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

Weekend Edition
February 5-7, 2016
Jeffrey St. Clair
When Chivalry Fails: St. Bernard and the Machine
Leonard Peltier
My 40 Years in Prison
John Pilger
Freeing Julian Assange: the Final Chapter
Garry Leech
Terrifying Ted and His Ultra-Conservative Vision for America
Andrew Levine
Smash Clintonism: Why Democrats, Not Republicans, are the Problem
William Blum
Is Bernie Sanders a “Socialist”?
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
We Can’t Afford These Billionaires
Enrique C. Ochoa
Super Bowl 50: American Inequality on Display
Jonathan Cook
The Liberal Hounding of Julian Assange: From Alex Gibney to The Guardian
George Wuerthner
How the Bundy Gang Won
Mike Whitney
Peace Talks “Paused” After Putin’s Triumph in Aleppo 
Ted Rall
Hillary Clinton: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Gary Leupp
Is a “Socialist” Really Unelectable? The Potential Significance of the Sanders Campaign
Vijay Prashad
The Fault Line of Race in America
Eoin Higgins
Please Clap: the Jeb Bush Campaign Pre-Mortem
Joseph Mangano – Janette D. Sherman
The Invisible Epidemic: Radiation and Rising Rates of Thyroid Cancer
Andre Vltchek
Europe is Built on Corpses and Plunder
Jack Smith
Obama Readies to Fight in Libya, Again
Robert Fantina
As Goes Iowa, So Goes the Nation?
John Grant
Israel Moves to Check Its Artists
Dean Baker
Market Turmoil, the Fed and the Presidential Election
John Wight
Who Was Cecil Rhodes?
David Macaray
Will There Ever Be Anyone Better Than Bernie Sanders?
Christopher Brauchli
Suffer Little Children: From Brazil to Flint
JP Sottile
Did Fox News Help the GOP Establishment Get Its Groove Back?
Binoy Kampmark
Legalizing Cruelties: the Australian High Court and Indefinite Offshore Detention
John Feffer
Wrestling With Iran
Rob Prince – Ibrahim Kazerooni
Syria Again
Louisa Willcox
Park Service Finally Stands Up for Grizzlies and Us
Farzana Versey
Of Beyoncé, Trudeau and Culture Predators
Pete Dolack
Fanaticism and Fantasy Drive Purported TPP ‘Benefits’
Murray Dobbin
Canada and the TPP
Steve Horn
Army of Lobbyists Push LNG Exports, Methane Hydrates, Coal in Senate Energy Bill
Colin Todhunter
“Lies, Lies and More Lies” – GMOs, Poisoned Agriculture and Toxic Rants
Franklin Lamb
ISIS Erasing Our Cultural Heritage in Syria
David Mihalyfy
#realacademicbios Deserve Real Reform
Graham Peebles
Unjust and Dysfunctional: Asylum in the UK
Yves Engler
On Unions and Class Struggle
Alfredo Lopez
The ‘Bern’ and the Internet
Missy Comley Beattie
Super Propaganda
Ed Rampell
Great Caesar’s Ghost!: A Specter Haunts Hollywood in the Coen’s Anti-Anti-Commie Goofball Comedy
Cesar Chelala
The Public Health Impact of Domestic Violence
Ron Jacobs
Cold Weather Comforts of a Certain Sort
Charles Komanoff
On the Passing of the Jefferson Airplane
Charles R. Larson
Can One Survive the Holocaust?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail