Recently captured Irish passport holder Alexandr Bekmirzaev was among those who met in the Irish mountains
An area in the Co Wicklow mountains was used by a number of radicals as a safe space to discuss plans for joining the ISIS terrorist group.
A former ISIS sympathizer who resides in Ireland has told The Irish Times, under the condition of anonymity, that Alexandr Bekmirzaev was among those who would meet and discuss joining ISIS in the Wicklow mountains.
Bekmirzaev is an Irish-passport holder who was detained last month along with other ISIS-sympathizers in Syria.
The meetings in the Wicklow mountains were used by the radicals as “an opportunity to walk in an open space where you could talk about anything and no one was listening,” the anonymous source said.
The group met at Mullaughcleevaun, which, according to the source, the radicals reportedly thought sounded “a little like Mullah Omar, the Taliban leader.”
The unnamed source said four participants attended the first camp meeting in Wicklow in August 2010, and that nine or ten participants attended another meeting a few months later.
The unnamed man added that the excursions in the Irish mountains were not “training camps” and that Ireland was never mentioned as a target.
The anonymous man, who says he is no longer an ISIS sympathizer, said nothing “like gun training ever happened in Ireland,” but he believes there are “still a few” ISIS sympathizers in the country.
The anonymous source adds: “They were all terrorists but they were decent people in normal life.”
Prior to his capture in Syria, Bekmirzaev maintained intermittent contact via WhatsApp with the anonymous source. The source provided printouts of the contact to The Irish Times.
In December 2018, Bekmirzaev was captured by the Kurdish-led Syrian Defense Forces (SDF) in Syria after he was found to be allegedly fighting alongside ISIS. He is still currently being held there.
The capture came as part of an effort by the SDF to liberate an ISIS-held stronghold in the region.
45-year-old Bekmirzaev is believed to have emigrated to Ireland in the early 2000s from Belarus, and officially became an Irish citizen in February 2010.
Gardai say that Bekmirzaev was placed on a garda watchlist after he was granted citizenship.
In 2013, Bekmirzaev left Ireland for Syria, leaving his foreign-born wife and their Irish-born child behind. The wife and child reportedly left Ireland in 2013, but their whereabouts are not currently known.
The unnamed man says that Bekmirzaev is “a victim of radical, or true Islamic brainwashing.”
“In real life, he was a helpful, quiet and generous person. He also suffered from a mental condition, which made him more vulnerable to becoming radicalized.”