herald

Saturday 10 December 2016

I tried to show Jihadi Kelly 'error of his ways' - cleric

Terence 'Khalid' Kelly
Terence 'Khalid' Kelly

Muslim leaders here have condemned the actions of Islamic State (IS) fighter Terry "Khalid" Kelly, with one revealing he tried to get him to see the error of his ways.

Dublin-born Kelly was killed as he carried out a suicide attack near Mosul in Iraq.

The terrorist group claimed Kelly - also known as Abu Usama Al-Irlandi - killed and wounded "dozens" of Iraqi forces soldiers on Friday.

However, it has since been confirmed that nobody died when the DIY armoured vehicle rigged with explosives was driven at Iraqi forces.

Kelly, who was radicalised while serving a jail sentence in Saudi Arabia, was previously questioned by Garda Special Branch officers in 2015.

Bombing

Gardai were concerned that Kelly was plotting an attack on Prince Charles during his May 2015 visit to Mullaghmore in Sligo.

The Imam at the Dublin Mosque, on the South Circular Road, condemned the actions of the Irish extremist.

Yahya Al-Hussein said Kelly had "strong opinions" on religion.

"Of course we disagree with the actions of the Islamic State, and in our view, in our society, bombing or anything like that is prohibited," he told the Herald.

He said Kelly often attended his mosque and took part in services, but that he was often in the UK, where Mr Al-Hussein believed he was involved with extremist factions of Islam.

He believes Kelly was involved with the terrorist organisation Al-Muhajiroun in Britain.

"I didn't know that he was in Iraq actually but I thought he might be somewhere in the UK. I had no idea he was in Iraq until I heard that [he had died]," he added.

Imam of Galway Ibrahim Noonan said he tried to warn Kelly that his ideology was wrong.

Medieval

"We met a number of times in Dublin over the years and my last discussion was about four years ago, where he was trying to convince me of his medieval interpretation of jihad and how he felt we should be fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"I honestly tried to show him that this was wrong and such teachings were not to be found in the Koran or the Sunnah of the Prophet," Mr Noonan said.

The Imam said Kelly was brainwashed by extremists in the UK and Ireland.

"I feel sombre at such a waste of a life and Irish life," he added.

"As I have said so many times, until all the Imams in Ireland, around the country, stand up and explicitly say to their congregations in their mosques 'we do not support IS, radicals', this extremism will continue to seed in Ireland."

Questions have been raised about the apparent ease with which Kelly was able to travel to Iraq to join up with IS, despite for years being Ireland's highest-profile jihadist sympathiser.

However, it appears that, while intelligence services knew he had left the country, they were unsure of his whereabouts until the announcement of his suicide bombing mission.

Martyrdom

The Department of Foreign Affairs said it was not in a position to comment when contacted by the Herald yesterday.

Kelly was radicalised in 2000 after being jailed for illegally selling alcohol while working in Saudi Arabia.

In 2003, he appeared on The Late Late Show, where he defended the 9/11 attacks as a "martyrdom operation".

He was accompanied that night by Anjem Choudary, one of the leaders of the banned Al-Muhajiroun organisation. Choudary is now serving a five-and-a-half year jail term for inciting support for IS.

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