Countering Islamic Terrorism Needs Major Explanatory Statement
The jihadism by the Somali who came to Australia as a refugee, followed by the discovery of two Australian deaths from the London stabbings and yet another Paris incident, confirm a higher rate of violent activity in recent months from Islamic jihadists, both individuals and groups, both here and in other Western countries. This is only part of the story. UK PM May told us, for instance, that 5 terrorist plans had been thwarted in the UK over the short period between the Manchester bombings and the London stabbings and other countries including Australia would doubtless have had similar experiences. And there are quite large numbers of people who are “on watch”. For instance, the 3AW interviewer of Turnbull today referred to a “watch list” of no less than 3,000 in Victoria alone (see Turnbull on 3AW). It is little wonder that some jihadists on such lists are missed!
But the increased activity has led to an increased realisation by our political leaders that they need to acknowledge publicly what many have thought for some considerable time viz that it is no longer acceptable to avoid referring to the influence of Islam. One might add “and not before time”. In his interview on 3AW today Turnbull ventured further down that influence road himself when he told the interviewer that “we are facing a global threat, this Islamist terrorism. It is a disease and it is corrupting, seeking to destroy from within the Islamic religion and of course, lashing out to destroy and undermine our way of life. We are heartbroken by these terrible crimes and this terrible loss”(see Turnbull on 3AW).
This is fine as far as it goes but there is an obvious need to go much further. To take just one reason. This is that we are, in one sense, fortunate that these jihadists have had only limited weaponry. Imagine for example if the three London stabbers had had sub-machine guns. The London police have been widely praised for taking only 8 minutes to reach the incident: but there would have been a lot more of lost lives in that 8 minutes if the stabbers had had such guns!
I digress here to refer to a function I attended here in Melbourne to launch a laudable book by Prof Steve Kates on Trump’s election campaign. The launch had been advertised so anyone who saw the advertisement would have known that prominent journalist Andrew Bolt was the principal launcher and that, judging by his columns, he was likely to praise Trump for exposing issues which had been pushed aside by other leaders. Whatever, when Bolt on his own got to the door of the restaurant at which the launch occurred, he was physically attacked by two men who had a third taking photos. Bolt responded physically and succeeded in driving his attackers away (see Bolt Response to Attack). I don’t know who the attackers were but if they had been of the same origin as the London stabbers, Bolt would likely have experienced serious injury instead of the sore knuckles he has (and one might add a sore leg from kicking one of the attackers where it hurts!). That we have such threats to a prominent journalist is a worrying sign of the times.
To take the matter one step further, I mention that when I was on the board of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute I attended a conference it held in 2008 and heard the address by Robert Galluchi, who had had long experience with the US State Department on nuclear issues. He told the audience
“We have no defence against a nuclear weapon delivered by a terrorist group, because we could be sure that it will be delivered in an unconventional way. After we get finished worrying about all the containers, we can then start worrying about all the trucks, and then we can worry about the marinas and then we will rapidly conclude that we really cannot defend, as a strategist would say, by denial, or by preventing a nuclear weapon from being introduced into the United States, which leaves us only with deterrence. Deterrence, of course, creates the problem of knowing exactly who your attacker is, having an attacker who had some level of unacceptable damage, and anybody who presents to you the proposition that they value your death more than their life is not a really good candidate for deterrence”.
Gallucci pointed outthen that there is an increasing risk of a terrorist group obtaining and using a nuclear weapon without being detected, not necessarily one with the destructive power of the Hiroshima bomb but one sufficient to kill 250,000 people. Nine years later that possibility would be considerably increased.
Having regard to that, and now that jihadism has “caught on” to an increased extent, there seems to be an urgent need for political leadership to adopt more protective measures (more police, bollards, de-radicalisation programs, parole management, etc) which should help limit deaths. But the numbers of potential jihadists are so large that such tightenings of counter-terrorist policies need to go much further. Today’s news report that PM May has said that, if human rights legislation need to be amended, her government will do just that, assuming they are re-elected. There are many such possibilities and I have received some sensible suggestions from a recipient of my Commentaries, which I can’t explore here tonight.
A major difficulty here in Australia is that, while our PM has improved his references to Islam as being the source of the problem, he seems unable to contemplate the kind of changes which May (and my “subscriber”) are talking about. The most important thing to do right now is for a leading Coalition member to move to take over the leadership by making a public statement that Australia must urgently address the need for major measures to minimise the threat which we and other Western countries face from Islam.
Today’s The Australian has two articles which rightly argue for our leaders to “tell the truth”, one by Greg Sheridan who says that “Overall there are far too many commentators and analysts in this country who shy away from speaking directly about terrorism” (see Sheridan on Need to Address Threat from Islam) and one by Chris Kenny headed It’s Time to Tell the Truth on Radicalised Refugees. Both are saying that our leaders are not up to scratch and that the issue should be given priority. If it were the Coalitions polling would likely improve.