Police Raids Follow Up
The first use of preventive detention orders (which allow people to be held without charge for 14 days), and the first stationing of armed police inside Parliament House, indicate the extent of concern about the threat of a terrorist act. Far from being a lone wolf initiative, the threatened action seems to have involved a considerable number of individuals who are described by some as “angry” Muslims and who have direct contact with Australian members of IS overseas – almost an alliance to start attacking the home country from within.
Some resistance to attempts to interview Muslims, particularly younger males, suggest a hatred of the society in which they are living and a rejection of what they perceive as behind the police raids – an anti-Muslim belief. Interviews with Muslims who describe themselves as “moderates” produce responses that they do not support terrorist acts and differentiate themselves from extremists (see in particular article below on “Show you’re good, imam tells faithful”).
No doubt there are many genuine moderates but that does not address the problem arising from the teaching of the Koran by many imams and/or available on the web, let alone the radical Islamic groups scattered around the world.
According to one report (see “Tougher new powers to investigate terrors suspects” below) proposed new terror laws to be submitted to Parliament next Wednesday will include giving police the power to examine radical preachers who encourage others to engage in extremist acts. It is surprising that such a power does not exist and that a new offence is needed to make it illegal for an individual, as distinct from a group, to advocate a terrorist act.
Abbott has called on people to keep calm and continue normal life and the police and associated agencies have emphasised that they are keeping a close watch on potential threats. In Victoria the police have also taken out a full page ad in both major newspapers in the name of the Victorian Police Multi-Faith Council “affirming our rejection of all violence, particularly that which is based on sectarianism”. The ad is signed by representatives of all main religious bodies, including the Islamic Council of Victoria.
On the surface this seems appropriate, but it raises the question of whether any reliance can be put on advice from the Islamic Council. In the US five members of the House of Representatives have asked for an investigation into ties between administration officials and Islamist organisations and other concerns are being expressed about possible “infiltration” by Muslims into the US bureaucratic and political system, including into intelligence agencies.
It would also have been helpful to have had an explanation of why action to conduct the raid had to wait (so it appears) until the interception of a phone order to attack from IS. It also leaves open the question of whether it is appropriate to rely on the proposed new terror laws and existing police/intelligence agencies to deal with the underlying problem. The statement by Abbott to Parliament on Monday will hopefully deal with such matters.
Outside the normal media a group, the Q Society of Australia which was formed some time ago to draw critical attention to the potential problems from Islamic beliefs, has issued a press release in response to the Australian National Islamic Council. The reference in the release to Dr Mark Durie is to an Anglican preacher in Caulfield who has studied Islam and written an in-depth book on it, The Third Choice. Note the press release reference to the concept that “Islam is the religion of Peace”.
Obama Uncertainty Continues
Amongst the many reports on the police raids here and the attack on IS The Australian has published a report entitled “Obama hesitates over plan for strike”. This report, which is not available digitally, indicates that although Obama has agreed to a target list for US strikes in Syria, he has not actually “signed off” on the plan. Meantime it is reported that “friendly” Kurds have been attacked by IS in Syria (see below). So much for having a General in chief operating from Washington!