GARDAÍ are expected to conduct a review into an Irish passport holder and suspected Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist who has been arrested in Syria, after it emerged he was on a Garda watchlist in Ireland.
Alexandr Ruzmatovich Bekmirzaev, 45, who is originally from Belarus, was one of five militants arrested by Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the city of Deir al-Zor a week ago.
The naturalised Irish citizen lived and worked in south Dublin between 2000 and 2013 before leaving with his family to the Middle East, where it is understood he joined a group linked to ISIS.
During his time in Ireland, he was put on a watchlist and monitored by the Special Detective Unit after Gardaí received information from a foreign intelligence agency that he was an active supporter of radical Islamist groups.
According to the Irish Mirror, security chiefs believe Ruzmatovich Bekmirzaev became radicalised in Dublin after meeting other suspected extremists known to Gardaí.
Garda Security and Intelligence (S&I) and detectives from Counter Terrorism International are now expected to conduct a fresh review of the jihadist’s associations in the Irish capital.
A security source told the Irish Examiner: “A fresh review will be carried out to establish, if possible, his movements in recent years and if he had any contact with Ireland.”
Speaking after news of Ruzmatovich Bekmirzaev’s capture emerged on Monday, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he couldn’t comment in detail but stressed any Irish citizen around the world is “entitled to consular assistance and will get that”.
Mr Varadkar was accused of adopting “too moderate” a tone with his remarks by Shaykh Umar al-Qadri, chair of the Irish Muslim Peace and Integration Council.
Dublin-born ISIS terrorist Khalid Kelly blew himself up in Iraq three years ago (Image: RTÉ News)
Calling for Irish Islamists to have their citizenship revoked, al-Qadri said: “I don’t understand the Taoiseach’s comments. It does not do us any favours and puts Muslims in a negative spotlight.
“This [arrest] should initiate a debate on Irish policy when it comes to awarding citizenship to such people.”
Al-Qadri said he agreed with Garda estimates that between 30-50 Muslims from Ireland had travelled abroad to fight for terror groups, but added that he himself had no knowledge of Ruzmatovich Bekmirzaev and had never met him.
“The only Irish-born [ISIS fighter] that I know of was Khalid Kelly,” he added.
Dublin-born former nurse Terrence ‘Khalid’ Kelly – also known as Abu Osama Al-Irlandi or Taliban Terry – blew himself up while fighting for ISIS in Mosul, Iraq in 2016.
Since the Syrian Civil War erupted in 2011, the conflict has claimed almost 400,000 lives and forced millions of people to flee the country.