Call for ban on 'bomb Ireland' extremist
THERE was outrage last night after an Islamic fundamentalist said Ireland was a "legitimate" target for a terrorist attack. Lawyer Anjem Choudary, who is under police surveillance in Britain, made the comments shortly after arriving in Dublin for a debate in Trinity College.
THERE was outrage last night after an Islamic fundamentalist said Ireland was a "legitimate" target for a terrorist attack.
Lawyer Anjem Choudary, who is under police surveillance in Britain, made the comments shortly after arriving in Dublin for a debate in Trinity College.
His remarks are being studied by gardai with a view to possible prosecution for incitement to hatred.
Politicians called for him to be banned from public platforms in Ireland.
Choudary claimed Ireland was a legitimate target for a terror attack because of the Government's decision to allow US troops to refuel at Shannon Airport. "If you are going to allow your country to be used to refuel a US plane which is going on a bombing raid, what do you expect our reaction to be? This is not neutrality," he said.
"A US pilot is no different from the Irish person who allows the plane to land. They are collaborators."
And in a veiled threat, he warned: "It is better for the Muslim to tell you this reality so we can change this and to make sure what is taking place in other countries will not happen in Ireland."
Another Muslim extremist, Umran Javed, told the debate he did not personally see an attack on Ireland as likely.
But he warned retaliation would come "swiftly" if Ireland was to increase its support for the US.
Choudary's comments came just a day after at some 60 people were killed in a triple bomb attack in Jordan.
He spoke only hours after the head of Scotland Yard, London Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair, warned that Dublin is as much at risk of a major terrorist attack as other large cities.
A Government spokesman last night refused to comment on Choudary's inflammatory remarks, and said it was a "legal issue for the Department of Justice".
Justice Minister Michael McDowell is to await a Garda report on the debate before reacting to the comments.
Senior Garda officers will also study his remarks to determine if they represent an incitement to hatred.
Detectives from the Garda Special Branch's Middle Eastern Unit kept watch at Trinity College while Mr Choudary, Umram Javed and another Islamic fundamentalist, Abdul Rehman Saleem, aired their extremist views.
Opposition politicians last night expressed outrage at the decision to give Choudary a platform for his views, and said the Islamic fundamentalist may be guilty of breaching incitement to hatred laws.
Labour Justice spokesman Joe Costello described his comments as "dangerous and provocative".
"This is a form of incitement to hatred. It is highly irresponsible to state that Ireland is a legitimate target for attack, especially given what happened in Jordan yesterday," he told the Irish Independent.
"There is a serious question mark about somebody coming into this country and justifying an attack on this country."
Fine Gael's justice spokesman Jim O'Keeffe said no-one wanted to curb free speech, but added there was also a duty to uphold the laws banning incitement to hatred and advocating terrorist attacks.
"I think it is very immature of the Philosophical Society in Trinity to invite someone who wants to advocate violence."
A spokesman for Trinity College said there was never any question of banning Choudary as the university believed in free speech and encouraged the Philosophical Society to promote debate.
Choudary was speaking in favour of a motion that the September 11 attacks in the US in 2001 were justified.
Musleh Faradhi, president of the Islamic Forum of Europe, said: "Any terrorism act perpetrated by Muslims in condemnable. Whether it is in a Muslim land, America, London or Jordan, it goes against the teaching of Islam, the Koran and the teachings of the prophet.
"We condemn it without any condition.
"There is no justification whatever for these acts. That is the view of the main body of Muslims worldwide."
The controversy comes at time when British politics is torn by the Commons defeat of a key clause in British Prime Minister Tony Blair's anti-terror measures.
Mr Blair yesterday branded rebel Labour MPs as out of touch.