After a stint of weapons training in Pakistan, Khalid Kelly, an Irishman who converted to Islam, has returned home to set up a group called Islam for Ireland.
Famed in Ireland as the “Irishman who would kill for Islam” in the press and heckled and jeered on RTE’s “Late Late Show,” Kelly defended the 9/11 attacks and said that one day the world would be ruled by sharia law.
Kelly grew up in the Liberities, in inner city Dublin but he soon became a poster boy for al-Muhajiroun, a British-based organization. This group was founded by Syrian-born cleric Omar Bakri. It blended jihadist rhetoric with virulent anti-Semitism and homophobia. This group was disbanded in 2004.
However, the group reveled in the amount of press their extremist ideas and message got them, and Kelly regularly appeared in the tabloid press. In 2005 he was feature on CNN arguing that the bombings, which took place on London’s underground train system, were justified.
Suddenly he disappeared. Until last November when he surfaced in Pakistan and agreed to an interview with a British newspaper. They ran the article with the headline “Irishman wants to kill for Islam” and Kelly boasted that he had undergone weapons training while in Pakistan.
In the interview he said “I’m already on the path to jihad...Next week, inshallah, I could be in Afghanistan fighting a British soldier.”
Kelly never made it to Afghanistan, but the reasons for this remain blurry. It seems that one explanation is that because of the color of his skin he would be in danger. Some years ago while in the frontier of Peshawar, Kelly was warned that the Taliban might very well kidnap him suspecting him as an American spy.
Last week in Dublin, Kelly said that he believed intelligence agencies were tailing him in Pakistan and began to fear for his safety.
He said: “I went there to join people who were likeminded and help establish an Islamic state…But as a white convert, I stuck out like a sore thumb.”
Since April, he has been in Ireland and although he does not seem to be quite as outspoken about his views as he was ten years ago, the Muslim community in Ireland seem uncomfortable having him in their midst once more.
In May there was a protest held outside the Belgium embassy in Dublin against the proposed ban of full-faced veils. He spoke to the crowds saying that such views were oppressing Muslims and it was here he said that he dreamt of seeing “the black flag of Islam” over Dáil Éireann (Irish parliament).
He also commented on the fact that U.S. troops use Shannon airport and the seven Irish army personnel in the UN-mandated Nato-led mission to Afghanistan. In an interview with Metro Eireann, an Irish newspaper, he said that Ireland’s involvement with the U.S. in these ways makes it a target for attacks.
This newspaper ran with the headline “We must listen to bin Laden” which caused widespread upset among the Muslim community in Ireland.
The Muslims in Ireland have made it clear to Kelly that they do not want any involvement with him. Also Kelly has complained that security services have been visiting with him regularly.
He said: “They want me to stop speaking out, but I won’t...It doesn’t matter if I’m in Pakistan, Lebanon, England or Ireland, there is an obligation to speak wherever you are. I’m not talking about fighting here in Ireland, but I am encouraging Muslims to fulfill their duties.”
Kelly has claimed that he only came back to Ireland because his passport went missing while travelling back from Pakistan. He claims that once he has gotten a new passport, he will decide where to settle with is two sons, Osama and Mohammed and his Pakistani wife. They currently live in Britain.
These plan contradict those mentioned in his recent interview with Metro Eireann. He said that he plans to set up a group called “Islam for Ireland," and that he was still in constant communication with his mentor from al-Muhajiroun’s, Bakri.
A journalist from the Irish Times interviewed Bakri three years ago. He said that while he admired Kelly they had no interest in Ireland.
He said: “It is not a relevant arena for me because I don’t have people there...Ireland is definitely not on our map.”