To some this claim seemed fanciful, probably a ploy by the left wing indigenous government to send out a clear message to the secessionist movement of the wealthy Santa Cruz region. Since Morales became the first indigenous President of the Andean county, he began nationalising and redistributing much of Bolivia’s resources of land, minerals and natural gas. The whites of European descent, who controlled most of the resources of the country from their power base in the lowland Santa Cruz region, resented this attack on their power and wealth, and tensions had been building since Morales election. The discontent of the white minority sporadically began breaking out into attacks on the indigenous population, and a movement for the independence of Santa Cruz began to crystallize around many of the most powerful families in Santa Cruz, who were ready to secretly fund an armed insurrection against the left wing government.
One of the men killed in the Los Americas hotel was Eduardo Rosza Flores, born in Bolivia and raised in Hungary, a former communist intelligence agent and a veteran of the Balkans conflict. When trouble began brewing between the indigenous majority of the Andean highlands and the whites of the more fertile lowlands, Eduardo Flores choose to return to the land of his birth to organize a militia ‘for the defense of Santa Cruz’.
But how did a young man from the rolling green hills of Tipperary come to meet his end so far from home, alongside a ruthless international mercenary leader? Back in Ireland, tabloid newspapers printed graphic pictures of Mike Dwyers blood stained body sprawled across a hotel room floor, his chest punctured by a single bullet. For the Dwyer family, bombarded with so much allegations and rumour about Mike, while trying to deal with the unimaginable grief of losing a son so far from home, it must have seemed so unjust.
In the days following the Santa Cruz killings, there was a slow trickle of information on the Flores cell by the Bolivian authorities. They released pictures of Eduardo Flores and others in the group posing with sniper rifles, machine guns and pistols. One photo showed Flores and Dwyer sitting in front of a table of handguns and bullets, with the writing ‘Happy New Year 2009’ and an arrow pointing to a sniper bullet.
It emerged that a group of ten (possibly more) had travelled to Bolivia from Madrid on 17th November 2008, paid for by a Santa Cruz lawyer, to join up with Eduardo Flores. Names, passports and hotel records were released by the Bolivian authorities and the links between Flores’ group and Ireland increased drastically. Indeed, while it was becoming obvious that Michael Dwyer was not of serious mercenary material, his training amounting to some paintballing and unsuccessful kickboxing training, a more sinister picture was emerging of many of the other members of the group, and their base in Ireland.
An internet posting from 2008 was discovered on an Eastern European website of a right wing group called the ‘Szeckler Legion’. On 30th October 2008 the administrator of the site posted this message in Hungarian:
Greetings to all those who subscribe to this [newsletter]. I don’t usually bother with them often, but this time is an exception. An acquaintance has decided to actively participate in a defence – liberation operation in his homeland of Santa Cruz de la Sierra. Those who feel physically and psychologically prepared to give a hand, should send their Curriculm Vitae to firstname.lastname@example.org We will collect [relevant] information and experience. Good luck, admin.
The administrator used the id ‘photosniper’ and the email, although a Hungarian domain name, had a curiously Irish segment ‘Cahil’. ‘Photosniper’ was one Tibor Revesz, a former soldier in the Hungarian Army and leader within the Szeckler Legion. The aim of the Legion was to promote independence of the ethnically Hungarian area of Romania, Transylvania, which was given to Romania following the defeat of the Austro-Hungarian empire in World War 1. The Szeckler Legion has links with Nazi and other fascist groups in Europe, and was linked by the media in Romania to race motivated attacks on Romanian Gypsies. But Tibor Revesz was working far away from the Szeckler homeland in the Carpathian mountains, he was plying his trade in one of the most remote outlying corners of Europe – providing security for Shells pipelaying work on the Corrib Gas Project in the West of Ireland.
He was employed along with a force of about 150 private security by a company called IRMS, to secure the beach and work site at Glengad for the laying of the offshore gas pipe from the Corrib field by the worlds largest pipelaying ship, The Solitaire. Most of the private security appeared to be from Eastern Europe, however, due to the lack of any form of personal identification and proper licensing, it was nearly impossible to ascertain who was working there.
During the summer of 2008, there was much local concern at the operation of private security who dressed and acted like a paramilitary militia working in a hostile environment. Locals accused private security personell of surveillance and recording of the local community. Complaints to the Gardai and Private Security Authority were often ignored or not given serious consideration. One resident, Monica Muller, wrote in frustration at the failure of the authorities to deal with her complaint ‘In the light of past para military activities in Ireland and bomb attacks by militant groups like Al Quaida, I believe you are acting not only in non-compliance with Irish legislation but entirely reckless and irresponsible’.
Monica Muller’s warning fell on deaf ears but unfortunately turned out to be tragically prophetic.
It was only with the killing of Michael Dwyer on 16th April 2009 that more information began to emerge about right wing elements providing security on Corrib. The most curious was paraphanalia which was being sold on the Szeckler Legion website. There were badges and hoodies for ‘Foireann Cahil’ and ‘Foireann Fiachra’ on a Hungarian website which was dedicated to Hungarian/Szeckler culture and ideology. Badges ‘Operation Glengad Beach’ and ‘Operation Solitaire Shield’ were being sold with the explanation ‘for the teams who worked on Operation Glengad Beach/Solitaire Shield’.
So why was a fascist Hungarian website, promoting the secession of Transylvania from Romania, selling emblems relating to a natural gas project in the West of Ireland?
The administrator, photosniper, who was posting these products was also advertising armed courses back in Hungary for people in Ireland – but who? Photosniper, or Tibor Revesz, was advertising himself as an instructor on behalf of IRMS security with discounts for IRMS staff. Indeed pictures and a video emerged, posted by ‘photosniper’, showing one of these armed courses in Hungary with one the ‘students’ sporting a ‘Foireann Cahil’ hoodie with an ‘Operation Glengad Beach’ logo.
Szeckler Legion Webpage administered by Tibor Revesz
Foireann Cahill and Foireann Fiachra were most probably the names given to the security details working on the beach (Glengad) and at sea (Solitaire) by IRMS, and they became more than just names, they took on the guise of almost paramilitary units. Tibor’s excitement at the imminent delivery of the stitchwork is clear in a message posted on his site:
at last the new crests for the team members from Glengad Beach and The Solitaire are designed and you can order them by internet.The T-shirts and hoodies ordered are on their way to Ireland, so hopefully we will have it in a few days.’
The man in charge of the overall security operation was Jim Farrell, a former Sergeant Major with the Irish counter terrorism unit, the Army Rangers, who along with former Ranger colleague Terry Downes, set up IRMS. One can only assume that Jim Farrell had no knowledge of any of this, having served the Irish state for years protecting its citizens from groups who may seek to use arms to against sovereign states.
When the work in Glengad came to an end due to the premature departure of the Solitaire in September 2008, Revesz headed off to Bolivia with a sizeable group, including Michael Dwyer.
Alongside Dwyer, another two security guards who had worked on security on Ireland were identified from the hotel records as having stayed in the Las Americas Hotel from the 10th December to the 9th of January. One of these men was Tibor Revesz, acquaintance of Flores and fellow Szeckler Legionnaire – essentially Flores’ recruitment officer for the proposed militia. Of all the group not dead or in captivity, Revesz is now the principal suspect wanted by the Bolivian authorities. Another number of Eastern Europeans, who, according to their families, had come to work in private security in Ireland through their association with Tibor Revesz, but don’t appear to have been registered with the Private Security Authority, also travelled to Bolivia to join the group. One of them, Elod Toaso, a member of the Szeckler Legion, was captured alive in the raid on the 16th April, and remains in Bolivian custody.
Elod Toaso posing for a picture in a Santa Cruz Hotel.
While Dwyer stayed on with most of the others, on January 12th, Revesz, Nagy and Pistovcák left Bolivia. The 32-year-old ex-soldier, Revesz, returned to Ireland and resumed his employment with IRMS. Shortly after his return, a new advertisement for armed courses for IRMS staff in Hungary appeared dated 31st January. It is interesting to note that Revesz resumed his employment with IRMS so early on in the year. If he did not have any management or ‘critical’ role, he would appear to no employment to return to as the large numbers of security required for the 2009 pipelay operation were not required for another few months, when the weather improved and work on Glengad beach was due to resume. This raises the question of what was Tibor Revesz’s position within IRMS? Was he given a position which allowed him, with or without the knowledge of his employers, to use his position, and IRMS resources, to entice other people into joining Eduardo Flores’ militia in Santa Cruz?
Tibor Revesz, Shell Compund, Glengad, 2008. photo J.M.
Michael Dwyer, Shell Compound, Glengad, 2008. photo J.M.
Tibor Revesz, right, providing security for Corrib pipeline, 2008.
It is worth noting that the senior management of IRMS, and more specifically the man overseeing the Glengad operation, former Army Ranger Sergeant Major and director of IRMS Jim Farrell, were not in any way directly connected with the armed courses in Hungary. From the pictures taken by Revesz himself of ‘close quarter combat’ training using Kalashnikov’s, they obviously do not display the professionalism of formal military instruction. Yet it still remains that Jim Farrell was over the Glengad security operation almost daily and ran a very tight and disciplined operation. If one of his employees was organising firearms training on behalf of his company, for his employees, and openly over the internet, it is difficult to imagine that he had no knowledge of what was going on. Did he turn a blind eye, after all the private security industry is a murky world, which tends to attract people who fascinate about guns and all things military. This is possibly the category in which Farrell would have put Michael Dwyer. Indeed Farrell did put Dwyer in a team leader type role at the most intense interface with the protesters. Being a former bouncer, and Irish of course, this is understandable given the problems of Eastern European security dealing with heated local protesters. Dwyer appeared to respect Farrell for his professionalism and his experience, as is obvious from photographs and video from Glengad.
Jim Farell chatting to Michael Dwyer at Glengad beach, 2008.
There is also another, more dangerous side to the private security industry in Ireland. Because it is so poorly regulated, with licensing and background checks totally inadequate, people who see themselves as ‘soldiers of fortune’ or ‘mercenaries’ could work in the private security industry in Ireland without any license or official clearance, allowing them to keep under the radar while working in their chosen field. While working in security in Ireland they are then free to train, make connections and plan for more lucrative work abroad in armed security. Revesz, from his CV, described himself as a ‘private entrepreneur’ before he began working for IRMS. Then, when in the employment of IRMS, Revesz is running armed courses and recruiting IRMS members for work in Bolivia which involves firearms. After introducing his fellow travellers to Flores in Bolivia, Revesz then returns to Ireland and resumes his employment of IRMS. Within a few weeks he is again organising armed courses in Hungary for members of ‘Charlie Team/Foireann Cahill’, a name which appears to have been borrowed from one of the IRMS security details on the Corrib gas project.
Within days of the killing of Michael Dwyer in Bolivia in April 2009, the webpages run by Tibor Revesz and IRMS were pulled. The pages selling triumphalist fascist insignia, teeshirts and hoodies on the Szeckler Legion website, commemorating the work of the security teams in ‘Operation Solitaire Shield’ and ‘Operation Glengad Beach’, were pulled. IRMS acted equally as fast deciding that it was time for some ‘site maintenance’ and all content including reference to ‘close protection, maritime security and international armed and unarmed security’ services operating in ‘hostile environments’ disappeared.
Although Revesz’s web pages were pulled, the ‘mainstream’ content relating to autonomy for Hungarians in Romania remained, along with a flash video of a Foireann Cahil paramilitary exercise apparently in Hungary, with a notice advertising a course in Debrecen in east Hungary which was free to members of that group.
The Foireann Cahil webpage also relayed, in January 2009, a notice which claimed to be for an IRMS ‘close protection course’ to be held in March and April 2009 costing €3,000, with a special discount for full-time IRMS staff. The course overview included references to pistol and carbine training, “basic” and “advanced”, as well as “tactical firearms” and it would be interesting to know if Michael Dwyer was the beneficiary of any such education before embarking on his fatal Bolivian escapade.
What really happened in Bolivia?
Almost immediately after arriving in Bolivia, Mike Dwyer was introduced to Eduardo Flores by Tibor Revesz. Mike then appears to have had the role of bodyguard to Flores, yet why a viscous international terrorist would have somebody who was clearly not of the right metal so close to him is a mystery. For Mike, life seemed good from here, he got to driver around in a nice car, was never short of money, stayed in nice hotels and even found a girlfriend in Bolivia, a Brazilian medical student. Mike appeared to enjoy playing the gunman, and photos from the Hotel Las Americas showed Mike and many of the others posing with various handguns, sniper rifles ad pistols for photographs. As Mike spoke neither Spanish or Hungarian, he may not have been privy to everything that was being planned. It is impossible to say whether he was fully aware of the details of Flores aim to create civil strife in Santa Cruz, which would eventually lead to open civil war and the eventual cessation of the resource rich, white dominated, lowland Santa Cruz region. It appears likely that Flores was trying to use his experience from the Balkans conflict and copy the tactics which had worked there back in the 1990’s.
Nov 1991. Eduardo Rosza Flores, top right, in Bresca, Croatia. AP photo Enrico Dagnino
When the Balkans conflict broke out in the former Yugoslavia, Eduardo Rosza Flores, a former intelligence agent, was working under the guise of a journalist covering the war. Having experienced the escalating war at first hand, he quickly joined the ranks of the Croatian army and went on to head up the infamous ‘International Company’ who gained a name for being even more ruthless than their Croatian-born counterparts. Flores took part in the civil war and ethnic cleansing of Serbs from their ancestral lands in Slavonija and Serbian Krajina in Croatia during the 1990s. Flores was also accused of the murder of two journalists who tried to infiltrate his brigade, and of assassinating one of his own soldiers, the Englishman Anthony Grant Mann. His ‘International Company’ of foreign mercenaries had been instrumental in training Croatian soldiers in their viscous independence struggle, and Flores was no stranger to the tactic of killing people on his own side, in order to blame the opposition, thus inflaming the situation further. Indeed, just a few days before he died, Flores had carried out such an operation in Santa Cruz by planting a bomb at the Cardinal’s house, a Morales critic, in order to create a back lash against the left wing government, further inflaming an already tense situation. Flores believed that once open civil strife erupted in the region, the US would step in, as they had in the Balkans, and the cessation of Santa Cruz would be guaranteed. This idea appears to have been backed up by US funded ‘pro democracy’ NGO’s in the region, most of whom curiously fled the country following the killings of Flores, Maygarosi and Dwyer, and the capture of Toasa and Tadic. Elod Toaso, in his statement, said that Mike had accompanied Flores in planting the explosives. Out of the cell led by Rózsa, 3 died the morning of April 16th, 2 were captured and five of whom can not be found. Two men Daniel Gaspar and Gabor Dudog, who were still in Bolivia, having traveled with Revesz to join with Flores, were reported by Hungarian media to have worked in security in Ireland, managed to evade capture and appear to have made it back to Hungary.
Back in Ireland, immediately after the killings in Bolivia in April 2009, as websites were pulled and Revesz disappeared from the employment of IRMS, a message was posted on the Szeckler Legion website. It blamed Tibor Revesz for the death of the Hungarian killed alongside Dwyer and Flores, Arpad Maygarosi. The sister of Elod Toasa, taken hostage in that same raid was quoted by Hungarian media: “Elod first went to Ireland and then to Madrid and Bolivia. Elod worked on something in Ireland after he and Revesz got together. Elod and Dwyer did not know each other before. They both know Revesz.” Another 4 of the ten man group, Tamás Nagy ,Gabor Dudog, Ivan Pistovcák and Daniel Gaspar had links with private security in Ireland but either left Bolivia with Tibor Revesz or managed to evade caprute. This is quite a statistic, 7 out of a 10 man group with links to Ireland, however due to the woefully inadequate regulation of private security in Ireland we have no way of knowing if and where they worked. Of the 4 members with proven Szeckler Legion links, Tibor Revesz is the only one not dead or imprisoned.
Role of the Irish State
Corrib Pipeline Compound, Glengad.
One would have thought that the Private Security Authority, the Department of Justice and our police, An Garda Síochána, would have been quite concerned at these events and eager to get to the bottom of what was quite obviously a threat to democracy here and abroad. Quite quickly it became obvious that the opposite was the case – they just didn’t want to know. The Private Security Authority engaged a PR company to cover up its lack of progress on implementing its regulations on vetting and licensing, and avoided dealing with the problem altogether; An Garda Síochána, unable to admit there was something which warranted investigation, also ignored the situation. They had not acted almost a year previously on a barrage of complaints from locals in the vicinity of the Corrib pipeline landfall where Revesz was operating. Not even complaints by local people whose children were clearly filmed on Glengad beach by the compound security, nor a case where Tibor Revesz was filming people around the village of Glengad from an undercover car, were dealt with. When cases involving private security and protesters came in front of the District Court Judge, Mary Devins, it was found that the majority of security personnel who came before her were not licensed at all. One IRMS employee accused of a public order offence had a criminal record and should never have been employed as a security guard. In one case, locals spotted two men taking pictures around the village from their car, when they went down to investigate, the car took off towards the compound at high speed with the two locals in hot pursuit. The gate was opened for the arrival of the oncoming car, and in closing it behind this car, it came into contact with the chasing car. The two gatekeepers suffered injuries and the pursuer received a four year driving ban from the district court. The passenger in the car taking the photographs, which disappeared into the compound, was no less than Tibor Revesz, yet he was never even called to give evidence by An Garda Síochána.
Glengad Beach, summer 2008.
Gardaí operating from within pipeline compound
When, a few weeks after the killing of Michael Dwyer, I went to Belmullet Garda station and attempted to present information and documentation based on my concerns of the private security, to the Garda Inspector dealing with the Corrib security operation, he refused to listen to me or accept my evidence. The excuse given was that the Garda’s work load was too exhaustive, and they would not get into discussing any ‘personalities’ relating to the Corrib project. This was mildly amusing considering that there was at that time at about 50 Gardaí assigned to protecting the Corrib pipeline site, working hand in hand with IRMS private security. The operation was so well co-ordinated that the Gardaí operated from within the pipeline site, with An Garda Síochána’s newest and most expensive modern technology trained to identify Republican terrorists outside the compound perimeter. What they did not, could not, countenance was that the terrorists could be inside the fence! When this transpired to be true, it threatened to become so embarrassing and damaging to their credibility, that it left the Gardai with no other option but to collude in the wider cover up.
There is now a mountain of correspondence to and from different people and agencies which clearly shows how An Garda Síochána and the Private Security Authority colluded to cover up a situation in which a terrorist cell was allowed to recruit, train and execute a trip to Bolivia with the stated intention of engaging in illegal armed activities against a sovereign state. The Dwyer family, backed by MEP Alan Kelly and supported by the other Irish MEP’s, are calling on the European Union to hold an independent international investigation into the circumstances surrounding Michael Dwyers death. They believe that the Bolivian authorities have not given a full and truthful account of the killings in the Las Americas hotel on the 16th April 2009, and that ‘the quality of the information emerging from authorities there is suspect’. Indeed it does appear that although the Flores group could have been arrested, the Bolivian authorities took the decision to send in a swat team to assassinate Flores, Dwyer and Maygrosi, without allowing them the opportunity to surrender. Their killing would certainly send out a clear message to Evo Morales’ opponents in Santa Cruz, while the apparent planned assassination of the Bolivian leader by ‘right wing mercenaries’ would bolster his power base among the indigenous population, especially with elections just over the horizon. The shooting dead of the three men, after a ’shootout’ with Bolivian special forces (which appears bogus), was certainly more convenient to a government in the midst of a power struggle between left and right, indigenous and white, rich and poor; and due process was the victim here, resulting in the unlawful killing of Michael Dwyer. But if we expect the Bolivian authorities to come clean with information surrounding the killings, the Irish authorities must be fully transparent and honest in explaining how we managed to export terrorists to their country. If we continue the culture of cover up, however, we will let those who are responsible for Michael Dwyer’s death off the hook and invite similar tragedies in the future.
May 26th, 2010