Intelligence units monitor 40 suspected Isil supporters
Published 13/01/2016 | 02:30
Garda and Army intelligence units are monitoring upwards of 40 individuals who have been identified as either Isil supporters or jihadi fighters, the Irish Independent has learned.
Sources have revealed the majority of the suspects under surveillance are believed to be involved in recruiting and providing logistic support to the extremist terror group.
A small number of jihadi fighters living in Ireland have also been secretly prevented from leaving the country and are under constant surveillance. According to informed security sources the "40-plus" Isil members have been identified as a result of ongoing intelligence-gathering operations conducted by the Garda and their international counterparts.
The Irish Independent can also reveal a newly formed, heavily armed Regional Support Unit (RSU) is to be assigned to Dublin as a direct response to the growing security threat. It is understood the new, high visibility special weapons and tactics unit (Swat) will have 60 members, including 10 sergeants and 50 gardaí.
The decision by the Garda Commissioner to organise the new RSU came in response to an ongoing high-level review of security in the wake of increased Isil terror attacks across Europe.
The unit - which is similar to the existing RSU units already deployed for some years in each of the Garda regions outside the capital - will be deployed on the streets to free up the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) for more intensive counter-terrorism operations.
It is also understood that as part of the increased security measures additional specialist personnel are being recruited to the Garda Counter Terrorism International (CTI) unit, the ERU, military intelligence and the Army Ranger Wing (ARW).
Over the past year the number of joint training operations between the ERU and the ARW has increased in a bid to prepare for any potential threat.
According to intelligence sources most of the Isil suspects currently being monitored here are involved in the recruitment of radicalised young Muslim men and providing financial assistance to enable the fighters to travel to Syria and Iraq.
Last January, in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, the threat level was upgraded by the national security committee from "low" to "moderate". This means while a terror attack is possible it is unlikely.
Following the second Paris atrocity by Isil killers in November, the committee, which includes the Garda Commissioner, Defence Forces Chief of Staff, their senior security advisers and senior officials from the Departments of Justice, Defence and Foreign Affairs, agreed that the threat level should remain at moderate.
It is understood senior gardaí are in constant contact with security agencies across the western world and security intelligence is being updated on a daily basis.
The Irish Independent understands gardaí have also been involved in building evidence against a number of suspects with a view to either charging them with criminal offences or deporting them.
Just over two weeks ago, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg issued a temporary order suspending the State's attempt to deport a foreign national who was described as posing a threat to national security, in the first such case of its type here.
At an emergency sitting of the High Court during the Christmas break, evidence was given of Garda suspicions the man was a "recruiter" of Islamic terrorists and that he "makes travel arrangements" for others to fight in countries such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The man, who is aged in his 50s and is the father of an Irish-born teenage son, came to Ireland several years ago as an asylum seeker.