JOSEPH “Jack” Thomas once fought for the Taliban. But yesterday he described himself as an advocate for peace as he handed out cold cans of soft drink to protesters demonstrating against Israel’s invasion of Gaza.
* Strange that you never hear a sound from these motherfuckers when Hamas shoots 6000 rockets into Israel Â to hit schools, kindergartens with the intention to wipe out as many Jews as possible…
“Like (UN Secretary-General) Ban Ki-moon said, ‘They should just stop, and talk about the details later’,” Thomas said before joining protesters in prayer. “Just stop killing each other.”
For the third time since the Gaza ground war began, pro-Palestinian marchers gathered in Melbourne to show their anger at Israel’s conduct of the war and what they see as the Australian Government’s soft-line approach to the Jewish state.
They gathered on the oval of a suburban high school at Werribee, in Melbourne’s outer west, then marched on the office of Julia Gillard, the Acting Prime Minister. When Ms Gillard was not available to accept the group’s petition, they handed the collection of signatures to a staffer.
Australian Federation of Islamic Councils president Ikebal Patel told The Weekend Australian the petition demanded the Rudd Government take a decisive, leadership role in the Middle East, as the Howard government had done in East Timor.
“We accept the right of any country to defend itself, but the response has to be proportionate to what the danger is, and Australia has been very, very muted,” Mr Patel said.
* Remember: this is the guy whoÂ threatensÂ if he doesn’t get his madrassah in Camden “very extreme imams or religious teachers will get through to the children…”
“In fact, they are complicit in some of the war crimes that are happening right now in front of our eyes in Gaza.”
Thomas also alluded to war crimes by Israeli troops, saying: “With so much injustice in the world there has to be a God, so everyone is put on trial eventually at the end and the mistakes are fixed.”
Thomas has a unique experience from which to talk about justice.
For 5 1/2 years, he was one of Australia’s most notorious accused terrorists. Twice he was tried and acquitted under Australia’s anti-terrorism laws introduced after September 11, 2001 — once on the basis of statements he made to arresting police and a second time on the basis of comments made in a TV interview.
He fought for the Taliban against the US-backed Northern Alliance and spent time in the al-Qa’ida-run al-Farooq camp in Afghanistan. To get back to Australia from Pakistan, he accepted $US3500 and an air ticket from an al-Qa’ida member, Khaled bin Attash.
But when Thomas was cleared of the terrorism charges for the second time last October, his only conviction was for falsifying his passport. Having already served 10 months’ jail on remand, he was released on a good behaviour bond.
Thomas now works as a chef and is free to go where he pleases, a point made by Mr Patel when asked about the presence of the high-profile protester.
“There were a lot of people at the rally. Everyone has their own views, and of course the right to protest and speak out,” he said. “I don’t have any opinion (on Thomas) one way or the other, to be hone