| 6°C Dublin

Three freed in death plot probe

Three of the seven suspects detained by gardai investigating the alleged plot to murder Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks were released without charge last night.

A married couple, both Algerians, who had been arrested at their Ballincollig home in Cork last Tuesday, were freed, along with another woman who was being detained at Tramore garda station.

The other four were still being questioned by officers late last night but it was likely that a decision would be made by this morning on the fate of the one remaining women in custody.

Meanwhile, gardai are building up a case against the prime suspect arrested here. Officers said last night the 49-year-old Algerian remained the main focus of their investigation.

An examination of the computers seized during the garda raids on seven houses, an office and a bakery, has confirmed an online link between the Algerian and the self-styled Jihad Jane, who is alleged in a criminal indictment before a court in Philadelphia to be the organiser of the murder plot.

A trawl through the massive quantity of computer records on exchanges of emails and internet chatroom content continued last night.


But the exercise has already provided confirmation of intelligence supplied by the FBI and CIA that Jihad Jane, whose real name is Colleen LaRose, and the Algerian had been in contact with each other on the internet.

She also used the Algerian to interact with others here.

When Ms LaRose visited here for two weeks last September her movements were monitored by gardai and she was seen in the company of the Algerian and his Kansas-born wife in Cork and in Waterford.

The Algerian is an Irish passport holder, who has been living here since 2000 and became a naturalised citizen in 2008.

Gardai will attempt to establish over the weekend whether any of the contacts between them amounted to a breach of the criminal legislation here.

Other members of the Irish-based group were regarded as facilitators, who were prepared to provide logistical support for Ms LaRose, if necessary.

But they will not face charges unless there is evidence to show they had knowledge of her alleged plans to kill Mr Vilks in Sweden. They did not communicate directly with Ms LaRose but were aware she held strong views.

Arrested in Waterford city, Tramore and Ballincollig, the suspects have been questioned since Tuesday at garda stations in Waterford city, Tramore, Dungarvan and Thomastown.

The garda operation, which has been under way since last autumn, involves gardai from the south-eastern region, the special branch, the national surveillance unit and the crime and security branch. They have been working with the FBI, CIA, British security services, the Swedish police agency Sapo, and north African police forces.

Irish Independent