Australia: Muslim mercenaries or traitors?
21 Jan, 2007
- The latest round of concerns about Australian identity being pitted against Muslim values involved Sheikh Taj Din al-Hilali of the Lakemba Mosque in Sydney, who bears the title of Australia's mufti
- Australia over the past two years has been engaged in a debate over whether immigrant Muslims truly wish to integrate with Australian culture. The Treasurer, Peter Costello, has made several speeches in which he has said that people who wish for sharia law should leave.
- The latest round of concerns about Australian identity being pitted against Muslim values involved Sheikh Taj Din al-Hilali of the Lakemba Mosque in Sydney, who bears the title of Australia's "mufti". Hilali's sermons are usually in Arabic, and rarely in English. One Arabic sermon was translated in October, where the Mufti compared women who did not not wear Muslim "coverings" to uncovered meat left out for "cats". He suggested that women who did not dress in Muslim fashion only encouraged men to rape them.
Two recent incidents once again highlight the dilemma which faces the Muslim community, where some of its members take on Australian citizenship yet have no intention of assimilation and integration.
The first case involves a 39-year old Iraqi Kurd, Warya Kanie, who arrived on Australian soil three years ago. Kanie's brothers lived in Adelaide, and he arrived under humanitarian protocols, to be near them. He brought his daughter with him, and lived off welfare benefits.
Around May or June, Kanie left Adelaide, shortly after he gained Australian citizenship. He said he was going to Iraq to seek out a wife in Iraq, but is purported to have told one associate that he was leaving to "go on jhad".
Kanie, an extremist Sunni, went to Jordan, and went on to Baghdad. In mid-October, he was detained by coalition forces in Iraq, accused of being engaged in insurgent activities. Since then he has remained in detention under the terms of UN Security Council Resolution 1637.
On Thursday, members of Kanie's family claimed to be unaware of the reasons for his detention. His brother Danna Kanie said: "We've got problems. I didn't like to see him anymore."
Kanie is not the only Australian to have been involved with international conflicts. A 25-year old man from Melbourne, whose name has not been released, has died fighting in Somalia. The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT) confirmed this on Thursday.
A DFAT spokesman said: "We are aware of reports a 25-year-old man has been killed in Somalia in late December. Consular officials have been in touch with the man's family in Australia who confirm that the man was killed fighting in Somalia, but the circumstances are unclear. Australia has no diplomatic mission in Somalia and it is difficult to provide consular services."
The fighter was a Muslim who was killed while engaged in conflict with Australian troops. The Somali Islamists have been using foreign Muslims to assist their fight since July.
The issue of Muslim Australians fighting abroad has been highlighted in the case of Australian-born "Jihad Jack", or Joseph Thomas, a Melbourne taxi driver and convert to Islam. He had gone to Afghanistan to take part in the insurgency. He had attended the al-Farooq training camp and had fought "on the front line" for about a week. On February 26, 2006, he was convicted of receiving funds from Al Qaeda. Much of the material used to convict him had been gained while he had been interrogated by the Australian Federal Police when incarcerated in a Pakistani prison.
On August 18, Thomas' conviction had been quashed, as it was felt that his confessions had been made under duress. Despite this, on February 27, 2006 he had given an extensive interview to ABC broadcasting, on its Four Corners strand. Here he freely told Sally Neighbour that he had received money from Khaled bin Attash, an Al Qaeda operative.
Subjected to a control order on August 27, the first Australian to receive such a personal "curfew", in October Thomas tried to challenge the ruling, which had been requested by Philip Ruddock, the Attorney General.
Because of the information given to ABC when he was not "under duress", it was announced on December 20 that 33-year old Joseph Thomas would have to face a retrial over the issue of receiving money from Al Qaeda.
In the ABC "Four Corners" interview, "Jihad Jack" also admitted that he had altered details on his passport. Before his conviction, he had also given an extensive interview to the Melbourne Age, where the same details which saw him convicted and jailed in February were also declared.
On December 2, two Australians were released from custody in Yemen. The brothers Mohammed and Abdullah Ayub had been arrested on October 17 with other foreign nationals, and had been suspected of smuggling weapons to Somalia. The uncle of the two brothers, Abdul Rahman Ayub, an Indonesian, is said to be a member of terror group Jemaah Islamiyah, who had been with Abu Sayyaf terrorists in the Philippines.
Another Australian who had been arrested at the same time, Polish-born Marat Sumolsky was expected to be freed shortly after the Ayub brothers. Whether he was released has not been confirmed.
Adrian Morgan is a
British based writer and artist who has written for
Western Resistance since its inception. He also writes for
Family Security Matters and