Weapon used in MI6 attack linked to Real IRA
ANTI-TERRORIST officers last night confirmed that the weapon used in the audacious attack on the headquarters of M16 in central London was a Russian-made RPG-22 rocket launcher a key grenade in the arsenal of the renegade republican group, the Real IRA.
Some of the RPG-22s were found in the arms and explosives consignment that was destined for the Real IRA but seized by Croatian police in Split in July after a joint operation involving the Gardai and other police forces.
The RPG-22 is similar to the RPG-18 which has also been acquired by the Real IRA in the past 18 months. An RPG-18 rocket-propelled grenade launcher was found by gardai in the dissidents' training camp in Stamullen and Gormanston near the Dublin-Meath border last October.
The M16 attack at Vauxhall Cross was the first time that the Real IRA had successfully used one of its new rockets. An RPG-22 had been found abandoned in a garden at a priest's house in Dungannon after a failed attack last February while an RPG-18 was left behind by the renegades when they aborted another attack in Strabane more recently.
Anti-terrorist officers had been expecting another Real IRA attack in London after the bombing incidents at Hammersmith Bridge and at Ealing-Broadway rail line in June and July but nobody had expected they would opt for a ``spectacular'' at the M16 building.
The head of the Yard's anti terrorist squad, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Alan Fry admitted last night that other high profile buildings in London, such as the Houses of Parliament, were extremely vulnerable to a similar rocket attack as they did not have the protection of the heavily reinforced windows fitted into the M16 building.
The rocket used on Wednesday night was Russian made while the similar grenade abandoned in Dungannon waws manufactured in Bulgaria. The rocket, and the RPG-18, is an updated version of the RPG 7 which was used in the past by the Provisional IRA.
Mr Fry admitted there were huge stockpiles of the weapons available for ``those who have the intent to use them''.