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'Losing my Irish citizenship would be unfair,' jihadist jailed in US tells High Court

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Conspirator: Ali Charaf Damache is serving a 15-year sentence

Conspirator: Ali Charaf Damache is serving a 15-year sentence

Conspirator: Ali Charaf Damache is serving a 15-year sentence

An imprisoned jihadist's battle against the revocation of his Irish citizenship went to the High Court yesterday.

The challenge was brought by Algerian-born Ali Charaf Damache, who is serving a 15-year sentence in the US for providing material support to Islamic terrorists.

He was told in October that the Justice Minister intended to revoke his citizenship on the grounds he had failed in his duty of loyalty and fidelity to the State. Yesterday, Mr Justice Richard Humphrey said that he would reserve judgment in the case of the 54-year-old jihadist to a later date.

Damache came to Ireland in 2000 and lived in Waterford, gaining citizenship in 2008 after marrying an Irish woman. He would later be linked to al-Qa'ida and a jihadist cell plotting attacks in Europe and southern Asia.

He conspired with Colleen LaRose, a Pennsylvania woman known as Jihad Jane, in a plot to kill Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks in retaliation for a depiction of the Prophet Muhammad as a dog.

Ireland refused to extradite him to the US, but he was arrested in Barcelona and extradited in 2017. Last July, he pleaded guilty in Philadelphia to materially assisting an Islamic terrorist conspiracy.

If he loses Irish citizenship, Damache faces being deported to Algeria, where he claims he fears he would be mistreated, at the end of his sentence.

Sunniva McDonagh SC, for Damache, told the court Section 19 of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act was repugnant to the Constitution.

Lawyers for the minister argue the proceedings are premature as it is only once the process has been completed that the grounds to challenge it may be evident.

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