PLOTTING A HAPPY BEHEADING IN SYDNEY
Bernard Gaynor has a background in military intelligence, Arabic language and culture and has returned from three Iraq deployments. He blogs at bernardgaynor.com.au
There is no doubt that Australia is facing an embryonic insurgency, driven by Islamic beliefs. This unfortunate and disturbing truth was highlighted once again with the recent arrest of two teenagers who police allege were planning an imminent beheading in Sydney.
In addition to this latest incident, we’ve seen in just the last few months:
· Ihsas Khan attacked and almost killed a Minto man in broad daylight in September. Khan was known by police and the attack occurred on the 15th anniversary of September 11.
· Two backpackers slain by Smail Ayad in August while he yelled ‘Allahu akbar’ in Home Hill.
· The US Congress released a report in August showing that Australia was the third-top target for Islamic State terrorist attacks in the world, with eight planned or executed attacks since 2014. However, Australian media report that the number of attacks (planned or carried out) is even higher at fifteen.
· Again in August, a Lakemba-based childcare network was raided amid concerns that it had siphoned off more than $27 million of taxpayer funds and sent them to Islamic State.
The Australian government will rely heavily on advice from intelligence analysts as it develops strategies to counter this insurgency. And this advice will be based on an assessment of the threat, looking at its capability and intent.
In regards to the current capability of the threat, Australians can be confident that this advice will be sound. Australia’s intelligence agencies are very good at understanding capability and they have the means to monitor it closely, even if they cannot stop every attack.
All the available evidence shows that the Islamic insurgency in Australia has a low capability. The events of the past few days demonstrate this.
Two teenagers were arrested after purchasing bayonets at a gun shop. One of them is the stepson of a convicted terrorist. They were arrested outside a mosque after conducting pre-attack rituals. And both of them were known to police for attempts to join Islamic terrorist groups overseas, refusing to stand during the national anthem at a school assembly and for carrying signs in public calling for beheadings.
In terms of a terrorist attack, the best description that can be given to this one is that it was a complete cluster. In fact, it is difficult to conceive how a planned attack could be any easier to detect and thwart.
There was no attempt at secrecy. There was no attempt to source weapons covertly. And the attack was to be launched from the most obvious place possible: a mosque. If this is the best effort that those involved in this embryonic insurgency can muster, then it will not go far.
However, even with this low level of capability, deadly terrorist attacks have occurred in Australia. Most of them have been conducted by those already on the radar of policing and security agencies. That they slipped through should be of great concern, demonstrating weaknesses on the security side rather than the strength of this insurgency.
However, those involved in this insurgency do not need a great capability to cause a fatal impact: All that is needed is a knife and a mobile phone.
So even with this low level of capability, the safety of Australians is largely dependent on the numbers game. Police and security agencies have already admitted that they do not have the resources to monitor all known threats. Safety cannot be guaranteed and the victims will be those unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
That is going to be our future, even if threat capability does not increase. Most Australians would agree that this is not good enough, even if they will accept increasingly disruptive controls over ordinary aspects of life to counter a threat that is easily recognisable and allowed to continue operating largely unhindered in our midst.
But if the Government is not going to address this insurgency by targeting it at its source, then the consequence will be that the rest of us face ever more intrusive and disruptive security measures in an attempt to maintain public safety.
Unfortunately, one thing is almost certain: the capability of the threat will increase. Practice makes perfect and every failed attack will drive a learning cycle within the individuals and networks that form this insurgency.
Furthermore, it is well-known that criminal organisations like outlaw motorcycle groups have seen a surge in Islamic membership. These organisations will develop threat capability, as will the return of hardened Islamic State veterans from Iraq and Syria. There is also an increasing risk that our own agencies will ‘grow’ capability through politically-correct recruitment programs.
Both Defence and the Australian Federal Police have made public commitments to recruit from the Islamic community. This is fraught with danger, posing a risk to morale and a reduction in our national capacity to monitor and counter threats while providing opportunities for those involved in the insurgency to develop capability. And with a politically-driven imperative to increase Islamic recruitment, there can only be a corresponding drop in vetting standards.
Additionally, the capability of those involved in this insurgency in relation to supporting functions like recruitment and funding has already proven sophisticated and effective. One should plan for the ‘sharp end’ of the insurgency to develop in capability to match the skill shown on its logistical side.
As such, it would be entirely complacent for Australians and our government to assume that the botched attack in Sydney last week represents the future. It does not. It represents everything that is likely to change as this insurgency continues: its capability will only increase, supported by a growing network of mosques across Australia that represent ‘bar’ in this deadly but politically-correct game of ‘tiggy’.
A key indicator that capability has increased – especially planning, coordination and strategy – will be when the targeting of attacks changes. At the moment, violence is focused against random individuals and crude attacks on law enforcement officers.
Over time, a growing insurgency will look to undertake large scale mass attacks, insider attacks on police and Defence facilities and targeted assassinations of public figures, especially those who are prepared to speak against the growth of Islam in Australia.
Fortunately, our policing, security and intelligence agencies will likely have the means to monitor, understand and assess this capability as it grows and Australians will be informed if it does.
However, this does not mean that all attacks will be stopped.
The second limb of the threat assessment is intent: an understanding of the motivation to carry out attacks and the strategy behind them.
Unfortunately, when it comes to an assessment of intent, Australia is not so well placed. Our policing, security and intelligence agencies are wholly unprepared to assess intent. In fact, there is not one single officer in any Australian agency tasked with the job of understanding why two teenagers were motivated by Islamic teaching to behead an Australian last week.
And that is why everyone in senior positions, from the Prime Minister to the head of ASIO, has in recent years rejected the suggestion that there is an inherent problem of violence with Islam and instead asserted that it is a peaceful religion which terrorists fail to understand. Unlike the ‘professionals’ with their heads in the sand, Australians are not so convinced. Half the nation now supports policies to restrict all Islamic immigration.
To demonstrate why blind faith in our security agencies’ assessment of Islam is hopelessly misguided, one only needs to understand the strange situation we find ourselves in.
The assessment we have been given is that violence occurs firstly as a result of a misunderstanding of the peaceful tenets of Islam. A secondary issue inflaming the situation is said to be factors of our own making, such as a national failure to integrate the Islamic community due to our own prejudice against it.
In relation to the second point, we are also supposed to be a nation that has rejected others as well. However, other migrant groups have not resorted to violence and Australia is much more open and ‘multicultural’ now than it ever has been. So, on any objective assessment, it must be acknowledged that the violence we now face is not actually due to any secondary factor of our own making at all. And that leaves only a misunderstanding of Islam as a cause of violence.
However, to believe the claim that Islam has been misunderstood, one must accept two things:
1. Australia’s security agencies have assessed Islam and concluded on the evidence that it is peaceful. This would require dedication of analytical resources which has simply not been provided.
2. Australia’s security agencies have then taken the evidence for that assessment and sat on it, failing to produce any coherent information operations plan that would undermine the violent but misguided beliefs of those who are strongly motivated to follow Islamic teachings as perfectly as they can.
In other words, if you truly believe that our government understands Islam and that it is peaceful, then you must also believe that Australia’s policing, security and intelligence agencies are guilty of gross incompetence by failing to outline in any rational way the peaceful tenets of Islam to those motivated to be good Muslims and who believe that to do so involves the occasional beheading of random strangers.
You can say ditto to that in regards to the entire political leadership of this nation, as well as the imams, muftis and sheikhs who have somehow managed to watch on in silence as a violent heresy has taken hold of Australia’s Islamic community.
However, the good news is that our national security agencies have not incompetently failed to use the peaceful teachings of Islam to prevent violence. Instead, they have incompetently assumed that Islam is peaceful. The failure to use peaceful Islamic teachings is a mere side effect of the fact that they don’t exist at all.
Islamic violence is based on the example of Mohammad himself (who was one of history’s most successful warlords). It is aided and abetted in Australia by politically-correct thinking that results in counter-productive deradicalisation programs and a paralysis of thought, language and action that is rendering it impossible for our government to meet its first duty: Safety of Australians.
So let’s look at this insurgency’s intent and understand it properly.
Firstly, one thing is clear: while capability may be low, it certainly cannot be assessed that intent is. There is a deadly intent to attack. It is so strong that it even seems to hinder capability, suppressing any rational thought as to how the attack may be carried out successfully.
In the short term, that is good for us. However, we cannot assume that this intent will continue to be effected in such an irrational manner.
Another aspect of this intent is that it results in a desire to attack without any regards for personal safety. Indeed, part of the intent is that the perpetrator even die in the attack.
This makes no sense except when viewed in the light of Islamic teaching. From the days of Mohammad, those Muslims who died while fighting in jihad are believed to be given exalted places in heaven. If sex sells, it is certainly selling in Islamic eternity as well: 72 virgins and all that jazz.
As such, it is also important to understand that while this deadly intent is resulting in irrational decisions about how attacks are carried out, the intent to carry out attacks is not irrational at all. It is based on an understanding of Islamic teaching, history and Mohammad’s example and is entirely consistent with all three.
There is no way to counter this intent except by destroying faith in Mohammad and Islam. That’s because this intent is driven precisely by a faith in Mohammad and Islam. And it is this fact that our police, security and intelligence agencies completely fail to understand, as well as the politicians who direct them.
It also means that a key indicator of intent is Islamic fervour. When it grows quickly, warning bells should ring. And where it is present in any group, there will be a tendency to violence.
Another aspect of intent relates to the strategy for violence. These attacks do not occur simply as an end in themselves. They are a means to something greater: the imposition of Islamic rule in Australia.
And it is also on this point that we have a complete misunderstanding of the nature of the threat’s intent and its scale.
The entire Islamic community believes that it is Allah’s will that Australia should become Islamic and that they have a duty to participate in this process. This belief exists regardless of whether one is labelled moderate or extreme and it is a common unifying belief across all the varied (and often conflicting) Islamic sects. Further, every school of Islamic thought also accepts that in certain circumstances there is a righteous place for violence in order to achieve Islamic rule.
Thus it is wrong to view the Islamic community as split between those who support violence and those who do not. Rather, this community should be viewed as split into camps differing over whether the conditions justifying violence have been met.
When one understands this, one also gains a true understanding of the threat we face. It is not simply a threat from the violent. There is a political wing to this threat as well that uses non-violent means to advance the cause of Islamic rule. Of great concern, there is also a huge potential for violent intent to grow in scale as more of the Islamic community accept that conditions justifying violence have been met.
For the uneducated, Islamic violence is justified if the Islamic community is seen to be subjugated or Mohammad’s teachings are rejected. Violence and subjugation are also justified against non-Islamic minorities living under Islamic rule.
Importantly, as an Islamic community grows so does the expectation that its demands will be met. As such, any rejection of those demands will be deemed more serious. Additionally, every time the demands are placated it will only fuel further calls for Islamic rule and Sharia law.
The unfortunate reality is that while ever there is an Islamic population in Australia there will be conflict. When the Islamic population is very low (as it was until recently), this conflict will primarily be political, in line with Mohammad’s example while he was in the minority during his early years in Mecca. However, as the population grows so too will violence and in an exponential rather than linear fashion. This will also be in line with Mohammad’s example as he grew in power in his later years in Medina.
A true assessment of the Islamic insurgency we face would therefore conclude that its current capabilities are low but likely to increase and that there is scope for its deadly intent to grow significantly in scale.
And that means one thing: if we are having trouble keeping people alive on our streets now, we don’t want to let this insurgency fester any longer. Now is the best time to face it and defeat it. The best way to start would be to restrict all further Islamic immigration.
For those who claim that such measures are only likely to inflame the situation, I leave you with a crude but brutally truthful analogy.
Australia’s relationship with the Islamic community is like a woman caught up with a deadbeat boyfriend. She knows he is violent and in order to protect herself gives in to his every demand.
We all know that such a relationship cannot last and that concessions given today are unlikely to stop atrocities tomorrow.
Given that is the case, why on earth would Australia want to get into bed with Islam when it could end the relationship today and avoid a future of pain and misery…