Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 31 August 2014

Dissidents compromised by intelligence successes but still determined to strike

Intercepted: Dissidents were foiled in Derry earlier this month
Intercepted: Dissidents were foiled in Derry earlier this month

In the world of intelligence they hear a lot of chatter coming out of the different dissident camps.

It is the type of talk they would expect to hear; dissidents thinking about how to use big events to try to make their own headlines – how they might exploit different situations.

And, this year, there is much for the dissidents to try to play with – the G8 summit, City of Culture, the World Police and Fire Games and the approaching 15th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.

But there is a huge gap between talking and doing.

And, after the latest bomb find in Fermanagh, the talk within those dissident circles will be of a different kind.

The headlines are not about a bomb exploding at the police base in Lisnaskea – but rather about another device being abandoned short of its target.

When you look at a pattern of recent security activity you see planned dissident attacks being interrupted and arrests made.

They are compromised inside their organisations, and also by the watching and listening of MI5 and the police. And all of this becomes a mind game.

The chatter coming out of the dissident groups is about the "need to do attacks". "It's always more difficult to do it (bomb) on a [specific] date," an intelligence source commented – "easier to do when you're ready to do it".

He is explaining that first and foremost the dissidents are trying to get bombs to targets. And if that happens to coincide with a big event, then they will make the link between the two.

But in the continuing war plays of these organisations, the threat is not confined to a few calendar dates, and at some point the dissidents will succeed.

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