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20 bank accounts frozen in operation linked to New IRA probe

Suspected MI5 agent Dennis McFadden
Connla Young

The PSNI and a specialist unit of the Metropolitan Police have frozen 20 bank accounts as part of an investigation linked to an MI5-led operation targeting the New IRA.

The joint investigation, which involves the National Terrorist Financial Investigation Unit (NTFIU), is understood to be linked to Operation Arbacia.

The NTFIU is a specialist department attached to the Metropolitan Police Service Counter Terrorism Command.

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police last night confirmed that Account Freezing Order's (AFOs) were served against 19 accounts held by a number of individuals across the north in May this year.

An additional AFO application was granted earlier this month, bringing the total to 20.

Eight AFOs were sought by officers from NTFIU at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London while the remaining 12 were obtained by the PSNI at Laganside Magistrates' Court in Belfast.

All the applications were made under the Anti-Terrorism Crime and Security Act 2001.

Earlier this month the Irish News revealed that a number of bank accounts had been frozen as part of the Operation Arbacia investigation.

It is believed the accounts are held in a mixture of high street banks, online outlets and a credit union.

Several of the accounts are believed to be personal with some of the individuals targeted holding more than one account.

The length of the freezing orders sought is understood to be for six months.

It is believed the application to freeze the bank accounts included transcripts of recorded conversations, including two meetings alleged to involve senior members of the 'IRA' in Co Tyrone, last year.

The meetings, which are alleged to have been held at a house close to Creggan in February and another near Gortin in July, were recorded using listening devices and cameras.

After a subsequent round up ten people were charged with a series of offences arising out of the surveillance operation, including nine with directing terrorism.

The accused include husband and wife David and Sharon Jordan, Damien Joseph McLaughlin, Kevin Murphy, Amanda McCabe, Shea Reynolds, Joseph Barr, Gary Hayden and Paddy McDaid.

Palestinian doctor Issam Bassalat, who had been living in Edinburgh, is charged with addressing an IRA meeting.

All the accused deny the charges.

Suspected MI5 agent Dennis McFadden has not been listed as a potential witness in the Operation Arbacia case.

Originally from Glasgow, he fled his north Belfast home before details of last year's surveillance operation emerged.

It is believed he was responsible for renting the two properties at the centre of the surveillance operation.

It is understood he is now in protective custody.

A spokesman for the PSNI last night said it "sought and were granted 20 Account freezing orders".

"As the investigation is ongoing we will not be disclosing further details about amounts or individual accounts."

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