Not-so-covert spying operations


Aggressive house raids on republicans in North and West Belfast were followed by an open attempt to bug the family home and car of one of the victims, as British intelligence operations become increasingly public in the face of smart phone technology.

According to Saoradh in Belfast, two of their activists were arrested by Crown Forces in the early hours of Thursday morning. One of the activists’ two young children woke up to the shocking sight of masked, armed men taking their father away, before being dragged out of their beds for a search.

After clearing the house, plainclothes operatives were seen to enter the north Belfast home with electrical tools and equipment. The brother and a friend of the activist then recorded a video of an attempt to place a listening device in the family car while it was parked on the street outside.

In a Facebook post, Saoradh Beal Feirste said that it would not be intimidated by Britain’s “frontline force of occupation”.

Meanwhile, it emerged last week that surveillance equipment was uncovered in a van driven by a prominent republican prior to his death.

Tommy Crossan died in a gun attack in west Belfast four years ago in an attack for which no one has been arrested, and no organisation has ever claimed responsibility. When the van was returned from the police after the murder, surveillance equipment was discovered in the ceiling of the vehicle.

His family have now asked the Police Ombudsman to establish how much the PSNI really know about the former leading Continuity IRA member and his killing.

Concerns have also been raised over a ramping up of covert activity by Crown Force intelligence operatives across the Six Counties, whether PSNI or MI5.

In east Tyrone, two operatives were video recorded while attempting to harass a young man into acting as an informer. A man calling himself ‘Gary’ (pictured) and another man, both with northern accents and hiding their faces, attempted to speak to their target “for five minutes”. Their target refused to oblige but recorded the exchange on a mobile phone, which was subsequently uploaded on social media.

Other recent recruitment attempts took place at a Scottish ferry port and at Belfast International Airport, where Saoradh’s Stephen Murney also recorded an entire approach.

The Newry based activist and his girlfriend were detained under Section 7 of the so-called “Terrorism Act” before being questioned by MI5 agents who asked for “a chat” and “a few minutes of his time”, before they were rebuffed.

“Anyone who is approached should not suffer in silence, sinister approaches should be refused and immediately logged with appropriate legal professionals,” Saoradh said.

“There is no shame in being approached by these people; the only shame is in working for them. Come forward and shine a light on the shadows.”

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