August 13th 2005

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: BRAZIL: The slippery road to communist dictatorship

EDITORIAL: Australia's clean, green image at risk

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Howard Government's industrial relations pain

SCHOOLS: Subverting the English curriculum

NATIONAL SECURITY: Re-thinking Australia's response to terrorism

ECONOMICS: Ethanol and the national interest

CONSTITUTION: What is wrong with a Bill of Rights?

FAMILY LAW: Paternity fraud penalises the innocent

UNITED STATES: John G. Roberts and the US Supreme Court

STRAWS IN THE WIND: How to lose with a royal flush / Hard cases / Another 'bottom of the harbour' scheme? / Waste disposal

CINEMA: 'Vigilante justice' and movie culture

FORTHCOMING TOUR: The 'Mother Teresa of Africa' to tour Australia

Better way to help African poor (letter)

Clinical judgement on treatment of dying (letter)

Serious omission (letter)


BOOKS: NED KELLY'S LAST DAYS: Setting the record straight on the death of an outlaw

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Re-thinking Australia's response to terrorism

by John Miller

News Weekly, August 13, 2005
The nature of the July London bombings reveals that Australia faces a steep learning curve to meet the terrorist threat, warns John Miller, a former senior intelligence officer.

"The purpose of terror is to terrorise" - Vladimir Ilich Lenin on the formation of the CHEKA, forerunner of the Soviet KGB.

"The objective of Arab terrorism is to terrorise the civilian population, traumatise their norms and values, rock the economic and political establishment and destroy the modernism that threatens the Islamic world." (Author unknown.)

A few weeks ago, on July 7, terrorists attacked London's public transport. In the ensuing days, it became clear that this was in fact a well-organised terrorist attack. As a former professional intelligence officer, I looked at the map of London and the Tube map with the attack points, highlighted by red stars.

It appeared to me that this was in fact half an operation. Had it been thoroughly professional, the explosions would have struck the South Bank of London, almost certainly blown up an underground train under the Thames River and looped back to form a crude circle. Had the timing of the London attack been 30 minutes earlier than 08:50am, it would have been more effective and devastating, being then at the height of the rush-hour.


These attacks were designed to terrorise and paralyse the commuting public, engender chaos, and slaughter as many people as the devices used would permit.

The single outstanding feature of the first series of attacks is the fact that these young men were well-educated, second or third-generation migrants, apparently assimilated into British society. In other words, the authorities have to deal with the scenario where just about anybody could be a bomb-carrying terrorist.

The new population of London - and we should not make the mistake of calling it homogenous - will be looking at each other, their complexion, their luggage and body language with suspicion.

The tragic shooting at Stockwell station of an innocent Brazilian, as a result of the police shoot-to-kill policy towards anybody who looks and behaves suspiciously enough that he could be a bomber, makes the situation harder to control than the race riots of a decade or so ago.

These facts alone will make policing and security work a more difficult proposition, with more officers needed on the street. It is time to dispense with the notion of a police service - it is a police force and it is high time that the politically correct are finally brought into line.

More evidence of the nature and organisation of the July 7 attacks points to recruitment of the erstwhile British citizens by radical clerics with the full panoply of support organisations in the form of mosques, madrassas (Islamist training schools), bookshops, discussion centres and so on.

I concluded at the time that it would be sheer madness to believe that July 7 was a one-off operation. Not being privy to intelligence reports, I conjectured a second attack within a fortnight; but that of July 21 was more of a warning than an attempt at mass murder.

The July 21 attacks roughly fit the paradigm mentioned earlier, namely that of an operation encircling London; but it is not possible to conclude that the same group was involved in the planning and execution of the affair.

This type of terrorism invites comparisons with Hamas operations in the Middle East, but the targeting has a resonance of Soviet attack plans on London during an anticipated period of tension before World War III.

Such plans - revealed by a Soviet KGB defector, Oleg Lyalin, in 1969 - were later matched by confirmation that the Soviet military had parallel plans. In fact, al-Qaida manuals are little more than Soviet GRU Spetsnaz (Special Forces) manuals with Arabic injunctions, usually of a religious nature, inter-spersed.

There is very little point in arguing about the causes the London bombings and how such contributory factors can be curbed. It is a fact that they are happening, probably on the basis of the clash between civilisations, as foreseen in part by Samuel P. Huntington in an influential essay in Foreign Affairs (vol. 72, no. 3, Summer 1993), which he later expanded into a book, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (1998).

To date, it has been taboo, if not tantamount to a crime, to criticise certain aspects of official multiculturalism, which have created the terror threat in our midst.


John Stone, a former Australian senior public servant and later a senator, has recently challenged some long-held shibboleths in The Australian (July 23, 2005). His conclusion? At present, Muslim immigration should virtually cease. Rod Liddle, writing in the UK Spectator magazine (July 16, 2005), has said pithily:

"Truth is, Islam is not remotely a peaceable religion, compared with, say, paganism, Zoroastrianism, or Buddhism and Sikhism or Judaism or modern Christianity for that matter, and still less humanism. Nor is it particularly well integrated, compared with say, Hinduism or Sikhism or Judaism.

"But that does not mean we, therefore, hold all Muslims responsible for the outrages of that Thursday morning or wish to exact revenge on the Muslim community. As I say we are not stupid."

The same can be said, in many respects for Australia. Security checking of migrants from many parts of the world is very difficult today, owing to a massive run-down many years ago in ASIO's role in the migrant-vetting process.

Keeping records

And one would hazard a guess that a great number of old records on would-be migrants have been destroyed in the bureaucratic mania to minimise paper storage because of age.

Dewy-eyed proponents of multiculturalism will have to face the fact that more draconian security measures will need to be instituted.

We will have to seriously consider cessation of migration from certain countries and heightened screening of visitors and tourists.

At present, the oath for Australian citizenship barely means anything in terms of values and norms, but it provides the would-be terrorists with considerable advantage in terms of movement and legality. It can facilitate movement overseas for training and indoctrination.

There is a very strong need to re-examine the oath of citizenship in an attempt to make it a genuine commitment to Australia and Australian societal goals. It would be useful to re-examine the processes of stripping citizenship from people who are undesirable and smoothly deporting them, without the noise of the claqueurs.

Hotbeds of Islamic radicalism in this country are not as numerically strong as in the United Kingdom, but in proportional terms represent a considerable threat.

The skirmishing over Islamic dress for females has barely begun here but it is noticeable that Muslims are claiming the right to wear traditional dress, keep their daughters out of school and to live in virtual enclaves around mosques and schools, with street signs in Arabic.

Australia has another problem wherein there are so many police, security and intelligence bodies advising the federal and state governments. Each organisation seeks to justify and prolong its own existence and carve out considerable areas in turf wars.

This is no time to post recruitment notices for senior administrators at exorbitant salaries and remarkably generous allowances. People are needed on the street and mingling in the communities, and we should determine which of those oppose the concept of a unified Australia.

There is a great deal to recommend technical penetration of all suspected centres of extreme activity.

We have to recognise now that police and security forces face probably one of the most difficult tasks since their inception. We are a target, not just because the Howard Government has taken our armed forces into Iraq and East Timor. Senior Muslims around the globe have specifically named Australia as an enemy of Islam.

A report in The Australian (July 26, 2005) announced that there will be "no (so-called) counter-terror czar to lead response" in the event of a terrorist attack.

The article was accompanied by a two-dimensional organisational chart. It failed to reflect the current state of our intelligence organisations, which over the past few years have been turned into the form of an inverted pyramid with a top-heavy layer of bureaucrats, while the numbers of those on the street, doing the hard job of gathering intelligence, have been greatly reduced.

The extremely difficult job of recruiting and retaining loyal interpreters should be a premium. If it is good enough for them to be Australian citizens, then surely it is not beyond the whit of authorities to use the "citizenship card" as a bargaining chip.

The biggest risk with such a far-flung bureaucracy is that in the event of a terrorist alert or incident, the first line of defence appears to lie with state police forces.

This matter deserves a great deal of examination to determine whether state police are sufficiently armed and trained to contain a terrorist scenario in the way so graphically depicted in London.

On the day of his recent resignation, former New South Wales Premier Bob Carr called for a conference of all state police chiefs to determine their approach to terrorism. His remarks reveal, that to date, there has been a lack of consultation.

In Pogo's immortal phrase, "We have met the enemy, and he is us."

The last thing that Australia needs is precipitate action. Nevertheless, there is a good case for the Prime Minister to recall Federal Parliament:

  • to suspend further Muslim immigration;

  • to review our ludicrously low level of security;

  • to ensure that our security and police force hierarchies are no longer an inverted pyramid dominated by bureaucrats;

  • to spell out clearly for those forces involved in containing an incident or attack, who ultimately is responsible;

  • to ensure that state police are suitably armed, trained and prepared for a terrorist incident.

We need swift action, not procrastination and endless discussion. However, sunset clauses should be considered for some legislation.

There needs to be a diminution in the number of intelligence organisations and a high priority placed on intelligence-gathering, analysis and advice.

It is not a question of if, but when, one of our major cities is attacked.

Distasteful and unpalatable though it may seem, in circumstances of doubt in dealing with multicultural matters, the Government must be seen to have all necessary power to deal with terrorism in all its aspects, from the school, the reading-room, the madrassa, through to the mosque.

The doublespeak employed by certain Islamic clerics should be identified for what it is - coded instructions for jihad or support thereof.

New laws prohibiting the distribution of radical Islamic texts should be enacted forthwith; bookshops should be judged on what is on the shelves and in the back rooms; and those convicted of inciting racial hatred should be stripped of their citizenship, jailed for a predetermined period and then deported to whence they came.

At all times, we should remember that we are battling thugs and terrorists who happen to be of the Islamic faith. We must not allow our feelings, when the first attack occurs on Australian soil, to prompt us to go out and get even.

Bleeding-heart stories

As for the media, we need no more bleeding-heart stories about ASIO arrests and harassment or raids. Those legally-sanctioned raids have been based on information received and, as with the police force, are not conducted on the basis of a knee-jerk reaction.

The media has a great capacity to undermine public confidence in the forces of law and order and national security. Such action in itself should be prohibited and the D notice system should be updated and applied to all forms of the media, including the Internet.

So-called whistleblowers should face the courts if their leaks jeopardise our national security, something that Australia has "wished away" in the past.

Australia has often been called the lucky country but there is a time, as everyone knows, when luck runs out. It might not be tomorrow, but who knows when?

  • John Miller is a former senior intelligence officer.

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