Wednesday 20 February 2019

Garland planned a global revolution

Jim Cusack

A SCENE from one of the last great Communist conspiracies to undermine the capitalist West could be played out over the next two years as the former Chief of Staff of the Official IRA, Sean Garland, and five others face extradition to the United States over counterfeiting charges.

Last Friday week, acting on a warrant from the US Secret Service, via the US Attorney General, members of the PSNI walked into a bar in Belfast city centre where members of the tiny Worker's Party were gathering on the eve of their annual conference.

WP President and one-time IRA chief of staff Sean Garland, 71, was held overnight and served with an extradition warrant from the United States. He applied for and was granted bail the next day.

And, that might have been that. It should seem unlikely that a superpower would seek the extradition of a pensioner living in a modest bungalow outside Navan, Co Meath on counterfeiting allegations.

However, Garland has been the centre of the US Secret Service's attention for more than a decade. He and two other former members of the Official IRA/Workers Party are regarded as the architects of a worldwide conspiracy to undermine the US dollar and to use the proceeds to finance another workers' revolution.

Bizarre as it seems, Garland and at least some of his associates apparently harboured this pipe dream. Others, as has been shown in a British court case two years ago, were in it purely for the money.

The conspiracy, first revealed three years ago in the Sunday Independent, sprang from a relationship between the Official IRA and its political wing, the Workers Party, and the KGB - and from a back-room counterfeiting operation being run by the officials under the guise of a Workers Party printing press.

Gardai raided the printing operation in 1989 and found a stack the size of a hay bale of newly printed and very high quality punts. The printers fled, firstly to communist East Germany and then to Copenhagen.

It was there, some time in the early Nineties that, it is now believed, an international conspiracy was centred on the production and distribution of counterfeit $100 bills. Dubbed "super notes" they were of such high quality that the US Treasury was forced, for the first time in decades, to subtly change the design of the $100 bill - making the face of President Benjamin Franklin a little chubbier than before.

The conspiracy involved members of the Official IRA/Workers Party working in conjunction with Russian ex-KGB contacts, intelligence officers whose previous role had been supporting and financing communist parties around the world as part of the Soviet Union's plan for global revolution.

By the mid-Nineties, however, this grand plan appeared to have dissolved and Garland is now facing extradition to the United States on charges that he was personally responsible for carrying batches of counterfeit dollars to England on the ferry to sell to ordinary criminals inBirmingham.

The US Federal indictment cites Garland as one of seven men involved in the conspiracy. The indictment also names Christopher John Corcoran, 57, from Dublin and Hugh Todd, an Irish citizen living in South Africa, also known as FB Rawling andPeter Keith Clark.

The others are a Russian national David Levin, also known as David Batikovitch Batikian or Gediminas Gotautas, 39, now serving a nine-year jail term after being convicted in 2003 of possessing the super notes, and three British men: Terence "Terry" Silcock, 50, Mark Adderley, 47, and Alan Jones, 48, of Birmingham also serving sentences for having the notes.

The indictment states that the seven men made up to 30 trips to Ireland, Britain, Russia and elsewhere to obtain the counterfeit currency, including over 15 trips made by Silcock on the Holyhead to Dun Laoghaire ferry with bag loads of counterfeit money.

All seven have leave to appeal their extradition. Garland, back at home in Co Meath, can firstly appeal his extradition through the courts in Dublin and this could take years if he appeals up to the Supreme Court. There is also a very poor record of success in extradition cases against Irish citizens or even foreign nationals living in the Republic.

Some 20 extradition applications by the United States against people resident in Ireland have failed in succession causing the Government to sign a new extradition treaty with the US earlier this year. The new treaty with the US could be tested first in the Garland case.

Evidence accumulated by the US Secret Service is likely to be produced at extradition hearings either here or in the UK courts. This will throw a light on an area of republican paramilitarism rarely as yet fully examined in public.

It could show that while the bulk of the "Official" republican movement that refused to join the "Provisional" IRA and Sinn Fein moved away to form Democratic Left and eventually join the Labour Party, a hard core remained in the old Official IRA/Workers Party mode.

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