INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM: by John MillerNews Weekly
A plot that wasn't and a plot that could have been
, October 2, 2010
During his recent historic state visit to the United Kingdom, Pope Benedict XVI was given an unusually rough reception by sections of the British media. These hostile demonstrations were given particular prominence on ABC television and radio.
It is axiomatic that, in today's society, more column inches and comment are given to radical demonstrators and unruly elements, such as Peter Tatchell, an Australian-born left-wing professional agitator for homosexual rights and a sometime Green Party parliamentary candidate for the House of Commons.
The mere fact that such protestors were outnumbered by those British citizens who came out to demonstrate support for Pope Benedict was entirely lost on the media. At all times, the Pope displayed good humour and sincerity, expressing his desire to reach out to British Christians. In particular, his speech to those gathered at Westminster Cathedral was of the highest order in terms of integrity and inclusiveness.
However, turning to the subject of terrorism, I am disturbed at how this threat is known to everyone yet is carefully disguised in public discussion so as to prevent any proper clinical examination and dissection of government policies touching on immigration, citizenship, multiculturalism, the law and politics.
It came as no surprise to me to learn that six British citizens had been detained by Scotland Yard under counter-terrorist laws. It was understood that the majority were of Algerian background and Muslims and had been suspected of planning to assassinate Pope Benedict.
To give Scotland Yard fully deserved credit, the chain of events proved that Britain's counter-terrorism measures work. A group of people talked too long and too loud about the Pope and the desirability of removing him by the simple expedient of killing.
It is also to the credit of the British justice system that the case was investigated promptly and thoroughly and the suspects were returned to the streets once it had been established that there was no plot, just drunken talk.
Regrettably, publicity about the good work of the British security authorities was eclipsed by headlines about demonstrators against the Pope.
By contrast, back in Australia, a second trial of Australian citizens of Somali and Lebanese background commenced in Melbourne on September 13 and in low-key fashion before Justice Betty King. It is the strength of the English-speaking world's system of justice that those in court are entitled to a fair trial and a presumption of innocence until proven otherwise.
In a previous article of mine, I referred to the planned attack on the Holsworthy army base in south-west Sydney, which was thwarted by Australia's counter-terrorist forces, with arrests being made in August 2009 during Operation Neath. ("Terrorism comes to Sydney", News Weekly
, August 22, 2009).
Currently before the courts are Saney Edow Aweys, 26, of Carlton North, Yacqub Khayre, 22, of Meadow Heights, Abdirahman Mohamud Ahmed, 25, of Preston, Wissam Mahmoud Fattal, 33, of Melbourne, and Nayef El Sayed, 25 of Glenroy. They have all pleaded not guilty to "conspiring with each other and people unknown between February 1 and August 4 last year to do acts in preparation for, or planning, a terrorist act or acts".
Little new can be said about this case. The prosecution and the defence have both presented outlines on behalf of the Crown and the defendants. These have been covered by the major newspapers.
Basically this case is proof positive of the existence within Australia of individuals and groups who have in terms of practical effect declared war on Australia, the US, Israel and Western liberal democracies.
The proposed attack on the Holsworthy army base may or may not have been coordinated with attacks overseas; but it fell in the same timeframe, with a similar modus operandi
as the Mumbai hotel attack; the attacks in Pakistan on the Police Academy at Lahore; the assault on the Sri Lankan cricket team; and possibly the wild rampage at Fort Hood in Texas by US army Major Nidal Hasan, a Jordanian-born psychiatrist who killed 12 people at the base, including a pregnant female soldier.
The significance of the attack on Holsworthy was that, according to evidence provided by the prosecution, reconnaissance of the base was carried out before the suspects were apprehended. There is also considerable material suggesting the desire of the group to "legitimise" their actions by seeking a fatwah from Islamic clerics in Somalia and, as a consequence, to become martyrs.
There was nothing particularly sophisticated about the planned attack. Armed with AK-47s, grenades and other weapons, they intended to storm the base and kill as many people as possible before being killed, apprehended or committing suicide.
While we must insist on the presumption of innocence, if the accused are found guilty and jailed, they should be stripped of their Australian citizenship and deported. For far too long Australian governments have prevaricated on this issue.
Quite clearly, a national debate on immigration, multiculturalism, citizenship and related matters is long overdue. As Australians, we should demand that our elected representatives address these pressing issues.John Miller is a former senior intelligence officer.