Alleged IRA Plot to Bomb British Resorts Uncovered
Police have uncovered a plot by IRA guerrillas to bomb hotels in 12 British resorts during the height of the tourist season next month, authorities said.
The plot was disclosed after the arrest of five people in Scotland over the weekend in connection with the attempt last October to kill Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Two other people were arrested in London on Monday. Police said the seven, who were not identified, are being held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.
Scotland Yard’s anti-terrorist chief, Simon Crawshaw, said the Irish Republican Army had planned to set off a series of time-bombs in hotels along Britain’s coast at Bournemouth, Brighton, Dover, Eastbourne, Folkestone, Margate, Ramsgate, Southampton, Southend, Torquay, Great Yarmouth and Blackpool. The IRA is seeking to end British rule in Northern Ireland.
“From papers that have come into our possession, it is apparent that the Provisional IRA intended to place explosive devices set to detonate in mid-July in hotels in each of these places,” Crawshaw said.
He said the only bomb planted was the one defused by police in the fully booked Rubens Hotel near Buckingham Palace on Sunday.
“Preparations of the IRA were interrupted at an early stage,” Crawshaw said.
Five people, including political figures, died in the IRA time-bomb blast last October at Brighton’s Grand Hotel during the ruling Conservative Party’s annual conference, but members of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s Cabinet escaped death.
Eight months after the Brighton blast, police are still sifting through rubble from the explosion for possible clues. The identities of the killers remain a mystery.
Crawshaw said the five-pound bomb found in the Rubens Hotel was equipped with a timing device like that used in Brighton and hidden in a first-floor room. It would have killed many people if it had gone off, he said.
“We may well be looking at other premises in the future,” Crawshaw said, but he added: “I do not believe there are any other devices in premises in London at the moment.”
In another effort to combat IRA attacks, Britain and the United States have agreed on a treaty to prevent IRA guerrillas from avoiding extradition from the United States on the grounds that their offenses are political, a government spokesman said.
The new agreement closes a legal loophole previously used by those accused or convicted of violent crimes to avoid extradition.
Home Secretary Leon Brittan said the treaty, which will be in addition to existing agreements dating from the last century, will be put before Parliament after Congress ratifies it.
“Both governments believe that the present political-offense exception to extradition as it applies to violent offenses is not suitable to extradition arrangements between two democratic countries,” Brittan told Parliament in a written statement.