Hassan Bal ‘a lone wolf’ among Waterford’s Muslims, garda says
Man, jailed for fundraising for Isis, was living in southeast city when he committed offences
A file image of a Muslim man praying. Gardaí who investigated Hassan Bal for fundraising for Islamic State (Isis) have said he was very much ‘a lone wolf’ in Waterford’s Muslim community. Photograph: iStock.
Gardaí who investigated Hassan Bal for fundraising for Islamic State (Isis) have said he was very much “a lone wolf” and his activities did not reflect the views of the Muslim community in Waterford, where he was based.
Speaking after Bal had was jailed for 2½ years, Supt Chris Delaney said gardaí received significant support from members of the Muslim community in the city during their investigation.
“An Garda Síochána works very closely with the local Muslim community - we have ethnic liaison officers who work very closely with the community - they attend prayer meetings at the mosques in full uniform and they are allowed to talk to members of the Muslim community,” he said.
“We are very happy with the level of engagement between the local Muslim community and the gardaí. They have contributed significantly to the development of the city over recent years and are a highly valued group here in Waterford city.”
Judge Eugene O’Kelly, who sentenced Bal, had earlier said the seriousness of the terrorist offences committed by the accused were very much at odds with the view of Muslims in Ireland generally.
He said an overwhelming majority of Muslims in Ireland do not support such radical ideologies and warned that the rise of Islamophobia on foot of the activities of radical Islamisists elsewhere should have “no place in our society”.
Islamophobia in any society simply serves to generate support amongst the young, the vulnerable and the marginalised for such radical groups, said Judge O’Kelly as he paid tribute to Supt Anthony Pettit and his colleagues for their successful investigation of Bal’s offences.
Judge O’Kelly also paid tribute to Daily Mail journalist, Omar Wahid for his investigative work which saw him go undercover and pose as an ISIS supporter willing to donate money to the ISIS cause because without him, Bal’s fund-raising activities may never have come to light.
Speaking afterwards, Supt Delaney paid tribute to Supt Pettit for leading a team of up to 50 investigators while he also thanked colleagues in the South East as well as the Special Detective Unit, the Garda National Cyber Crime Bureau and Security and Intelligence for their support.
Supt Delaney pointed out that there was a significant international aspect to the case and he acknowledged the close assistance that gardai received in the UK and Europe particularly from the Counter Terrorism Unit in the London Metropolitcan Police and from Interpol.