Trio detained in Colombia are IRA suspects

Three men captured in Colombia, allegedly travelling on false British and Irish passports, are IRA members, according to the commander of the Colombian army.

A specialist investigative branch of the Colombian Police, known as the Fiscalia, arrested the three men, in Bogotá El Dorado airport on Saturday August 11.

It has been alleged the men, who have been previously convicted in Britain of terrorism charges and membership of the Provisional IRA, were training local FARC Marxist rebels in explosives and terrorist tactics.

Colombian Defence Minister Senor Gustavo Bell told a news conference the three were arrested in Bogotá on Saturday after spending five weeks training members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Colombian officials have also claimed forensic tests on the clothing of the three turned up traces of fours kinds of explosives and drugs.

All three men are understood to be residents of Northern Ireland. Colombian authorities have identified two of the men as Martin McCauley and James Monaghan. The third man, whose identity has yet to be confirmed, was travelled under the name David Bracken. According to Colombian newspaper El Espectador, the name David Bracken belongs to a minor who passed away in 1965. The same report indicates that according to the National Army, David Bracken is the most important terrorist of the three captured and is the only one who can speak fluent Spanish.

Colombian Commander-General Jorge Enrique Mora told the BBC: “It has been confirmed to us by the authorities in Northern Ireland that they are the IRA. They belong to the engineering department of the IRA – those who make the bombs, the explosives and the custom-made weapons”.

UK security sources have confirmed the Colombian authorities had been in contact with the RUC about the three IRA suspects, exchanging fingerprint tests and photographic material.

The fate of the three men is not clear. No extradition requests have been made.

If convicted under the Colombian penal code the men could be faced with up to 20 years in jail.

The Colombian Attorney General’s office has said in five days the legal situation of the alleged terrorists will be known. (AMcE)

Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

30 August 2001
RUC officers aid Colombian investigation in Bogota
Two senior RUC officers have flown into Bogota to aid Colombian authorities with their investigation of the three IRA suspects facing terrorist charges.
23 August 2001
US renew warning on IRA suspects
The US government have renewed their warning that it would take a very dim view of any collaboration between the IRA and Marxist rebels in Colombia.
17 August 2001
Men held in Colombia deny IRA links
Three alleged IRA suspects arrested in Colombia earlier this week have denied links with the Provisional IRA or Colombian guerrillas. According to the Colombian Attorney’s Office the men, James Monaghan, Martin McCauley and Niall Connelly, insist they were in the safe haven of the Colombian guerrillas simply as tourists.
08 April 2003
Colombia Three back in court
Three Irishmen are set to appear in a Colombian court today accused of training left wing guerrillas in the use of explosives and other terrorist techniques. Niall Connolly, Martin McCauley and James Monaghan have been held in custody for almost 18 months following their arrest in connection with alleged training of FARC rebels.
15 August 2001
Colombians begin questioning IRA suspects
Colombian authorities have begun interviewing three IRA suspects arrested in Bogotá last Saturday on charges of training Marxist rebels. The Colombian army have said they have strong evidence as part of their prosecution including secret film against the trio, Martin McCauley, James Monaghan and Niall Connolly.
30 April 2018
Three Arrested After Viable Bomb Found In Strabane
Three men have been arrested after a viable bomb was found during a security alert in Strabane. The discovery was made at a property in the Drumrallagh estate on Sunday, 29 April. Around 10 homes had to be evacuated during the alert which was being carried out as part of a police investigation into violent dissident republican activity.
17 June 2004
Whereabouts of Colombian Three unknown
The whereabouts of three Irishmen cleared of training FARC guerrillas in Colombia is still unknown. Niall Connolly, Martin McCauley and James Monaghan left their Bogota jail on Wednesday six weeks after being acquitted of training right-wing militants over three years ago.
19 July 2018
Three Men Arrested After Suspected Firearm Recovered During Car Search
Three men, aged 26, 30 and 36, have been arrested after police recovered a suspected firearm during a car search in Belfast. The arrests were made in the Clifton Street area just after 10pm on Wednesday, 18 July. All three suspects are being detained at Musgrave Serious Crime Suite. The suspected firearm is to undergo a forensic examination.
18 June 2003
Colombia trial adjourned as evidence rejected
The trial of the three men accused of training FARC guerrillas in Colombia has been adjourned. Judge Jairo Acosta refused to admit documentary evidence that the defence claim is crucial to the case as he adjourned the trail of the three Irishmen until July 28.
03 December 2002
'Colombian Three' trial disarray in Bogota
The trial of the three men alleged to have been involved in training Colombian rebels fell into disarray in Bogota today. With the trial due to recommence on Tuesday December 3, two key witnesses for the prosecution, reported to be FARC deserters, who were lined up to give evidence for the prosecution could not be found.
08 October 2018
Three Men Arrested In Antrim Assault Probe
Three men have been arrested on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm with intent following an incident in County Antrim. A 21-year-old man was allegedly assaulted in the communal area of a property in Barra Street on Saturday 06 October. PSNI detectives arrested two men aged 20 and one aged 22 following the incident.
01 October 2018
Three Men Arrested In Connection With Disturbance In L'Derry
Three men have been arrested in connection with an incident in L'Derry on Thursday 27 September. The men were detained in connection with a disturbance at a property in Ballynagard Crescent at about 7.30pm last Thursday.
24 April 2002
IRA again deny any Colombian involvement
The IRA has again denied any involvement with left-wing guerrillas in Colombia ahead of a US Congressional hearing into alleged links between the two groups.
05 July 2018
Man Beaten With Baseball Bats In West Belfast
A man has been injured after being beaten with baseball bats during an aggravated burglary in west Belfast. Three men entered the victim's house in the Downfine Walk area at around 8.30pm on Wednesday, 04 July. They assaulted the 26-year-old man and it is believed they made off on foot.
22 August 2001
Colombian authorities charge alleged IRA trio
Colombian prosecutors have formally charged three suspected members of the Provisional IRA with training Marxist guerrillas and carrying false passports.