IRA 'trained Farc terrorists'
US information confirms direct involvement with guerrillas in Colombia
THE US State Department has received confidential information
confirming that IRA members have been involved in the training
of Farc guerrillas in Colombia.
The new information, seen by the Irish Independent, was
gathered by US military intelligence in Colombia.
High-ranking US officials have now done an about-face and
accept that new techniques used by Farc bear all the hallmarks of the IRA.
According to one communication between the State Department and military
intelligence, "IRA techniques are in place."
One US government document showed that a detonating device found in the
boot of a
car was the same type favoured by the IRA.
This confirmation follows similar statements by UUP leader David Trimble
ability to kill had been enhanced by IRA training and is bad news for Sinn Fein right
before the general election.
The Bush administration's special adviser on Northern Ireland, Richard
there obviously were links between the IRA and Farc. "We're obviously looking at
what this means and continue to investigate," he said.
He expected to find out more after his trip to Ireland early next month, he said.
Ambassador Haass confirmed that weapons experts and US intelligence have
advised him that Farc's recent round of bombings bears "patterns or hallmarks of IRA
Sinn Fein spokesman, Richard McAuley, on the campaign trail for Sinn Fein,
party was not concerned by the public comments of Ambassador Haass.
"His remarks were qualified," said Mr McAuley. "We continue to have a good
relationship with the US government."
The nature of the relationship between Sinn Fein and the US will be tested
coming months when the trial of the three Irishmen currently held in Bogota on
suspicion of conducting training for Farc will take place.
Meanwhile, a British newspaper claimed yesterday that an ally of Gerry
travelled to Colombia on a false passport to meet terrorists who were being trained by
the Provisionals in return for drug money.
Padraig Wilson (44) was the leader of IRA prisoners in the Maze prison
until he was
freed early in 1999 under the Good Friday Agreement. He had served only a third of a
24-year sentence for possession of a car bomb, and his secret trip broke the terms of
his release licence.
The IRA is believed to have received hundreds of thousands in cash from
group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) for help in developing terrorist
techniques at least as far back as 1997, when the Provisionals declared a ceasefire.
The Daily Telegraph said its investigation in Colombia and Washington also
that a Farc witness claimed to have seen James Monaghan, a convicted IRA
explosives expert named under parliamentary privilege as the group's "director of
engineering" unloading boxes of missiles from a private plane in 2000.
Senior Colombian army and police officers said the IRA had greatly helped
Farc is threatening to bring the country to its knees.
In recent months it has used gas cylinder mortars almost identical to those
developed by the IRA with devastating effect.
On May 2, such a mortar killed 119 people, many of them children, at a
Colombian intelligence documents say that Wilson entered Bogota, the capital,
Air France flight 422 on April 5 last year and flew on by Satena Airlines to San
Vicente del Caguan in Farc territory.
There he was met by guerrilla leaders. He returned to Paris on April 16
by the same
A copy of an Irish passport bearing the name James Edward Walker and a
photograph of Wilson has been passed to the Daily Telegraph by Colombian
Wilson was accompanied on the flights by Niall Connolly, Sinn Fein's representative
Connolly, Monaghan and Martin McCauley were arrested on August 11, 2001,
they tried to leave Bogota for Paris.
The presence of such a high-ranking IRA man as Wilson in Colombia is powerful
evidence that training activities were authorised by the terrorist group's top
A surveillance photograph of Wilson taken at San Vicente del Caguan airport
shown by the Colombian authorities at a House international relations committee
hearing in Washington last month.
Wilson, a former Sinn Fein worker, is a strong supporter and friend of Gerry Adams.
All the IRA men travelling to the Farc zone from Bogota took internal flights
Satena, the national airline operated by the military.
Before Andres Pastrana, the Colombian president, abandoned the concept
Farc zone in February, civilian passengers were greeted by armed Farc members.
Emphasising that Wilson's trip was sanctioned by the IRA leadership, a
British diplomatic source said: "You don't get much more senior than Wilson. This
came right from the top."
Mr Adams has said that neither he "nor anyone else in the Sinn Fein leadership
aware that the three men [Connolly, Monaghan and McCauley] were travelling to
Susan Garraty in Washington