The family home of a respected garda was targeted in a sinister arson attack because the officer had been involved in a cocaine bust worth less than €5,000, investigators believe.
His heavily pregnant wife and two young children were in the property which suffered major external fire damage in Dundalk, Co Louth, on Sunday.
The garda, in his 30s, is based in a Co Monaghan station.
Senior sources told the Herald his "proactive policing work" in relation to a recent cocaine seizure is being investigated as the "most likely" motive for the shocking attack.
"On a national level this may not seem to be a big seizure but it was highly significant on a local level in Co Monaghan - it disrupted the activities of a local organised crime gang," the source said.
"There were a number of lesser seizures as well.
"It is suspected this gang then hired a local criminal from Dundalk to carry out surveillance on the garda - ultimately to attempt to burn down his home.
"Already gardai have obtained excellent quality CCTV of the aftermath of this incident and are hopeful that there will be arrests and a prosecution."
Some footage shows a young man, probably aged in his early 20s, walking along the side of the garda's house and then throwing a homemade petrol bomb into the trees by the side of the property.
Trees are set on fire and then the side of the house is too after drain pipes catch, before four windows in the property crack because of the intense heat.
The young suspect is then seen crossing the road, with CCTV showing him dressed in grey tracksuit bottoms and a dark coloured sports jacket. His face was not covered.
Gardai believe the fire was started by an "accelerant" and a canister which could have been used as the petrol bomb was being forensically examined.
Sources said that it was a miracle no one was injured in the blaze.
"If the family didn't live just a couple of minutes from Dundalk Fire Station this could have been far worse," a source said.
"It is a very traumatic experience for him and his young family.
"This garda is highly respected and he did great work in the investigation into the murder of Garda Tony Golden in 2015 - which was very much appreciated by his colleagues," the source added.
There have been no arrests so far in the case and gardai yesterday appealed for information.
"Gardai are appealing for witnesses, and are particularly appealing to anyone who was in the Bay Estate area between 10.30pm and 11.30pm on Sunday to come forward," a spokesman said.
"They are also appealing for information on the movements of a white van in the Bay Estate area earlier in the day at approximately 3pm."
The arson attack was condemned by the Garda Representative Association (GRA), whose general secretary Pat Ennis said gardai in the Border region have been repeatedly attacked for reasons connected to their work.
This is the third attack on a garda's home in the Dundalk area in the past 18 months.
There was also an attack in the Cavan/Monaghan Division, the GRA said.