12, 2013 1 Comment
By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
A new report on the 1998 bombing of downtown Omagh by an Irish republican splinter group claims that the tragedy could have been avoided had British, Irish and American intelligence agencies shared information with British police. The car bomb attack was carried out on August 15, 1998, by the Real Irish Republican Army (RIRA). The militant organization consisted of former Provisional Irish Republican Army volunteers who rejected the Good Friday Agreement, part of the Northern Ireland peace process. It devastated the small Northern Irish town of Omagh, killing 29 and injuring over 200 people, including six children, several teenagers and a woman who was pregnant with twins. There have been no criminal convictions in connection with the bombing, despite the fact that it was the single worst instance of violence in the so-called Northern Ireland Troubles, which began in the 1960s and ended in 1998, largely because of the Omagh bombing. But now a new report commissioned by the families of the victims of the bombing claims that intelligence services from three countries failed to share information with British police, which could have prevented the disaster in Omagh. The report, authored by a group of retired security experts on behalf of London-based law firm SBP, says the RIRA had been infiltrated by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Britain’s Security Service (MI5) and the Irish Garda’s Crime and Security Branch. These agencies, claims the report, had at least two informants inside the RIRA: a smalltime Irish criminal named Paddy Dixon, who frequently smuggled stolen cars from Ireland into Britain for use by the RIRA, and David Rupert, an American of Irish descent. Dixon was handled by the Garda’s Crime and Security Branch, which is Ireland’s primary counterterrorist government agency. Rupert was run by the FBI, which eventually shared him with MI5. Both these informants, says the report, had notified their handlers that the RIRA was preparing a massive operation in Northern Ireland in the summer of 1998. But the agencies chose not to share this intelligence with the Royal Ulster Constabulary, allegedly in order to protect their informants’ credibility in the eyes of the RIRA. Speaking to reporters last week, a spokesperson for the bombing victims’ families’ association, which calls itself the Omagh Support and Self Help Group, said the report was “significant”, and added that it was now essential for the British and Irish governments to launch a comprehensive public inquiry into the intelligence-sharing errors that led to the bombing.