Kieran McCool (52) , of Ballymagowan Gardens in Creggan, faced Belfast Magistrates’ Court today on a total of five charges.
These include preparatory acts of terrorism, possession of articles for use in terrorism as well as three separate charges of possession of explosive devices with intent to endanger life.
The court heard the charges are in connection with the discovery of improvised explosive devices at Ballyquin Road, Dungiven on April 19, 2021 and Skeoge Road, Derry on July 9, 2016, and the discovery of an improvised mortar bomb device at Church View, Strabane on September 7, 2019 near the local police station.
He was arrested in Derry on Wednesday in connection with the attempted murder of a female member of police staff, who is also a part time police officer, following the discovery of a viable explosive device beside the young mother’s car in Ballyquin Road, Dungiven on Monday April 19 and as part of Op Ledging, targeting the New IRA’s bomb making activities as well as the group’s storage of explosive devices and equipment.
Police said two other men, aged 23 and 62, arrested in Derry as part of the investigation into the Dungiven incident, have been released.
At today’s court hearing, a detective chief inspector from the PSNI’s Terrorist Investigation unit said police McCool to be a “bombmaker for the New IRA”.
He said police also believed McCool had been invovled in acts of terrorism going back to 2015 right to the attempted murder in Dungiven.
The DCI told the court that the evidence against McCool was “multi-facted” and included DNA and what he described as a “bombmaker’s signature”.
This, the court heard, related to the composition of the fire extinguisher device found at the Dungiven home of the police officer and two fire extinguishers found on the Skeoge Road in 2016,
He added there was “trace explosive evidence” on a jacket found in McCool’s house
And the detective said there was internet searches on electronic devices on how to make bombs in 2017 and 2018.
The district judge said these were serious charges and remanded McCool, who stood on a stick throughout the proceedings, int0 custody until next month
It is the second time this year McCool has been charged with terrorist offences.
In March, he was charged with preparatory acts of terrorism, possession of explosives with intent and possession of articles likely to be of use to terrorists.
He was detained as part of Operation Ledging, a discrete, standalone strand of Operation Arbacia, which is looking specifically at the Derry brigade of the New IRA and its bomb-making activities as well as the group’s storage of explosive devices and equipment.Operation Arbacia was a hi-tech MI% bugging operation against the leadership of the New IRA when its ‘Army Executive’ and ‘Army Council’ met in February and June last year at rented cottages which led to the arrest and charging of eight men and two women with terror offences.
Belfast Magistrates’ Court heard in March that an explosive substance used in semtex, timer switches and black gloves had been seized.
A detective said he believed there was a correlation between the materials found over the last four years and a number of improvised explosive devices discovered in Strabane, Derry and Belfast between 2017 and 2020.
After being remanded in custody, McCool was subsequently freed from Maghaberry prison on bail before his arrest this week for further terrorist offences.Tags: