Irishman wants to kill for Islam


From The Sunday Times

November 15, 2009

Irishman wants to kill for Islam

Nicola Smith in Rawalpindi


An Irish jihadist living in Pakistan’s Swat valley says he is preparing to wage war against British and allied troops in Afghanistan.


Khalid Kelly, a former altar boy from the Liberties area of Dublin who used to be known as Terry, told The Sunday Times he is undergoing weapons training in Pakistan’s mountainous tribal region in order to fight jihad against the enemies of Islam. His dream is to face a British soldier in combat, although he would “settle” for an American, he said.


“I’m already on the path to jihad. I’ve already picked up a gun and done target practice to make myself familiar with weapons. The other day I learnt how to use an M-16 [rifle] in five hours,” he said. “Next week, inshallah, I could be in Afghanistan fighting a British soldier.”


Asked how he would feel about his own three-year-old son becoming a suicide bomber he replied: “I hope he goes to jannah [heaven] before marriageable age.” His son, named Osama after Kelly’s role model, lives in Britain with his Pakistani mother and two younger brothers. His father reckons Osama will be efficient with weapons by the age of ten.


Kelly says he learnt map-reading in the Scottish mountains, terrain similar to Afghanistan, although he admits he is currently out of shape. He justifies his intentions because of the West’s actions against Muslims.


“Why is it such a big deal that I want to do this? Have I not got the right to do the same thing as a guy going into an army recruitment centre?” he said. “As long as we have no security, you will have no security. We’ll kill and bomb you as you have killed and bombed our lands.”


Ireland is also a legitimate target, according to Kelly. “Ireland has a US embassy so it is open to attack,” he stated.


Kelly, 42, is an unconventional jihadist. Having grown up a staunch Catholic and trained as a nurse, he moved to Saudi Arabia in 1996 to work at the King Faisal hospital on a tax-free salary. In 2000 he was introduced to radical Islam by an Afghan when he was serving time in the Al-Ha’ir prison in Riyadh for bootlegging.


“I was living a cushy Western lifestyle, in a three-storey house with a swimming pool. I was your average Western racist,” he said of his time before conversion. “Now I’m living the dream, but the price of paradise does not come cheap. I am getting up at 5am to pray. I travel a lot and I’m experiencing hardship.”


Kelly moved to the UK in 2002 where he joined Al-Muhajaroun, the now disbanded hardline Islamic organisation, and an associate of radical clerics Omar Bakri Mohammed and Anjem Choudary. He achieved notoriety in 2007 when he declared the London bombings of 7 July a “happy day”.


“If I had had the opportunity, I would have been on those tube trains. But my time in London was to give the call,” he said. Kelly also “gave the call” in Ireland, where he returned frequently in a bid to lure young Muslims with his jihadist teachings. He warned that Ireland was putting itself in the line of fire by allowing US warplanes to land at Shannon airport.


Kelly now sees his time in the West as mental preparation for jihad, claiming he spent a lot of time on the internet learning how to make bombs. He left the UK in 2008 after some friends were arrested for extremist behaviour during a protest about the Danish cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed.


After a period underground, Kelly has now re-emerged in Pakistan’s Swat valley, where the army recently drove out the Taliban in a three-month military operation. He travels frequently to Rawalpindi, a garrison city next to the nation’s capital Islamabad, to meet contacts and spread his radical jihadist message.


In a meeting in one of the city’s parks last month he told The Sunday Times that he had a “divine calling” to kill. “I would feel good because you are killing for God. I have practised enough mentally to know that when my time comes I’ll be ready. I pray every night for bravery,” he said.


Kelly said he moved to Pakistan to join the “best of the best” in the jihadist struggle and to work towards replacing the civilian government with an Islamic one. As Islamabad vows to take on Islamic militants, Kelly harbours a dark hope that Pakistan will become like Iraq with “beheadings and kidnappings”.


His face brightens at the mention of suicide bombings and shootings that have devastated hundreds of Pakistani families since the army launched its recent offensive against Taliban and Al Qaeda militants in the tribal belt of Waziristan.


He is also unapologetic about his desire to fund, encourage and take part in terrorism. “I always believe Islam is terrorism. We are told to terrorise the enemies of Islam,” he said. “The world will become a dangerous place. Everybody had better start embracing Islam or people will start flying planes into buildings again.”

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