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Bolivian police have released several photos of 24-year-old Irishman Michael Dwyer posing with guns.
Dwyer was killed by Bolivian police along with two other men in a hotel room in the city of Santa Cruz on 16 April.
Bolivian police said that Dwyer was a “mercenary” and a “soldier of fortune,” who was involved with a right-wing separatist Bolivian paramilitary group, and was alleged to have been involved in a plot to assassinate the Bolivian president, Evo Morales.
But his parents, from County Tipperary, said that such stories were nonsense. They said their son was a kind, gentle man who would never have been caught up with a terrorist group.
They said their son had been a bouncer, but had never had any military training.
However, the pictures released by the Bolivian police suggest the young man had fixation with guns.
The pictures show Dwyer with the alleged leader of the so-called assassination plot, Eduardo Rozsa Flores, and a variety of guns.
One image shows Dwyer posing, bare-chested and with a tattooed forearm on full display, pointing two pistols at the camera, with another two tucked in his pants.
Another shows him sitting down at a table with an unidentified man, the table in front of them laid out with handguns and ammunition. Dwyer is wearing a military style baseball cap. In another photo, he appears to be holding some kind of sniper rifle.
Undoubtedly, Bolivian police released the pictures to the media in an effort to support their claims that Dwyer was a dangerous man.
But Irish newspaper reports have suggested that while Dwyer might have been a fantasist, he was no soldier.
One friend from Galway told the Irish Times, “He could hardly plot his way to the gents [restroom], never mind the convoluted politics of Bolivian separatism. No one I know of has ever heard him utter a political opinion.”
Another who knew him briefly said, ““He was no mastermind. I’d have thought he was a bit of a dreamer. Naive maybe.” He was also good at “talking himself up.”
Some journalists have also written that if you were to be involved in a serious plot to assassinate the leader of a South American country, it might be wise to keep your military “prowess” to yourself – and certainly not boast about it on-line.
When the story first broke, newspapers carried pictures of Dwyer posing in black “Swat” (Special Weapons and Tactics) garb, or wearing camouflaged clothes in a forest , supposedly with heavy weapons – but the Swat pictures were of him dressing for Halloween and the forest pictures were of him playing Airsoft, a game similar to paintball. Dwyer had posted the pictures himself on the social networking sites, Bebo and Facebook.
Hardly the work of an assassin.
And if you were an assassin, would you consider doing an on-line quiz, to find out if you are a “Jackal” kind of assassin, or a “Sniper” kind, as Dwyer did?
Nevertheless, the Bolivian police pictures do raise questions.
If Michael Dwyer was some kind of harmless nice guy, as his family insists, then what was he doing in Bolivia, armed to the teeth?