Belfast Telegraph

Sting in tale of Campbell's dramatic demise

The details of the story leading to the conviction of the Real IRA terrorist Michael Campbell read like a best-selling thriller.

The story had the ingredients to keep every reader hooked - guns and explosives, threats of widespread violence, secret meetings, international skullduggery, danger, double-dealing and money changing hands.

Astonishingly, the facts are real, and Michael Campbell is deservedly starting a 12-year sentence for trying to smuggle a large consignment of arms and explosives into the UK from Lithuania to bolster a deadly terror campaign here and in other parts of the UK.

This elaborate plan was foiled by the considerable courage and ingenuity of a M15 agent, and also by the co-operation of security forces across Europe. It was a classic 'sting' and Campbell and his handlers walked into the sophisticated trap which provided enough material for a conviction and a long prison sentence.

Rarely has such a success against the forces of destruction been laid out so comprehensively, and the Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson was correct in describing this as another excellent example of the effectiveness of high levels of co-operation among security forces across Europe and elsewhere in combating terrorism. However the Secretary of State was also right to warn us against complacency, and the fight against all terrorist groups must go on. Those people who are hell-bent on violence and destruction do not give up easily.

The dramatic story of Campbell's entrapment has dealt a blow to the Real IRA, but the whole sordid story is a timely and shocking reminder to all of us that the peace process in Northern Ireland is constantly under threat from those who choose the bomb and the bullet rather than politics and dialogue.

The whole nature of security surveillance is so secret, and often so murky, that the successes cannot be shared with the general public. The unravelling of this particular 'sting' is deserving of the highest praise, but it also reminds us that we cannot drop our guard against the forces of evil and darkness.

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