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Man accused of New IRA activities allegedly held meetings to develop relationships with foreign governments 'hostile to the UK'

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An IRA mural in Newry Co Down, Tuesday December 7, 2004.

An IRA mural in Newry Co Down, Tuesday December 7, 2004.

An IRA mural in Newry Co Down, Tuesday December 7, 2004.

A man accused of directing New IRA activities allegedly held meetings with a Palestinian doctor about developing a relationship with foreign governments "hostile to the UK", a court heard today.

Police claimed David Jordan, 49, had discussions with co-accused Issam Bassalat, 62, in a bid to secure assistance.

Details emerged as the pair were remanded into custody accused of offences linked to a major investigation into the dissident republican organisation.

A total of 10 people have now been charged as part of Operation Arbacia, a surveillance-led offensive targeting the terrorist grouping's activities.

The probe involved bugging two suspected meetings at properties in Co Tyrone earlier this year.

Jordan, of Cappagh Road in Dungannon, is accused of directing terrorism, belonging to a proscribed organisation and two counts of preparatory acts of terrorism.

The charges relate to his alleged attendance at gatherings in Sixmilecross and Omagh on February 9 and July 19.

Dr Bassalat, originally from Palestine, but with an address at Telford Road in Edinburgh, was arrested at Heathrow Airport on Saturday.

He faces a single count of preparatory acts of terrorism in connection with the alleged meeting in Omagh last month.

According to the charge he "attended and addressed a meeting of the Irish Republican Army".

Both defendants appeared remotely from Musgrave Police Station in Belfast.

Jordan sat reading from a book as the charges were put to him.

A Detective Chief Inspector said he could connect the two accused to the alleged offences.

He confirmed that audio and video evidence forms part of the case against them.

No applications for bail were made, but defence lawyers raised concerns over potential entrapment.

Dr Bassalat's solicitor, Gavin Booth, told the court his client is a GP who chaired the Palestinian Society in Scotland.

"This is a peaceful and democratic organisation which raises awareness of the Palestinian cause," Mr Booth insisted.

He claimed Dr Bassalat was "pestered" by an MI5 agent to attend meetings in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

"At the earliest opportunity we will be putting forward the entrapment case," he added.

Jordan's lawyer, Peter Corrigan, argued that the same suspected agent organised an alleged meeting in Edinburgh between his client and Dr Bassalat.

"There's absolutely no mention during that meeting of recruitment for the IRA, procurement of weapons for the IRA, or assisting the IRA," Mr Corrigan contended.

""Predominantly the conversation was about Covid and other matters."

But the detective disputed the defence version of events.

"We believe the meeting was in relation to Mr Jordan seeking assistance in relation to foreign governments hostile to the UK," he said.

"The meeting in Edinburgh was part of a series of meetings, culminating in the relationship with foreign governments being progressed."

Following submissions District Judge Fiona Bagnall confirmed both accused had been connected to the charges against them.

She remanded them in custody, to appear again by video-link on dates next month.

Six other men and two women have already been charged with a total of 34 terrorist offences as part of the same operation.

As well as the PSNI and MI5, the investigation has involved Police Scotland, An Garda Siochana and Metropolitan Police.

Widely regarded as the largest dissident republican terror grouping, the New IRA has been responsible for a series of attempted attacks on police.

In April 2019 one of its gunmen shot dead journalist Lyra McKee as she observed a riot in Derry.

Belfast Telegraph