Arrested Muslims had prayer group plan

SOME of the seven Muslims arrested as part of an international probe into an alleged plot to murder Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks had planned to set up an extremist prayer group in Waterford to radicalise other Muslims, gardaí believe.

Investigators are understood to be increasingly hopeful of bringing charges against a number of those arrested, either at the end of their detention period or in the months ahead.

Four computer specialists from the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation are working around the clock in Waterford city examining computers and other items seized from the homes of those arrested.

Gardaí said the results of this examination should be known in a number of days and that this will largely determine whether charges can be brought and when.

The seven – four men and three women – were arrested by armed gardaí on Tuesday in Waterford and Cork following a lengthy Garda investigation based on information provided by US intelligence agencies.

Five of the seven suspects – three Algerians, one Libyan and one Palestinian – had their periods of custody extended on Wednesday night on application to the courts for a further three days.

Two others – a Croat and a US citizen – had their detention periods extended for three days yesterday morning.

They can all be detained for up to seven days under the Criminal Justice Act 2007. Officers are expected to go to the courts on Sunday for a further two days’ extension.

All seven were brought to court under tight security for secret hearings.

Reporters and photographers were barred.

Gardaí had the suspects and associates under surveillance for four months.

Investigators suspect that three of those arrested – an Algerian, Croatian and Libyan – were at “similar levels” in the group.

They believe the group’s main players were trying to set up their own prayer room in Waterford city to “try and bring in others”. Detectives believe the suspects did not consider the local mosque to be radical enough.

Garda sources have confirmed the arrests are linked to the prosecution of American woman Colleen LaRose over an alleged plot to murder Mr Vilks. The woman, who went by the online name of “Jihad Jane”, visited Ireland last September for two weeks when she met some of those arrested.

Gardaí are examining if the suspects intended to provide logistical support and false documentation for the alleged plot. Gardaí are also investigating possible involvement in the murder itself, but are not sure yet.

The computer experts are examining internet downloads on the computer and other documentation seized. Much of this is in Arabic and gardaí have contracted a company that provides interpretation services to the Gardaí to assist.

Detectives are receiving a “level of co-operation” from the suspects, but sources said they are “no fools”.

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