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Al-Qa'ida wanted to convert Ireland to Islam

AL-QA'IDA urged Osama Bin Laden to send a message to the Irish people to urge them to convert to Islam.

IRELAND was on the list of countries to be included in a global jihad, according to declassified files removed from Bin Laden's compound.

Adam Gadahn, al-Qa'ida's American-born spin doctor, proposed an ambitious new front in the jihad in January of last year.

Mr Dadahn noted "the increasing anger in Ireland towards the Catholic Church" after "sex scandals and others" and urged the group to persuade the disenchanted to turn to Islam rather than secularism.

He called for the group to "prepare a message for the Irish", who he said tended to be sympathetic to the cause of the Palestinians.

"They were also the original enemies to the Evangelist Protestants who were the vanguard of the Crusades," the document outlines.

Among the documents is the letter from Mr Gadahn to an unknown recipient dated January of last year which lays out reasons for reaching out to the Irish people.

The documents also speculate on the impact of the clerical child abuse scandal and the economic crisis here.

"What helped to prepare the message was the last economic crisis that affected Ireland a lot, thus forcing its youth to look for sources of living in the outside," writes Mr Gadahn.

"The other matter is the increasing anger in Ireland towards the Catholic Church after exposing a number of sex scandals and others," he adds.

Ibrahim Michael Noonan from Co Waterford, who is the first Irish man to become an Imam, said last night that he had become aware of a small, militant element of Islam creeping into the country and called for increased vigilance.

He stressed that 99pc of Muslims living in Ireland have absolutely no interest in this branch of Islam.

But there is "small element of brainwashing going on of young, disenchanted men by some extreme people who have made their way into the country", he said.