Northern Ireland militant group forged ties with Hezbollah: report

Northern Ireland militant group 'New IRA' collaborating with Lebanon's Hezbollah: report
2 min read
14 September, 2020
A group of Republican militants in Northern Ireland visited Lebanon's Hezbollah in 2018 and is suspected to have forged ties to import weapons, a report said.
The claims are based on evidence compiled by an MI5 agent now under protection [Getty]
UK security services suspect a local dissident Irish republican group New IRA has forged links with Lebanon's Hezbollah to receive weapons from the militant group, a report by The Times said on Sunday.

The Northern Ireland paramilitary group – also known as the Real Irish Republican Army – has also forged alliances with other unnamed radical groups in the Middle East, according to the report.

The claims are allegedly based on evidence compiled by MI5 agent Denis McFadden who spied on dissidents for over two decades, until his exposure last month.

Operation Arbacia, which involved McFadden, found that dissidents had begun to communicate with Hezbollah and "other Palestinian groups" nearly three years ago.

The IRA is reportedly suspected to have established these links to import arms from the middle east, including mortars and assault rifles – none of which have yet been seized from the Irish group.

A year later in 2018, Republicans travelled to Lebanon in 2018 to meet with representatives of Iran-backed political and militant group Hezbollah, The Times wrote.

McFadden is said to have closely followed the New IRA's attempt to create links with groups in the Middle East, until he was recently placed in a witness protection programme after his work led to the arrest of 10 people in Northern Ireland on terrorism-related charges.

Read also: In crisis-hit Lebanon, Paris and Washington at odds over Hezbollah

The Irish group's political wing – Saoradh – is a steadfast backer of Iran.

In January, Mcfadden accompanied them on a visit to the Iranian embassy in Dublin, where they signed a book of condolences to mark the death of Iranian major general Qasem Soleimani of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), who was killed in a US drone strike.

The New IRA has been responsible for a series of attacks on police in the UK. 

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