'Sister' Aaliya speaking at the Dublin conference
A LIMERICK woman who converted to Islam has told a conference that a number of extremists are living in Limerick city and the surrounding areas due to cheap rent.
‘Sister Aaliya’, 26, from Limerick, said she met one of the men who carried out the terrorist attacks in London and other extremists about 20 times in Ireland and the UK about two and a half years ago.
She said she also met terrorist Khuram Shazad Butt, one of three involved in the London attacks, in Limerick in the past.
Speaking at a press conference held by the Irish Muslim Pace and Integration Council in Dublin, Sister Aaliya, a convert to Islam at age 18, said she had been successfully deradicalised by a Muslim scholar at at mosque in London.
The woman, who identified herself only as Sister Aaliya and who wore sunglasses and black niqab covering the lower part of her face, said she feared for her safety and had been threatened several times by the extremists.
She had been in a relationship with a man who associated with extremists for about 10 months.
She said he was "very controlling” and she had fled London late last year.
“I’ve been threatened on numerous occasions. I came back to Ireland to get away from all that.”
Asked what the extremists she met in Dublin had discussed, she said their dream was “to have an army for jihad”.
She also claimed there were at least 150 radicalised Muslims living in Ireland.
She alleged some extremists were coming in to Ireland on buses and via Belfast to avoid immigration.
She said that growing up “between homes” in Ireland left her confused.
“Growing up I was really confused,” she said. “I looked to Islam after everything that happened with September 11 [2001 terror attacks]. I was easily brainwashed to think that’s the way Islam is.”
“There are definitely more than 150 [extremists living in Ireland], easily,” she said.
“They own properties in some places. I know a lot of them came here to apply for visas and stuff like that.”
Aaliya approached a Dublin-based imam in the wake of the Manchester attacks and he arranged for her to speak publicly to highlight the threat of radicalisation here.
Aaliya said she saw Butt in Dublin and Limerick “two or three times”.
“There are a lot of them living in Limerick city because the rent was a lot cheaper,” she said, adding that others are in Clare and Tipperary.
“So they were getting four and five bedroom houses but there was only one or two guys going there.”
She said they laughed about the accessibility of Ireland.
“They used to laugh about Belfast, that you could fly from any airport in the United Kingdom to Belfast and they didn’t check any documents. They just easily let them in.”
Former Minister for Defence Willie O'Dea has urged that said Islamic extremists identified by Irish intelligence services as being involved in terror-related activity should be deported.
The Fianna Fail deputy said that the Government has the powers to deport people living in Ireland who are suspected of being engaged in or facilitating terrorism.
Following the recent terrorist attacks in Manchester and London, in which 30 people were killed, sources close to Shannon Airport said that it has increased its security measures.
However, a spokesperson for the airport said that “Shannon Airport has never and will not comment on its security measures”.
John Lannon, of the group Shannonwatch, said that Shannon Airport has traditionally been viewed as a “soft target” given that it has been a stop-over for US military en route to the Middle East, and US President Donald Trump's anti-immigration policies has led to further cause for concern.
Security at Shannon Airport has cost the State close to €5 million in the past 13 years up to 2016, involved the payment of security duty allowance, as well as the provision of rations and fuel.