Alongside the US, Australia reportedly has the second largest military participation in anti-ISIS actions in Iraq and Syria.
The threat of attack here in Australia is very real.
We’ve already had the Lindt café siege in Sydney and only a few weeks ago a police employee was murdered outside a police station in Parramatta by a Moslem boy who had been armed and encouraged by extremist associates.
Also a significant and imminent attack against an Anzac Day commemoration was discovered and averted only days before it was to happen, and other planned attacks have been discovered and stopped over the past few years. Clearly nothing as significant as what happened in Paris, or what happened in London a decade ago, but it’s possibly only a matter of time.
Many young men have flown to Syria from Australia to fight with ISIS – some of them wasting their lives as suicide bombers.
Only this week an Australian Moslem woman was convicted in court of giving support to ISIS. A while ago she had been stopped at the airport, trying to leave with her kids to join her husband in Syria, taking significant money and supplies with her. Her husband was later killed in an air raid, not long after taking a second “wife” – the 13 year old daughter of another Australian terrorist.
Seeing the continual news reports of the Paris attacks made me wonder how I’d react if I found myself caught up in a similar situation.
Jeff Weddle recently said on his blog, that he personally wouldn’t kill a member of ISIS. *
Not long ago I would have agreed with him, but “right or wrong”, I think I’d be very willing to kill someone who was in the process of indiscriminately murdering others in a terrorist act, to put a stop to what they were doing. And “rightly or wrongly”, I think my conscience would remain clear afterwards.
Reading and listening to some of the media reports about the terrorist situation, it seems like the debate over the relevant issues has been hijacked by extremists of opposing opinions. Terrorists and their supporters blame others – saying they’ve been driven to their actions because of persecution, alienation, and hostile acts against Moslems carried out by western society.
But it’s not only those “extremists” that are pushing that argument, some Moslem leaders also allude to the west’s culpability, saying that terrorism is a response to racism and “Islamophobia”. Such a claim was recently made by the Grand Mufti of Australia, mixed with his expression of regret over the deaths in Paris.
I have no doubt that many Moslem families want to live their lives in peace in the west but their situation is not made easy when the words of those in religious authority are often so ambiguous.
On the other extreme, in Australia, we have both neo-fascists using violent protests to express their anti-Moslem agenda, and elements of the press also pushing extreme views likely to create the kind of alienation that militants use to excuse the actions of murderers.
Along with newspapers and TV stations giving a platform to people like Andrew Bolt, we have others regularly giving Pauline Hansen a soapbox to vent her ill-informed, extreme opinions. Apparently she was trotted out on TV to do just that immediately after the attacks in Paris.
Even beyond those examples, the media here is not very helpful in promoting a reasoned view. Across the board there has been a latching onto the possibility that one of the Paris killers had entered Europe among the flood of refugees leaving Syria. The media are questioning Australia’s planned acceptance of 12,000 Syrian refugees over the next year; ignoring the fact that all of those accepted will have to go through a strict and comprehensive vetting process, unlike those flooding across borders in Europe. Also many of those refugees will be Christians and other minority groups trying to escape persecution in their homeland.
An example of how seriously the threat of terrorism is being taken in Australia is the recent announcement that law enforcement officers are being trained shoot first and forget the questions when confronted with a likely terrorist situation. The policy until now had been one of negotiation, attempting to talk a person round – which is one reason the Lindt siege went on as long as it did. There is now recognition that reason is not a part of the mindset of those committing these acts.
Situations like that in Paris and the probability of similar attacks elsewhere, ought to make us assess our own situations and our association with the world around us. Despite events like the Paris attacks our lives are still far more peaceful and secure than the majority of the world.
In the west it is very easy to become complacent and comfortable and forget that the lifestyles available to us are far different from those possible for the majority of the world’s population. That difference will be shown by how quickly the Paris attacks become old news and are once again replaced by the exploits of the Kardashians.
Those living under ISIS oppression in Syria and Iraq don’t have the “luxury” of such distractions from horrors inflicted by murderous thugs.