Monday 23 October 2017

Terrorist plotting carnage in Europe duped authorities to secure move here

Details of his activities raise serious concerns about the adequacy of screening processes used here in the past

Photo: AP
Photo: AP
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

An Islamic terrorist secured asylum in Ireland after duping authorities here about his background.

Details of his activities, outlined in submissions made to the High Court, have raised serious concerns about the adequacy of screening processes used here in the past.

After being accepted as a refugee in Ireland, the man travelled to France where he was arrested and imprisoned for his involvement in a plot to commit acts of terrorism in several countries across Europe.

He is currently in an Irish jail serving a sentence for possession of forged Belgian identity papers, but is due to be released on Friday.

The man was arrested in possession of the false ID and about €2,700 in cash at Dublin Airport last October attempting to board a flight to Athens.

The 53-year-old, whose name and country of origin cannot be disclosed for legal reasons, faces being expelled from Ireland when his sentence is completed after failing in a High Court bid to overturn a deportation order.

Leave to appeal that decision was sought by the man's lawyers yesterday. A stay has been put on the deportation until a decision is taken on whether the case can go to the Court of Appeal.

But the stay does not preclude gardaí from arresting him when he is released from prison.

The case has again brought into sharp focus fears about the extent to which Islamic extremists are using Ireland as a base for activities elsewhere.

If the man is deported, he will be the second Islamic terror suspect expelled from the country in the past nine months.

Khalid Kelly, who committed a suicide bombing in Iraq last year
Khalid Kelly, who committed a suicide bombing in Iraq last year

A Jordanian suspected of being a recruiter and facilitator of Isil fighters was deported to his home country in July.

Authorities opted to seek his deportation rather than charging him with offences here, a policy defended by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald.

The Jordanian was a close associate of Khalid Kelly, the Dubliner who committed a suicide bombing attack in Iraq in November.

The latest case involved a man who arrived in Ireland in 1997 under a false name.

He had managed to slip out of his home country where he had been convicted the previous year of forming an Islamist terrorist group, murder, and possession of "war weapons".

Further terrorism convictions were handed down in his absence during 1997 and he was sentenced to death.

According to a ruling given by Mr Justice Richard Humphreys last week, the man made a fraudulent application for asylum here, falsely claiming his parents and brother were killed in a raid by extremists and that he himself had been shot in the leg by government forces.

Fraud

Although he was originally turned down, the refugee appeals tribunal was "taken in by his falsehoods" and granted him refugee status in 2000.

He soon began travelling in and out of the country to mainland Europe.

In 2001 he popped up in Andorra, where he was arrested for fraud offences and bailed.

The following year he was picked up by France's domestic intelligence agency as he was trying to leave the country for the UK.

French investigators identified him as a member of a criminal organisation preparing acts of terrorism in England, Ireland, Spain, Andorra and France. They found he had been in possession of false identity and occupation documents in Marseilles. The man was jailed for eight years in 2005 and banned from France.

Two of his brothers were also convicted of terrorist offences.

He was released from prison early and returned to Ireland in 2009. His refugee status was revoked in 2011 and he has been battling against efforts to deport him since 2012.

Mr Justice Humphreys last week upheld a decision by Ms Fitzgerald to deport him to his home country. Although the death penalty remains in place there, in practice it has not been used for many years. The judge also took into account that the man's brother had been deported there by France and had not been ill-treated.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News