"The idea that Ireland is safe is rather naive" - Former Al-Qaeda spy

Aimen Dean, who became a British spy in the 1990s, says Ireland is a 'soft target'

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| Image: STR / AP/Press Association Images

Ireland is not safe from a terror attack, according to a former Al-Qaeda spy who is now a security expert.

As recounted in a BBC interview, Aimen Dean was brought up in Saudi Arabia in the 1980s. As a teenager, he began attending militant training camps. In the early 1990s, he pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden.

Dean left Al Qaeda in 1998 after the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam were bombed. More than 200 locals - mostly Muslims - were killed along with 12 Americans, while thousands of other people were injured.

The attacks provoked Dean to start questioning his commitment to the cause.

He ultimately ended up in the hands of MI6, and became a spy for the British intelligence services. In that role, he says he helped foil attacks against civilians - including possible suicide bombings and poison attacks.

In the aftermath of the Manchester attack, Newstalk's foreign affairs correspondent Shona Murray spoke to Aimen Dean.

It comes amid fresh questions about Ireland's preparedness, with the Taoiseach having called a meeting of all relevant agencies to assess the issue tomorrow.

Dean, now a security expert, says it's 'rather naive' to think Ireland - which he described as a 'soft target' - is safe from an attack.

He argued: "What ISIS are looking for... not necessarily targeting the Irish population, but looking at the tourist industry.

"People who are coming from the UK, from Spain, from France, from the US in particular, who are coming for cultural events, for tourism... they will become easy targets here on this land."

He added: "It's an agricultural land, which means it is easy to obtain bomb-making materials [...] You also have the fact that the northern part of the island is awash with weapons - illegal weapons."