Royal Marine admits planning terrorist attack

The 30-year-old was arrested following the discovery of two major arms dumps near Larne, County Antrim

Royal Marine admits planning terrorist attack

Ciaran Maxwell who has pleaded guilty to preparing for a terrorist attack in Northern Ireland. Image: Metropolitan Police.

A serving British Royal Marine has admitted hoarding arms and explosives for a planned terrorist attack in Northern Ireland. 

Antrim native, Ciaran Maxwell pleaded guilty via video link at the Old Bailey in central London today. 

The 30-year-old, now resident in Exminster, Devon, was arrested by counter-terrorism officers in August 2016. 

His arrest followed the discovery of two arms dumps in a woodland area near Larne, County Antrim.

The weapons included land mines, an improvised armour piercing rocket, ammunition and other partly constructed improvised explosive devices and components. 

Through forensic examination of the seized weaponry, investigators were able to trace the arms back to the British military and eventually to Maxwell.

Attack plans

According to the charge sheet, investigators also discovered a "library of documents," including instructions on how to make explosives and papers detailing tactics used by terrorist organisations.

He allegedly also had maps, plans and lists of potential targets for an attack as well as chemicals and components investigators believe were to be used in the manufacture of explosive substances and the construction of explosive devices.

Following Maxwell’s arrest, a third arms dump was found near his Devon home. 

The discovery of the Country Antrim arms dumps sparked a major alert and review of security across Northern Ireland.

Threat of violence

Former PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Stephen White said he believes the threat of sectarian violence remains high in the region. 

"Whether the weapons themselves are complete, or components, the fact is they prove the capability and the intent of dangerous people, and it's very good news that the weapons were seized,” he said. 

Last month, a PSNI officer was shot and wounded in an attack in Belfast.  

PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin said the collaboration between the UK’s National Counter Terrorism network and the PSNI had, “disrupted the activity of a dangerous individual and removed a very significant threat."

A review of munitions and weapons security procedures was carried out across the UK's armed forces in the wake of Maxwell’s arrest.

He was remanded in custody and will be sentenced at a later date.

Additional reporting by IRN ...