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Described as a "political witch hunt",[1] four men were arrested as part of a "terrorism operation"[2] on charges of trying to purchase 2,900 detonators from a supplier in Arizona in November 1989, believed to be destined for the Provisional Irish Republican Army.[3] They were found not guilty of conspiracy to smuggle the devices back to their native Ireland.[1]

Although all citizens of the Republic of Ireland, Thomas Maguire from Fermanagh, and Gerard Branigan and Patrick Moley from Armagh were legal residents of the United States, and Denis Leyne from Cork was a legal Canadian resident living in Toronto.[1][4] Moley's brother Shamus had been arrested in 1990, along with Canadian Sean John McCann, following the attempted purchase of a Stinger missile.[1][5]

Although they were granted bail on November 17, they were held pending extradition to Arizona to face charges; amidst complaints from their family members that visits were difficult.[4]

Two native-born Floridians, John Lynch and William Kelly, were also charged in the conspiracy, but denied ever having even known the four men.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 "6 cleared on charges of shipping explosives, 04/27/94".,1994/05_1_m.html. Retrieved 2008-09-24. [dead link]
  2. Barron, James. New York Times, "4 Arrested in Shipments of Detonators to Northern Ireland ", November 12, 1992
  3. Intelligence Online, Threat Assessment: IRA Smuggling Charges, February 12, 1992
  4. 4.0 4.1 SQOIRSC, "Four Irishmen held in USA despite bail grant", Nollaiz/December 1992
  5. New York Times, "Four are accused of tringy to buy antiaircraft missile for the IRA", January 13, 1990.

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