herald

Friday 18 August 2017

New IRA bomb plot foiled as a massive 6kg semtex haul is seized in city taxi

Armed gardai swooped on a seven-seater taxi in Ballybough shortly after 6pm last night
Armed gardai swooped on a seven-seater taxi in Ballybough shortly after 6pm last night

A massive New IRA bomb plot was foiled after gardai seized a staggering 6kg (13.2lb) of Semtex in Dublin's north-inner city.

Heavily armed detectives carrying sub-machine guns stopped a seven-seater taxi during a dramatic arrest in Ballybough shortly after 6pm yesterday.

Gardai, aided by the army and the bomb disposal unit, arrested two men and seized the lethal explosives.

In a worrying development, security sources confirmed to the Herald that the Semtex was "brand new" and sourced for the terror group in the last few weeks.

The arrests are part of an ongoing investigation by the Special Detective Unit (SDU) into dissident republican activity.

The Herald can reveal that:

l A massive 6kg of Semtex, as well as detonators, were recovered.

l The new, military grade explosives were recently sourced and brought into the State.

l Two men were arrested at the scene, one with close links to the New IRA.

It has also emerged that the second man arrested has no known connections to any criminal gang, leading to fears of a new recruitment drive by the dissident republican terror group.

Armed gardai also raided the house of a politician's relative, who has close ties to one of the men arrested.

A senior source last night stated that the explosives recovered were "big enough to blow up a street".

Damage

"There were 6 kilos of Semtex recovered, which would have caused serious damage if used. It is a major catch for gardai," said the source.

Gardai have said it is too early to rule out a link to the ongoing Hutch/Kinahan feud.

Dissident republican Michael Barr (35), who was murdered by the Kinahan cartel as part of the ongoing dispute, had links to the New IRA.

Last night, heavily armed gardai from the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) - an elite branch of the SDU - stopped a car at about 6pm.

The dramatic arrests took place near Spring Garden Street, Ballybough, on the capital's northside.

Residents living in the area were immediately evacuated from their homes, while a takeaway was also closed.

Two men, aged in their 20s and originally from the north-inner city, were detained. They had been placed under surveillance by specially trained detectives ahead of the interception.

They are being detained at Clontarf Garda Station under Section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act.

The Defence Force's bomb disposal unit arrived at the scene shortly before 7pm under a garda escort, with a large section of the area closed off yesterday evening.

Members of the Dublin Armed Support Unit and army personnel, carrying sub-machine guns, stood guard as locals, including young children, looked on.

Semtex is an all-purpose plastic explosive, which is used in commercial blasting, demolition and by terrorists.

Just 250g of Semtex could destroy a commercial passenger airplane, as sadly proven in the case of the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing over Lockerbie in 1988.

The Omagh bomb of 1998 was a 500lb fertiliser bomb with a 500g (1lb) Semtex trigger.

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