Files on Al Qaeda sympathisers in Ireland handed to police

I noted Taoiseach Bertie Ahern’s comments on Al Qaeda sympathisers in Ireland previously. But the Irish Eagle had more background to those comments – pointing to an Sunday Independent report on 3 July that quotes a US Department of Justice statement to US broadcaster NBC’s Dateline programme. The Irish Examiner has the latest – “Gardaí and the military have confirmed they passed on the files of at least 40 al-Qaida sympathisers in Ireland to the British police”
.. and the Irish Labour Party has called on the Government last night to deport known al-Qaida activists.

From the Sunday Independent report –

The statement [from the US Department of Justice] went on to defend Ireland’s record in dealing with international terrorism, pointing to new legislation that provides for greater powers.

“We feel it is very important to point out that the vast majority of people of Islamic faith and culture living in Ireland are extremely law-abiding and do not have any terrorist ideation. The person cited by NBC is of known militant background and is closely monitored. A relatively small number of other people of like disposition who live in Ireland are subjected to close monitoring and ongoing investigation by the gardai.”

In the Irish Examiner, Defence Minister Willie O’Dea defended the extent of the monitoring –

Mr O’Dea insisted that none of the al-Qaida sympathisers pose a security threat and he said they are under intense scrutiny with their phone, faxes and mail under constant surveillance.

“There is no evidence now that they pose a security threat, but if the situation changes and they do, we will deport them,” said Mr O’Dea.

But this proposal is barely believeable –

While he said a terrorist attack remains a low risk, Mr O’Dea is to seek Cabinet approval for a booklet to be sent to every household with information on what emergency plans are in place if one did arise.

A booklet?..