Red Hand Defenders (RHD)

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Red Hand Defenders (RHD)

Red Hand Defenders (RHD) is an extremist terrorist group formed in 1998 and composed largely of Protestant hardliners from loyalist groups observing a cease-fire. RHD seeks to prevent a political settlement with Irish nationalists by attacking Catholic civilian interests in Northern Ireland. In July, 2001, the group issued a statement saying it considered all nationalists "legitimate targets." RHD is a cover name often used by elements of the banned Ulster Defense Association and the Loyalist Volunteer Force. In recent years, the group has carried out numerous pipe bombings and arson attacks against "soft" civilian targets such as homes, churches, and private businesses, including a bombing outside a Catholic girls school in North Belfast. RHD claimed responsibility for the carbombing murder in March, 1999, of Rosemary Nelson, a prominent Catholic nationalist lawyer and human rights campaigner in Northern Ireland, and for the murder of a Catholic journalist in September, 2001.

The RHD may have up to 20 members acting in Northern Ireland, some of whom have considerable experience in terrorist tactics and bombmaking.



CDI (Center for Defense Information), Terrorism Project. CDI Fact Sheet: Current List of Designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations. March 27, 2003. <> (April 17, 2003).

Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook, 2002. <> (April 16, 2003).

Taylor, Francis X. U.S. Department of State. "Patterns of Global Terrorism 2001." Annual Report: On the Record Briefing. May 21, 2002. <> (April 17, 2003).

U.S. Department of State. Annual reports. <> (April 16, 2003).


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