Not that he had much choice in the matter, since RTÉ had already obtained documents dating from 2003, under the US Freedom of Information Act, from the US State Department revealing that “up to six Islamist groups have had cells operating in Ireland.” and that the information was based on intelligence gathered by gardaí.
The Irish Times also had these details[subs req]
Asked if any “foreign terrorist groups” had a presence in Ireland, the embassy named the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Al-Gama’at al-Islamiyah, the Algerian Armed Islamic Group, al-Qaeda, and “possibly Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad”.
Asked to describe the presence, the embassy said there are “operational support, logistical and financial cells located in Ireland”. Asked if there are “any ethnic or religious communities in the country that are sympathetic to these groups”, the embassy said yes. Asked if there had been any anti-American demonstrations in Ireland over the previous 12 months, the embassy said yes, and estimated the average size of a protest at between “30 to 300 people”.
Meanwhile, the embassy also told the US state department that there were “suspect non-governmental organisations in the country that have a relationship” with some of the groups.
And while RTÉ reported last night that
The Taoiseach [Bertie Ahern] has confirmed there are a number of people based in Ireland who are suspected of involvement in Islamic terrorist groups, and that they are ‘closely watched and monitored’ by the gardaí.
Today’s Irish Times reported his comments in fuller detail[subs again], in which he plays down the threat.. although the logistical and financial support would suggest terrorist attacks elsewhere being linked to the activities, in Ireland, of the individuals concerned.
“You would think it was six active cells” but in reality “there are a very small number of people who are very closely watched and monitored and considered to be high-classified people who do come and go from this country”.
He said these individuals were engaged in logistical and financial support.
and while Bertie Ahern outlined some of the gardaí
activities against the individuals and/or groups,
Mr Ahern said since 2001 there were operational activities by gardaí “on a small number of suspects linked to al-Qaeda”.
Gardaí had reported back to the Government from time to time that they had been monitoring “very small groups, mainly individuals”.
it was Labour leader Pat Rabbitte who pointed to the way in which the information was made public
“there is a certain irony that the information was secured through the American Freedom of Information legislation and not something that could happen in this jurisdiction”.
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