Northern Ireland news

Palestinian arrested as part of major surveillance operation targeting 'IRA'

Connla Young

A Palestinian man was being questioned in Belfast last night as part of a major MI5 surveillance operation stretching from Co Tyrone to Scotland.

The 62-year-old was arrested at Heathrow Airport on Saturday and flown to Belfast later that day.

It is understood that although originally from Palestine, he had been living in Edinburgh in recent years.

A property in the city was searched as part of the operation on Saturday.

Police were yesterday given a further 36 hours to question the man.

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The Irish News understands that as part of the surveillance operation, MI5 bugged two properties in Co Tyrone and also recorded conversations held in Scotland.

The Palestinian man was arrested as part of Operation Arbacia, which is investigating the activities of the 'IRA', often referred to as the 'New IRA'.

It is understood he was known to Dennis McFadden, who is originally from Scotland and is now suspected of being an agent at the centre of the operation.

No-one has been able to contact him since nine people - seven men and two women - were arrested in Derry, Tyrone and Armagh last week.

It has emerged the surveillance operation involved the bugging of two meetings in Co Tyrone earlier this year.

It is understood they took place at separate locations and that both audio and video evidence has been gathered.

It has been alleged that the Palestinian national was in attendance at one of the meetings.

He has previously addressed an ard fheis of hardline republican party Saoradh.

It is alleged that the chief of staff and chairman of the 'IRA' addressed members of the organisation's executive at both Co Tyrone meetings.

A solicitor representing one of those arrested has said around 500 PSNI officers were involved in the operation, which has secured 36 hours of recordings.

On Wednesday police were granted an extra 72 hours to question the original nine arrested, who range in age from 26 to 50.

 

wo men, Shea Reynolds from Lurgan and Paddy McDaid from Derry, appeared in court on Saturday charged with a range of offences including directing terrorism.

Those who remain in custody include Co Tyrone men Kevin Barry Murphy, Damien McLaughlin, David Jordan and his wife Sharon Jordan, Derry men Joe Barr and Gary Hayden along with Lurgan woman and Saoradh vice-chair Mandy Duffy.

The two women along with the Derry men and Damien McLaughlin are due to appear in court in Belfast today.

Meanwhile, a sixth person was charged late last night with terrorism offences. Officers charged a 49-year-old man from Dungannon with membership of a proscribed organisation, directing terrorism and two separate charges of preparatory acts of terrorism.

Police were granted an extra 36 hours to continue questioning two remaining on Saturday.

Properties in Dublin, Laois, Cork and Kerry were also searched by gardaí as part of the cross-border operation.

It is understood that others are also still wanted in connection with the investigation.

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Co Tyrone man Damien McLaughlin, who was cleared in 2018 of charges linked to the murder of prison officer David Black, was among those arrested

Tyrone man Kevin Barry Murphy

Sharon Jordan was previously jailed in connection with a training camp in County Tyrone

Mandy Duffy

Patrick McDaid

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