Laws must change to protect us

Andrew L. Urban.

If our existing laws can not protect us from harm, we must make new laws that can. Terrorists, even those known to law enforcement authorities, are able to strike at innocent citizens, whether in a cafe with a gun, on the street with a knife and a car full of explosives. How can we discourage them?

US Green Beret, Terry Schappert – Master Sergeant (ret) 82nd Airborne Division Special Forces, tells a compelling story on how democracies could better protect their citizens from terrorists.

Talking about home grown terrorists … sometimes you need to become what you aren’t to protect the future survival of what you actually are. That’s the principle behind self defence and also what is behind a lot of wars. I’ve spent a lot of my life (almost 25 years) in the Middle East. I’ve lived with Arabs. I’ve trained their soldiers, I’ve fought with them, bled with them, I’ve watched them die. I was a Green Beret medic; I’ve delivered their babies, I’ve pulled their teeth, I’ve inoculated their farm animals. You’ve got to understand them, how these folks think. They’re worried about their family, their clan and their tribe. They don’t have a national identity. That’s why it’s such a hard sell. And most Middle Eastern countries are either kingdoms or theocracies or dictatorships, because you have to crush them (clans & tribes) to hold them together.    

“Fast forward to the guys who are living here in the West … the killers, not the regular Islamic people. What do they care about? They hate the country they live in. What they care about is their family; they care about that group. So any time any of these guys does this (act of terrorism) their whole family should get picked up and deported, back to the country of their origin.

“I talked to my driver from the airport, he’s from Pakistan. I know a bit about Pakistan. We were talking about Pakistan in a friendly way, and I posited this to him, and he went: ‘hmm, that would work’.

“You take from them what they care about and it would slow them down, if not stop them…”

Writing in The Australian (12/1/18), the always intelligent Jennifer Oriel gets close to that core issue of jihadi loyalty – but misses the all important family connection: “The jihadi’s loyalty rests not with his nation or fellow citizens but the Muslim caliphate.” 

Oriel makes other points, most of which are valid. She begins with a dramatic line: Three little words stand between Islamic terrorists and Australian innocents: shoot to kill.”

She continues:

After Friday’s terrorist attack in Melbourne, it is clear we need more than words to protect us from the march of international jihad. We need a moratorium on immigration from Islamist states. We need to deport jihadis and their ­Islamist sympathisers before they attack. If jihadis and their apologists cannot be deported, they should be fitted with GPS trackers to prevent them from manifesting violent ideology.”

Yes, shoot to kill, yes we need more than words, yes we need a moratorium, yes we need to deport jihadis – but NO, GPS trackers will not prevent them from violence. They only show where they are not why they are there. At what point does anti-terrorist police chase them down? It will not be obvious. It will not always be at Bourke Street shops or a cafe in Sydney. What if they buy paint supplies at a hardware store? Could they be buying bomb making supplies? How do we know? What’s more, the numbers of security risk individuals is now so large, it is impossible to keep track of all of them.

deportation, if possible, home arrest if not

Likewise, how do we know (obviously from the evidence, we don’t) when a refugee or asylum seeker or an Australian born Muslim is a potential jihadi? I like the analogy of the jar of 1000 lollies in which just two are poisonous and unmarked. How many will you eat?

Terrorism and counterterrorism expert Professor Clive Williams MG at Australian National University has “no doubt that such an approach (deporting whole families of convicted terrorists) would open the flood gates of intelligence from families about family members who have become radicalised – and it would no doubt be generally effective from a counterterrorism point of view.”

The ironic reality, though, is that the very countries at risk are unable to put such a policy into effect. Professor Williams says “it is not going to happen in a Western democracy…” More’s the pity, I suggest.

True enough, the new laws that we seem to need would tackle the thorny area where democracy interacts with anti-terrorism. The new law would need to permit the deportation, if possible, or home arrest if not, of the jihadi’s family. Yes, I know, it bristles against our democratic principles, but slaughter in our streets bristles much more.



This entry was posted in Democracy And Terrorism. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *