Scots MI5 agent who infiltrated New IRA exposed links with Middle East radicals

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A Scots “supergrass” who infiltrated dissident republican groups in Northern Ireland helped uncover evidence of alliances with radical Middle East movements, it has been claimed.

Glaswegian Dennis McFadden – exposed last month as an M15 agent who was working as a resource officer with New IRA political front party Saoradh – is believed to have secured information that the terror organisation was being provided with weapons and finances after communicating with Hezbollah and some Palestinian groups.

McFadden, believed to be a former special constable in his late 50s, is now understood to be under a witness protection programme after fleeing his Belfast home last month, shortly before the arrest of 10 people on terror-related charges.

Media reports from Northern Ireland suggest that security services on both sides of the border suspect New IRA links may have “led to the import of arms, including mortars and assault rifles”, although no weapons have yet been seized.

The surveillance-led investigation to infiltrate the New IRA – blamed for the murder of journalist Lyra McKee – was codenamed Operation Arbacia.

The New IRA were responsible for the death of journalist Lyra McKee, 29, in Londonderry
(Image: JESS LOWE PHOTOGRAPHY/AFP via Ge)

Soaradh has claimed that McFadden, who is previously from Glasgow’s Gorbals but moved to Northern Ireland around 20 years ago, has been disowned by his family after being moved to a secret location.

McFadden’s spying operations are reported to have established that republican dissidents began communicating with Middle Eastern radical groups in around 2017.

The security services now have information to suggest that republicans travelled to Lebanon in 2018 to meet Hezbollah, a Shia militia backed by Iran.

They suspect the trip led to the New IRA securing weapons from an unknown individual.

McFadden is believed to have accompanied members of Saoradh to the Iranian embassy in Dublin in January, when a book of condolences was signed to mark the death of the Iranian general killed in a US drone strike, Qasem Soleimani.

McFadden took Saoradh officials to sign a book of condolence for Qasem Soleimani
(Image: KHAMENEI.IR/AFP via Getty Images)

The embassy confirmed the book was signed by members of Saoradh but said there was no official meeting and staff did not have any dealings with McFadden.

The New IRA is seen as the largest dissident republican terror organisation and was responsible for a series of attacks on police.

In April last year one of its gunmen shot dead journalist Lyra McKee as she reported on a riot in Londonderry.

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Ten people have so far been charged under Operation Arbacia, a multi-agency operation involving MI5, the PSNI, Police Scotland, An Garda Siochana and the Metropolitan Police Service.

The Northern Ireland Office has declined to comment on the latest claims that the New IRA may have imported weapons.

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