Friday 24 November 2017

Irish citizen with links to 'Jihad Jane' held in Spain

Ali Charaf Damache
Ali Charaf Damache

Gerard Couzens

An Irish terror suspect wanted by US authorities was being held in prison in Spain last night after opposing extradition.

Ali Charaf Damache was arrested on Thursday afternoon at a hotel in Barcelona on an international arrest warrant.

Damache, who has dual Algerian-Irish nationality, is wanted by the FBI for alleged involvement in a foiled plot to murder a Swedish cartoonist whose depiction of the Prophet Mohammed caused outrage in the Muslim world.

He successfully fought an Irish High Court bid to extradite him to the US earlier this year.

The High Court heard that the US alleged it had evidence that Algerian-born Damache (50) conspired with American housewife Colleen LaRose and others to create a terror cell in Europe.

LaRose, a Muslim convert nicknamed 'Jihad Jane', was convicted of trying to kill Swedish artist Lars Vilks and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Damache, who was living in Co Waterford when he was first arrested by gardaí in 2010, is understood to have left Ireland several months ago. He was carrying an Irish passport at the time of his arrest.

Catalunya's Interior Minister Jordi Jane said the terror suspect was arrested around 6pm on Thursday at an unnamed hotel in Barcelona's Avenida Meridiana, one of the city's main avenues, where a bomb planted by ETA killed 21 people and injured 41 others in June 1987.

Mr Jane said: "We knew this person was in Barcelona at the start of the week."

He is not suspected of committing any crimes in Spain. It was reported authorities were alerted to his presence in the Catalan capital via a call to the country's 112 emergency service

Ali Charaf Damache was taken straight to Madrid for an extradition hearing at the Spanish capital's Central Criminal Court, the Audiencia Nacional.

Judge Eloy Velasco ordered his remand in prison after he refused to be sent to the States to face charges of conspiracy to provide support for terrorists and for alleged attempted identity theft to assist an act of terrorism.

He is expected to be held at Soto del Real Prison near Madrid until a new hearing takes place.

A date has yet to be set.

It is understood authorities in the US now have 40 days to present a formal extradition request to the Spanish authorities.

Irish Independent

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