Terrorism in Australia
Today’s report of another arrest, this time of an Australian Muslim financing an American terrorist to fight in Syria/Iraq, is accompanied by a police statement that other investigations are under way. Interestingly, the FBI is working with Australian police.
Unfortunately, Abbott has continued to avoid criticising the influence of religion viz ““We are targeting terrorism, not religion…” In existing circumstances religion is inseparable from terrorism. Abbot has also declined to support banning the burka even for visitors entering Parliament House
Abbott has announced that Australian planes are “supporting” US planes in Iraq – but this support does not include air strikes (see Prudent PM wants legal right below).
The first of three bills strengthening counter-terrorism laws has passed Parliament and has brought out the usual suspects complaining about their adverse effect on liberty.
Failures in US Policy
Questions have again been raised about Obama’s handling of US policy in regard to Iraq/Syria. As pointed out in a New York Times article (see Washington plays blame game over IS below) “in an interview broadcast over the weekend … he said that intelligence agencies had underestimated the peril posed by the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. Obama accurately quoted James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, acknowledging that he and his analysts did not foresee the stunning success of Islamic State forces or the collapse of the Iraqi army”. To the contrary, the article claims US intelligence agencies were well aware by the end of last year of the mounting threat posed by IS.
Indeed, Professor Greg Barton of Monash University ( who is inter alia Director International of the Global Terrorism Research Centre) claimed in an address I attended last night that the leader of IS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, had been campaigning for a decade to be the leader of Sunnis and has established much more than a militant group. IS now has nine councils under him, including a media council to sell “the message”. The message is that he is conducting the “final war” by following a religious path involving jihad and it seems that his IS group has taken over the leadership role from al Queada. Barton judges however that the group is not strong enough to take over the whole of Iraq.
In short, US intelligence agencies have almost certainly been well aware for some years of the potential threat from Baghdadi’s group and this means the President and other senior members of the Administration would have been too. After Barton concluded his address I asked if he was aware of the attempt by five conservatives in the US House of Reps to investigate the influence of Muslims on the US bureaucracy and politic. He indicated that he agrees that this has occurred and that it is of concern.
Other Terrorist/Religious Groups
The apparent leadership role assumed by Baghdadi does not mean that other Islamic groups have been taken over or disappeared. As indicated in an address to the UN by Israeli PM, Netanyahu, “Hamas, as well as other Muslim extremist movements from al-Qa’ida and Nigeria’s Boko Haram to Somalia’s al-Shabab and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, share a goal of imposing militant Islam on the world”. The Australian government needs to publicly list such groups and their stated objectives.