FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Oz “Terror” Connection

by BINOY KAMPMARK

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

 

 

 

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
July 22, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Good as Goldman: Hillary and Wall Street
Joseph E. Lowndes
From Silent Majority to White-Hot Rage: Observations from Cleveland
Paul Street
Political Correctness: Handle with Care
Conn Hallinan
The Big Boom: Nukes And NATO
Ron Jacobs
Exacerbate the Split in the Ruling Class
Richard Moser
Actions Express Priorities: 40 Years of Failed Lesser Evil Voting
Eric Draitser
Hillary and Tim Kaine: a Match Made on Wall Street
Jill Stein
After US Airstrikes Kill 73 in Syria, It’s Time to End Military Assaults that Breed Terrorism
Jack Rasmus
Trump, Trade and Working Class Discontent
John Feffer
Could a Military Coup Happen Here?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Late Night, Wine-Soaked Thoughts on Trump’s Jeremiad
Andrew Levine
Vice Presidents: What Are They Good For?
Michael Lukas
Law, Order, and the Disciplining of Black Bodies at the Republican National Convention
Margaret Kimberley
Gavin Long’s Last Words
Mark Weisbrot
Confidence and the Degradation of Brazil
Brian Cloughley
Boris Johnson: Britain’s Lying Buffoon
Lawrence Reichard
A Global Crossroad
Kevin Schwartz
Beyond 28 Pages: Saudi Arabia and the West
Charles Pierson
The Courage of Kalyn Chapman James
Michael Brenner
Terrorism Redux
Bruce Lerro
Being Inconvenienced While Minding My Own Business: Liberals and the Social Contract Theory of Violence
Mark Dunbar
The Politics of Jeremy Corbyn
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Why It’s Just Fine for U.S. to Blow Up Children
Binoy Kampmark
Laura Ingraham and Trumpism
Uri Avnery
The Great Rift
Nicholas Buccola
What’s the Matter with What Ted Said?
Aidan O'Brien
Thank Allah for Western Democracy, Despondency and Defeat
Joseph Natoli
The Politics of Crazy and Stupid
Sher Ali Khan
Empirocracy
Nauman Sadiq
A House Divided: Turkey’s Failed Coup Plot
Franklin Lamb
A Roadmap for Lebanon to Grant Civil Rights for Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon
Colin Todhunter
Power and the Bomb: Conducting International Relations with the Threat of Mass Murder
Michael Barker
UK Labour’s Rightwing Select Corporate Lobbyist to Oppose Jeremy Corbyn
Graham Peebles
Brexit, Trump and Lots of Anger
Anhvinh Doanvo
Civilian Deaths, Iraq, Syria, ISIS and Drones
Christopher Brauchli
Kansas and the Phantom Voters
Peter Lee
Gavin Long’s Manifesto and the Politics of “Terrorism”
Missy Comley Beattie
An Alarmingly Ignorant Fuck
Robert Koehler
Volatile America
Adam Vogal
Why Black Lives Matter To Me
Raouf Halaby
It Is Not Plagiarism, Y’all
Rivera Sun
Nonviolent History: South Africa’s Port Elizabeth Boycott
Rev. Jeff Hood
Deliver Us From Babel
Frances Madeson
Juvenile Life Without Parole, Captured in ‘Natural Life’
Charles R. Larson
Review: Han Kang’s “The Vegetarian”
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail