Irish Republican Army (IRA)
The Irish Republican Army (IRA) also operates as, or is known as, the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA or "Provos").
The IRA formally became a terrorist group in 1969 as the clandestine armed wing of Sinn Fein, a legal political movement dedicated to removing British forces from Northern Ireland and unifying Ireland. The IRA originated with a Marxist orientation and was organized into small, tightly knit cells under the leadership of the Army Council. The IRA has been observing a cease-fire since 1997 and in October 2001, took the historic step of putting an unspecified amount of arms and ammunition "completely beyond use." The International Commission on Decommissioning characterized the step as a significant act of decommissioning. The IRA retains the ability to conduct operations. Its traditional activities have included bombings, assassinations, kidnappings, punishment beatings, extortion, smuggling, and robberies. Bombing campaigns were conducted against train and subway stations and shopping areas on mainland Britain. Targets included senior British government officials, civilians, police, and British military targets in Northern Ireland.
The IRA has, at a minimum, several hundred members, plus several thousand sympathizers—despite the possible defection of some members to the Real IRA (RIRA). The IRA operates in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Great Britain, and Europe. During its history, the IRA has received aid from a variety of groups and countries and considerable training and arms from Libya and the Palestinian Liberation Organization. The IRA is suspected of receiving funds, arms, and other terrorist related materiel from sympathizers in the United States.
█ FURTHER READING:
CDI (Center for Defense Information) Terrorism Project. CDI Fact Sheet: Current List of Designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations. March 27, 2003. < http://www.cdi.org/terrorism/terrorist.cfm > (April 17, 2003).
Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook, 2002. < http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/ > (April 16, 2003).
Taylor, Francis X. U.S. Department of State. "Patterns of Global Terrorism 2001." Annual Report: On the Record Briefing. May 21, 2002 < http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/rm/10367.htm > (April 17, 2003).
U.S. Department of State. Annual reports. < http://www.state.gov/www/global/terrorism/annual_reports.html > (April 16, 2003).