A Derry republican has claimed FBI officers were taken off ISIS detail in the lead up to the world’s largest Thanksgiving parade in New York last November to question him about his activism in Derry.
Joe Barr, aged 28, who is national organiser with Ireland’s newest political party, Saoradh, was eventually put in a taxi to Newark airport and told he had to leave the United States immediately.
Mr. Barr lost his job as a result of the incident, which occurred while he was travelling on business. The Derry republican said the officers from the FBI’s counter-terrorism unit told him they were acting on British Government intelligence.
He made the revelations in a wide-ranging interview with former NORAID director Martin Galvin, a long-standing critic of the peace process, on his Radio Free Éireann New York City radio slot.
“I was at my hotel in Times Square and I was having my breakfast with my manager and two guys came down to where I was sitting and pulled out their badges, identified themselves as members of the FBI counter-terrorism unit – and I had to come with them,” he said.
“So they took me to a separate part of the hotel and first thing, the guy, I think he said his name was ‘Jimmy’, and his exact words to me were that he had been working an active ISIS threat against the Macy’s Day parade but his bosses at FBI headquarters felt that my presence in his city was enough for him to be pulled off that. So I was kind of a wee bit shocked to be honest and they questioned me on Saoradh and what my role within Saoradh was.
“He said that he was briefed by the British government, by intelligence, about my republican activity here in Doire and that was the Monday.”
Mr. Barr, who was in New York on the week of the famous Macy’s Thanksgiving parade, claimed he experienced good cop/bad cop psychological tactics over the next two days while sitting in his hotel on Broadway.
“So then on Tuesday...I was having lunch this time and he came to my hotel and he began to question me again, you know, just on people back home, said he had watched things on the internet of me being stopped by the police and things like that. But then on the Tuesday he told me that was it - everything was grand and I wouldn’t hear from him again,” he said.
“But then on the Wednesday morning, about eight o’clock, he stormed into the hotel again, called me outside, started roaring and shouting at me saying that I was nothing but a liar. That I had made myself out to be ‘nothing’ when he believed that I was ‘something’ and that he hoped that I had enjoyed my time in the States because I will never be there again.”
Mr. Barr said the officer went on to divulge details of the questioning to his manager, which ultimately cost him his job.
“I was put in a taxi and sent out to the airport so I got home anyway. And then within a week I was asked to come to my work’s headquarters in Manchester and when I got there I was basically told I was let go because of what happened to me in America.”