A new dissident IRA group has expelled scores of members in a crackdown on informers.
The Sunday Times reports that the umbrella group for Republican terrorists is taking stern action.
The paper’s crime correspondent John Mooney claims that the new IRA group has stood down certain active-service units as part of a purge against suspected informers.
He says that command of the organisation has been transferred to republican hard-liners based in Northern Ireland ahead of a new reign of terror.
The new grouping has brought together the Real IRA, Republican Action Against Drugs, and former members of the Provisional IRA.
The report says that more than 100 key members have been expelled in recent weeks in a purge against those it suspects of secretly working as informers.
Dissidents involved in organised crime and those who were involved in failed terrorist organisations have been dismissed.
The paper also says that former associates of dissident leader Alan Ryan, who was shot dead close to his home in Dublin in September, have also been stood down.
The paper says that the new terrorist group has banned members from using mobile phones or discussing IRA business while indoors or travelling in cars.
One source told the Sunday Times: “They have learnt from their mistakes made in allowing telephone calls to be intercepted or cars to be bugged.
“They are communicating without speaking over a phone. They are using every conceivable method to make contact without speaking directly to one another.”
The paper also says that the group now represents the biggest threat to police, prison officers and soldiers based in Northern Ireland.
They believe this new IRA was responsible for the murder of prison officer David Black in Antrim earlier this month.
The source added: “Black’s murder has been a morale booster for terrorists. They managed to target a prison officer without being detected, they managed to follow him home, shoot him dead as he drove to work and get away with it. They are feeling confident.”
Terry Spence, chairman of the Police Federation of Northern Ireland, told the paper that the British and Irish governments urgently need to take decisive action to thwart the group.
He said: “This new IRA group has consolidated its position. They have access to explosives and very sophisticated weapons. It is quite obvious that the degree of decommissioning of IRA weapons was never 100%, and the evidence that there is still Semtex available in some quantity is extremely disconcerting.”
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