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Up to 150 Islamic extremists living here, claims 'Irish jihadi'


Police and emergency services at the scene of the London Bridge terror attack last year

Police and emergency services at the scene of the London Bridge terror attack last year

Police and emergency services at the scene of the London Bridge terror attack last year

An Irish woman who admits she was radicalised after converting to Islam has claimed that there are up to 150 Islamic extremists living in Ireland.

A Virgin Media One documentary with Paul Williams called Ireland's Jihadis, to be broadcast on Wednesday night, lifts the lid on the presence of Islamic extremism in Ireland and questions whether it poses a threat to national security and to our neighbours in Europe.

The programme focuses on the dramatic claims made by 'Aaliyah' - not her real name - who converted to Islam when she moved to live in the UK, claiming to have been influenced by the 9/11 attacks, before being radicalised there.

Mr Williams also interviews leading Irish and UK experts and survivors of the London Bridge attack, which happened on June 3 last year and claimed the lives of eight innocent people.

During the frenzied Saturday night attack, which left a further 48 people seriously injured, a van ploughed through pedestrians walking on the bridge before three terrorists - Khuram Butt, Rachid Redouane and Youssef Zaghba - ran through the nearby Borough Market randomly stabbing people out socialising.

The three attackers were shot dead by armed police eight minutes after the incident began.

The programme will tell how the follow-up investigation uncovered evidence which, for the first time, established a direct link between Ireland and IS-inspired terrorism in the UK, when it was discovered that one of the attackers, Rachid Redouane, had been living in Ireland.

Redouane, a Moroccan-born pastry chef, had been denied asylum in the UK multiple times and had been arrested in 2009 boarding a ferry to Belfast using a false passport and name.

Despite his record, Redouane was able to move to Ireland in 2012, where he married his English partner and was granted residency status - which meant he could live in the UK.

The programme will examine how Islamist terrorists are using Ireland as a safe haven where they can hide out, radicalise recruits and raise funds through criminal rackets.

It also suggests Ireland is being used as a back door into the UK and Europe.

The programme hears from a number of international security experts, a former spy and a leading Muslim cleric.


Irish academic Dr Ed Burke, who specialises in insurgency, terrorism and security at the University of Nottingham, also believes that Ireland is seen as a safe haven for terrorists.

"I think once they get to Dublin there's a sense and awareness among Islamist extremists that the heat is off to some extent," he said.

"The awareness that Ireland isn't a first-class security infrastructure State is known by Islamist extremist networks, that we are stretched and don't have the same type of intelligence capability as other European countries."