Abdul Benbrika is escorted from the Victorian Supreme Court.Â Source:Â News Limited
REASON has always been treated as perhaps the most serious of crimes.
Elsewhere convicted traitors are executed. Indeed, many Americans wish for whistleblower Edward Snowden to be killed by the state he has so embarrassed with leaks about its information gathering. That’s why he’s hiding in Russia.
They tortured Guy Fawkes for weeks after finding the gunpowder he had stockpiled in order to blow up the House of Lords and King James. The only reason this most infamous of traitors escaped being hanged was because of a leap from the gallows that broke his neck. Nonetheless, he was still drawn and quartered and his body parts put on display around England.
The Victorian Crimes Act of 1958 details the offence of treason and lists its maximum penalty as life in jail, hanging, drawing and quartering having long since been dispensed as a punishment.
Which makes you wonder why Algerian-born Abdul Benbrika and his malevolent gang of would-be mass murderers – they planned to blow up the MCG on Grand Final Day in 2005, but couldn’t decide between it and Flemington on Cup Day – weren’t charged with treason, rather than the terror counts that will see Benbrika walk free in a little over three years.
Right now there are traitors in our midst – and not just those who think like Benbrika. ASIO believes there are more than 200 Australians active in the Syrian civil war, most, if not all, fighting to bring down tyrannical Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.
Assad is your run-of-the-mill Arab head of state, more than happy to kill children by bombing villages with chemical weapons.
Leaving aside the chemical weapons, Israeli intelligence sources estimate 115,000 Syrians have so far been killed in the conflict. Among the dead are 6087 children and 4079 women.
While the blame for most of those deaths can be laid at the feet of Assad and his henchmen, the opposition forces can hardly be described as freedom fighters.
From this distance it is easy to assume an enemy of Assad is a friend of civilisation. But Assad’s splintered enemies include barbarians who are cutting the hearts from fallen soldiers – and eating them. They have even encouraged children to take part in decapitating enemies and place the videos on YouTube, presumably in some warped demonstration of modernity. That Australians – if I can use that term loosely – might be among these insurgents should send a shiver down our spines.
Late last year Broadmeadows bricklayer Yusuf Toprakkaya, 30, was killed fighting for the rebels. He had changed his name to Abdul al-Walid al-Australi, similar to our first suicide bomber, Abu Asma al Australi, a nasty piece of work from Brisbane who drove a truck and 12 tonnes of explosives at an airport checkpoint in eastern Syria, killing 35.
These two men and the three other “Australians” who have died with them were criminals. As are the other 200 still fighting in Syria.
Then Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus spelled that out at the time, their offences including breaking the Foreign Incursions Act, the Criminal Code Act (by assisting a proscribed terrorist group) and the arms sanctions imposed by us on Syria. They face serious charges when and if they return “home”.
But we should go a step further. It is a privilege to be issued an Australian passport, although I have no quibble with Australians holding passports for another country. I do so myself.
But “Australians” who use their second passport as a ticket to go to war in another country – like the Serbians “Aussies” who went to Kosovo in the late 1990s to kill Albanians – should have their Australian citizenship revoked.
Even respected criminal lawyer, Rob Stary, who has represented terror suspects and is known for his generous estimate of some fellows you’d rather not live near, believes some offenders should forfeit their citizenship. He sees Benbrika as an example and believes we should be able to revoke such criminals’ citizenship.
“I wouldn’t have a blanket provision that once you are an Australian citizen, you are immune to deportation or revocation of citizenship,” Stary said.
It’s one thing to “turn back the boats” of desperate asylum seekers as the Liberal Government vowed to do in opposition, but what about those who have already entered: the now Australian Muslims who want to conduct Islam’s centuries-long civil war between Shia and Sunni wheresoever it erupts?
The 200 Australians fighting in Syria have mostly been associating with groups that are proxies for al-Qaeda. Brainwashed and radicalised, they are the last “Australians” we need.
We shouldn’t worry that they have Australian wives, or Australian children. We should worry about ourselves. Their Australian passports should be cancelled.
Alan Howe isÂ Herald SunÂ executiveâ€‰editor