I was just on the phone to a friend of mine who lives in Brighton, Melbourne, and mentioned to him how glad I was he wasn’t last night’s terrorist. Oh, that’s the bad part of Brighton, he replied.
Yacqub Khayre was a violent criminal, a terribly-behaved prisoner, and a one-time terror suspect with known links to extremists.
After serving time for a violent crime and having his parole eligibility date pushed back due to “poor behaviour” behind bars, the 29-year-old was released on parole last year, having to adhere to strict terms and conditions.Still, on Monday night, he was able to lure a female escort to meet him at a bayside Melbourne hotel, shoot dead a man who worked at the serviced apartment block when he arrived, hold the woman hostage, then start a gunfight with counter-terror officers and shoot three before being gunned down.As Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull put it, there are “very, very grave questions” to be answered over why this dangerous man was able to carry out this attack, which police are treating as an act of terrorism, in the name of Islamic State and al-Qaeda.
As Tim Blair remarked, “arrived in Australia as a refugee, faced trial on Islamic terrorism charges and was on parole following a series of violent crimes” – Khayre is a “threefer”.
Ice addiction is a rather unusual attribute of a jihadi, but as is increasingly apparent, the violent, supremacist ideology espoused by ISIS and their ilk tends to now attract all the unstable, the misfits, the thugs, the losers with chips on their shoulders – the mad, the bad, and the dangerous to know. Just as neo-Nazis and white supremacists tend to be the people who have the least to feel supreme about, so does Islamism increasingly bring together the dregs of Muslim society. Decades ago, fascism and communism had the similar appeal and attraction.
Australia has been relatively lucky, with relatively few terrorist attacks so far. Certainly, Australians traveling overseas have had worse odds of becoming victims, most obviously in the Bali bombing in 2002 (by Indonesian jihadis who were obviously pre-radicalised by Australia’s future involvement in Iraq). But we’ve also made our luck, with our police, law enforcement, and intelligence services foiling numerous plots in progress. But one day we won’t be lucky, and one day some of our home-grown and imported terrorists will be smarter than their predecessors.
Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, helpfully advised a day or two ago, “all of us, as Victorians and indeed Australians, have to accept that violent extremism is part of a contemporary Australia.” Premier Dan, of course, is very accepting of violence, having given up the run of Melbourne to criminals, particularly the mostly Sudanese Apex gang. If only Dan spent half the energy fighting crime he spent fighting volunteer firefighters, the streets of Melbourne would be much safer and we wouldn’t need to accept anything.
Coincidentally, I’m half way through James Fergusson’s 2013 travelogue “The World’s Most Dangerous Place: Inside the Outlaw State of Somalia”, which gives a great overview of the heart of darkness that gave us people like Yacqub Khayre. He is only one of hundreds of Somali “refugees” who have been for years returning to Somalia mostly from the United States and the United Kingdom, but also from other European countries as well as Australia. As former officer of a local Al Qaeda affiliate al-Shabaab told Fergusson, “The foreigners were mostly being trained as suicide bombers. They were kept apart from us, in a different camp. Outside, we would walk on one side of the road, they on the other. They had hero status. Even the Somalis from abroad were treated as heroes.”
Zeroes like Khayre love to feel like heroes. Being a part of something bigger than themsleves gives their otherwise meaningless and broken lives a new meaning. And then you end up taking a prostitute hostage.