Saturday 10 December 2016

'Jihad Jane terror comrade' Irish courts failed to extradite to US arrested in Spain

Ken Foy and Ruaidhri Giblin

Published 11/12/2015 | 12:07

Ali Charaf Damache
Ali Charaf Damache

A TERROR suspect, who our courts decided not to extradite to the United States, has been arrested in Barcelona after Spanish authorities received an arrest warrant from the FBI.

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Irish citizen Ali Charaf Damache (50) is accused of devising and co-ordinating a violent jihadi organisation. He successfully fought a High Court bid to extradite him to the US earlier this year.

The failed extradition is now under appeal and it is understood that Damache left Ireland for Spain a number of months ago.

“He has been arrested for the same alleged crimes that the Irish courts refused to extradite him on.

“Spanish authorities received an FBI warrant for his alleged role in international terrorism,” a source explained this morning.

Damache was a resident in Co Waterford when he was first arrested by gardaí in 2010. In 2013, a warrant issued by the US authorities sought him on a charge of conspiracy to provide support for terrorists and for alleged attempted identity theft to assist an act of terrorism.

The High Court heard that the US alleged it had evidence that Algerian-born Damache conspired with American housewife Colleen LaRose and others to create a terror cell in Europe.

LaRose, a Muslim convert nicknamed ‘Jihad Jane’, was convicted of trying to kill a Swedish cartoonist and was sentenced to ten years in jail.

However, earlier this year Damache walked free from court after winning his battle against extradition.

Ms Justice Aileen Donnelly refused to extradite him to the US due to fears over how he might be treated under America’s severe penal system.

The main points of objection to his extradition include grounds related to the conditions of detention in which it is alleged Damache would be held if he was extradited there.

Other grounds covered the sentencing procedure under US Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the plea bargaining system and the nature and length of the sentence he was bound to receive.

Surrender

If Damache had been convicted in the US, he could have faced up to 45 years in jail, a term his lawyers said would be “a lot more” than would be imposed here in Ireland.

The Attorney General has appealed the refusal to surrender him.

However, Damache’s barrister, Mark Lynam BL, told the Court of Appeal today that his client had been arrested in Barcelona on foot of an “international alert”.

Damache is due in court in Madrid today, Mr Lynam said and his team had no further information.

Mr Lynam asked the court for time to consider this “significant development” and to take instructions.

Counsel for the State, Cathleen Noctor BL, asked the court to put the matter back for one week.

Ms Noctor said the Attorney Generals appeal had been due to go ahead in the first week of January.

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