Thursday 27 November 2014

'Irish' fighter seeks to lure more to Islamic State's cause

Published 21/08/2014 | 02:30

THE message is clear and uncompromising. A young man is pictured on a website in combat fatigues, holding an AK47. He says that he is fighting for his religion and to humiliate non-Muslims and enemies of Islam.

There have been many photos and video messages like this over the past two decades.

But this one, seen by the Irish Independent in recent days, is unusual. The person involved is not from the Middle East or north Africa.

What marks him apart is that he claims to be "half Irish, half Nigerian" and among the Islamic State fighters currently occupying large swathes of Iraq and Syria, killing anyone who gets in their way.

He has been using social media and encrypted chat rooms to dispense advice to potential recruits for the past month. His chosen language to do this is English and not Arabic.

Amid the rhetoric and quotations from the Koran is advice on how to travel to Syria without being detected by security agencies.

His approach seems consistent with that of the Islamic State, using a Western technology to spread its message against non-Muslims.

In message board postings he tries to paint an attractive picture for potential fighters, saying weapons, food, accommodation and electricity will be provided to them free of charge when they arrive. A picture of a gym available to combatants is posted as is a photo of young men in high spirits holding the Islamic State flag while swimming.

Jihad is an obligation for every Muslim, he says.

Gardai and army personnel are currently monitoring several such websites and attempting to identify posters amid fears an increasing number of young Irish Muslims are becoming radicalised.

Previously fears mainly revolved around the capacity for terror to be financed here. Libyan-born Ibrahim Buisir was placed on a designated terrorist list by the US for allegedly raising funds for terror groups. But he was never charged with an offence or extradited.

There was also intelligence that Ireland was being used as a place for mujahideen to recuperate after campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.

However, fears about young Irish Muslims becoming radicalised have never been to the fore. There have been some behind the scenes rumblings, but nothing definitive.

Former US ambassador Dan Rooney warned the Government at the onset of the recession that cutbacks to programmes aimed at integrating Muslims could lead to future generations being alienated from mainstream society.

He felt the signs of discontent were already there. Members of a mosque had celebrated after Irish-born aid worker Margaret Hassan was kidnapped in Iraq, while Muslim children were absent from school and visibly sad after senior al Qa'ida figure Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed in Iraq, he claimed.

If these claims were true then it would be unsurprising if some Irish Muslims were not attracted to the conflict raging in the Middle East. Authorities are currently monitoring the activities of up to 30 Irish-based Muslims who have been travelling to and from trouble zones. At least three have been killed.

The question now is how many more will join in the slaughter.

Irish Independent

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