Tuesday 17 October 2017

Gardai link terror swoop detainees to 'Jihad Jane'

Tom Brady, Conor Kane and Ralph Riegel

A Garda trawl of seized computers and documentation has established internet links between some of the seven suspects arrested here on Tuesday and 'Jihad Jane', the mastermind behind an alleged plot to murder Swedish cartoonist, Lars Vilks.

Specialists from the computer unit, attached to the Garda Fraud Bureau, were last night continuing to sift through downloaded files to determine the extent of the relationship between Colleen LaRose, who referred to herself as 'Jihad Jane' in a YouTube video, and the group.

Her main contact here is believed by gardai to be a 49-year-old Algerian, who has been living here since 2000 and became a citizen in 2008.

He is an Irish passport holder and currently lives in Waterford with his Kansas-born partner, who has converted to the Islam faith.

Officers believe that Ms LaRose corresponded regularly on the internet with the Algerian and interacted through him with others currently living in the State.

The seven, who include three couples, can now be questioned by gardai until tomorrow evening, after special sittings of Waterford District Court on Wednesday night and yesterday morning extended their detention for three days.

Gardai will have to seek the permission of the court again tomorrow if they want to question the suspects further and a decision must then be made on Monday whether to charge any of them or release them.

Investigations by the gardai have established that Ms LaRose was in the company of the Algerian and his partner in Cork and Waterford during her visit here last September. Other members of the group in contact with her were regarded as facilitators, who were prepared to provide logistical support for her.

But it has not yet been determined whether the suspects had full knowledge of her alleged plot or if any of their actions constituted a breach of the law.

Inquiries have confirmed that the Libyan-born suspect arrived here in either 2000 or 2001 and was joined by his wife, a Palestinian.

An Algerian couple were arrested in Ballincollig in Cork while the seventh suspect, a Croatian man, also converted to Islam while living here.

The lawyer for the Croatian and the American woman said after yesterday's court sitting, which was held in-camera under amendments to the anti-gangland legislation last year, that he had argued against the garda application to extend their detention period but said it had been granted by Judge Gerard Furlong.

Questioning

The woman, who was wearing a burqa, and the Croatian were then taken from the court building in separate unmarked garda cars for further questioning.

The man detained in Cork during the operation on Tuesday morning is believed to have adopted an increasingly strict adherence to his faith over recent years, and has distanced himself from former Irish friends and business acquaintances.

Described as neighbours as quiet, shy and polite, he had abandoned his medical studies here and focused on a business career over the past few years.

Gardai said last night they were satisfied with the progress made so far in the investigation but said the next few days would be crucial as they continued to trawl through the computer files and telephone records and extend their questioning of the suspects.

Meanwhile, Ms LaRose remains in custody in Philadelphia, where she has been indicted on charges of conspiring to provide support to Islamic extremists, with whom she allegedly plotted to kill the Swedish artist.

She is also charged with conspiracy to kill in a foreign country.

Irish Independent

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