In addition to the formalised structure, which devolved management of the units down to the command chain, there were also cells. The existence of the cells was known to both the authorities and the wider community – but the location and make-up of these cells was secret from everyone except the top IRA command. These had two purposes: first was the gathering of intelligence. This included not just intelligence on sites and human targets but also on those who might be wavering in their allegiance to the cause. These cells would consist of a mix of those in work and those who had come to London, for example, to find work and therefore had an excuse to be wandering the streets during the day. And the Irish community being the friendly and generous people that it is – they would be fed and provided with drinks and generally adopted whilst they were, as the Irish put it, “down on their luck”.
Penultimately, there were the freely given contributions from those that truly believed in the unity of Ireland under a single Catholic banner, combining political, cultural and religious objectives into a single aim.
And finally, they simply ran businesses: that allowed them both to launder the proceeds of the offences they committed and to raise money from legitimate profits.
The IRA model may be called “western terrorism.” The other primary model, as adopted by al Qaeda, is the Eastern model. And its structure is markedly different and so are its techniques, although as we will see shortly it may be that we are at a different stage in the development cycle and that the form is in fact mutating to resemble the western model.