Radical group linked to Woolwich suspect tried and failed to build presence in Ireland

Al-Muhajiroun spokesman was Irish convert

 One of al-Muhajiroun’s spokesmen in Britain after the 9/11 attacks, Irish convert to Islam  Khalid Kelly (born Terence Edward Kelly), who also uses the name Abu Osama. “I’ve predicted for years something like this could happen,” he said of the Woolwich murder. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

One of al-Muhajiroun’s spokesmen in Britain after the 9/11 attacks, Irish convert to Islam Khalid Kelly (born Terence Edward Kelly), who also uses the name Abu Osama. “I’ve predicted for years something like this could happen,” he said of the Woolwich murder. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

 

The British-based radical group that has been linked to one of the suspects in the murder of British soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich this week tried and failed to gain a foothold in Ireland.

Reports indicate that Michael Adebolajo’s mentor after his conversion to Islam was Omar Bakri, the Syrian-born founder of the now banned al-Muhajiroun. Bakri has said he knew Adebolajo personally. Adebolajo, whose family are Christians, took the name Mujahid – an Arabic word meaning one who engages in jihad.

“He was on our ideological wavelength,” Anjem Choudary, a senior figure in the group, said this week. Choudary was once a frequent visitor to Ireland, travelling here as a guest of university debating societies seeking a provocative speaker. Muslims living here challenged his radical views during public debates, telling him his ideas were not welcome in Ireland.


Jihadist rhetoric
Al-Muhajiroun and its later reincarnations mixed jihadist rhetoric with virulent anti-Semitism and homophobia. In a 2007 interview with The Irish Times , Bakri explained how he targeted vulnerable young men who felt “caught between cultures and identities”.

In 2006 a BBC report alleged Bakri had advocated a terrorist attack on Dublin Airport. An undercover operative from Vigil, a group made up of former police and intelligence personnel, infiltrated an internet chatroom allegedly used by Bakri and asked him whether Dublin Airport should be considered a terrorist target, mistakenly identifying it as the Irish airport through which US troops transit on the way to Iraq. A voice identified by a voice recognition expert as Bakri’s replied: “Hit the target and hit it very hard, that issue should be understood.”


‘Covenant of security’
Bakri claimed to The Irish Times he did not say this. “I can tell you how Islam sees it . . . Muslims living in a non-Muslim country have a covenant of security with the people they live with.

“However, if someone was to ask me what I think of American soldiers taking fuel in any territory outside the US, I would say that this is something that will provoke the Muslim community, but not necessarily allow Muslims to attack.” Bakri said his organisation did not have a presence in Ireland. “Ireland is definitely not on our map.”

One of al-Muhajiroun’s spokesmen in Britain at the time was Khalid Kelly, an Irish former nurse who converted to Islam while serving a prison term for distilling and selling alcohol in Saudi Arabia.

Many within Ireland’s Muslim population considered Kelly an attention-seeking nuisance. He and his al-Muhajiroun associates were told their campaigning was not welcome at several Dublin mosques. Kelly said yesterday he did not know Adebolajo personally. “I’m not justifying or condemning what he did but I’ve predicted for years something like this could happen.”