Superdollars from North Korea: THE IRA BAGMAN AND KIM JONG IL'S HOT DOLLARS ; Sean Garland Is Legendary in Ireland for His Violent Republican Past. but Was He Also a Frontman for a Counterfeiting Scheme Run by the Communist Regime of North Korea? America Wants to Extradite the Workers Party Chief Claiming He Smuggled Millions of Dollars in Fake $100 Bills. David McKittrick Reports
McKittrick, David, The Independent (London, England)
It is a tale of codenames and counterfeiting, of the United States secret service, Russia and North Korea, of international political and criminal conspiracy and intrigue, of millions of dollars in illicit currency.
Kim Jong Il, the paranoid leader of the hermit state of North Korea, has a key role in it. Former IRA and ex-KGB operatives also have parts, along with the Russian mafia and underworld criminals in England and Ireland. Five-star hotels in Moscow feature in it: so too may Guantanamo Bay.
And it all centres on an Irish pensioner, who claims America is persecuting him because of his political beliefs and wants to put him in Guantanamo. But this is no ordinary pensioner. This is Sean Garland, legendary in Ireland for his republican and revolutionary life. At one time he tried to shoot the British out of Ireland; recently, his primary struggle has been against capitalism.
Reverential republican lore has it that he risked his life when, himself wounded by British bullets, he carried away a dying comrade following an abortive IRA attack on a security base in Northern Ireland.
Today, he is president of the left-wing Workers Party. He acknowledges his violent IRA past " he could hardly deny it, since it is the stuff of commemorative ballads " but says he is now involved only in political activity.
The latest act in his incident-packed career came last week when he jumped bail in Belfast, where he had been arrested. He has appeared in court several times on a US extradition warrant, but he has now fled south to his home. He is vociferously campaigning to remain in the Irish Republic, but the US Attorney General's Office has said it will issue a fresh extradition warrant. It is also seeking to have six other men " one of them reputedly a former KGB man " brought to the US.
The American case is that Garland and the others have been involved in a multimillion-dollar counterfeiting operation, run by the government of North Korea and encompassing more than a dozen countries worldwide.
The long and detailed indictment alleges that Garland " 'aka The Man with the Hat' " has used trips to Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, Russia and other countries for criminal purposes. The American assertion is supported by police in Moscow.
Travelling as president of the Workers Party, he is said by the US to have used the cover of his position in the party to organise the purchase, transportation and resale of forged dollar bill notes on a huge scale.
These are no ordinary banknotes. They are among the best forgeries in the world, a fact that causes the American authorities huge anxiety. Called 'superdollars,' they are of such exceptionally high quality that they often deceive banks and experts.
Superdollars so worried the US that in 1996 it brought in a series of new security measures, redesigning the $100 bill by changing the central portrait of Benjamin Franklin. Other intricate new safeguards included an enhanced embedded security thread, a security watermark, changed microprinting and the use of an optically variable ink.
To Washington's dismay, however, it took the North Koreans just a few years to come up with a sophisticated forgery based on the changed note, so that a new type of superdollar began to turn up. The US does not go so far as to say that North Korea is intent on undermining its entire economy. But it regards the operation as an unwanted instance of free enterprise that is undermining confidence in the dollar.
Garland played an important part in a network, the US claims, which included criminals based in Birmingham, gangsters in places including Moscow and Latvia, and Irish republicans linked to the small and secretive Official IRA, generally known as 'the stickies'.
The network, according to the US, criss-crossed Europe, operating in places such as …
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Publication information: Article title: Superdollars from North Korea: THE IRA BAGMAN AND KIM JONG IL'S HOT DOLLARS ; Sean Garland Is Legendary in Ireland for His Violent Republican Past. but Was He Also a Frontman for a Counterfeiting Scheme Run by the Communist Regime of North Korea? America Wants to Extradite the Workers Party Chief Claiming He Smuggled Millions of Dollars in Fake $100 Bills. David McKittrick Reports. Contributors: McKittrick, David - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: December 8, 2005. Page number: 28,29. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.