Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Australia's Heads-Up

"We will allege he has utilised the Internet to perform services for ISIL Firstly, by researching and designing a laser warning device to help warn against incoming guiding munitions used by coalition forces in Syria and Iraq."
"Secondly, we will also allege that he has been researching, designing and modelling systems to assist ISIL's efforts to develop their own long-range guided missile capabilities."
"We believe he has networks and contacts in ISIL - not necessarily just in the conflict zones, but in other parts of the world as well and he has been relying on them to pass this information."
Australian Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin.

"One argument developing is that Muslims cannot be trusted, they are all bad, and with so many in our town, it was only a matter of time before trouble raised its head."
"The other point put forward is that hatred is not the way to handle this situation and one man's actions should not condemn the entire town's Muslim population."
Craig Thomson, editor, The Young Witness

"Family members had access to a significant amount of funds in an Australian bank account and were suspected of using international travel cards and a computer consulting company based in the Middle East to remit funds out of Australia for the use and benefit of Islamic State in Syria."
Australian Police Report

"They've got shops in town -- coffee shops, a new kitchen shop, and the  younger ones work in the big stores like Woolworths."
"They've added to the culture of the town. It's a very friendly community."
John Barton, local real estate agent, Young, Australia
Australians in the small town of Young appear, for the most part, to have accepted the presence of a sizeable Muslim contingent mostly from Lebanon, who have settled in, making the town their home and by all accounts, adding their culture to the one that the white, working-class residents value, in the area known for its cherry orchards. It is certainly a more bucolic area for these Muslim Australians, than for those who are attracted to Australia's teeming cities.

But like every other Western democracy that has taken in its share of Muslim immigrants and refugees, Australia has also experienced the discomfiture of discovering that within the Muslim population there are those, even those born in Australia, who have responded to recruiting efforts for Islamist jihad. Homegrown extremism is a problem for Canberra. In 2014 it raised its terror threat level, and prevented a dozen terror attacks internally, charging 61 people with terrorism.

Four attacks did take place, and in 2015, a 15-year-old Muslim murdered an employee of the Sydney police.


Concerns over homegrown links to terrorism have been spurred anew by an Australian citizen with the name of Haisem Zahab arrested on February 28, when his property in Young was raided. He stands accused of researching and designing a long-range guided missile and laser warning device, presumably for militants with Islamic State. He and his family were under suspicion of links to Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant for a year-and-a-half before his arrest.

The family had a home in Sydney which was sold and its proceeds suspected as having been sent to Syria. This was not the first time that Mr. Zahab had come to the attention of authorities, having pleaded guilty to drug and firearms charges on a previous occasion. He was known not to interact with others in the local Muslim community, obviously an outlier. But the revelations about his commitment to violent jihad and his arrest have caused concern among the Muslim residents of Young.

They have lived in the community for over two decades, and many of them found employment on the cherry farms. An expert on terrorism and radicalization at Australian National University ventured his opinion that the rural character of Young, a two-hour drive from the closest major city, identified it as a potential venue for anyone interested in surreptitiously planning activities counter to how they present themselves, as ordinary Australians who just happen also to be Muslim.

The property in Cherry Vale Place, Young where a 42-year-old man was arrested for terrorism offences.
Photo: The man was arrested at a property in Young . (Supplied: Australian Federal Police)

The arrested man, Haisem Zahab, a trained electrician, found his niche in life as an enabler of terrorism, involved in providing jihadists with his expertise geared toward producing the wherewithal to develop missiles, an enterprise requiring both technical and high-tech capability. Found guilty as charged, with two foreign incursion offences, carrying a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, he will have ample time to contemplate his decision to throw in his lot with ISIL.

Australia has provided roughly one hundred of its citizens to engage with terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq, fighting the jihadist struggle for universal conquest, according to figures released by Australian authorities. If and when they return their presence within the country will provide additional reason for concern and heightened intelligence. That, to be balanced against the very real fact that most of Australia's Muslim population have no interest whatever in betraying their citizenship.

"The more than 70-odd families that are there [in the rural community of Young] are hardworking, productive members of the Young community", admonished Dr. Jones, the expert on terrorism and radicalization.

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