As Islamic terrorism is declining across Europe, in Ireland the problem is growing. The number of people arrested in Ireland last year after being suspected of being engaged in Islamic terrorism has tripled from the year before, a new report has revealed.
In 2020, 18 individuals in total were arrested on suspicion of Islamic terrorism. These figures have been released by Europol in the most recent European Union Terrorism Situation and Trend Report.
Of the 18 arrests, 17 were related to the suspected financing of terrorist activities abroad. The Gardaí are reportedly still investigating several individuals, male and female, as well as groups operating within the country. Some of these individuals are Irish, some are foriegn, and some hold dual nationalities. It is unknown how many of these individuals, if any, have been charged.
It is claimed that these groups mainly fundraise for terrorism using both legal methods, such as received donations, and illegal ones, before the money is sent on to terrorism hotspots such as Turkey and Afghanistan.
At a continent-wide level, arrests of jihadi terrorists across Europe declined by more than 41% during the same period.
The problem appears to be relatively new to the country – in 2018 there were no arrests of jihadi terror suspects, until 2019 when there were 5, and most recently in 2020 when there were 18. In addition, Gardaí have said that a “small number” of foreign terrorist fighters have returned from conflicts involving ISIS and are now present in Ireland.
According to the report, at the time of its writing, one such foreign terrorist fighter based in Syria is under investigation and may return to Ireland at some stage in the future.
Notably, in 2017, Limerick People Before Profit Councillor Paul Kelleher, who formerly worked at Shannon Airport x-raying bags, has said that the airport is a “soft-touch” for terrorists.
— Irish Examiner (@irishexaminer) June 23, 2017
Additionally, a former Al Quaeda member and Mi5 spy said Ireland is seen as a soft touch for an attack.
Former al-Qaeda member warns Ireland is seen as a 'soft touch' for possible terror attack https://t.co/MDWnH7Qwsn
— Irish Daily Mirror (@IrishMirror) May 28, 2017
In 2018, a formerly radicalised Irish woman said there were 150 Islamic extremists living in Ireland, and it was established recently by police that there had been jihadist activity taking place in the Wicklow mountains.
Radicalised Irish woman claims there are 150 Islamic extremists living in Ireland https://t.co/lRQPsa44Ce
— Irish Daily Mirror (@IrishMirror) September 25, 2018
Islamic radicals met on camping trips to Wicklow mountains https://t.co/IEZEwdgaoI
— The Irish Times (@IrishTimes) January 19, 2019