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IRA suspect sent home by Israel had terrorist past

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  • Josh Pollack
    The Times July 17, 2003 IRA suspect sent home by Israel had terrorist past By Robert Tait in Jerusalem and Michael Evans, Defence Editor
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 17 10:42 AM
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      The Times
      July 17, 2003
      IRA suspect sent home by Israel had terrorist past
      By Robert Tait in Jerusalem and Michael Evans, Defence Editor

      http://www.timesonline.co.uk/newspaper/0,,1-748148,00.html

      ISRAEL admitted last night that a Belfast man who left the country yesterday after being released from detention was a former IRA activist who had been correctly identified by British officials.

      They said that Sean O’Muireagain had been released because the Shin Bet, the Israeli intelligence agency, could find no evidence that he had been in collusion with Palestinian militants.

      As Mr O’Muireagain flew to Britain after his expulsion, Israeli officials backtracked from earlier statements indicating that he was a victim of mistaken identity and said that he had admitted to Shin Bet investigators that he served time in prison for his role in an armed robbery organised by the IRA in the 1980s.

      Mr O’Muireagain was arrested at a roadblock near Ramallah in the West Bank last Saturday after a British tip-off that he was John Morgan. Reports suggested that he was suspected of being a Real IRA master bombmaker.

      Family and friends of Mr O’Muireagain insisted that he had been wrongly identified and said that he was a peace activist and teacher who had never been involved with terrorist groups. However, an Israeli government source revealed last night: “We are satisfied that we got the John Morgan we were looking for and that he was the one they (the British) thought he was. But we are convinced he was not this bomber or bombmaker that was described in some quarters that came here to link up with Hamas or something like that. He does have connections to the IRA. He was not just an activist, he apparently was involved in their activities. But we were concerned about what he might do here; we were not concerned about what he might have done in the past.”

      Mr O’Muireagain travelled to Israel on a British passport as John Morgan, the name by which British security officials had identified him. Intelligence sources alleged that he had expertise in explosives, which they speculated he might pass to Palestinian militants.

      An Israeli government statement emphasised, however, that he had been released because he had been cleared of such suspicions. “During the investigation, it became clear that he had not linked up with terrorist organisations in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and had not perpetrated terrorist acts. He underwent, inter alia, a polygraph examination and was found to be speaking the truth; therefore he was released from Israel.”
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