NewsCrime Desk

Prison chiefs probing jihadi networks in Irish jails

Our man talks to Mr Y
Our man talks to Mr Y

THE PRISON Service’s elite ‘OSG’ unit has been investigating Irish links to jihadi networks after monitoring phonecalls and visits of suspected extremist inmates in Cloverhill Prison over the past two years.

The OSG (Operational Support Group) effectively operates as the Irish Prison Service’s Intelligence arm.

Despite claims that intelligence services are not doing enough to monitor jihadi elements, sources confirmed to the Sunday World an operation to discover extremist networks has been operational at Cloverhill Prison for the past two years.

Non-nationals facing deportation, including those suspected of links to extremists terrorist groups, are jailed in Cloverhill.

The Sunday World can reveal that at least six inmates have been monitored to establish if links exist to terror groups while being held in Cloverhill pending deportation hearings.


Sources have confirmed that all visitor lists and phonecalls to and from suspected jihadi inmates are made available on request to the Garda’s Counter Terrorism International (CTI) Unit.

“The intention is not only to prevent extremism being promoted within the prison, but also to identify possible sympathisers and networks within this country,” a source said.

“Suspicious phonecalls are made available to the CTI Unit and any and all available information relating to associates deemed of possible interest to the Gardaí.”

One major target for the Operational Support Group has been a convicted terrorist, called Mr X, who is currently fighting deportation and who has been in custody in Cloverhill for several months.

This individual, who the Sunday World is legally barred from naming, first arrived in Ireland in the late 1990s under a false identity.

In 2000, Mr X was recognised as a refugee. Shortly afterwards he travelled to another jurisdiction to visit relatives.

He was subsequently arrested, convicted and jailed for seven years by a court in that country for terrorist related offences.

On his release he applied for asylum in France, which was refused. He then returned to Ireland in 2009.

Mr X – whose nationality also cannot be divulged by order of the court – has brought a High Court challenge against the state’s bid to deport him.

A judgement on the case is expected to be released in the coming weeks.

Another Jihadi who was held at Cloverhill Prison was the man Gardaí believed to be the foremost recruiter and facilitator for ISIS in Ireland.

The obese terrorist – known as Mr Y – was deported to Jordan earlier this year, but remains in contact with Irish-based Muslims through Facebook.

Mr Y this week posted images of Osama Bin Laden on his Facebook account, referring to the slain Al Qaeda leader as a messenger from Allah.

At least four other extremist sympathisers to have been incarcerated in Cloverhill were suspected of sending money to Middle Eastern-based terrorist groupings, including both ISIS and Al Qaeda.

Claims that Ireland has been used a back-door for attacks in the U.K. have been circulating for several years prior to the terror attack in London.

As far back as 2012, files removed from Bin Laden’s compound revealed how Ireland was occupying the mind of top Al Qaeda leaders.

Adam Gadahn, Al Qaeda’s American-born spin doctor, proposed an ambitious new front in the global jihad in January of that year.

In messages sent to Bin Laden, 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.

He also noted “the increasing anger in Ireland towards the Catholic Church” and urged the group to persuade the disenchanted to turn to Islam not secularism.

Earlier this week, it emerged that one of the three London terror attackers, Rachid Redouane, had married and lived at various addresses in Dublin in the years prior to last Saturday night’s terror attack.

It also emerged yesterday that Redouane and his coconspirators Khuram Butt and Youssef Zaghba had been planning an attack far larger than the one they actually carried out on London Bridge.

London Metropolitan Police said the trio’s ringleader, Khuram Butt, attempted to rent a 7.5 tonne truck online on the morning of June 3, but did not provide payment details when prompted.

Butt rented a white Renault van instead, using a recently activated mobile phone.

Police also released images of three pink ceramic kitchen knives found on or near the assailants.

The Ernesto brand knives are 12 inches long, and were found with tape wrapped around the handles and leather straps attached to keep the weapons on the attackers’ wrists.

Police also released photos of the van the attackers used to mow down people on the bridge. Inside, they found 13 apparent Molotov cocktails made from wine bottles. There also were two blowtorches.

Police said the three men had driven up and down London Bridge twice before the attack, in what appears to have been a dry run.

Officers from the Special Detective Unit and the National Immigration Bureau arrested two men in Munster who were linked to Redouane through documentation in his name.

They were questioned about the use of documentation, but Gardaí have stressed the investigation is focused not on terror but on theft and fraud offences.

This week the Sunday World attempted to speak with an Algerian national arrested in Wexford and a white Muslim convert thought to be his wife answered the door of their flat.

“We’re not interested in talking,” the woman told the Sunday World.

“We’ve nothing to say.”