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Terrorism in Australia

I wonder how I would feel about the title of this article if I lived in Syria or Lebanon, Somalia or Pakistan, Yemen, Palestine, Israel, Nigeria …or even France, Spain, Russia, the UK or the US – or pretty much anywhere other than Australia.

On September 12, 2014, Australia’s security alert was raised to high indicating that a terrorist attack was ‘likely’. Billions of dollars have been diverted to national security and draconian laws impinging on our civil liberties have been enacted.

A week after raising the threat level, more than 800 police launched synchronised raids on a few houses and vehicles across Sydney’s west and north-west, and Brisbane’s south to ‘foil a plot’ where some guy from IS had apparently been ringing people asking them to behead a member of the public after snatching them from the street in Sydney. These raids were filmed and distributed to the media before investigations had been carried out and before any charges had been laid.

Four days later, an 18 year old man who had been under surveillance by police in what was reportedly a two-year operation, was asked to come to the police station to discuss behaviour “which had been causing some concern”. When the man arrived outside the station, he stabbed the two officers, one from Victorian police and one from the AFP, as they went to meet him. He was shot dead.

Would the outcome of this lengthy operation have been different if this young man was asked to come in with his family and was instead greeted by a Muslim community leader and a youth counsellor?

Then in December 2014 we had the Lindt Café siege in Sydney where a deranged man shot and killed one hostage. The police then shot him, and 4 other hostages, killing one. The perpetrator was well known to all authorities, was inexplicably on bail for serious offences, and was the subject of 18 calls to the security hotline in the days before the siege as his Facebook posts became increasingly unhinged, not to mention his letters to politicians including the Attorney-General asking about contacting IS. All of the security people being paid to assess risk dismissed the public’s concern and deemed him not a threat.

Would they have come to a different conclusion had mental health experts been assessing the information?

In April we saw three young men arrested because a 14 year old boy in England had been urging them online to target police officers involved in ANZAC commemorative activities.

And last month we saw the tragic murder of an accountant by a 15-year-old Iranian-born Iraqi-Kurdish boy who was then shot dead by security guards.

This case makes me terribly sad and angry. Sad for the man who had harmed no-one but who was randomly assassinated and will never come home to his family, and immeasurably angry about the cowards who pretended to be the friends of a kid whose family had fled to Australia to find a safe place to raise their children. These young men armed this child with a gun and hatred and then stood back like those kids in the playground yelling fight, fight. They are beyond contempt.

Every life lost in this violence is a tragedy as brought home by the father of one of the victims in the Bataclan Theatre in Paris who said, “I can’t stop talking about my son. If I do I will die.”

Yesterday in Nigeria, an 11 year old girl was used as a suicide bomber.

There are ignorant evil people in the world but we cannot combat them by violent means. You cannot combat hatred with hatred.

Australia’s counter-terrorism strategy centres around “five main pillars: Challenging violent extremist ideologies, stopping people from becoming terrorists, shaping the global environment, disrupting terrorist activity within Australia, and effective response and recovery.”

If I was writing a counter-terrorism strategy my pillars would be education, lifting people out of poverty, providing jobs and infrastructure, protecting and respecting minorities, and investing in mental health and social support.

Perhaps we are comparatively protected from terrorism in Australia because of the vigilance of our security forces. Or maybe it’s because life is good here and we must fight to make sure it remains that way for all Australians regardless of religion and ethnicity.


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  1. Sen Nearly Ile

    Kaye, education IS the source of terrorism, bigotry and hate. Once educated the reinforcement is visible 24/7.
    The solution is two fold – women are not just for babies(although the human species, like all animal, is wired to breed) – outcomes of blind faith in the male interpretations of religion, warrant open and free discussion.
    What you want is what we all want except the federal government. Why????

  2. Kaye Lee

    I agree that the empowerment of women is very important. I was going to say that that aspect is less relevant to Australian society until I reminded myself of the shocking domestic violence statistics here which far outweigh any terrorist threat.

    I’m not sure that “education is the source of terrorism, bigotry and hate.” Hopefully education gives people choice and shows them non-violent ways to advocate for change. The hatred comes from a desire for revenge in a never ending cycle of violence that has now degenerated to using children.

  3. Kaye Lee


    The United Patriots Front and the Patriots Defence League Australia and the so-called mum and dad version, Reclaim Australia, scare the crap out of me.

  4. Mick

    I think that it would be fair to say that miseducation would be the source. Hitler was famous for it. But why is there an impetus for people like Isis to miseducate. Why is their “history” filled with excuses for the present war that they are waging and that they teach is teh only way to salvation and freedom, or the terrible future they wish to bring about.

    How much of our education is missing a prefix?

    Maybe, for clarity, we could exchange the word education in all this for guidance.

  5. Kaye Lee

    People like paul craig roberts and his endless preoccupation with ‘false flags’ only exacerbate the problem. There is blame on all sides here in creating the problem but blame does nothing to stop the violence.

  6. Ideflitch

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crusades T’was ever thus.
    Some crusaders were peasants hoping for Apotheosis. Apotheosis means In Christian theology, divinization (deification, making divine, or theosis) is the transforming effect of divine grace,[1] the spirit of God, or the atonement of Christ. It literally means to become more divine, more like God, or take upon a divine nature. SOUND FAMILIAR?

  7. jim

    Hi, public opinion plays a crucial role in a democracy problem, public opinion can and is shaped by the media thus ; whoever owns the media controls public opinion, our ABC was formed in the 1920s chiefly to keep our private media in check the ABC and the BBC were once the most trusted media in the world I would say this is no longer the case especially after our last PM Abotts attack on the ABC.I also think that if only, the media had of done it’s job honestly ,we would not have entered the war in Iraq and elsewhere. Australia has the third highest suicide rate out of the top 67 richest countries. Australia also has Twice the depression rate of the UK, our youth fear our adults thereby they fear asking for help from our adults.Will this ever change no, not until our adults realize that they are not the know it all’s they profess to be and start being more approachable to the young. Have a good day.

  8. corvus boreus

    I would ask a few ‘etymological’ (word-nerd) questions.

    Can everyone here differentiate between “education” and “indoctrination”?
    Does everyone here appreciate the nuances between “philosophy” and “ideology”?
    Do we clearly understand what separates “theology” from “religion”?

    For those who do not (and cannot be bothered to consult oracle google), in each sample question, the latter option is definiyionally less tolerant of hard questions and dissenting opinions.

  9. RosemaryJ36

    Jim – the ABC and the BBC are still far more reliable than the shock jocks of commercial radio and the Murdoch dominated press and TV.

  10. Sen Nearly Ile

    The skills of racism and sexism are learned, shared and reinforced at every level of society. There are no teachers, in my grandparent/ parent teacher career, whom I felt had any understanding of how racism or sexism is taught in the school nor any desire to discuss the matter ‘this school is inclusive is the usual tact.
    Indeed one of these meetings was in queensland, where the state school was awful and we paid to go private.
    These teachers were so proud of their million dollar library that they thanked, not the principal who massaged the submission nor the labor stimulus package that paid for it but god.
    Faith is so blissfully ignorant and will remain so as long as religion is controlled by men and education is ruled by inculcating indoctrination.

  11. Matters Not

    corvus boreus you pose some ‘significant’ questions which deserve a considered response but, as you would appreciate, this is a ‘blog’ and not designed for ‘deep’ discussion. Nevertheless you open with:

    differentiate between “education” and “indoctrination”?

    I will leave ‘indoctrination’ aside for the moment and concentrate on the concept of ‘education’ . If you go to Wikki (I know it’s an intellectual sin) the etymological discussion focuses on ‘ēducātiō’ but, as you might expect, it is far too simplistic. The real debate, historically, is all about whether the concept of ‘education’ derives from ‘educare’ or ‘educere’, both of which can be traced to Latin roots.

    The traditional meaning given to educare was all about ‘training’ and ‘moulding’. If you like, ‘external forces’ at play. On the other hand, the meaning given to educere was all about the ‘leading out’.

    This ‘leading out’ notion is central to Plato’s ‘epistemology’. He ‘believed’ that ideas were innate, so that ‘learning’ was the development of ideas buried deep in the soul, often under the midwife-like guidance of an interrogator. (Sorry about the WIKI source).

    On the other hand we have John Dewey who postulate the opposite view(s).

    Traditionally, ‘philosophy’ is built around three contestable concepts, and in no particular order. (And what follows are generalisations writ large). First is Metaphysics ‘what life is all about’ (above the ‘physical present’), second is Epistemology ‘how do we ‘know’ then there is Axiology concerned with what is ‘good and valuable’ and the like.

    While one could go on. Can I suggest that while etymological questions are ‘interesting’, current debates are always about the ‘meanings’ that are currently given.

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