Imam feared that suicide bomber would strike in Ireland
Published 06/11/2016 | 02:30
An Irish Muslim leader says he feared that the Dublin-born Isil suicide bomber Terence 'Khalid' Kelly would mount a terrorist attack in Ireland.
Dr Umar Al-adri, Imam at Al Mustafa mosque, told the Sunday Independent that he was "relieved" the threat had been averted by Kelly's death on Friday fighting with Isil in Iraq.
Informed sources say fears remain that Kelly had set up an Isil network in Ireland which may have recruited as many as 300 members.
Despite travelling to Syria and Iraq in 2015, he returned to Ireland as late as March this year and attended High Court hearings in support of a suspected Isil sympathiser from Jordan who was fighting deportation.
He sat beside the Jordanian at the hearings and accompanied him to and from the courthouse. There was no additional security in place and it did not appear that Kelly was under overt surveillance.
Dr Al-Qadri said it was "very worrying" how Kelly was allowed to travel from Ireland to Mosul, given his extremist views. Kelly, born in Dublin's Liberties, was regarded as a high-level terrorist recruiter and plotter.
Isil reported he was one of five suicide bombers who attacked coalition forces advancing on Mosul in north Iraq on Friday.
Dr Al-Qadri said he unwittingly found himself in a group chat with Kelly on a WhatsApp social media group last year and was taken aback when one group member defended the men and women "fighting the evil in the world".
"I said, 'Who is this?' He said he was Khalid. I said 'Khalid Kelly?' I said 'I know enough now, I know why you are speaking this nonsense.' I asked where he was. He said he was out of the country. I said: 'Don't come back to Ireland, we don't need you.'"
A second Muslim leader, Imam Ibrahim Noonan, said Khalid Kelly had been urging Irish Muslims to wage jihad.
Imam Noonan, who knew Kelly "very well" and warned him against extremism, said when they met last, Kelly told him: "We should be doing Jihad, we should be going to fight Americans." Noonan then said to him: "Khalid, you are being stupid."
Imam Noonan claimed that "extremist groups are coming from Pakistan into Ireland and they are trying to persuade young Irish Muslims to go to Pakistan to study".
He said "certain mosques" are inviting these scholars to Ireland. "These delegations give talks around the country," he said. He reported the activity to gardai and has also warned young Irish Muslims against travelling to Pakistan.
"I've said this was going to happen at some point. It looks like more and more extremists are coming into Ireland."