The man who is believed to have converted Alexandr Bekmirzaev to radical Islamic views was a regular attender at the mosque in Clonskeagh, Dublin, according to a former Isis sympathiser.
The former sympathiser, who is no longer a Muslim, said he and other holders of radical views, some of whom have since died fighting for Isis, regularly attended the mosque.
“Alexandr frequented the Clonskeagh mosque along with his mentor,” he said. Bekmirzaev’s “mentor” regularly spoke about his views with others after evening prayers, including with people who did not agree with him, he said.
Bekmirzaev was captured by the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces on December 30th last.
The “mentor”, who cannot be named because of an order of the High Court, was deported from Ireland to Jordan in July 2016. “There was an extremist circle in the corner of the mosque almost every day. Alexandr even worked there for a short time,” the former Isis sympathiser said.
In 2012 Bekmirzaev, who is believed to have come to Ireland from Belarus in the early 2000s, worked briefly for a now-dissolved security company, Premier Team, which supplied services to the mosque.
The company was owned by Khalil al-Kaddo, the son of the chief executive of the Islamic Cultural Centre in Clonskeagh, Dr Nooh al-Kaddo.
Khalil al-Kaddo said he does not remember Bekmirzaev and that his company had hundreds of employees. Premier has since closed. Khalil al-Kaddo now lives in the United Arab Emirates.
A spokesman for the Clonskeagh mosque, Dr Ali Selim, said he had "never witnessed any debate of the kind you are describing in the mosque".
Dr Selim said he had no memory of Bekmirzaev and that the man who had been deported to Jordan “never expressed his views to me”.
The Isis sympathiser said he believed the man deported to Jordan was banned from the Clonskeagh mosque in early 2016, but Dr Selim said this was not so. The mosque had “very severe procedures” for dealing with people with radical views. “We do not hesitate to take any action that would support the security of the [Irish] state,” he said.
Bekmirzaev, who became a naturalised Irish citizen in 2010, is believed to have left for Syria in 2013. The radical Islamist, who was placed on a Garda watchlist after he became an Irish citizen, was captured by the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces, on December 30th last.
The former Isis sympathiser said he knew of five people who had gone to fight in Iraq and Syria from Ireland whom he believed were now dead. All but one of these attended the Clonskeagh mosque, he said.
A son of the man deported to Jordan in 2016 was killed fighting in Syria in 2013.
The Irish convert Terence “Khalid” Kelly was killed in Mosul in November 2016.
A convert who had once camped out with other sympathisers in Wicklow was also believed to be dead, as was a youth. A Moroccan man, who did not attend the Clonskeagh mosque, was believed to have died in the fighting in Iraq, where his non-Irish wife may still be in custody.
‘All the videos’
During a WhatsApp exchange late last year the former sympathiser told Bekmirzaev that when Kelly returned from Syria, where the qualified nurse had worked as a “surgeon” for Isis, he was followed by the gardaí but essentially left alone.
However Bekmirzaev, in the exchanges, said he was worried that Irish people might have a more negative attitude towards Isis supporters now because of “all the videos”.
Kelly subsequently travelled to Iraq and died there. His decision to go was in part due to the influence of Bekmirzaev’s former mentor, the former Isis sympathiser believes.
Dr Selim said the mosque is working very hard to help the Muslim community integrate here and is fully supportive of Ireland, its economy and its security. He said the mosque had established a very successful relationship with Ireland’s leading politicians.