Threat of 'lone wolf' attack by radical young Islamists in Ireland surpasses threat from 'republican' terrorism
Gardai liaising closely with US and EU security agencies to quell the threat of Islamic terrorism
The threat of 'lone wolf' attacks by radical young Islamists here has, for the first time, surpassed the threat from indigenous 'republican' terrorism, according to Garda sources.
The fact that the Gardai and Defence Forces take "very seriously" the threat of a murderous, suicidal attack by a radicalised young Muslim was flagged in June by Defence Minister Simon Coveney.
But now, security sources have confirmed to the Sunday Independent that the radicalisation of young Muslims here is regarded as far more serious an issue than so-called 'dissident' republicanism.
A number of groups claiming to be 'dissident' republicans are said to be mainly doing so to cover their criminal activities, according to Garda sources. Some are former Provisional IRA members using the names like 'Real' and 'Continuity' IRA to deflect attention from their criminal operations, mainly involving fuel and tobacco smuggling.
Although there have only been two known arrests here this year in respect of two suspected radical Islamists, one Irish, the other Eastern European, it is understood that rapidly increasing co-operation is taking place between the Garda and other EU and American state security agencies, mainly concerning the Internet or 'cyber' radicalisation of young Muslims.
The issue is not commented on officially by either the Garda or Defence Forces but it is now known that a considerable amount of 'cyber counter-terrorism' is taking place here, with the Garda co-operating closely with the British and Americans in monitoring the Internet activities of some Islamists.
The threat was again highlighted last weekend by the Irish Sunni cleric, Shaykh Dr Umar al-Qadri, who described those responsible for the 'lone wolf' attacks in Europe, Tunisia and elsewhere as being the "biggest blasphemers of all" and anti-Islamic.
Dr al-Qadri, a highly respected figure in the Muslim community here, called on all Muslims to denounce and counter the radical teaching of some Islamic teachers.
Sources in the Muslim community told the Sunday Independent last week that while there is "some, but very little" radicalisation taking place, the vast majority of Ireland's estimated 50,000 Muslims are "very happy" living here and eschew any anti-Christian or anti-Western views.
The vast majority of Muslims here are Sunnis, with only two or three thousand others from Muslim sects such as the Suffis or Ahmadis - who are both subject to persecution by radical Sunni Islamists.
Both Ahmadi and Shias here adhere to strong principles of peaceful co-existence with other religions, as do the vast majority of Sunnis.
And many Irish Muslims are said to be open in their use of the derogatory term 'Daesh' to describe the extremists who claim to support groups like Isil, Boko Haram in Nigeria and Al- Shabaab in Somalia.
Isil has threatened to "cut out the tongues" of any Muslims who use the term, which was commonly used by opponents around 10 years ago when the newest, most radical form of Islamic terrorism began to emerge.
The word 'Daesh' is similar to the Arabic term to 'trample'. The Taliban in Afghanistan have vowed to kill all 'Daesh' in their country.
Read more here; 'Small minority' of Irish Muslims are sympathetic to Isil
The 'Daesh' are hated even by al-Qa'ida, whose supporters in Syria and Iraq are now actively opposing Isil and are even said to be secretly co-operating with the anti-Isil coalition forces.
The UN has stated that Israel has actually provided medical treatment for injured fighters from al-Qa'ida affiliates in Syria because of their fierce opposition to Isil.
The main concern for Government, based on Garda and army intelligence briefings, is that Isil supporters are so nihilistic that they will carry out attacks here even though the Republic of Ireland is the one European State to have outlawed the 'blasphemous' depiction of Mohammed.
Isil supporters believe in the eradication of basically everyone that does not adhere to their perverse interpretation of Koranic teaching.
Monitoring of suspected Islamic extremists has been taking place in Ireland since before the September 11 attacks in the United States in 2001.
Evidence connecting a number of figures here with a planned attack on Los Angeles Airport to coincide with the Millennium led to the first Garda investigations into links between around 20 men, mostly of north African origin, and al-Qa'ida.
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No charges were brought and no one was extradited. The group's leader travelled to Afghanistan three months before the September 11 attacks and was captured by allied forces after the invasion.
His whereabouts thereafter are uncertain but it is believed he was subject to torture and 'rendition' to a third country.
Investigations showed that although there was active support here for al-Qa'ida, it was limited to fund-raising, mainly through credit card fraud, and the provision of fake identity documents.
As the threat of al-Qa'ida attacks in the West has been replaced by that from the 'Daesh' lone wolves, vast resources are now being directed into cyber monitoring, with the US Defence Department spending billions of dollars on identifying and countering the threat emerging via the Internet.
Sources have confirmed that there is now 'close' Garda Special Branch co-operation with other intelligence agencies, particularly Americans and British, to spot the possible evolution of 'Daesh' cells here.
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Sources in the Muslim community here say that while there is undoubtedly some 'radical' preaching going on in some underground mosques, the vast majority of the country's 50,000-strong Islamic community are "very happy" living here despite, what they say is, the frequent occurrence of racism.
Many are said to be worried about a rise in anti-Muslim sentiment arising from the killings of Laurence and Martina Hayes, from Athlone, and Lorna Carty, from Robinstown, Co Meath, in the attack which resulted in the murders of 38 tourists in Tunisia last month.