The IRA has a secret arsenal of deadly munitions capable of bringing down military helicopters and penetrating PSNI Land Rovers, killing all personnel travelling inside.
Millionaire Florida stockbroker turned IRA gunrunner, Mike Logan, says he sent the powerful incendiary shells to the Provisionals who tested them and were “delighted with the results”.
In an exclusive interview with Sunday Life, Logan reveals new details of the weapons cache he sent to IRA leader, Sean ‘Spike' Murray.
As well as arming the Provisionals with hundreds of handguns as previously reported, he has now disclosed that he also sent munitions as powerful as those the US Army deployed against Saddam Hussein in the Iraq war.
He claims that years after the IRA ceasefire, the Provos were still keen to buy heavy weapons capable of killing dozens of police officers and British soldiers.
“I sent them .50 calibre shells called Raufoss rounds,” Logan says.
“The Americans used them to annihilate miles of Saddam Hussein's tanks in Iraq. I can't stress how powerful they are.
“These shells are armour piercing. They penetrate the vehicle they're fired at, then explode and ignite. They can incinerate everything and everybody inside.
“I bought 20 of them for just $10 a piece at a gun show. I sent them to Spike. On my next visit to Ireland, he said he was delighted with them. The look on his face was priceless.
“He told me he'd personally tested one of them on a scrap car down South. He said, ‘Wow, they're good. They really do the business.' There are still 19 of these rounds out there. Somebody somewhere in Ireland has them.”
The Raufoss rounds are fired from a heavy duty machine gun or large sniper rifle.
So controversial is the Norwegian made shell that the International Committee of the Red Cross has sought to have it banned.
It has asked all countries to limit the ammunition's production and use. And it has appealed to armies not to fire the shells at military targets which have humans inside because of the utter devastation they cause to whatever they hit.
Logan, 55, sent the IRA around 400 guns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition during his five year gun-running career which began after the ceasefire.
One of the weapons was used by the Provos to murder two policemen in Lurgan in 1997 and another killed Real IRA Belfast commander Joe O'Connor three years later.
The wealthy Ferrari-driving stockbroker, who is third generation Irish, started sending weapons to the Provisionals in 1995. He worked directly for Spike Murray, the head of the IRA's Northern command who had served seven years in the H-blocks for explosive offences.
Logan hid the guns and ammunition in children's toys — mainly fire engines — and posted them to Ireland.
“I once asked Spike if the IRA wanted AK-47s and he said ‘No, we got AKs coming out of our ass, we don't need any more.'
“High powered gear capable of doing serious damage to British soldiers and policemen was always high up Spike's shopping list. I sent him hundreds of .50 premium quality rounds, the best of ammunition. They were better than anything used by the snipers in South Armagh.
“I'd go with pocketfuls of cash, maybe as much as $10,000 a time, to gun shows across the US and buy whatever I wanted for Spike. I bought him two Draganov sniper rifles and about seven Ruger Mini-14s with laser sights.
“These are so easy to use, they're basically ‘how to kill someone for dummies' guns. With the laser light, all you do is place the red dot between your target's eyes, pull the trigger, and you can't miss. They're very nasty.”
Logan had these guns stored in the US but he never had the chance to send them to the IRA. His gun-running ended after accomplices were caught by the FBI. Spike Murray had sent his trusted IRA ally, Conor Claxton from west Belfast, to join Logan in Florida in January 1999 and increase the volume of guns being sent.
Claxton recruited three other people to the operation but he was careless in his methods and the Florida Four were arrested by the FBI six months later.
However, Logan has revealed that those arrests took place as the IRA was on the brink of bringing in a massive arms shipment from Colombia in which Spike Murray was intricately involved.
Logan said: “Conor Claxton told me he was going to Colombia next to ship out heavy military weapons that FARC was giving the IRA.
“Conor twice flew from Florida to California to meet a guy called Robert Flint who was to help him arrange it. Conor was living with me at the time in Florida and I drove him to the airport on both occasions. He was really excited about it. The shipment was massively important to the IRA.”
Robert Flint was a 55-year-old ex-cop from California who had smuggled cocaine out of Colombia before being imprisoned there. A contributor to Noraid, the IRA's support group in America, he had linked up with the Provos in a US jail.
There, he had become good friends with Seamus Moley, a South Armagh IRA man caught trying to buy a stinger missile in Florida in 1990 from an undercover FBI agent.
Logan says: “Conor Claxton was arrested on the eve of him flying to Ireland for a big IRA meeting about the arms' shipment. He and others were meeting Robert Flint in Galway — where Conor's then girlfriend lived — to finalise the plans for transporting the Colombian guns.”
As Claxton was arrested by the FBI in Florida, gardai arrested Flint in Galway. Logan's account is supported by Flint's statement to the authorities. Drug smuggler Flint said: “The only thing I know about these weapons is that they were big. Claxton asked me about shipping stuff out of Colombia.”
The Colombian arms' shipment plan was stopped only by the discovery of the Florida gun running operation. But despite these arrests, the IRA kept the FARC link open for another two years.
In 2001, three IRA members — James Monaghan, Niall Connolly, and Martin McCauley — were arrested in Colombia where they had been training the rebels in bomb-making.
Logan says: “There was speculation the IRA was exchanging their military expertise for cash from the Colombians as Sinn Fein wanted funds to fight elections.
“That's a false trail. It wasn't money the IRA wanted from FARC, it was heavy weapons — and that's much scarier.”