Galway imam warns that extremist groups 'are coming to Ireland' in recruitment efforts

Ibrahim Noonan spoke to Pat Kenny following the reported death of Dublin man Khalid Kelly in Iraq

Galway imam warns that extremist groups 'are coming to Ireland' in recruitment efforts

Khalid Kelly. Image via @Terror_Monitor on Twitter

The imam of Galway Mosque has warned that extremist groups from Pakistan "are coming to Ireland" in a bid to recruit young Muslims here to study and fight abroad.

Over the weekend, Islamic State announced that Dublin man Khalid Kelly had taken his own life as a suicide bomber in Iraq.

Kelly - also known as Abu Usama Al-Irlandi - is believed to have died during fighting in the city of Mosul. It has been reported that nobody else was killed in the attack.

Kelly was born and raised in Dublin, and converted to Islam in 2000. He was radicalised during the time he spent in prison in Saudi Arabia, after he was caught brewing alcohol.

He spoke to Pat Kenny about his life and beliefs during a Late Late Show interview in 2003, alongside British preacher Anjem Choudary, who was convicted of supporting Islamic State earlier this year.

Speaking to Pat this morning, Dr Ali Selim, Imam of the Islamic Cultural Centre in Ireland, explained: "Khalid Kelly spent most of his life outside Ireland. He learned Islam outside Ireland."

Dr Selim suggested that extremists have "failed to find supporters in Ireland [...] The way they think is very much against the way the Muslims who live in Ireland think.

"I would say that Khalid got very much indoctrinated [...] Khalid failed to have any associate in the Muslim community in Ireland. He did not spend a lot of time after becoming a Muslim in Ireland," he added.

However, the imam of Galway Mosque, Ibrahim Noonan, suggested that some extremists have come to Ireland and had an influence here.

Speaking about Kelly, the imam explained: "I saw that this man is definitely going to do something stupid. I didn't believe he would do it on mainland Ireland, but I did believe he was definitely going to go out. My last conversation with him was to try and persuade him not to go out to Iraq and these countries, and fight - this is not the teaching of Islam. He wouldn't listen to me."

While Noonan says he blames Anjem Choudary for encouraging Kelly to fight abroad, he also claimed: "At the same time he was attached to a certain mosque here in Ireland - the imam of that mosque has extremist views, and they were supporting him. Definitely, they didn't try to persuade him not to do this and not to do that.

"I am aware right now that from Pakistan there are extremist groups or particular movements within Pakistan [...] who are coming to Ireland. They come around every six months, they go around the mosques, they talk about extremist ideologies.

"We know of groups who have come here and who have put in the minds of young people that you need to go back to Pakistan and study there and train there."

He added that he has himself persuaded one Irish man against travelling to Pakistan, and that he has contacted gardaí with details of the alleged extremist groups who have operated here.

The claims were disputed by Dr Selim, who argued: "I'm very much surprised to hear this. If what he is saying is really happening, I have to say it means I'm not living in these Islamic organisations - it means that I live on a different planet."

He concluded by pointing out that "if that is the case, and our gardai have not taken any steps about - then there is a big problem".

You can listen back to the full conversation below: