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'Disillusioned' Irish jihadis to help gardai fight terrorism

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Frances Fitzgerald,TD,the Minister for Justice and Equality

Frances Fitzgerald,TD,the Minister for Justice and Equality

Frances Fitzgerald,TD,the Minister for Justice and Equality

GARDAI will begin questioning "disillusioned" jihadis returning from war-torn areas in the Middle East in an attempt to stamp out the rise of Islamic extremism in Ireland.

The Department of Justice is rolling out a raft of new measures to prevent Ireland becoming a hub for international terrorists planning attacks on Britain and the rest of Europe.

The move follows concerns Ireland was seen as "soft touch" for Muslim fundamentalists such as those who carried out the savage attacks in Paris earlier this month.

Yesterday, the Irish Independent revealed Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald's plan to crack down on extremists using the internet to spread hate messages and attract young Muslim men into terrorism.

It is part of the Department of Justice's multi-pronged approach to countering the radicalisation of young Irish Muslims by terror groups such as the so-called Islamic State, or Isil.

One of the crucial elements of the plan is to target Irish Muslims who travelled to conflict zones in Syria or Iraq but returned to Ireland disillusioned by the jihadist war.

Gardai will seek to speak to these mostly young men in an attempt to understand how extremists lured them to conflict zones to take part in a brutal war.

They will also speak to the families of loved ones who died fighting with radical Islamic groups in the Middle East.

It is estimated at least 30 Irish citizens travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight alongside Sunni Muslims trying to take control of the region.

At least three young Muslim men who travelled from Ireland to these war zones have been killed.

The youngest was 16-year-old Libyan-born Shamseddin Gaidan from Navan who died fighting with Syrian rebels trying to overthrow president Bashar al-Assad's regime.

The Garda Radical Inter-Cultural and Diversity Office is central to the force's campaign to identify possible terror threats and ensure gardai have a good relationship with the Muslim community.

Islamic scholars will be asked to provide alternative interpretations of Islam to those being used by extremists waging war in the Middle East.

"The key factor is that the source of the counter narrative must be credible and the most effective means of achieving this is by the involvement of members of the communities most at risk," a Department of Justice source said.

The source said the Irish Muslim community had gone to great lengths to promote Islam as a religion of "tolerance and enlightenment".

Minister Fitzgerald attended a two day European Union Justice and Home Affairs Ministers meeting in Latvia this week where talks focused on efforts to prevent further terrorist attacks across Europe.

EU leaders will also ask social media companies such as Facebook and Twitter to remove extremist content or glorification of terror attacks from their websites.

Irish Independent