The Real IRA has claimed responsibility for killing Sinn Féin's former chief administrator at Stormont and long-serving British spy, Denis Donaldson and threatened to carry out attacks in Britain "when it becomes opportune".
In an interview with the Sunday Tribune, a representative of the Real IRA Army Council revealed exclusive details of Donaldson's murder and of the gun attack on Massereene British Army base in which two soldiers were killed.
The Sunday Tribune today prints the statement which includes a stinging denunciation of Sinn Féin deputy first minister, Martin McGuinness, who has branded the hardline republicans as "traitors".
Donaldson was murdered at a remote Co Donegal cottage three years ago. Until now, the identity of his assassins, and their exact motivation, has remained a mystery. The Real IRA is due to publicly admit killing Donaldson at a 32 County Sovereignty Movement Easter commemoration in Derry tomorrow.
A "member of the republican movement" is to read out a statement in which the Real IRA threatens to kill young Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) recruits if they don't leave the force, and issues a "final warning" to civilians providing services to police to stop or be "executed".
'Tactical use of armed struggle'
When asked if the Real IRA planned to attack Britain, the Army Council representative stated: "When it becomes opportune.'' He said that the Real IRA's strategy is not to return to a sustained campaign of violence but to "engage in tactical use of armed struggle".
"The days of a campaign involving military operations every day or every few days, are over," the Army Council representative said. "We're looking for high-profile targets, though we'll obviously take advantage when other targets present themselves."
In the Real IRA's first interview post-Massereene, its spokesman said: "Taking military action against Sinn Féin leaders who are British ministers, or who urge nationalists to inform on us, isn't high on our agenda at the moment. However, that isn't to say this position won't change and, indeed change quickly, under certain circumstances."
The Real IRA Easter statement says: "A former comrade [Martin McGuinness] has come full circle and, with a knight of the British realm [PSNI Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde] at his shoulder, he has labelled our gallant volunteers as traitors to justify his Redmondite stance and home rule politics.
"Let us remind our former comrade of the nature and actions of a traitor. Treachery is collaborating with the enemy, treachery is betraying your country. Let us give our one- time comrade an example. Denis Donaldson was a traitor and the leadership of the Provisional movement, under guidance from the British government, made provision for Donaldson to escape republican justice in the same manner as Freddie Scappaticci.
"It fell to the volunteers of Óglaigh na hÉireann to carry out the sentence and punishment demanded in our Army Orders and by the wider republican family. No traitor will escape justice regardless of time, rank or past actions. The republican movement has a long memory."
The Army Council representative said two Real IRA members, armed with a sledgehammer and a shotgun, broke down the door of Donaldson's cottage: "He just ran into the back room. There was a struggle, and he ended up on the ground. He didn't cry out or plead for mercy. He remained silent all the time."
The Real IRA said it wanted to hunt down all ex-informers. Its "prime target" is British agent, Freddie Scappaticci, who formerly ran the Provisional IRA's internal security and was responsible for the death and imprisonment of scores of republicans.
The Army Council representative claimed that although several guns had been seized in police raids following Massereene, the two weapons used to kill the soldiers hadn't been found.
Security experts were surprised the Massereene getaway car hadn't been burned out. The Real IRA spokesman said: "The car was doused in petrol. It was ablaze when our volunteers left the scene. Because a window hadn't been left open, the fire burned itself out."
In a chilling warning that nationalist youth who join the PSNI are in danger, the Real IRA statement says: "Let us be clear so there is no further ambiguity on the matter: any young person fool enough to join the colonial police in the belief that the leadership of the Provisional movement will protect them, or give them cover, is sadly mistaken."