Muslim convert quizzed over threat to assassinate Obama
Published 13/05/2011 | 05:00
Garda Special Branch detectives were today questioning a 44-year-old Dublin man in connection with threats to kill US President Barack Obama during his visit here later in the month.
The suspect, Khalid Kelly, who is a converted Muslim, made the alleged remarks in a Sunday newspaper article.
Mr Kelly was arrested at his home, off Gardiner Street in Dublin's north inner city at 7am yesterday and taken to Store Street garda station for questioning. He can be held in custody for up to three days without charge.
Born Terry Kelly, from the Liberties area of Dublin, he converted to Islam while serving a jail sentence in Saudi Arabia for illegally distilling and selling alcohol. He later travelled to Pakistan, where he claimed he trained with tribal warlords with the intention of going to Afghanistan.
While in Britain, he associated with a number of radicals and became a member of the now banned British group, al Muhajiroun, and during several television and newspaper appearances defended the September 11 and July 7 attacks.
His arrest by the special branch yesterday arose from an article last weekend in which he said al-Qa'ida had chosen Ireland as a perfect place to launch an attack on Mr Obama.
He said the terrorists would pay up to €1m to anybody prepared to kill Mr Obama and hit squads were on stand-by.
Meanwhile, it emerged last night that special court sittings are to be held to deal with arrests arising from protests over the visits of Britain's Queen Elizabeth and Mr Obama.
The sittings will be held day and night from Monday until the following Tuesday week.
The nine days of district court sittings have been sanctioned as part of contingency plans to cope with a spate of arrests of potential attackers or demonstrators deemed to have broken the law.
Gardai have advised protest groups that peaceful demonstrations will be policed in the normal manner.
But they have warned the groups that breaches of the law will not be tolerated and any attempt to disrupt the schedules of the two VIPs by blocking their intended routes or interfering with the detailed planning will be dealt with robustly.
A series of protests has already been flagged by groups such as Eirigi, which describes itself as a socialist republican outfit, and Republican Sinn Fein, which denies it is the political wing of the Continuity IRA.
Gardai also expect some protests against Mr Obama's visit the following week.
Special branch detectives have been closely monitoring the movements of dissident republican activists such as members of the self-styled Oglaigh na hEireann, the Real IRA and the Continuity IRA, which all have cells based on this side of the Border.
Sinn Fein will today announce details of a 'counter event' in Cork to coincide with the queen's visit next week.
The Special Branch Middle Eastern desk and military intelligence, meanwhile, have stepped up their efforts to counteract attempts by sympathisers of international terrorist groups against the Obama visit.
Further meetings to finalise the arrangements of his schedule were held yesterday between gardai and US secret agents and talks at a higher level are fixed for today.