Australia’s number one priority should be to keep her citizens safe; every other consideration is secondary. Politclowns who don’t understand that should be voted out of office.
IT’S easy to make fun of the alleged wannabe jihadists and their alleged ham-fisted attempt to travel to Syria via Indonesia on a seven-metre boat. But it’s worth remembering that you don’t have to be intelligent to cause carnage.
There’s no IQ test for becoming a suicide bomber or a masked monster beheading “infidels” on camera for Islamic State.
Our jails aren’t filled with masterminds who ran out of luck; speak to any cop or lawyer and they’ll tell you that most criminals are dangerously dim-witted.
The bumbling quintet, dubbed the “tinny jihadis”, will appear in Cairns Magistrates’ Court today after being charged late on Saturday night with offences under foreign incursion laws, which carry penalties of up to life imprisonment.
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce was among those who mocked the men’s hapless endeavours and their alleged attempt to travel to a war zone.
“It’s like a Monty Python movie and it’s come to an end,” Mr Joyce said. “Welcome to the constabulary, you clowns.”
Police arrested the Melbourne men — radical Islamist preacher Robert Musa Cerantonio, Paul Dacre, Kadir Kaya, Anthony Granata, and Shayden Thorne, brother of WA hate-preacher Junaid Thorne and son-in-law of jailed terrorist Abdul Nacer Benbrika — in Far North Queensland, after observing their arduous journey which, in stretches, crawled along at 30km/h.
Attorney-General George Brandis described the arrests as a “real and present” reminder of the continuing threat of Australians engaging in acts of terror.
The passports of the men, aged 21 to 31, had all been cancelled.
I have previously argued that Australia has a responsibility to stop those wanting to leave our shores to commit violent jihad in foreign lands.
But I’ve changed my mind.
Increased terrorist events in Western nations and the harsh reality of home-grown terrorism have led me to question why we are putting ourselves at increased risk for the sake of fulfilling our obligations as exemplary global citizens. Australia’s number one priority should be to keep her citizens safe; every other consideration is secondary.
The end result of cancelling the passports of suspected terrorist sympathisers who want to join Islamic State or other terrorist groups is that we effectively trap them in a country they loathe.
Radicalised Melbourne teenager Numan Haider stabbed two counter terrorism officers, nearly killing one, before he was shot dead. The lone wolf attack occurred shortly after Haider’s passport was cancelled.
One of the five men facing court today spoke on Melbourne radio station 3AW late last year about his desire to leave Australia, a country he said he hated.
“If I’m such a threat then you wouldn’t want me here,” Mr Kaya said. “You don’t like me, I don’t like you, and that’s the reality here. I’ve been trying to tell them ‘let me out’. They’ve basically kept me in prison … an open air prison.
“Like (Prime Minister) Malcolm Turnbull said the other day, ‘If you don’t love the values of this country, then there’s a wide world out there … leave.’ I don’t respect the values Australia stands for.”
The Australian-born 21-year-old is a dual Turkish citizen, but has been prevented from leaving the country on either passport.
Of course, it’s not a simple black and white issue.
If we allow these men to leave and then cancel their passports so they cannot return, then we are in danger of breaching our obligations as signatories to the 1961 United Nations Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.
Also, if we allow those desperate to join terrorist groups overseas to leave the country, then we face the threat of them coming home as hardened terrorists.
We already have dozens of returned jihadi fighters living among us, and we spend a small fortune monitoring their activities.
Deradicalisation schemes, a gold mine for rent-seeking academics, have about the same success rate as pyramid schemes.
Indeed, many of the self-styled “deradicalisation experts” espouse some disturbing attitudes.
It’s a complex matter, but surely it’s in the national interest to purge our country of the most extremist elements instead of keeping them here against their will.
The temptation to categorise those who want to join Islamic State as confused, naïve and marginalised young men conceals the reality that they have chosen to give their life to the most violent, merciless jihad imaginable.
Any person who has seen the evil perpetuated by Islamic State — the beheadings, torture, enslavement, rape and mass slaughter — and wants to join them is not worthy of our compassion.
As the fiercely intelligent and brave author and activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali explained, the West’s “moral relativism” is a self-inflicted wound that is exploited by Islamist extremists.
Speaking in Melbourne last Thursday, she explained the motivations of those who subscribe to dangerous interpretations of Islam.
“They (extremists) follow the Koran like you follow the GPS. It says kill the infidel, so they kill the infidel,” she said.
“Islamic law isn’t about life in this world, it’s about what will happen in the next … it’s a cult of death.”
The actions of those wanting to join Islamic State must be condemned, not rationalised.
By trying to blame ourselves for the radicalisation scourge, we only succeed in giving cover to extremists and their enablers and apologists.
RITA PANAHI IS A HERALD SUN COLUMNIST