1992 North American IRA arrests

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Four Irish men were arrested in the United States on 11 November 1992, on charges of sending detonators to Northern Ireland for the use of the Provisional Irish Republican Army. They were later acquitted.

The arrests

The four men were arrested on charges of purchasing 2,900 detonators from a supplier in Arizona in November 1989, believed to be destined for the Provisional Irish Republican Army.[1] Three of the arrests took place in New York City, and the other in New Haven, Connecticut.[2] The FBI stated that the arrests formed part of a "terrorism operation"[2] The arrests were described elsewhere as a "political witch hunt".[3]

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]

The detainees

The detainees were Patrick Moley, Gerard Anthony Brannigan, Denis Leyne, and Thomas Oliver Maguire, all of whom were citizens of the Republic of Ireland. However, Maguire, Brannigan, and Moley, all originally from Armagh, were legal residents of the United States, and Leyne, originally from Cork was a legal resident of Canada living in Toronto.[3][4] Moley's brother Shamus had been arrested in 1990, along with Canadian Sean John McCann, following the attempted purchase of a Stinger missile.[3][5]


The men were acquitted of the charges in April 1994.[6]

Two native-born Floridians, John Lynch and William Kelly, were also charged in the conspiracy, but denied ever having even known the four men.[3]


  1. Intelligence Online, Threat Assessment: IRA Smuggling Charges, February 12, 1992
  2. 2.0 2.1 Barron, James. New York Times, "4 Arrested in Shipments of Detonators to Northern Ireland ", November 12, 1992
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "6 cleared on charges of shipping explosives, 04/27/94". Wc.arizona.edu. Archived from the original on November 12, 2007. Retrieved 2015-12-07.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  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 trying to buy anti-aircraft missile for the IRA", January 13, 1990.
  6. http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1995-02-08/news/1995039124_1_williams-college-smuggling-arms-coeducation