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Thursday 26 April 2018

Gardai and Army shut down potential terror cell

Tom Brady

Tom Brady

TWO major operations based on intelligence gathered by gardai and the Army effectively ended the last serious attempt by sympathisers to set up a vital logistics cell here for Osama bin Laden's al-Qa'ida terrorist network.

The Garda's Middle Eastern desk was given a significant boost in personnel in July 1999 and the Army had also been building up its emphasis on international terrorism in its intelligence section.

The timing of the move was fortuitous as, five months later, the two organisations were plunged into the centre of a huge probe involving the FBI and CIA after the discovery of a millennium plot to blow up Los Angeles airport.

Gardai and the military had been carefully compiling a dossier on more than a dozen suspects. And a breakthrough followed the arrest of five men in south Dublin the following December and a sixth the next month.

These operations produced invaluable information for the US agencies and highlighted a definite link between one of those detained here and Ahmed Ressan, who had been captured on the US-Canadian border with a car-load of explosives.

After the co-operation on the millennium plot, members of the garda unit were sent to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, for training on dealing with Islamic militants. This was part of a programme that was mainly linked to the FBI academy in Quantico, Virginia.

In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, gardai launched a further series of raids in Dublin. Documents confiscated during the raids ranged from lists of names and telephone numbers to bank records. Among those named was a Saudi fund-raiser who had been listed by the FBI as the chief financial officer for Bin Laden's network.

Gardai and the military are satisfied there are no active cells located here and those under regular surveillance are more likely to be involved in providing logistical support for frontline activists.

Irish Independent

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