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Jihadis using Ireland as a transit base due to soft laws and lack of counter terrorism police

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Special police force guards the entrance of a house in Berlin as police raids several residences in Berlin on suspicion of recruiting fighters and procuring equipment and funding for the so-called Islamic State terrorism group in Syria. Photo: AP

Special police force guards the entrance of a house in Berlin as police raids several residences in Berlin on suspicion of recruiting fighters and procuring equipment and funding for the so-called Islamic State terrorism group in Syria. Photo: AP

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A police officer patrols in front of the Antwerp cathedral. Belgian police arrested 13 people during a dozen raids overnight, smashing a plot to kill police officers "in public roads and in police stations", prosecutors said.

A police officer patrols in front of the Antwerp cathedral. Belgian police arrested 13 people during a dozen raids overnight, smashing a plot to kill police officers "in public roads and in police stations", prosecutors said.

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Belgian police and forensic investigators work in Colline Street in Verviers, eastern Belgium

Belgian police and forensic investigators work in Colline Street in Verviers, eastern Belgium

AFP/Getty Images

A man, who had taken two hostages in a post office, is arrested by French Research and Intervention Brigades (BRI) police officers in Colombes, outside Paris. Police sources said several post office clients had managed to escape and that the gunman himself had called them. The sources said he was "speaking incoherently" and was heavily armed with grenades and Kalashnikovs.

A man, who had taken two hostages in a post office, is arrested by French Research and Intervention Brigades (BRI) police officers in Colombes, outside Paris. Police sources said several post office clients had managed to escape and that the gunman himself had called them. The sources said he was "speaking incoherently" and was heavily armed with grenades and Kalashnikovs.

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A man (L), who had taken two hostages in a post office, surrenders to French Research and Intervention Brigades (BRI) policemen officers

A man (L), who had taken two hostages in a post office, surrenders to French Research and Intervention Brigades (BRI) policemen officers

AFP/Getty Images

Belgian police vehicles are parked outside a police station in Verviers, eastern Belgium, one day after two suspected jihadists were killed in a police raid. Belgian police raided an Islamist cell planning attacks against police on January 16 as dozens of people were arrested in sweeps across Europe, keeping the continent on alert one week after the Paris attacks. Two suspected jihadists were shot dead in a police raid in the eastern Belgian town of Verviers on the night of January 15 and prosecutors said 13 suspects had been detained across Belgium, with two more held in France.

Belgian police vehicles are parked outside a police station in Verviers, eastern Belgium, one day after two suspected jihadists were killed in a police raid. Belgian police raided an Islamist cell planning attacks against police on January 16 as dozens of people were arrested in sweeps across Europe, keeping the continent on alert one week after the Paris attacks. Two suspected jihadists were shot dead in a police raid in the eastern Belgian town of Verviers on the night of January 15 and prosecutors said 13 suspects had been detained across Belgium, with two more held in France.

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Members of a police task force stand in front of an apartment building where raids took place against suspected jihadists. More than 200 German police officers raided suspected Islamist sites in and around Berlin early on Friday, arresting an alleged leader of a group planning to carry out an attack in Syria, police said.

Members of a police task force stand in front of an apartment building where raids took place against suspected jihadists. More than 200 German police officers raided suspected Islamist sites in and around Berlin early on Friday, arresting an alleged leader of a group planning to carry out an attack in Syria, police said.

AFP/Getty Images

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Special police force guards the entrance of a house in Berlin as police raids several residences in Berlin on suspicion of recruiting fighters and procuring equipment and funding for the so-called Islamic State terrorism group in Syria. Photo: AP

Ireland is seen as soft on jihadis because of a lack of laws and specialist counterterrorism police.

Islamic extremists have started using Ireland as a base and transit zone after the introduction of new laws that limit their movement elsewhere in the EU, European police agencies have told Gardai.

Gardai are now monitoring the movements of a number of suspected jihadis, including one who recently arrived back into the country, as a result of intelligence from French, Scandinavian and German agencies.

The move comes as the French authorities clamped down on the movement of suspected Islamist terrorists trying to join IS (Islamic State) after the 'Charlie Hebdo' attacks in Paris.

But because Ireland has more lax passport regulations than other European countries, it has become a hub for jihadis making their way to war zones in the Middle East.

Many who cannot return home to the continent because of local laws are free to travel here and then move on.

Meanwhile, a chain of businesses in the country is being used to launder money and safehouses are also in operation.

Senior gardai say the force is not fit for purpose for dealing with international terrorism and a specialised intelligence service is required.

Gardai are working closely with their counterparts across Europe compiling intelligence on the movements of the terrorists. Security sources have revealed the Government is desperately trying to downplay the use of Ireland by the groups.

Last week, the Irish Independent revealed how a hard core group of Islamist terrorists - most of whom were granted political asylum in this country - were helping to co-ordinate logistics for terror groups such as al-Qa'ida and Isil.

High-level intelligence sources have discovered that prospective recruits for various Islamist terror groups have been sent on "training camps" in Irish mountains. The Irish Independent understands that one such camp took place on a mountain range in the east of the country in recent weeks.

Security sources revealed that those taking part - young men in their late teens and early 20s - were being "tested" to assess if they had the "mental and physical strength" to be jihadis.

It is understood that the potential Islamist terrorists were made to endure the hardships of living rough in the mountainous terrain, which included swimming in frozen lakes and camping under the elements.

"This was being done primarily to test if they have the mental and physical strength to be selected as jihadis," a security source revealed. "Those taking part are not necessarily aware that this is being done to test them out initially - there are no weapons or military tactics used and no laws were broken.

"Those considered to have potential and the correct religious orientation are then taken aside for more indoctrination and sent abroad to join IS in Syria," the source added.

Meanwhile, Gardai want officers armed again with Uzi sub-machine guns to counter the threat from Islamic terrorists. Armed officers have complained for more than two years after the Israeli-made weapons were withdrawn from use and replaced with handguns.

However, gardai believe attempted attacks by terrorists are now possible and they are not equipped to deal with them.

They say the Sig semi-automatic handguns they have been equipped with are no match for the high-powered Uzi, and the country cannot rely on the five armed regional response units.

Irish Independent


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