‘Refujihad’ here as traitors return with plans to kill us
JENNIFER ORIEL (a rising star in journalism, writing for The Australian.)
By permitting the return of battle-hardened Islamists from Syria and Iraq, Western governments are inadvertently empowering jihad. As allied forces contain Islamic State in the Middle East, the terrorist group is deepening the war against the West by a planned strategy of dispersion.
Jihadists like Neil Prakash are being sent back to their countries of origin to prepare jihad against the West from within. They will be sheltered by Western laws that prevent robust interrogation and enjoy legal support, food, housing and the freedom to spread their lethal ideology. The free world citizens that Islamists vow to exterminate will be forced to pay for the soldiers of genocide to live in well-funded prisons equipped with prayer mats, halal food, house imams and plenty of free time to develop jihadist ideology. We are being lured into the second phase of Islamic State jihad. Make no mistake, we will pay for it dearly.
ASIO estimates that about 200 Australians have fought as jihadists in Syria and Iraq. About 70 have been killed and 100 are still fighting. In the ideal, allied forces would kill the genocidal soldiers where they stand. Unfortunately, some have escaped the battlefield death they so richly deserve, including Islamic State recruiter Prakash.
Malcolm Turnbull has enthused about the extradition of Prakash to Australia on the grounds he will face justice here. He is more likely to face a hero’s welcome in the prisons that house the nation’s most notorious jihadists. The singular benefit that Prakash and other highly ranked Islamic State officials offer the West is strategic intelligence on the terrorist group and its affiliates. However, common Western methods of interrogation could be ineffective in extracting intelligence for successful prosecution or strategically valuable data.
Late last year, British Minister of State at the Home Office Susan Williams revealed that only 10 cases of suspected foreign fighters had been successfully prosecuted in Britain. In December, EU counter-terrorism chief Gilles de Kerchove estimated that between 1200 and 1750 “foreign terrorist fighters” had returned to Europe. Many are armed with specific missions. Several terrorists responsible for jihadist attacks in Europe were foreign fighters who re-entered the continent posing as refugees. It is not a coincidence. Islamic State openly celebrates its strategy of exploiting porous border policy to populate the West with battle-hardened jihadists. Counter-terror analysts describe it as “refujihad”.
Australia is more protected from returning jihadists than Europe thanks to the conservative approach to secure border policy and counter-terrorism developed under the Abbott government. The government can strip dual nationals who serve jihad of Australian citizenship. Islamic State killer Khaled Sharrouf was the first dual national to have his citizenship revoked. However, sole nationals like Prakash still enjoy right of return.
Despite their common pretensions to supranational virtue, the institutions of liberal international governance have not developed mechanisms to redress the most prolific violators of international law in the 21st century: non-state actors. The UN has proved impotent in the face of Islamic State barbarity. It took Russian aggression to yield a decent kill quota of jihadists in Syria. When the US finally overcame its Western guilt complex and responded to Kurdish, Yazidi and Christian pleas for protection from genocidal jihad, IS already had colonised strategic regional strongholds. The UN’s material contribution to stopping the worst genocide of the 21st century is almost non-existent. It is nation states, not supranational powers, standing between jihadists and their next victims.
When considering how to handle the phenomenon of return jihadists, we should capitalise on the particular strengths of allied nation states by broking an international agreement to maximise efficacy in the capture, interrogation, prosecution and punishment of militant Islamists. For example, Australian surveillance methods have proved effective in detecting many jihadists before they could inflict terror on innocents. However, our laws prevent the use of interrogation methods sometimes required to extract intelligence and information from battle-hardened jihadists. An international agreement for jihadist non-proliferation might recognise Israel as a country better equipped to interrogate Islamist terrorists. It has been reported Israel sought the extradition of Prakash. If so, the Australian government could consider the tactical benefits of allowing Israeli intelligence access to interrogate him.
Without a robust international mechanism to stop the proliferation of jihadism, Islamist terrorists will exploit the weaknesses of each nation state’s intelligence, border security, criminal justice and prison systems. As it stands, the prospect of deradicalising battle-hardened jihadists is poor. The US Director of National Intelligence has said about 30 per cent of detainees released from Guantánamo Bay have “re-engaged” in terrorist activity. The intelligence services confirmed last year that 118 former Guantanamo detainees (17.5 per cent) engaged in terrorist activity after release and a further 86 (12.7 per cent) were suspected of terrorist activity. Major contextual risk factors for recidivism cited in a 2015 report were: “Transfers to countries with ongoing conflicts and internal instability as well as active recruitment by insurgent and terrorist organisations.”
As a seasoned Islamic State recruiter, Prakash poses a significant risk to us. He has urged jihadists to kill “non-believers”, which is a derogatory term Islamists use to describe people who don’t share their misanthropic faith. If permitted access to other prisoners, Prakash may further radicalise those at risk. At best under Australian law, Prakash will serve out his life in a cell isolated from external contact. But even then, the public will pay a high price for his leisure. Given his young age, the cost of feeding, housing and clothing Prakash for the rest of his life could run into the millions.
There is something obscene about spending millions to support the voluntary conscripts of genocidal jihad while more than 100,000 Australians are homeless. In the absence of a Nuremberg-style trial to bring Islamic State jihadists to justice, allied nations must unite to develop a jihad non-proliferation mechanism. In the meantime, thank Australia’s defence forces for killing every jihadist they can so the genodical traitors can’t escape to a soft landing in the heart of Western justice.