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Concern as New IRA gets weapons from Hezbollah

Security forces believe dissidents 'courting' Middle East group


Sympathy: A book of condolence for Qasem Soleimani was signed by members of Saorodh

Sympathy: A book of condolence for Qasem Soleimani was signed by members of Saorodh

Sympathy: A book of condolence for Qasem Soleimani was signed by members of Saorodh

The security services suspect the New IRA has already imported weapons after forging links with radical groups in the Middle East, it's been reported.

According to the Sunday Times, the dissident group has been "courting Hezbollah" to gain weapons and financing.

The assessment is said to be based on evidence gathered by an MI5 agent, Dennis McFadden, who was exposed last month after spying on dissident republicans for 20 years.

It's reported that security services on both sides of the Irish border now suspect the New IRA has managed to import arms, including mortars and assault rifles, although no such weapons have been recovered during seizures across the island of Ireland.

McFadden, who is a former police constable from Scotland, has since entered a witness protection programme following the arrest of 10 people in Northern Ireland on terrorism-related charges in Operation Arbacia.

It's claimed McFadden managed to establish that dissident republicans were communicating with Hezbollah, a Shia militia supported by Iran, and some Palestinian groups in 2017.

This allegedly led to republicans travelling to Lebanon in 2018 to meet with Hezbollah, and is now reported that the security services believe the New IRA secured weapons from an unidentified party.

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McFadden is said to have closely followed the dissidents' attempt to create links with groups in the Middle East.

This included travelling with members of Saorodh to the Iranian embassy in Dublin last January to sign a book of condolences for an Iranian general, Qasem Soleimani, who was killed by an American drone strike at Baghdad airport.

The article states the Iranian embassy confirmed members of Saorodh signed the book, but that they were not officially received and there was no meeting with staff.

The embassy spokesman added that no official had dealings with McFadden or knowledge of republicans meeting any group in Lebanon.

The Northern Ireland Office has been asked for a response on the latest claims the New IRA may have already imported weapons, but declined to comment.

Seen as the largest dissident republican terror organisation, the New IRA has been responsible for a series of attacks on police and in April last year one of its gunmen shot dead journalist Lyra McKee as she observed a riot in Londonderry.

A total of 10 people have so far been charged as part of Operation Arbacia, a surveillance-led investigation against the terror group with involvement from MI5, the PSNI, Police Scotland, An Garda Siochana and the Metropolitan Police Service.

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