Gardai are investigating a suspected Islamic State terror cell based in the west of Ireland.
The “organised terror cell” is headed by two Chechen brothers who have been living in Ireland for a number of years.
Senior sources have revealed that gardai have been monitoring the activities of the eight-man cell for a number of months.
The suspected Islamic extremists, who live in various rural locations, are being investigated for using An Post and courier services for ‘dummy runs’ to send items to the war-torn Middle East.
The jihadi group is also suspected of being involved in fundraising and electronically transferring funds from Ireland to extremist Islamic organisations.
“The belief is that members of this network are deeply committed to the Islamic State and they are organised,” a source said.
“It has been established that they have attempted to send small internal parts of computers to locations such as Chechnya, Iraq and Syria.
“It is believed that they have been doing this as ‘dummy runs’ for perhaps attempting to send something more sinister such as bomb components out of the country.”
The group is being monitored by detectives based in Galway but the Special Detective Unit’s Counter-Terrorism International (CTI) Unit is also aware of the suspected terror cell’s activities and it is understood that international authorities are as well.
While the group’s members, including the two brothers who are suspected of leading it, have been questioned by gardai in the past, they have not yet been arrested for any terrorist offences.
“Of course there is major concern about this radicalised extremist group and that is why they are being closely monitored,” the source added.
It is understood that there are around eight men linked to the suspected cell, all of whom live in the west. Their photographs have been circulated among gardai in the surrounding areas in order to keep tabs on them.
Gardai remain deeply concerned that an Islamic terror attack could happen here and are constantly preparing for such an eventuality, but the threat level still officially remains moderate.
This means that an attack is possible but not likely.
Last month, it emerged that a ‘shoot first’ policy against jihadi-style terrorists would be adopted by gardai under a new anti-terror plan.
The new rules, which have been circulated to all senior officers in Dublin, will reverse the force’s previously cautious approach to using firearms, even in terrorist situations.
Instead, officers will be encouraged to shoot suspects dead if, for example, they believe a jihadi attack is unfolding.