The Oz “Terror” Connection


Australian officials were breathing a sigh of relief when ‘Cablegate’ disclosed little that might cast them in a poor light before their American puppeteers. (If, indeed, there was any light to begin with.)  When it took place last year, there were the usual observations – Australia was, in fact, small and not quite as relevant as it might have thought, and with that were a sprinkling of views about political figures that would barely raise an eyebrow at a dinner party.

Now, WikiLeaks has disgorged another round of cables – coming to almost 134 thousand leaked cables. The recent releases show that Washington has its eye on its satellite’s security environment. Of particular interest is a cable from the US embassy in Canberra, noting that US intelligence organizations and the State Department have fingered 23 ‘terror’ suspects who are residing in Australia.  Six of them are women, including four Australians, a Briton and a Filipina. ‘Recent threat information suggests [al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP] is looking to identify a female for a future attack.’  Australia’s domestic intelligence outfit – ASIO – must have been thrilled in finding potential terrorists in their midst. Any intelligence organization which has its budget multiplied five-fold (this since  September 11, 2001), needs to justify its existence and net a suitable quarry.

On glancing at the names of the favoured 23, we find that several are familiar.  A favourite target of ASIO has been Rabiah Hutchinson, who has been titled the ‘matriarch’ of radical Islam in Australia.  (That any form of radicalism could spring up in arid, revolutionary-barren Australia is impressive in itself.)  Another is Shyloh Giddens, who was arrested in Yemen by secret police on suspicion of contacting associates of AQAP.  Her ‘extremist interpretation of Islam and her activities in Yemen’ resulted in the cancellation of her passport (Sydney Morning Herald, Aug 31).

Allegations are being made that many on the list have been in contact with AQAP’s radical figure Anwar al Awlaqi.  He, it seems, is the lynchpin in the speculation.  Sheikh Abdel Zoud of Sydney’s Belmore Mosque found himself, much to his surprise, on the list.  ‘I have no connection with this man.’  Nor had he ever been to Yemen.  Then again, ASIO operatives might believe in the miracle of bi-location.

An entire security apparatus that monitors, bans and restricts individuals without charge has emerged post 9/11.  Travel bans are placed on individuals without explanation.  Suspicion is the only sufficient standard that matters.  While the recipe is not as severe as that of Bagram airbase, Abu Ghraib, and Guantanamo, where inmates were tortured and detained without charge, the spirit of keeping individuals on the ‘Visas Viper’ program is similar.  It has been recommended by the US embassy in Canberra that eleven on the disclosed list of suspects be banned from flying in the US, and the other 12 placed on a ‘selectee’ watch list.  Evidently, intelligence organizations seem to think that suspicion is tantamount to conviction.

Stephen Hopper, a lawyer who represents two of the women, calls it ‘a storm in a tea cup’, mere ‘poppycock’.  ‘Everyone can get out from under the bed, there is no threat from these people.’ That he is trying to clear their names is futile at this point, given the simulated muteness on both sides of the Pacific.  It is encouraging that, for all of this, Abdel Zoud is an idealist, one might even say romantic and well versed on the rule of law.  ‘People are innocent until you prove it.’

Binoy Kampmark lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com




Weekend Edition
October 9-11, 2015
David Price – Roberto J. González
The Use and Abuse of Culture (and Children): The Human Terrain System’s Rationalization of Pedophilia in Afghanistan
Mike Whitney
Putin’s “Endgame” in Syria
Jason Hribal
The Tilikum Effect and the Downfall of SeaWorld
Paul Street
Hope in Abandonment: Cuba, Detroit, and Earth-Scientific Socialism
Gary Leupp
The Six Most Disastrous Interventions of the 21st Century
Andrew Levine
In Syria, Obama is Playing a Losing Game
Louis Proyect
The End of Academic Freedom in America: the Case of Steven Salaita
Rob Urie
Democrats, Neoliberalism and the TPP
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
The Bully Recalibrates: U.S. Signals Policy Shift in Syria
Brian Cloughley
Hospital Slaughter and the US/NATO Propaganda Machine
John Walsh
For Vietnam: Artemisinin From China, Agent Orange From America
John Wight
No Moral High Ground for the West on Syria
Robert Fantina
Canadian Universities vs. Israeli Apartheid
Conn Hallinan
Portugal: Europe’s Left Batting 1000
John Feffer
Mouths Wide Shut: Obama’s War on Whistleblowers
Paul Craig Roberts
The Impulsiveness of US Power
Ron Jacobs
The Murderer as American Hero
Alex Nunns
“A Movement Looking for a Home”: the Meaning of Jeremy Corbyn
Philippe Marlière
Class Struggle at Air France
Binoy Kampmark
Waiting in Vain for Moderation: Syria, Russia and Washington’s Problem
Paul Edwards
Empire of Disaster
Xanthe Hall
Nuclear Madness: NATO’s WMD ‘Sharing’ Must End
Margaret Knapke
These Salvadoran Women Went to Prison for Suffering Miscarriages
Uri Avnery
Abbas: the Leader Without Glory
Halima Hatimy
#BlackLivesMatter: Black Liberation or Black Liberal Distraction?
Michael Brenner
Kissinger Revisited
Cesar Chelala
The Perverse Rise of Killer Robots
Halyna Mokrushyna
On Ukraine’s ‘Incorrect’ Past
Jason Cone
Even Wars Have Rules: a Fact Sheet on the Bombing of Kunduz Hospital
Walter Brasch
Mass Murders are Good for Business
William Hadfield
Sophistry Rising: the Refugee Debate in Germany
Christopher Brauchli
Why the NRA Profits From Mass Shootings
Hadi Kobaysi
How The US Uses (Takfiri) Extremists
Pete Dolack
There is Still Time to Defeat the Trans-Pacific Partnership
Marc Norton
The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution
Andre Vltchek
Stop Millions of Western Immigrants!
David Rosen
If Donald Dump Was President
Dave Lindorff
America’s Latest War Crime
Ann Garrison
Sankarist Spirit Resurges in Burkina Faso
Franklin Lamb
Official Investigation Needed After Afghan Hospital Bombing
Linn Washington Jr.
Wrongs In Wine-Land
Ronald Bleier
Am I Drinking Enough Water? Sneezing’s A Clue
Charles R. Larson
Prelude to the Spanish Civil War: Eduard Mendoza’s “An Englishman in Madrid”
David Yearsley
Papal Pop and Circumstance
October 08, 2015
Michael Horton
Why is the US Aiding and Enabling Saudi Arabia’s Genocidal War in Yemen?