IRA victims seek answers in Libya

Willie Frazer
Willie Frazer

A TRIO of men whose lives were changed by IRA violence are preparing to visit a north African jail in an attempt to uncover how Colonel Gaddafi’s regime armed the organisation.

Willie Frazer, John Murray and Jonathan Ganesh hope to fly to Libya before Christmas to interview former regime member Abdullah al-Senussi, who they believe was a key player in the late tyrant’s efforts to fuel the conflict in Northern Ireland.

After Gaddafi was deposed, Mr al-Senussi was brought back to Libya to stand trial for his involvement with the previous government, in which he was reportedly the head of intelligence.

Now he looks set to face some of the victims of Gaddafi’s gun-running programme too.

Willie Frazer, the long-time campaigner behind Families Acting for Innocent Relatives, has lost a string of friends and family to the IRA – and believes some of the weapons used to kill them came from Libya.

Channels of communication had been set up between him and anti-Gaddafi dissidents when he joined a protest led by Libyan exiles outside the UN in New York in 2009.

Now some of those exiles are in power in Libya, he has been given an understanding that he and a group of others will be granted safe passage to travel in the country, and that Mr al-Senussi will be amenable to meeting them in prison.

Mr Frazer said: “This is a man who can give us answers.

“He skipped the country - he’s only been extradited back last month. We’re going there to get information from him.

“At the end of he day, if he can tell us all to do with contacts with the IRA, who was trained, who set up arms deals, this will be major.”

Asked if he believes Mr al-Senussi will be willing to help, he said: “We’ll have to take everything, cross-reference it and check it but certainly he’s in a position to do it.”

Just before the Gaddafi regime faced the uprising which toppled it, the dictator had agreed a compensation package with IRA victims to compensate for some of the suffering his government had helped cause by shipping arms to the organisation.

Mr Frazer said that the deal is worth several million to each of the 158 victims – although he purposely did not include himself in the writ.

This deal is to be upheld by the new regime in Tripoli, but Mr Frazer added: “As far as we’re concerned this is more important to us than the financial package. It’ll bring closure. It’ll bring justice.

“We’d like to try and get out before Christmas if possible. To be truthful, what’s holding us up is financial.”

He estimated that the trip would cost around £4,000 and said they will probably bring a fourth traveller along for logistical support.

He said. “People have said with the like of us that no matter what happens we’ll never move on. This is our justice. This is how we’ll get closure.”

Mr Frazer, 52 years old and from Markethill, has experienced the deaths of his father, two uncles, brother-in-law, cousin and six friends over the years at the hands of the IRA. They had all been in either the RUC or the UDR.

Accompanying him will be Mr Murray, an ex-police officer who was present when PC Yvonne Fletcher was killed in 1984 when a burst of gunfire from inside Libya’s London embassy raked an anti-Gaddafi protest outside.

Mr Ganesh was one of the survivors of the Canary Wharf bombing, which ended the IRA’s ceasefire in 1996. He is part-Irish, part-Sri Lankan and grew up in Co Limerick, before moving to London.

It was there, aged 22, that he was working as part of Canary Wharf’s security team when the bomb went off, leaving him buried under rubble.

He survived with serious injuries to his face and hands, and today the 38-year-old is president of the Docklands Victims’ Association.

He said those who funded the IRA are in a way “more responsible” for the destruction they caused.

“They hid in the shadows; secretly supplied ammunition, semtex and waged a war on innocent victims on both sides of the community,” he said.

Although the idea is for Mr Frazer to interview Mr al-Senussi, he will be sitting in.

“These were innocent civilians; innocent victims,” he said. “We need to have that meeting with Mr al-Seunssi.”