The London Olympics are almost at hand and fears are growing that the carriers of the Olympic torch during its 70-day relay around the UK and the Republic of Ireland may face an attack from dissident IRA members.
Fearing the possibility of an attack, the London organizing committee chief executive Paul Deighton told the Daily Telegraph this week that he hoped the torch relay will be allowed to showcase 'ordinary people who have done extraordinary things for the community. It would be absolutely terrible to ruin that moment for these people, I don't know why anyone would want to do that protest or interrupt the relay.'
Authorities fear that dissident republicans in the north are planning to disrupt the Olympics to remind the world of their existence and their political objectives. Having rejected the Irish peace process they have formed a small but militant band that are said to be capable of anything.
In the lead-up to the Games experts on the IRA are warning that the torch relay, which will pass through the north and the Republic, is still vulnerable to attack.
Richard English, director of the Center for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland told Fox Sports the three IRA dissident groups are anxious to increase their profile and be taken seriously as a paramilitary force and so the Olympic torch will present them with an easy target
'Anything in Ireland is easier for the dissidents to hit. And the torch is a target that just carries on and on and on, its course choreographed far in advance. So it's a nightmare logistically for the local police,' English said.
IRA experts are also claiming that disrupting the Olympic torch relay may only be an opening act.
Authorities fear that dissidents may plan to explode at least one bomb in England, where no IRA device has been planted since before the 9/11 attacks, during the July 27 to August 12 London Olympics.
Thousands of foreign journalists will already be in town to cover the games.
'Most of the world has forgotten these new IRAs even exist, so it would be in their publicity interests to use the Olympics as a platform,' English added.