August 5

Terrorist threat against Australian army base

In predawn raids around Melbourne, about 400 police arrested four men of Somali and Lebanese descent. The police say a terrorist group had been planning a suicide attack using automatic weapons on the Holsworthy army barracks near Sydney. 

Breaking the story in The Australian on 4 August, Cameron Stewart and Lauren Wilson said the attack was planned as a punishment for Australia's military involvement in Muslim countries. The police say the men had planned to kill as many soldiers as possible before they were themselves killed.  

When eighty eight Australians were killed in the  Bali  terrorist attack in 2002, many Australians first became aware that terrorism was not far from their shores.

The report said that members of the group had been observed carrying out surveillance of Holsworthy Barracks in western Sydney and other suspicious activity around defence bases in Victoria.  Electronic surveillance on the suspects is believed to have picked up discussions about ways to obtain weapons to carry out what would probably have been the worst terror attack on Australian soil.

 According to media reports, the cell had been inspired by the Somalia-based terrorist movement al-Shabaab, which is aligned with al-Qa'ida.  It was alleged that two Melbourne men, both Somalis, had travelled to Somalia in recent months to obtain training with the extremist organisation.  One of those men has already returned to Melbourne. The other is still in Somalia.

 “Al-Shabaab, which is using suicide bombers and jihadist fighters to try to overthrow the Somali government, seeks to impose a pure, hardline form of Islam, and sees the West as its enemy. It has been declared a terrorist organisation by the US and it has close links with al-Qa'ida leaders, including Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, an architect of the 1998 attacks on the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in which 223 people died,” The Australian said.

 According to Paul Crock ,writing for Agence France Presse ( 4 August), Tony Negus, the acting chief commissioner of the Australian Federal Police  said "The alleged offenders were prepared to inflict a sustained attack on military personnel until they themselves were killed. The men's intention was to go into these army barracks and to kill as many people as possible… This would have been, if it had been able to be carried out, the most serious attack on Australian soil.”

The reports raise once again the question whether Australian governments have been fulfilling their core functions. Governments seem keen on engaging in matters such as changing our constitution and our flag, and too often forget the priority they must give to their core functions.

…government's core functions…

ACM argued in its November 2006 submission to the government on a proposed citizenship test that it would be wrong for an Australian government to place reliance on any citizenship test as the sole or dominant method of ensuring that immigrants to Australia (and we might add their progeny) will most likely make good citizens. By this ACM means that their first loyalty should always be to Australia and its constitutional system, and that they will make a positive contribution to the nation.

Rather, it is a core function of the Australian government that immigrants be carefully selected  before the point of entry as having a clear potential to satisfy this criterion, without of course being in any way discriminatory.

In our submission, ACM expressed its concern about reports, including those relating to the release of cabinet papers under the 30 year rule, which indicated that entry standards had been lowered in the past against advice, and of political interference in the determination of immigration applications.

ACM also argued for the restoration of the Oath of Allegiance rather than the Mr. Keating’s vague collective pledge.  


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