Thursday 23 May 2019

London terror attacker posed here as happily married man

Terror: Police and members of the emergency services attend to a victim injured in the deadly attack on London Bridge on June 3, 2017. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Terror: Police and members of the emergency services attend to a victim injured in the deadly attack on London Bridge on June 3, 2017. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Paul Williams

Paul Williams

One of the men behind the London Bridge terror atrocity posed as a happily married man looking for a Dublin home shortly before he joined Isil terrorists in Britain.

Rachid Redouane and his former wife distributed a leaflet around the capital's northside looking for a studio apartment to rent. The leaflet, seen by the Irish Independent, portrays a happy young couple starting a new life in Ireland.

Little did anyone think that the smiling husband in the picture was being secretly radicalised at the time and would go on to commit mass murder.

The leaflet reads: "We are Charisse Anne O'Leary Redouane and Rachid Redouane, we are two years married and excited about starting our new life together in Ireland. Myself from London and my husband Rachid from Morocco, we plan to settle in Dublin and we are first time renters. I (Charisse) am 36 and my husband Rachid is 28.

"We both are seeking employment and I have some contacts to get in touch with.

"We have savings and we are looking for affordable accommodation, ideally a studio flat."

Rachid Redouane
Rachid Redouane

Ms O'Leary had no idea at the time that she was being used by Redouane, a Moroccan pastry chef, to gain residency status in the EU.

A new documentary, 'Ireland's Jihadis', which airs on Virgin Media One tomorrow night, investigates how the Islamist extremist was able to live under the radar in Ireland despite having a criminal conviction in the UK and being refused asylum on several occasions.

He had been arrested in 2009 boarding a ferry to Belfast using a false passport and using the alias Rachid Elkhdar. When UK immigration laws changed in 2012, Redouane moved to Ireland with Ms O'Leary and they were married in the Registry Office on Grand Canal Street on November 7, 2012.

Redouane remained under the radar of the Department of Justice until 2015 when he applied for and was granted residency status for five years. This entitled him to move unchecked anywhere within the EU.

As soon as they received notice of Redouane's residency here, they left for London. Ms O'Leary was by now pregnant and in October that year she gave birth to a baby girl. The three shared an apartment in East London, not far from the home in Barking of fellow attacker Khuram Butt.

At various stages, the two men had come under surveillance by the British security services.

Ms O'Leary later separated from Redouane, claiming that he was abusive. She was completely unaware of the London Bridge attacks or that her husband was involved in any extremist activity.

Leading international security and intelligence academic Dr Ed Burke revealed that the Irish authorities did not have access to databases which would have alerted them to monitor Redouane.

He said: "In the case of Redouane, the fact that he had been prevented from travelling to Northern Ireland I think twice, the suspicion within the UK was that this individual was trying to not go to Northern Ireland but was trying to go to Ireland because Ireland wasn't signed up to the Schengen Information System II, for example.

"Redouane was on certain databases that we didn't have access to. Now we will have access to them but we should have had ability to tap into databases to see was he there and if he is there has he been in other European countries."

The senior garda in charge of the State's Security and Intelligence Section, Assistant Commissioner Michael O'Sullivan, said that since 2016 Ireland has had access to more extensive international databases.

He said: "We have brought in improvements. We introduced the Interpol Find System here to all airports and ports in November of 2016, which is a database based in Lyon that is searched at points of entry for over four million fraudulent travel documents including passports.

"Next year, we will be signed up and part of the Schengen Information System. That information system has over four billion checks carried out annually that will include persons wanted in other jurisdictions, persons of interest to law enforcement in our security services in other jurisdictions.

"They're massive improvements."

Irish Independent

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