Monday, October 19, 2015

AUSTRALIA has to Wake Up and Bring Fight to Radicalisation


Even in death, Australia's apologists are still making excuses for the gunning down of Curtis Cheng at point blank range by 15-year-old Farhad Khalil Mohammad Jabar less than two weeks ago.

Last Saturday, 1500 people packed St Mary's Cathedral in Sydney to farewell the police accountant. Cheng is our country's latest innocent victim. 

Jabar put the nail in the literal coffin that Australia has to grow up and stop being so naïve.

How many more incidents do we need in this country after the thwarted ANZAC Day attack this year to behead an officer during the parade and the stabbing of two Australian police officers in Victoria by an 18-year-old who planned to behead them and post the images online.

This Parramatta killer was 15 years old. Fifteen years old.

The good old "she'll be right mate" is sadly long gone in this country.

In attempts to prevent another Parramatta the Federal Government has introduced changes, including a plan to lower the age at which a control order can be applied to terror suspects from 16 to 14.

Australia has changed. The world has changed so much in recent times. And, it is indeed time the law finally caught up.

The annoying do-gooders in our community still wanting to give the benefit of the doubt with some politically correct clap-trap to excuse this heinous crime are wrong.

Those who remain defiant at not wanting to accept the new reality that 15-year-olds and 12-year-olds are not the same as they were 50 years ago need to wake up and quickly.

In relation to the Parramatta shooting of Mr Cheng, 18-year-old Raban Alou has been charged with aiding and abetting the commission of a terrorist act and 22-year-old Talal Alamaddine has been charged with supplying the gun.

True to form, a very slick "carey sharey" lawyer has already begun the spin for his client, Raban Alou, claiming he was charged after "being held for more than 200 hours for the purpose of interrogation" after police raided four homes.

Alou and Alamaddine did not make applications for bail and both will front court again in December to fight the charges. They have the right to the presumption of innocence until their cases are determined.

How many more chances and benefits of the doubt do we give to those who claim the calls this week to extend control orders to children as young at 14 will further alienate at-risk youth and do nothing to keep Australia safe?

What a load of the proverbial.

It is simply another tool in the kit to try and prevent another murderous spree in our country.

NSW Premier Mike Baird is also seeking to extend up to 28 days the time that terror suspects can be held without charge.

Despite what Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said in Parliament, that Australians must not let fanatics change "the way we live or the way we express ourselves", sadly Australia has changed. We need to stop the softly-softly approach and play hardball in the bid to thwart violent extremism from taking a hold on our shores.

Australian Federal Police have confirmed there is a 12-year-old boy amongst more than a dozen people believed contained in a Federal Court order imposed on a Sydney terrorism suspect this year.

For goodness sake, no one is going to be carted off in Australia at midnight from their homes and never heard of again. That simply does not happen in our democratic country and it will not happen in this country with the proposed changes to the law.

But a fortnight ago we never thought a Curtis Cheng attack would happen either.

In recent times, the world has seen another 15-year-old British boy (co-incidentally on the day of the dreadful Parramatta attack) become that country's youngest convicted terrorist sentenced to life behind bars in Britain with a minimum term of five years. He pleaded guilty to inciting an alleged Melbourne jihadist, plotting a knife attack on Australian police officers on ANZAC Day.

Even in the past week, another 15-year-old high school student was arrested in France after screaming "Allahu Akbar" and shooting his teacher with a BB gun. This 15-year-old later told investigators that he also had a knife and grenade and planned to kill his teacher because he wanted to die a martyr.

Australian Human Rights National Children's Commissioner Megan Mitchell claims the federal government's new proposed laws to extend control orders to 14 and 15-year-olds could lead young people to become even more angry and alienated.

Commissioner Mitchell says she is "particularly concerned that using laws to control the behaviour of a young person when they have committed no crime…could drive them to take their activities further underground and lose confidence in and respect for our justice system."

She is "worried that they may be ordered to wear a tracking device, have a curfew, be required not to associate or communicate with certain people. They may be denied access to computers or phones, have to report at regular times and places or be prevented from visiting certain places."

Diddums. Dear oh dear, give me a break.

Wake up and smell the coffee Commissioner Mitchell!

If you have not worked out by now that those young people out there today already committing these types of horrific crimes and already associating with bad eggs do not have any confidence in, or respect for, our justice system in the first place then you are indeed living in airy-fairy land.

Commissioner Mitchell believes that adolescents take risks as they explore the world and their identity. That they deserve the rights to liberty, freedom of expression, dignity and respect. She concedes that at age 14 it is easy for kids to go off the rails, disengage, make bad associations and get into trouble.

 So, to me, that is all the more reason for these new proposed changes to a control order to come into force so our authorities have the power to stop things in their tracks before they get out of control.

Sadly, the teenagers who have committed these crimes do not deserve the right to liberty, freedom of expression, dignity and respect. The very same rights that they permanently deny to victims like Curtis Cheng.

They did not respect these rights growing up in this country which allowed them these rights and freedoms in the first place.

If they are able to be detained under a control order, because it is thought that they are already flirting with the path of radicalisation, perhaps it may make them think twice. And as a bonus for all of us, the police will get more opportunity to stop whatever crazy and dangerous scheme is being cooked up.

The whole idea is to prevent another horrific incident from happening again. It is evident we need to do more than we are currently doing as these incidents are no longer 'isolated' or 'lone wolf' as they occur with increasing regularity and appear to have strong elements of co-ordination between a number of individuals.

Don't get me wrong, the thought of a 12-year-old or any teenager becoming radicalised within Australia saddens me beyond belief.

But until we train ourselves to see those who have been radicalised NOT as children but as individuals with potential for causing great harm to the rest of us, no headway can be made.

Just as they have embarked on changing their mindset to want to kill Australians in cold blood, we must change our mindset because children should not embark on murderous sprees against their innocent fellow Australians.

These individuals flirting with radicalisation do not deserve the benefit of the doubt anymore.

And if they are detained longer under a control order, no matter whether they are 14 or 24, so be it.

Show me the respect shown to Curtis Cheng by Farhad Jabar.

There was none, was there? Cheng's freedom was not valued and his human rights were trampled by a radicalised teenager with a gun that he managed to get hold of despite our much-vaunted gun control laws.

As ever, if you are not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to fear. I don't think there will be a tidal wave of 14-year-olds being issued with these types of orders. But the anti-terrorism authorities will have one more weapon in their armoury to protect us.

Even if just one more Parramatta-style plot is thwarted, all Australians will be winners. The proposed control orders are worth a try.

Karalee Katsambanis has had more than 20 years experience as an award winning news journalist on television, radio and newspapers. She is a mother of three. Her husband is a Liberal MP in WA. Listen to her on 6PR's PerthTonight with Chris Ilsley between 9-10pm on Mondays.

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