Jihadis from Britain and mainland Europe are using Ireland as a transit point on the way to Syria and Iraq, where they are joining Islamist fighters according to Irish security experts.

Irish leader Enda Kenny has stated that Irish security forces are closely monitoring the jihadists moves.

“I spoke to the Minister for Justice yesterday and there was a meeting of the security committee. This matter is being monitored very carefully by the security authorities in Ireland,” he said.

Kenny was in Paris where he spoke in solidarity with the French people, who held a massive rally against violence yesterday.

Security experts say groups of Irish-based Muslim extremists are suspected of harboring jihadi fighters and providing logistical and financial support to international terror groups.

"What you have is small groups of jihadis who cannot travel directly to Turkey, for access to Syria, arriving here, receiving support and money and then transiting through Ireland to the war zones. There is quite an elaborate support network based in Dublin and other major Leinster towns which is attracting the attention of security agencies in the rest of Europe and further afield," a security source said.

Foreign intelligence agencies have received reports of young Islamist recruits being sent to secret “training camps” in remote areas in the Leinster region for selection as jihadi fighters. One such training camp, used to assess the “mental and physical strength” of the recruits, is believed to have taken place in recent weeks.

"The young men were made endure the hardships of living rough in mountainous terrain, including swimming in frozen lakes and camping under the elements. No weapons or military tactics were used and no laws were broken," said a security source.

"Those selected are taken aside for more rigorous indoctrination and sent abroad to join IS in Syria."

One known individual, who coordinates a financial network on behalf of the Islamic State and helps to procure false documentation such as passports and visas, has been living in south Dublin for over 15 years and receives up to €3,000 a month from the Department of Social Welfare. He reportedly has links to al-Qaeda leader Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi. He would be arrested abroad if he leaves Ireland.

"He is watched all the time and if he sets foot outside this State he will be lifted immediately," said a security source.

"He is a key player in the international structure of the new threat emerging from Islamic fundamentalists," the source added.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald told an Oireachtas committee last year that gardai were aware that about 30 suspected jihadis had traveled from Ireland to take part in various conflicts since the start of the Arab Spring, reports the Irish Independent.

Intelligence sources estimate that the number has now risen to around 50 Irish citizens.

Claims of secret training camps for jihadists set up in remote areas of Ireland.Getty Images/iStockphoto