Fat- Freddie Thompson is lying low in Salou in Northern Spain

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Fat- Freddie Thompson is lying low in Salou in Northern Spain after he fled Dublin with a -40,000 hit-bounty on his head.

Meanwhile, Thompson-s arch enemy INLA gangster Declan -Whacker- Duffy has also fled Ireland in a last-minute bid to avoid assassination. Following a series of vicious stabbings shootings between the rival gangs Gardai fear - open warfare on the streets of Ireland-s capital city Dublin. With both fractions locked into a deadly feud the Gardai have warned more than 100 criminals in Dublin that their lives are in danger - and they should take precautions. The INLA are making a comeback. They've abandoned all pretence of being republican revolutionaries and are now openly operating as bona fide criminals.

THEY may regard him as one of Ireland's most wanted, but when gardai met with drug dealer Freddie Thompson before Christmas, it was not to arrest him, but to warn him about a threat to his life. Thompson, one of the countries biggest drug dealers, and the leader of a gang based in Drimnagh in Dublin, has been targeted by the Irish National Liberation Army and is regarded by gardai as a "dead man walking".

When they met the 27-year-old last month, gardai told him that the INLA was preparing to murder him. Only a few weeks before, an AK-47 assault rifle that was to be used in the assassination was intercepted on a busy Dublin street. It was the most chilling reminder yet that the INLA has become a bigger threat than the IRA in the capital, where it has been linked to murder, extortion, grenade attacks and drug dealing. Officers regard the threat against Thompson as being very real because the INLA is determined to take over his lucrative drugs territory across the south city.

Despite being warned last summer that there would be consequences if they didn't leave Thompson's patch, the INLA continues to deal there and even put a pipe-bomb in a car used by the gang leader last September.

The INLA has now decided to eliminate Fat Freddie, as he is known. The gang boss is taking the warnings very seriously and moves between safe houses around south Dublin as well as spending long periods in Spain and Holland.

The threats against Thompson and the re-emergence of the INLA as a major criminal group have coincided with the release from prison of its Dublin commander, Declan "Whacker" Duffy last February. The last 12 months has seen the INLA grow to such an extent that it is now carrying out more criminal acts than the IRA and has moved in on turf controlled by the provisionals. It is under active garda investigation in relation to four murders last year. The group is suspected of murdering drug dealer Roy Coddington in Co Meath last March after the 36-year-old refused to pay protection money.

Gardai investigating the double murder of garage owner Brian Downes and his employee Eddie Ward in Walkinstown last October are also examining potential INLA involvement.

It is known that the organisation attempted to extort money in the months before the double murder but that Downes refused to pay. He was warned that this would lead to his murder; one of the main lines of inquiry is that Downes was shot as a result of the refusal.

The killing of his friend and fellow car dealer Seanie McMahon last November could also be linked to the INLA, according to senior gardai. The group had also been attempting to extort money from McMahon and were worried that he would try to avenge his friend's death. This theory is being actively investigated at the moment.

It is not just the activities of drug dealers and businessmen that have been interrupted by the re-emergence of the INLA as a criminal force to be reckoned with. The IRA in Dublin has also felt the heat.

An arrangement has existed for over 20 years where dealers across the capital pay off the IRA for protection and to ensure that they are not targeted by anti-drugs groups.

Criminals such as 'The Viper' Martin Foley routinely pay the movement. In the last year the INLA has been seeking a share of what it sees as the Republican pie and has approached IRA 'clients' seeking extortion payments. The IRA is furious about this but the INLA has stood its ground. A senior member even inflicted a terrible beating on one of Dublin's most senior IRA figures in a packed pub in the Coombe last July.

The beating is part of a deliberate campaign by the INLA to sideline its rivals which so far has worked. The IRA did not respond (political considerations means it has to be discreet about using violence) and the INLA is now collecting cash that has traditionally gone to the Provisionals.

One of the IRA's most valuable volunteers in Dublin over the last 30 years recently defected to the INLA in a move which shocked both Sinn Fein and the IRA. He was an expert on financing the movement.

Because of the INLA's links with foreign arms dealers, forged through 30 years of the troubles, the group has access to a deadly arsenal of weapons and is not afraid to use them. For example, a senior INLA commander became involved in a minor dispute with a petty criminal last June and threw a hand grenade at his home in the south-inner city.

Nobody was injured in the attack. Just weeks later another grenade attack occurred at a house on Slane Road in Crumlin following the death of an inmate in Mountjoy prison. Garda forensic experts linked these two incidents and an investigation determined that the INLA sold a south-Dublin criminal gang the device for around 2,500.

The two grenades were part of a batch smuggled by the INLA from the former Yugoslavia and it is feared that they could control dozens of the devices and are selling them to Dublin gangs in a lucrative sideline.

A specialist garda unit has been set up to investigate the huge increase in pipe bomb and grenade attacks and the army bomb disposal unit was called out on 16 separate occasions in just six weeks last summer.

The extent of the criminal activities of the INLA is not only concerning senior gardai but it is also beginning to have political consequences. In the most recent report of the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) last November, the organisation was named as being involved in protection rackets as well as offering its services to organised crime gangs, most especially in Dublin.

If the current degree of criminality continues there is speculation that the IMC will have little option but to declare the INLA's ceasefire as being over. Money raised in Dublin gets sent to the INLA leadership in Belfast and is used to run the organisation there.

Garda sources say that the core membership of the INLA only runs to around 20 individuals.

The organisation is most active in Tallaght, Blanchardstown and Finglas but operates across the city. Detectives say that the INLA has taken advantage of the void left by the weakening of the IRA since the peace process. The group has exploited the demise of several major criminal gangs over the last two years as an opportunity to make serious money.

Gardai say that unlike the IRA there is no political aim or doctrine behind the INLA other than to make as much money as possible. They say that they are now more feared than the Provos in Dublin and will quickly grow far bigger if they are left unchecked.

Duffy's history of no mercy THE man reputedly in charge of the INLA's Dublin unit is 33-year-old Declan "Whacker" Duffy. Duffy, who is from Armagh, re-assumed control of the organisation when he was released from prison last February after he completed a nine-year sentence for his role in the so-called 'Ballymount Bloodbath' in 1999. The INLA took six men hostage when they went to a factory in the Ballymount industrial estate to demand money from the owner.

The men were viciously tortured and transported to a van. Twelve of their friends then arrived, after which a massive brawl ensued. INLA volunteer Patrick 'Bo' Campbell died after being struck with a machete. Duffy, who had wanted to shoot one hostage, was in charge of the operation.

He was convicted on the strength of a note to the INLA leadership that was discovered in his possession detailing exactly what happened at the warehouse.

While serving his sentence in Castlerea, Duffy worked as the bodyguard of notorious INLA murderer Dessie O'Hare, the 'Border Fox'. Gardai believe that O'Hare works as an enforcer for Duffy, using his reputation for extreme violence to collect drug debts and extort money. Duffy had been out of prison less than six months before he came to the attention of the authorities. Last August the Garda Special Branch received a tip-off that a man had been kidnapped and was being held hostage at a house on Cushlawn Drive in Tallaght. When armed detectives raided the house they discovered a 21-year-old man bound and gagged lying naked in the bath upstairs. He was in agony and covered in blood, having been attacked with a wheel-brace and a broom handle. The torture had lasted hours. The victim was a son of a small West Dublin businessman from whom the gang was trying to extort money. Nine people, including Duffy, were arrested in a downstairs room. Gardai believe that those in the house were an active INLA service unit. The man was so scared of the gang that he refused to make a complaint. A file on the incident has been sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Following a dispute last summer with a small drugs gang in the south-inner city Duffy was told by gardai that a contract had been taken out on his life. In an interview he said: "Anyone who even considers taking up the contract will be held as accountable as those taking it out." Duffy has previously bragged about kneecapping people and is known to be fond of inflicting violence. He cannot return to Northern Ireland because he is wanted for questioning over the murder of Sgt Michael Newman who was shot dead by the INLA in Derby in March 2002. He joined the INLA at 13 after his older brother was shot dead by the British army in 1987 and has served five years for escaping from custody at gunpoint. Duffy lives in the Coombe with his partner. Their house is a two minute walk from the home of his enemy, Freddie Thompson.

INLA working every angle of crime GARDA sources say that the INLA "has its finger in literally every pie" when it comes to criminality in Dublin. The group makes its money on a day to day basis by extorting cash from businesses across the capital. A company is approached and told that it has to pay a certain amount each week to ensure it is "protected". People feel they have little option but to pay.

Those who have refused have found their homes firebombed, family members beaten and. . . in four cases last year. . . murdered.

The INLA supplies bouncers and security guards to dozens of pubs and clubs in Dublin and also receives payments from drug dealers in order to let them operate free from threats and intimidation.

In some areas INLA members will deal heroin and cocaine themselves over the heads of established dealers and will use violence to force them out and claim the turf for themselves. The sale of pipe bombs and hand grenades brings in significant sums.

The most recent fundraising initiative involves them buying the drug debts of petty addicts from small to medium dealers. If an addict owes /10,000 the INLA adds around /5,000 to the principal and warns that if the debt is not paid they will be murdered.

Gardai have identified several cases where the parents of addicts have had to remortgage their houses in order to pay the drug debt because they are terrified of what might happen if the bill is not settled.

Gardai have had success against them.

Last November they arrested a man carrying an AK-47 in a bag on Camden Street with 21 rounds of ammunition. The previous month members of the Special Branch swooped on premises in Stanhope Street and discovered three pipe bombs, two handguns and ammunition as well as balaclavas and fake security guard uniforms. gangland boss, Declan 'Wacker' Duffy grins like he hasn't a care in the world as he is frisked down by members of the Garda Special Branch. The obese INLA godfather has begun to style himself as the Republic's version of Loyalist psychopath Johnny 'Mad Dog' Adair.

These days cops try to watch Duffy's every move because they feel it is now only a matter of time before he is responsible for the deaths of innocent people. This Republican hypocrite has brought terror to the streets of Dublin since his release from prison 18 months ago. Last summer Duffy, who is heavily involved in drug racketeering, was behind a number of bomb and grenade attacks on homes in south inner city Dublin. The cowardly 37-year-old from Armagh used lethal M75 and M52P military grenades that are believed to have been smuggled into the country with drug shipments. Luckily no-one was injured in the mindless attacks. In one of the houses he targeted, a grenade bounced off a living room window and exploded outside.

If it had gone through the window, the children who were sitting inside watching TV would have been shredded by the deadly weapon. Since his release Duffy and his mob have been at war with the criminal drug gang led by Fat Freddie Thompson.'Wacker' and his mentor, mass murderer Dessie 'the Border Fox' O'Hare, have been trying to extort cash from drug dealers in the past year. At the same time, they have been providing other drug traffickers with 'protection'. The series of grenade attacks last summer erupted

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