I wrote yesterday about the backlash by Islamic leaders around Australia against the remarks by Scott Morrison to the effect that “the greatest threat of religious extremism in this country is the radical and dangerous ideology of extremist Islam.” Apparently pointing this out was “politically desperate” as well as “divisive” and “politicising the incident”, the incident being the Burke Street stabbing rampage by Hassan Khalif Shire Ali, a radicalised Somali refugee.
This morning, more backlash:
A Melbourne Muslim religious leader has criticised the Prime Minister after he urged imams to report people who try to radicalise young men in the Muslim community.Spiritual leader, Mohammed Omran, of the Hume Islamic Youth Centre, which Bourke St terrorist Hassan Khalif Shire Ali attended, has questioned what authorities did to stop Hassan Khalif Shire Ali, who had been known to federal police.
“This person was on the watch list. So what did they do? Nothing,” Omran told The Australian on Tuesday.
“This bloody prime minister, instead of turning the heat on somebody else, he should answer us about what he did.
“He has spent billions of dollars — billions — on security service. And what is the end result? We have crazy people in the street.”
How these crazy people get in the street is a bit of mystery, however. Though quite a few seem to be associated with the Hume Islamic Youth Centre itself:
Three of the four men accused of conspiring to ‘wage violent jihad’ by detonating a bomb in Federation Square on Christmas Day, 2016, attended the HIYC.One, Ibrahim Abbas, has pleaded guilty to conspiring to prepare an attack, revealing his goal was to ’cause as much chaos, destruction, fear, bloodshed’ as possible.The other men, Abbas’ brother Hamza and cousin Abdullah Chaarani, have denied involvement in the Christmas Day plot.Hamza Abbas, who attended the Hume Islamic Youth Centre, denies involvement in a 2016 Melbourne terror plot.Both attended the Hume Islamic Youth Centre…Among the centre’s other previous attendees was Jake Bilardi, who blew himself up in a 2015 suicide bomb attack in Iraq that killed no one but himself.Despite growing up an atheist, the teenager converted to Islam and quickly became radicalised, watching ISIS propaganda on his laptop…Fellow teenage suicide bomber Adam Dahman, 18, who killed five people in Iraq in 2014, was also believed to have passed through the doors of the HIYC.Dahman, from the inner Melbourne suburb of Northcote, also ‘liked’ one of Hume’s top sheiks on Facebook before he detonated a suicide bomb in Baghdad.Yet another Hume regular was Melbourne-born Dawod Elmir, who abandoned his nursing degree in 2014 to fight in Syria.He was believed to have been killed on the battlefield in 2016.Other Hume attendees were accused of being part of a terrorism network run by Abdul Nacer Benbrika (aka Abu Bakr), who was jailed for 15 years in 2009 for planning attacks including one on the MCG during the 2005 AFL Grand Final.
Is it just me or is there a particularly large number of terrorists going through the doors of the Hume Islamic Youth Centre? That’s at least six people killed by the youth connected with the centre so far (that we know of), not to mention an (alleged) involvement in quite a number of different terror plots. If any other “youth centre” in Australia was generating such explosive outcomes for the community arguably it would be facing a much greater scrutiny by now. But what would I know; it’s all perhaps just an unfortunate coincidence. Or, to paraphrase the Maybelline jingle, maybe he’s born with it, maybe it’s Salafism:
The centre was led by Sheik Mohammed Omran, the highest ranked cleric in Australia for the Salafi movement, a conservative strand of Sunni Islam.
You can say that again. Salafis are the Puritans of the Islamic “reformation” of the 18th century, the literalists who want to restore Islam to the purity of its first few generations. Not all of the main branches of Salafism support terrorism, but virtually all the well known terrorist groups around the world – Al Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram, Al Shabaab – are Salafi in their orientation.
Seeing how many “crazy people” his religious ideology produces around the world, and how many “crazy people” his Youth Centre has likewise produced over the past few years, perhaps “Bloody” Sheik Omran should be more introspective than lashing out at the Prime Minister and the police for not being effective enough in mopping up all his pupils off the streets before they stab or blow up people in a fit of craziness. The Sheik certainly seems to have absorbed the Australian vernacular as well as the Australian tendency to blame the government for everything, but may I suggest perhaps a greater attention to absorbing Australian values. This might be a big ask as Salafism doesn’t seem to me to be particularly compatible with them, but one can only try, if only for the sake of the Centre’s youth, who are blowing up so fast.