THE FINANCING OF TERRORISM IN NORTHERN
1. Terrorism is about gaining power through
violence, and money is a means to that end. The murders, threats
of physical violence and forced exile, and the flaunting of illegally
obtained wealth by paramilitaries demonstrate to their victims,
local communities and a wider audience the power wielded by terrorist
2. The acquisition of money (and the laundering
of illegal money) is an essential component in devising and pursuing
an effective and sustained terrorist campaign. Therefore, the
imperative in mitigating and disrupting terrorist atrocities and
influence is to cut terrorists, and their supporters, off from
their money. This will prevent them from buying the explosives,
weapons, vehicles and communication systems they need and thwart
their financial frauds and scams.
3. There is now also another side to terrorism.
Increasingly, paramilitaries are engaged in the establishment
of organised criminal gangs and structures. A particularly vicious
strain of organised crime has flourished in Northern Ireland in
recent years, some of which is now being exported to and taking
root in other parts of the United Kingdom. It has become a primary
source of income for the terrorists in Northern Ireland, individually
4. For more than 25 years Northern Ireland and
other parts of the United Kingdom suffered the direct consequences
of terrorist violence, motivated by ideological or political goals.
We know that many people believe that the peace process has put
an end to terrorism in, or originating from, Northern Ireland.
The citizens of Northern Ireland know that this is not the case.
In spite of the ceasefires there is a considerable, and disturbing,
body of evidence of continuing paramilitary activity in the field
of fundraising, organised crime, and in terrorism. This activity
has spread far beyond Northern Ireland itself.
5. During the inquiry we visited the United
States, where we heard of Provisional IRA (PIRA) re-armament,
as revealed by the trial and conviction of self-confessed PIRA
member Conor Claxton and his associates on charges of smuggling
arms to the Republic of Ireland. Mr Claxton and his group were
seeking to acquire weapons from the USA in 1999, and were brought
to trial there in 2000. The US House of Representatives Committee
on International Relations began investigating the links between
the IRA and the FARC in April this year,
following the arrest in 2001 of IRA explosives engineers in Colombia.
The Chairman of that Committee has commented that the benefits
of such a link for the IRA are "probably money derived from
the FARC's drug trade, as well as an ability to test and improve
new weapons and methods of destruction for use elsewhere".
Nor should we forget that dissident Republican terrorists have
launched attacks on Great Britain eight times since June 2000.
6. Our inquiry was not exclusively concerned
with Republican terrorism, although the acts listed above have
been more widely reported than the activities of the Loyalist
paramilitaries. Paramilitary activity remains a feature of
life within both traditions in Northern Ireland. Individuals are
still being murdered, threatened or forced into exile from their
families and communities. Beatings occur almost daily.
Whether paramilitary activity is directed outwards towards society
at large, or inwards towards the communities in which the paramilitaries
live, these are still acts of terror. They must be stopped.
7. We decided to carry out our inquiry last
July, with the intention of examining how Government strategy
had evolved since the Northern Ireland Office first established
a specialist unit to assist the then RUC in tackling terrorist
financing, in 1988.
Since then, the shocking events of September 11th 2001 have provided
an additional incentive for our investigations. We have received
both formal and informal oral and written evidence from a number
of organisations and individuals, within the UK and in the Republic
of Ireland and the United States. In view of the sensitivity of
a number of those discussions, we resolved at the start of the
inquiry that we would hear all the evidence in private: for various
reasons, we have decided that certain parts of what we heard should
remain private. The parts of the evidence which we have reported
to the House are published in the appendices and Minutes of Evidence
to this Report.
8. Much of what we have learned has been
very positive. We have been encouraged by the evidence we have
received that the Government is tackling these issues, and developing
powerful and effective strategies to counter them. We are
very grateful to all those - both here, and in the Republic of
Ireland and the United States of America - who have shared their
knowledge and experience with us so freely. We received a valuable
introduction to this subject from Dr Andrew Silke, who has researched
the effects of loyalist paramilitary fundraising on society in
Northern Ireland over several years. We would also like to thank
our specialist adviser on terrorist financing, Alistair Munro.
1 The FARC is a Marxist guerrilla group, the Revolutionary
Armed Forces of Colombia, which has strong links with the Colombian
drugs trade. Back
At www.house.gov/international_relations/findings.htm; and www.house.gov/international_relations/hyde0424.htm Back
A recent parliamentary answer recorded 19 paramilitary-style attacks
in the period 31 March - 30 April 2002 (Official Report,
15 May 2002 c711W). Separately published research records that
19% of the victims of Loyalist paramilitary assault, and 34% of
the victims of Republican paramilitary assault in 2001 were children
("One year on and still kids live in peril",
Belfast Telegraph 16 May 2002) Back
Ev p 71 Back