EXCLUSIVE: A DISSIDENT republican group is planning a further under car bomb attack on soldiers in the run up to Christmas.
Belfast Daily understands the deadly plan by Oglaigh na hEireann (ONH) is aimed at flushing out two high level police informants.
And the shadowy group also wants to boost morale among its prisoners and grab international headlines in a bid to receive funds from American supporters.
The fresh threat comes just a few weeks after an under car booby trap (UCBT) device fell off the underside of a soldier’s car in the Ballygomartin area of west Belfast.
At first police believed the device had been attached to the underside of a female member of its civilian staff as she drove to work.
Such was the concern that all civilian PSNI staff were warned of a “high level” threat to their lives.
However, following further investigations ‘C3’ discovered that the bomb had in fact been attached to a soldier’s car.
Now a dissident republican source has told Belfast Daily that ONH is determined to carry out one further attack before Christmas.
“ONH leadership believes it has been penetrated by two high ranking police informants who are compromising operations,” said the dissident republican source.
“They have been looking back over a number of failed operations and believe they are being scuppered by internal leaks.
“UCBTs don’t just fall off cars because the magnets have been tested and tested beforehand.
“So whoever is involved must be handing them over just before the operation and the security forces are tampering with them so that they fall off. That’s their thinking anyway.
“There have also been a number of pipe bomb devices thrown at police which have failed to explode.
“This is another area of concern. That’s why they are planning one more operation in the run-up to Christmas to see if they can flush out the informants.”
The source said ONH prisoners held in Maghaberry’s Roe House are the only dissident inmates not to call off a ‘dirty protest’.
“ONH want to boost their morale. They also want to grab the international headlines and get some money from their supporters in America. Nothing like a ‘dead soldier or policeman to get money from America’ is their thinking.”
It is believed soldiers living in Northern Ireland are being targeted through the use of social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Bebo.
And in the run-up to Christmas ONH ‘honeytrappers’ will be operating in bars and clubs frequented by off duty police officers and soldiers.
“They are 100 per cent sure there are two high level informants working with the police because of so many failed operations,” added the source.
“ONH say they remain strong, are on the right direction and will be a force to be reckoned with.”
The PSNI’s ‘C3’ intelligence branch believe the biggest threat to security force personnel is currently in the Greater Belfast area and also Armagh.
As part of the bomb probe, all cars belonging to security force personnel living in the north Belfast area have been checked for any forensic clues.
‘C3’ have redoubled their efforts to protect both police officers and civilian staff against the current “high level” threat.
Other security force personnel, including military and prison officers, have been told to raise their guard and check vehicles for devices.
A senior security source told us: “All staff perceived to be under threat have been individually interviewed by C3 detectives.
“They wanted to make sure that all their contact details are up to date, their mobile numbers, landlines etc.
“They have been taking a full break down of all family members living at home, VRN (vehicle registration numbers) of car and family own cars.
“Detectives have also been wanting to know where they would regularly frequent, homes, shops and other addresses that would look like a pattern to dissident terrorists.
“The threat may also extend to members of their family because it is not uncommon for family members to drive each other’s cars.
“Even those who may not see themselves under threat have been advised.
“‘C3’ are working round the clock to build an intelligence picture on those who deem to be at greatest risk of attack.
“It is a very serious situation at the moment and the watch word to all staff is step up your own personal security, check your vehicles and report any suspicious activity, suspicious vehicles, immediately to your local police station.
“Everyone needs to be on their guard.”
Dissident republican sources told Belfast Daily that ONH have spent a number of years building up a “target list” through intelligence gathering.
“The police can expect more attacks in the run up to Christmas. ONH will be keeping them busy,” said a dissident source in west Belfast.
Security sources said target of the recent UCBT had a “very lucky escape”.
“That attack was not only designed to kill but to also provoke a response from loyalist paramilitaries,’’ said the security source.
During the UCBT alert earlier this month, two controlled explosions were carried out on the device on Ballymagarry Lane near Springhill primary school.
Forensics teams spent hours searching along the road for particles of the device and any other evidence to link to dissident republican gangs.
Anti-terrorist detectives examined a number of cars that passed along the road in the hours before the bomb was discovered.
Local politicians condemned those behind the attack which forced staff and pupils at four local primary schools to stay indoors until the area was made safe.