herald

Monday 11 December 2017

Two charged after probe into cartoon murder plot

THIS is one of two men charged as part of an international terror probe.

The two were charged arising out of the investigation into a suspected plot to murder a Swedish cartoonist.

Ali Charaf Damach (pictured) and Abdul Salam Monsour Khalil Al Jehani appeared in court amid heavy security.

Algerian-born Ali Charaf Damach has been charged with sending a telephone message of a menacing character.

He allegedly threatened a man who spoke out against Detroit bomber Adul Mudallad, accused of trying to blow up a Christmas Day flight in the US by strapping explosives to his leg.

Gardai also said they are "unsure exactly who Ali Charaf Damach is", but are seeking help from Interpol.

The second man, Libyan Abdul Salam Monsour Khalil Al Jehani, is facing charges of an immigration offence, having failed to produce a valid passport.

When charged Damach replied; "How many charges are here". His co-accused made no reply.

No reference was made at Waterford District Court to the wider circumstances of the case, which has centred around a Pennsylvanian woman Colleen LaRose, also known as Jihad Jane.

She has been in custody in Philadelphia since October but details of her plans to kill cartoonist Lars Vilks were only revealed after gardai arrested seven people last Tuesday.

Ali Charaf Damach took to the witness stand last night to appeal for bail but it was refused after gardai challenged the request.

Officers applied to have Ali Charaf Damach remanded in custody on the basis that he had previously used two different names -- Thierry Garnier and Alex Garnier -- since coming to Ireland in 2000.

Garda Det Sgt Donal O'Donoghue also said there was evidence on Damach's computer that he had access to a false identity and that he had plans to travel to Afghanistan and Algeria. "At this point we are unsure exactly who Ali Charaf Damach is," he said, adding: "His fingerprints were sent to Interpol and we are awaiting a response to this."

The accused swore on the Qu'ran that Ali Charaf Damach was his real name and that he had used Christian names in the past because he came up against discrimination from potential employers when looking for a job in Ireland.

"I have never had any problems since I came here," he told the court. "I studied and worked. The reasons I used Thierry Garnier is because I find it hard to work. I'm prepared to work and pay my taxes."

The men's solicitor, Brian Chesser, said Damach explained that he had a pregnant American wife and a six-year-old son in school.

He said the accused had previously worked at a prominent auctioneers and as a sales rep for a Government-based firm, both in Cork. "This is not a serious offence," the solicitor argued.

However, Judge David Kennedy remanded him in custody, to appear again in Waterford District Court this Friday.

Bail was opposed in the case of Abdul Salam Monsour Khalil Al Jehani, Det Sgt Donal O'Donoghue said, because he had given a false name to claim asylum when he arrived in Ireland in 2001. There was no application for bail.

Five others arrested during the operation which saw the two accused being detained -- two men and three women-- have been released -- the last of them at 6pm yesterday.

Gardai will submit files to the Director of Public Prosecutions on those released.

The arrests were made during garda raids between 7.30am and 10am last Tuesday in Ballincollig in Cork as well as Waterford city and Tramore.

hnews@herald.ie

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