Garda fears over lone-wolf attacks by ex-Isil fighters
Most jihadis who left Ireland believed to be dead
Lone-wolf attacks are posing probably the greatest concern to An Garda Síochána and other police and security services throughout Europe.
That is the assessment of the senior garda in charge of national security and intelligence.
Assistant Commissioner Michael O'Sullivan also disclosed that most of the Irish jihadi terror sympathisers who left here to join fighters in Syria and Iraq have not come home.
He said many of the estimated 30 Irish fighters are now believed to be dead. Others are missing and some may have headed to other "theatres of war". But few had returned to this country.
He said the families of foreign fighters, who had witnessed atrocities in Syria and Iraq, presented a bigger challenge for the authorities here on their return. However, this was more a social welfare and educational problem than a security challenge, as efforts were being made to integrate them back into the community.
Mr O'Sullivan confirmed that a "small number" of jihadi suspects continued to be monitored by gardaí as persons of interest and he said his force worked closely with the Defence Forces and with overseas agencies such as MI5.
He was speaking at the opening of the 46th Interpol European Regional Conference in Santry, Dublin, yesterday.
Pointing out that a lone-wolf attack was also a concern for gardaí, he said the Muslim community here - 60,000-strong in the last national census - was very genuine and law-abiding and Garda ethnic liaison officers and community gardaí were working closely with them.
But gardaí had to be wary of the possibility of a lone-wolf terror attack, he warned.
Mr O'Sullivan said it was estimated there were currently 2,000 foreign fighters left in the diminishing theatre of war.
"There is concern internationally in relation to where they may go next. At the moment, there isn't real evidence they are returning to Europe, including Ireland," he said.
"Also of concern to us certainly would be families returning, and that is a concern for a lot of jurisdictions, and these may have been families not involved directly in the war but whose children, particularly young males, may have witnessed some of the most appalling crimes known to man."
Meanwhile, Interpol secretary-general Jurgen Stock has described Ireland as the safest country in Europe and said he could see no reason why this country could be regarded as a weak link in the international response to terrorism.