Northern Ireland A Different Kind of Terror

Extremists on both sides now use extortion to fund their war

Extortion, protection rackets and tax fraud are the stuff of daily life. There are threats and occasionally even executions. It sounds like Al Capone's Chicago or Mafia-dominated Sicily in the days of gangland wars. But instead, all those evils are flourishing in today's Northern Ireland in neighborhoods controlled by extremists. Says Brian Feeney, a Belfast city councilor: "This is real godfather stuff. Everybody pays. If you don't, they threaten to harm your family or workers."

For Belfast the nightmare began in the late 1960s, when the long political conflict involving pro-British Protestants and Catholic nationalists turned violent. The gun battles and...

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