NewsCrime Desk

‘There are at least 150 extremists here who see Ireland as a soft touch’


UP UNTIL three days ago, Aaliya wore the full Muslim garb including the niqab which covers the entire face, apart from the eyes.

It was her imam, her spiritual guide, who told her it was not necessary to wear it.

But once again, the young Irish woman who converted to Islam at the age of 18 found it necessary to cover her face as she revealed the presence of a far greater presence of radical Islam in Ireland than was previously estimated.

The call to prayer rang out at the Al Mustafa Islamic Centre in Blanchardstown mosque in Dublin and in a neat row, the roomful of men of all ages rhythmically bent and rose.

Then, Shaykh Dr Muhammad Umar al-Qadri told the congregation there was to be “the most important press conference ever given” by Muslims in Ireland.

Anybody was welcome to stay, he added, before a shy young Irish woman was ushered to the top of the room.

She sat for a moment before it became clear that it would be necessary to disguise her and a headscarf was expertly pinned by Maisa, a young Syrian woman currently living in Mosney.

Only then Aaliya was comfortable enough to speak freely.

Brought up “between homes” in the south-west area, she was “very confused,” she revealed.

At the age of 18, she became attracted to Islam because of the 9/11 terrorism attacks and converted.

“I was fascinated by it,” she explained, adding that at one stage, Osama Bin Laden was the screen saver on her mobile phone.

She moved to London for work and study and at the age of 23, met a young man through a girl she knew, who became her fiancé and became radicalised.

She met the two London Bridge terrorists Khuram Butt and Rachid Redouane on at least 20 occasions both here and in the UK, she said.

She also met hate preacher Anjem Choudary at a house in Santry, Dublin, two-and-ahalf years ago.

She claimed that at least 150 Muslim extremists are currently living in Ireland – some in Dublin but also many in Limerick and also in rural areas such as Clare and Tipperary because rent is cheaper there and landlords tend not to look for a PPS number.

She claimed Ireland was viewed as a “soft touch” by UK radicals – who easily travel between here via the North and do not have to show any documents.

Such radicals “laugh” at Ireland, she claimed, because they see us as being “backward and behind the times” in the assessment of the threat.

Her fiancé told her that her role as a jihadi wife would be to bear children who would grow up to be fighters for the cause.

Her fiancé was involved in a €2.3m online bank scam in the UK but never served time.

During her time in the house in London, she said she was told little of any conversations between jihadis, never saw weapons or heard of no plot.

However, she began to question the radical version of the Muslim faith after her fiancé laughed at an attack in the United States.

She was deradicalised by an Imam in Barking, London – and said she was shocked when he told her that the true teaching of Islam is that anyone who takes the life of one person is the same as killing the whole of mankind.

She claims she still bears the scars after being beaten heavily by her fiancé when, in September 2016, she told him that she was leaving.

Aaliya believes the man is currently living in the Leeds area of the UK but says he disappeared and she no longer has any contact with him.

She is now living in Dublin and continues to practise her moderate Muslim faith. Imam Shaykh Umar has called on the Government to urgently act in stamping out radical Islam in this country, with legislation for an independent body to govern Islamic teaching here.

He said he encouraged young people in his community to join the Gardaí but they were not easily persuaded.

“The children of immigrants want to become doctors or engineers,” he explained.

“Also at home, the police don’t have a good reputation – they are corrupt.”

He believes it will take a generation or two for young Muslim people to join the Gardaí.

Nicola Anderson