EXCLUSIVE: A SENIOR figure in the dissident terror group Oghlaigh na hEireann was quizzed about a murder bid on a policeman.
Belfast Daily can reveal that the PSNI’S Serious Crime Branch arrested Carl Reilly on Monday morning during a dawn swoop.
The 36-year-old was arrested at a house off the Springfield Road in west Belfast around 5 am.
Reilly was taken to the serious crime custody suite at Antrim police station.
However, on Tuesday morning Reilly was released without charge.
His arrest raised eyebrows inside ONH because he is at the centre of a bitter power struggle with fellow leaders, including a close relative.
The murder bid was carried out by Oglaigh na hEireann (ONH), the same dissident terror group who tried to kill off duty Constable Peadar Heffron.
On December 30, a police man was taking his wife and two children out for Sunday lunch when he found a bomb under his car on the Upper Newtownards Road after carrying out a routine check.
Army bomb disposal officers carried out a controlled explosions at the scene.
Police said the device was “clearly intended to kill the police officer”.
Dissident republican sources told Belfast Daily that the arrest of Reilly, who sits on the leadership of ONH, came as a surprise.
“It is quite a surprise. There is a major power struggle ongoing at the moment inside the leadership of ONH,” said a dissident republican source.
“Maybe his arrest will make it look like he is the big fish being picked on by the security forces. This will boost his image in this power struggle
“But people are asking is there another motive for his arrest.”
Several years ago Reilly, who is also chairman of the Republican Network for Unity (RNU), the political wing of ONH, told how MI5 agents tried to recruit him in England on his way back to Northern Ireland.
Reilly has been a long running security services target for recruitment.
In 1999, he was arrested along with a Continuity IRA gang after they opened fired on Woodbourne RUC station in west Belfast.
He and Thomas Crossan were later jailed over the gun attack.
Followig his release, he helped form ONH, a splinter group of the Real IRA, in 2007 to oppose Sinn Fein’s peace process strategy.
Police intelligence has linked Reilly and his ONH terror group to a number of booby trap bomb attacks on security force members.
He is known to run a network of ‘honey trappers’ who frequent bars and nightclubs in the Greater Belfast area in a bid to pick up off duty members of the security forces.
And Reilly is also known by police to use taxi drivers to gather intelligence on off-duty police officers and soldiers.
A number of these taxi drivers are now believed to have been watching Constable Peadar Heffron in Randalstown, Co Antrim in the weeks before a booby trap bomb was planted under his Alfa Romeo car as he drove to work.
The device exploded under his car but the Catholic officer, a fluent Irish speaker and a member of the PSNI’s GAA team, miraculously survived the attack but was left with horrific injuries, including the loss of one leg.
As part of the investigation into the murder bid on the off duty police officer in east Belast on December 30, detectives have also issued an appeal to trace three late night revellers.
The PSNI have revealed that two women and a man took unordered taxis from Belfast city centre and were dropped in the east of the city between Saturday and Sunday.
The police officer, his wife and two young children were about to leave their Upper Newtownards Road home for lunch last Sunday when a booby trap bomb was discovered under the family car.
Police say they want to speak to the three people who travelled in a taxi on two separate occasions in the early hours of last Saturday and Sunday mornings.
A PSNI spokesman said officers want to talk to two women who got into a taxi outside Thompson’s Garage at Donegall Square East at around 2.45am on the morning of Saturday 29 December.
“After leaving a man off in Newtownards, they were eventually dropped off in the Clonduff estate at the top of the Castlereagh Road in east Belfast,” the spokesman said.
Police also want to talk to a man who got a taxi from Belfast city centre at around 2.30am on the morning of Sunday 30 December and travelled to the Manse Road/Doagh Road area of Mossley.
“Neither of these private hire taxis was ordered from a depot. They were hailed by the revellers from the street,” the spokesman added.
Detectives are appealing for these people to contact them at Ladas Drive on 0845 600 8000.