Dissident republicans are planning to use honey traps this Christmas in a bid to lure a member of the security forces to his death, it has emerged.
During a recent security briefing Army personnel were warned about the recruitment by dissidents of attractive females to identify soldiers at popular nightspots and lure them into ambushes.
Military personnel have been advised not to attend certain bars and clubs over the holidays.
If they do attend the nightspots they have been warned to be on their guard for any possible traps.
A security source told the Belfast Telegraph: “We have been told that ‘honeys’ may be used by dissidents to identify soldiers.
“The English accents and haircuts can give soldiers away but these ‘honeys’ will be used to lure soldiers into a trap.
“A lot of soldiers will be out over the holiday period so there is particular concern at the minute about this.”
The source added that all military personnel were recently warned that the terrorist threat against them has been upped yet again.
The use of honey traps is not a new terrorist tactic. It was a popular method used by the Provisional IRA during the Troubles. One of the most famous ‘honeys’ was IRA spy Rosena Brown, who allegedly used her charms to befriend senior prison officer John Christopher Hanna, who became infatuated by her and passed information about a colleague who was murdered by the IRA.
Dissident republicans are clearly reacquainting themselves with old methods and attempting to build a small-scale version of the Provisional IRA
They have been using Semtex plastic explosive and fertiliser-based material in attempted bombings, have been involved in smuggling and attempts at gun-running, and carrying out “punishment” kneecappings in republican areas — all once carried out by PIRA.
A few veteran republicans are passing on techniques learnt in the IRA to the 300-400 active dissidents.
The old guard also brings with it small quantities of the Semtex and firearms once held by the IRA, enough to keep the new campaign going.
However, the use of old tactics should help the security services keep ahead of the terrorist groups as they have dealt with all of this before.
There are also signs that the police and MI5 are combating the threat by “turning” dissident members into agents.
A recent attempt to shoot dead a young police officer in Garrison, Co Fermanagh, resulted in two arrests, the security forces evidently having received high-grade advance intelligence.
The Provisional IRA used the ‘honey trap’ operation several times throughout the Troubles.
In March 1973 the Provos shot dead three soldiers and wounded another after they were lured from a Lisburn hotel |to a flat on the Antrim Road by two women. Dougald McCaughey (23), Joseph McCaig (18) and John McCaig (17), all three members of the Royal Highland Fusiliers, were off-duty |and lured from a pub where they had been drinking. Their bodies were found at Squire's Hill in the Ligoniel area of Belfast.
In September 1981 Private Sohan Singh Virdee of the Royal Pioneer Corps was shot dead by the IRA in the Stranmillis Park area of Belfast after he and his colleague Private John Lunt were lured there by two females who they met in a disco in Lisburn.
IRA spy Rosena Brown, an actress, allegedly used her charms to befriend senior Maze prison officer Christopher Hanna. Hanna became infatuated by Brown and passed information about a colleague who was murdered by the IRA in a car bomb in October 1988. Brown — dubbed the IRA’s ‘Mata Hari’ — was later jailed for conspiracy to murder in a case not connected to Hanna.