Posted by: Lister | April 8, 2007

IRA and EFPs

Some are accusing Iran of supplying the kind of roadside bomb that recently killed four British soldiers. But EFPs have a longer history than this recent war. The infra-red trigger was used by the IRA, who commonly shared their tactics/technology with other groups — including PLO groups sponsored by Saddam.

PLO IRA one Struggle
PLO-IRA One Struggle
A mural from Northern Ireland (not taken from story below)

IRA bombs killed eight British soldiers in Iraq (Oct 2005)

Eight British soldiers killed during ambushes in Iraq were the victims of a highly sophisticated bomb first used by the IRA, The Independent on Sunday can reveal.

The soldiers, who were targeted by insurgents as they travelled through the country, died after being attacked with bombs triggered by infra-red beams. The bombs were developed by the IRA using technology passed on by the security services in a botched “sting” operation more than a decade ago.

[…] According to security sources, the technology for the bombs used in the attacks, which were developed using technology from photographic flash units, was employed by the IRA some 15 years ago after Irish terrorists were given advice by British agents.

“We are seeing technology in Iraq today that it took the IRA 20 years to develop,” said a military intelligence officer with experience in Northern Ireland.

He revealed that one trigger used in a recent Iraqi bombing was a three-way device, combining a command wire, a radio signal and an infra-red beam – a technique perfected by the IRA.

Britain claims that the bomb-making expertise now being used in southern Iraq was passed on by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard through Hizbollah, the revolutionary Islamist group it sponsors in Lebanon.

But a former agent who infiltrated the IRA told The Independent on Sunday that the technology reached the Middle East through the IRA’s co-operation with Palestinian groups. In turn, some of these groups used to be sponsored by Saddam Hussein and his Baath party.

The former agent added: “The photographic flashgun unit was replaced with infra-red and then coded infra-red, but basically they were variations of the same device. The technology came from the security forces, but the IRA always shared its equipment and expertise with Farc guerrillas in Colombia, the Basque separatists, ETA and Palestinian groups. There is no doubt in my mind that the technology used to kill our troops in Basra is the same British technology from a decade ago.”



  1. Very interesting stuff–I wasn’t aware that the IRA was using these things so long ago. EFPs are particularly deadly, and there does seem to be a connection between their spread and the involvement of Hezbollah. When those things first made their way to Iraq, there was a clear Hezbollah connection, which means Iran was behind it in some capacity.

  2. I feel it undermines the claim that Iran is building these EFPs. It only takes one person who knows how to build them, IR switches and all, to spread the knowledge.

    Improvised explosive devices don’t require international conspiracies. (Feb 2007)

    PRESIDENT BUSH HAS now definitively stated that bombs known as explosively formed penetrators — EFPs, which have proved especially deadly for U.S. troops in Iraq — are made in Iran and exported to Iraq. But in November, U.S. troops raiding a Baghdad machine shop came across a pile of copper disks, 5 inches in diameter, stamped out as part of what was clearly an ongoing order. This ominous discovery, unreported until now, makes it clear that Iraqi insurgents have no need to rely on Iran as the source of EFPs.

    […] I asked a Pentagon analyst specializing in such devices how much each one would cost to make. “Twenty bucks,” he answered after a brief calculation. “Thirty at most.”

    […] Hezbollah’s expertise with EFPs is one reason why the administration, despite minimal intelligence, has been quick to blame Hezbollah’s Iranian allies for the proliferation of the devices in Iraq. But EFPs have a venerable history. The IRA used them with lethal effect against British troops in Northern Ireland, as did French resistance fighters against the Germans in World War II. It is only a question of time before someone shows the Taliban how to make them, and then NATO forces in Afghanistan will begin the same ordeal.

    You can’t keep technology secret.

    As well as the above mentioned workshop, there is also some noise about the WPost publishing a story about an EFP factory discovered in Diwaniyah, then retracting the story.

    CS Monitor has a reference to the factory:

    The US military also issued a statement on Sunday calling the operation in Diwaniyah, dubbed Black Eagle, a “great success” so far. It said it detained 39 militiamen and killed an unspecified number. It also has uncovered “many large caches of weapons,” including factories that make explosively formed penetrators (EFPs), devices that Washington accuses Tehran of supplying to Sadr’s militia.

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