Jihadism and mental illness are not mutually exclusive

Rita Panahi: Victoria Police playing politics over Flinders Street attack

THE CCTV footage of a white Suzuki SUV ploughing into pedestrians at a busy Melbourne intersection is sickening.

If you haven’t seen it, I’d encourage you not to seek it out.

For the tens of thousands of us who regularly cross that intersection it was a sobering reminder that anyone, including our loved ones, could become the victim of a cowardly attack.

Mere hours after the “deliberate act” of violence, before even interviewing the alleged assailant, Victoria Police advised media that the Flinders Street attack was not terror-related.

We were told that the alleged driver, Saeed Noori, was believed to be an ice addict with mental health issues.

It looked a lot like the police playing politics.

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Scene at Flinders St Melbourne after a car ran over several pedestrians. Picture: Sophie Smith.

Premier Daniel Andrews, Acting Victorian Police Commissioner Shane Parton and Minister Lisa Neville at a press conference following the Flinders St incident. Picture: David Crosling

How can Victoria Police dismiss the terror angle before speaking to the alleged attacker? And, how does the diagnosis of a mental health issue discount the possibility of terrorism?

Jihadism and mental illness are not mutually exclusive. The embrace of violent ideology is a sign of mental instability.

Rita Panahi just declared 1.5 billion Muslims mentally unstable. The ideology is the same all around the world. All Muslims must believe in jihad, sharia, Islamic supremacy & subjugation of the unbelievers.

Indeed, anyone who thinks killing innocent civilians is a great way to advance a political or religious cause is mentally unsound.

Mohammedan warfare is based on that concept. Muhammad did it. He was the perfect man. Every Mohammedan must emulate him.

Authorities appear eager to dismiss terrorism before they’ve had a chance to properly investigate the crime and determine the motivations, if any, of the offender.

In the hours after the Brighton siege in June, Victoria Police also seemed determined to downplay the Islamist angle despite the offender’s links to known terrorists.

Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton said that Islamic State claiming the attack was “the sort of thing they jump up and say a lot”. Actually, they don’t but that’s a column for another day.

Authorities not ruling out terrorism: Dutton

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The crashed Suzuki in Flinders Street

This morning the police line changed markedly with Acting Chief Commissioner Shane Patton saying that the alleged attacker who is an Afghan refugee had “attributed his actions to perceived mistreatment of Muslims” as well as speaking about dreams and voices.

Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton said that Islamic State-inspiration should not be ruled out and counter-terrorism officers would work with Victoria Police to investigate the attack.

“We are certainly not ruling out a terrorist link and we certainly aren’t drawing any conclusions at this stage … we need to be realistic about the threats that we face,” Dutton said.

The definition of terrorism is the use of violence, particularly against civilians, in the pursuit of a political agenda.

A violent nutter with a motive is as much a terrorist as one who is perfectly sane.

Most of the soldiers of Islamic State are mentally unstable monsters who justified brutal acts of violence in the name of their religion.

The scene of the incident.

MORE RITA PANAHI

Australia’s most infamous jihadist, Khaled Sharrouf, who joined the caliphate in 2013, was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic back in 2005.

Lindt café siege terrorist Man Haron Monis was said to be suffering from mental illness and had consulted a number of mental health professionals in the decade before he took 18 people hostage on a Monday morning.

Whether a violent offender has a drug habit or mental illness does not necessarily mean that they acted without motive.

It is not known links to terrorist groups or a history of being radicalised that defines who is a terrorist; it is the motivation behind the crime.
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At this stage we do not know if the alleged Flinders St attacker had a motive. It is simply too soon for authorities to conclude whether it was an act of terror or not.

Of course we do. The perp stated his motive clearly: he said Muslims were mistreated and that he heard voices.

We expect politicians to lie to us or be preoccupied with pushing a particular narrative but police must always stick to the facts or risk losing the trust of the public.

— Rita Panahi is a Herald Sun columnist

rita.panahi@news.com.au

@RitaPanahi

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