A respondent to my commentary yesterday has raised the question out of whether, while some of the Islamists in our midst may have committed sedition, as Australian citizens they might be subject to conviction for treason. Some say that Islam is at war with western democracies and have endorsed the acts of war taken against the latter, such as the 9/11 attacks.
Abbott has refused to say we are at war with Islamic State because it is not a country. But he has made highly critical statements about extremist groups and it would seem feasible for him to declare war against the many extremist groups who declare their support for violence and the adoption of sharia law.
An article in The Age (below) also raises the worrying question of whether Australian intelligence agencies may have been infiltrated, even from Iran, as late as 2009.
Without under-estimating the political difficulties of “tougher” action, the need for that is highlighted by the report below that London’s Lord Mayor, Boris Johnson, has pointed out that the home grown extremist problem is much greater than the potential problem from those returning to England after fighting in Syria/Iraq. He also claims the numbers are in the “low thousands”. Note too that, since Snowden’s leaking, intelligence agencies experience greater difficulties in monitoring. London needs a new Dick Whittington, with a very big cat!
My perception is that Australia also has a big home grown problem. Today’s Herald Sun reports carries a front page story that, prior to the killing of Haider by a policeman, up to a dozen young Islamic men were being monitored as terrorist suspects. The earlier incidents in NSW and Queensland suggest considerable numbers there too.
Islamic State “War”
It is becoming more and more likely that Australia is involved in an unwinnable war against IS. The absence of troops on the ground and adoption of a policy of no civilian casualities, combined with Turkey’s refusal to provide military help, are part of the problem. The apparent inability of the Iraq government to function, and its call for US troops (see below) as IS gets closer to Baghdad, add to it.
If a long drawn out war did develop, as US Defence Secretary Hagel suggested yesterday, that would become increasingly difficult the “sell” politically. And it would need to be justified on the basis that there is more to it than simply “degrading” IS. It would require a broad-based attack, both militarily and philosophically, against Islamic extremism.
Note below the approval in Malaysia of the burning of Bibles using Allah instead of God “to defend the sanctity of Islam”.