Real IRA member jailed over Lithuania terror weapons

A brother of one of the men blamed for the Omagh bomb atrocity has been jailed for 12 years for trying to buy weapons and explosives in Lithuania.





Irishman Michael Campbell was arrested in an undercover operation in the Baltic state of Lithuania after handing over cash to buy a sniper rifle, detonators and timers for the Real IRA.



The 39-year-old was convicted by Judge Arunas Kisielus after a two-year trial in the city of Vilnius.



He was arrested in January 2008 following the operation involving the British, Irish and Lithuanian intelligence agencies, which believe the explosives would have been used to mount a terror campaign in Northern Ireland and on the British mainland.



Prosecutors are still seeking the extradition of his brother Liam Campbell and Brendan McGuigan from the Irish Republic.



Liam Campbell is seeking to go before the Supreme Court in London to challenge a civil court ruling which held him liable for the 1998 Omagh bomb, which killed 29 people including a woman pregnant with twins.







Campbell was arrested after a six-year sting orchestrated by MI5.



Video footage and intercepted communications showed he paid 6,000 euros (£5,200) for high-grade explosives, grenade launchers, detonators, AK-47s and a special assassin's rifle, to Lithuanian agents posing as arms dealers.



He was charged with supporting the splinter group by attempting to smuggle firearms, ammunition, and explosive devices from Lithuania to Ireland.



Campbell - from the Upper Faughart area near Dundalk, Co Louth in the Irish Republic, close to the border with Northern Ireland - maintained his innocence and claimed he was the victim of entrapment.



Irmantas Mikelionis, chief prosecutor of the Organised Crime and Corruption Investigations Department of the Prosecutor General's Office, said the explosives could have been used for bombing in London.



"If we failed to stop Mr Campbell, we would put in danger the lives of innocent people," he said.



Mr Mikelionis warned undercover officers risked their own lives during the sting.



"The dangers of being disclosed, the danger of being accused for co-operation with secret services were hanging in the air each time they contacted the members of the terrorist group," he said.



"We are happy we had no painful consequences."







Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Owen Paterson, said Campbell's conviction was another excellent example of what can come from the high levels of co-operation between countries across Europe and beyond in combating terrorism.

"I am very pleased with this verdict and would like to congratulate the Security Service and the Lithuanian authorities who have collected the evidence that the Court in Lithuania has clearly found to be both convincing and compelling," he said.



"I have no doubt that this will have dealt a blow to RIRA but we are not complacent and we remain determined to do all that we can to bear down on those who are the enemies of the whole community throughout the United Kingdom."









The case centred on a courageous undercover agent, known as Robert Janine, who for years risked his life to provide his MI5 handlers with vital intelligence about the activities of dissident republicans' plans.

In one chilling audio recording, Campbell is heard discussing how easy it would be with the type of equipment on offer to plant a bomb in London and escape.



"You imagine us getting over to England if you'd ten of them and ten clocks in a holdall. You imagine, with a six-hour timer we could be over to London and back.



"Just tick, tick, tick - gone. Leave it anywhere," he said.



Prosecutors said his actions would have created real threats to society.



Mr Mikelionis said authorities in Vilnius were still awaiting the extradition of Campbell's brother and McGuigan, who are both wanted for questioning in relation to the arms smuggling operation.



Campbell, a farmer from Upper Faughart, Co Louth, has been in custody in Northern Ireland since May 2009 when he was detained on foot after crossing the border. His case is due to by mentioned in the Laganside Courts Complex in Belfast on November 18.



An extradition hearing against McGuigan, of Omeath, Co Louth, is expected to be heard in Dublin's High Court next week.

PA

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Sport
Malky Mackay salutes the Cardiff fans after the 3-1 defeat at Liverpool on Sunday
footballFormer Cardiff boss accused of sending homophobic, racist and messages
Sport
Rodgers showered praise on Balotelli last week, which led to speculation he could sign the AC Milan front man
transfers
Life and Style
life – it's not, says Rachel McKinnon
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing & PR Assistant - NW London

£15 - £17 per hour: Ashdown Group: Marketing & PR Assistant - Kentish Town are...

Senior Network Integration/Test Engineer

£250 - £300 per day: Orgtel: Senior Network Integration/Test Engineer Berkshir...

Software Developer - Newcastle - £30,000 - £37,000 + benefits

£30000 - £37000 per annum + attractive benefits: Ashdown Group: .NET Developer...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home