herald

Wednesday 7 December 2016

Elite army and gardai in two-day exercise dealing with IS terrorist attacks

Security

Army Rangers in training
Army Rangers in training

Gardai and the Defence Forces have spent two days carrying out simulated exercises in preparation for a potential Islamic State (IS) terror attack.

The joint exercise, which involved over 20 senior garda officers and 10 military personnel, took place in a specially modified room in the garda training college in Templemore, Co Tipperary, this week.

A number of situations, such as the possibility of a terrorist attack at Dublin Airport and a chemical attack in the capital, were examined by the State's security agencies.

The specialists also took part in a hypothetical role play scenario in which a terrorist wearing a suicide vest took over a multinational corporation building in Ireland.

Another key part of the joint exercise was the simulation of a hostage incident where a terrorist murdered over a half dozen people.

Members of the gardai's Emergency Response Unit (ERU) and the Army Ranger Wing (ARW) were also advised on how to deal with a plane hijacking situation.

Senior sources said that the exercise went "extremely well", with plans for another event between the two agencies in the next six months.

"The army and the gardai are on the same page in relation to these matters. It has been determined that if a terrorist situation was to reach a certain high level, control of the matter would pass to the army from gardai.

"However, this would need to be decided at government ministerial level if such a situation was to unfold," a senior source said.

The threat level to Ireland is still described as "moderate."

This means that an attack is possible but not likely.

However, it is understood that a team of specialist armed gardai have been monitoring the threat.

Specialist gardai continue to monitor a number of suspect "prayer houses", which have been infiltrated by extremists across the country.

Sources say that security experts are satisfied with the security situation in relation to all the major mosques, with garda community officers in constant contact with these religious leaders.

In November, IS released a propaganda video accusing Ireland of being part of a "coalition of devils".

Coalition

The film showed the Irish flag among those of countries the terrorists say are part of a global coalition against the Islamic State.

A week-long course of training at the Defence Forces' Ordnance School in the Curragh, Co Kildare, took place last November.

The training course was set up before the Paris attacks, and around 20 members of the Defence Forces and gardai and members of security forces from other countries attended.

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