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Islamic radicals in Ireland now number '100 or more', warns cleric

Shaykh Dr Muhammad Umar Al-Qadri
Shaykh Dr Muhammad Umar Al-Qadri

Islamic extremists now number "100 or more" in Ireland, a leading Muslim cleric has warned. Shaykh Dr Muhammad Umar al-Qadri said he warned two years ago that extremism posed a problem to Ireland "but nobody listened".

Those warnings were laid bare this week when it emerged that London Bridge attacker Rachid Redouane had lived in Dublin for some time.

"Now it has been proven. The truth is that hate narratives must be called out and sidelined by the Muslim leadership," added Dr al-Qadri.

The Irish Muslim Peace and Integration Council (IMPIC) believes there is now clear proof that extremism in Ireland is far greater than initially believed - and that some Irish-based radicals have had contact with such UK extremists as Anjem Choudary and Khurram Butt.

Choudary, a leading figure in the radical group al-Muhajiroun founded by Omar Bakri Muhammad, is now serving a prison sentence in the UK for inviting support for Isil.

Butt was one of the three attackers shot dead by police after the terrorist atrocity near London Bridge last weekend.

Dr al-Qadri said he feared extremists and their sympathisers could now number "100 or more" in Ireland.

"Not being aware of it or being ignorant of it is not enough. I want Muslim leaders in Ireland to take the lead in speaking out against extremism, of providing a counter-narrative to the messages of hate and of telling people you can be a good Muslim and a good Irish citizen," he said.

The Islamic cleric said it was now clear that extremism had been dangerously underestimated in Ireland. There is concern that extremists have deliberately relocated here for travel and logistical purposes.

Dr al-Qadri said that all Irish Muslims must "call out" anyone they suspect of being an extremist. But he admitted he was not shocked to learn that one of the London attackers had lived in Ireland for almost two years.

He said Redouane was not widely known within the Irish Muslim population.

"We have asked within our community to members who come from a Libyan and Moroccan background and no-one knows him," he said.

"Had I known him, he would have been reported to the gardaí."

Redouane married his London-born wife, Charisse O'Leary, in Dublin in 2012 and worked as a pastry chef.

Dr al-Qadri said there had been ample warnings that Ireland needed to take extremism seriously.

"It is shocking that extremists in Ireland propagate their hate narratives openly on social media. They even have a public page," he said.

He warned the only way such fanatics can be defeated is if individual Muslims stand up to extremism.

"[Isil] plans its attacks to create more division and hatred in our societies," he said.

"Terrorism in Islamic costume is not Islamic terrorism. As Muslims, we must seize the Islamic costumes from these terrorists. May God grant us all the ability to stand united with love and compassion in the face of this terror and eradicate this fanaticism."

His comments came as a relative of Redouane's accomplice Khuram Butt told how the terrorist was inspired by watching videos on YouTube, was a fervent supporter of Isil, and wanted to leave his pregnant wife to fight in Syria.

Fahad Khan said: "Khuram, I know he was inspired by one of the sheikhs who was giving lectures on YouTube, and he belonged to one specific sector of Islam which had very rigid and strict views.

"Videos about fighting non-Muslims for no reasons, innocent non-Muslims."