Yacqub Khayre and Holsworthy plot

06 Aug

Everyone in Australia will be aware of the plot uncovered recently in which it is alleged a small band of Somalis planned to attack the Holsworthy Barracks in South-West Sydney. (Note Jim Belshaw’s reservations in his post Australia’s dumb would be terrorists. Note too that the presumption of innocence applies to these men. There is no way we should allow terrorism to water down our own hard-won legal system.)

Given all that, its is well worth reading for humanity’s sake the admirable story Ibrahim Khayre and Somalia | Yacqub Khayre and Holsworthy plot | Selma Milovanovic in today’s Sydney Morning Herald.

IBRAHIM KHAYRE wipes away tears and shakes his head.

To him, the story of his nephew, Yacqub Khayre, an accused terrorist, is one of a system that failed an intelligent boy.

It is a story that began in the chaos of war in Mogadishu in 1991, when Ibrahim, who was already living in Australia, brought three-year-old Yacqub and his family here from Somalia to save them.Yacqub grew up in Melbourne’s Gladstone Park and was schooled locally, before becoming friends with Lebanese boys who were a ‘‘bad influence’’.

This week it ended in the arrest of Yacqub, 21, who is alleged to have travelled to Somalia this year, where he attended a camp where ‘‘weapons and military training may have happened’’. At the same time, his co-accused allegedly sought a religious ruling to give the group, suspected members of jihadist sect al-Shabab, approval to attack the Holsworthy army base and a military target in Victoria.

Ibrahim Khayre is a law-abiding citizen who runs a coffee shop. He is not religious, looks after his family and otherwise keeps to himself. He migrated to Australia in 1985 and, in 1991, brought his brother, Yacqub’s father, to Australia along with the rest of the family…

In 2006, the police rang him, trying to track down Yacqub. ‘‘I said, ‘I don’t know where he is. You took him from my house. He could be sleeping with terrorists for all I know.’’’

He saw his nephew once, a year later, but the next time Ibrahim heard of Yacqub was on Tuesday, when a man showed him a newspaper front page in his coffee shop.

Ibrahim says the system let him down. ‘‘The state who said we want to help, they did not. They left him out in the cold. It’s the Government that tied our hands.’’

Ibrahim sits at home, plagued by insomnia, crying constantly. His tears flow as he utters the words he says he thought he would never say. He regrets bringing his family to Australia, even though it saved their lives.

Another issue in this case is the use of private unarmed guards at Australian military bases. I first noted this practice sometime in the 1980s at Victoria Barracks in Sydney and thought 1) they looked inappropriate compared with actual soldiers manning the gates and 2) what a silly way to save money. I see the government is going to review this absurd policy. I wonder too how sophisticated electronic and CCTV surveillance is around such bases. It strikes me they should be very sophisticated, but I somehow doubt they are. In the old days no-one would really have imagined a terrorist attack on such things, the worst scenario way back then being peace demonstrators who are not generally homicidal.

Thomas noted on Twitter that the story was carrying Melbourne-Sydney rivalry just a bit too far. 😉 He lives not far from Holsworthy, I should add, near enough to hear when they are practising with their artillery, as I also did as a kid growing up in Sutherland.



Could apply to this post too.


29 responses to “Yacqub Khayre and Holsworthy plot

  1. Ross

    August 6, 2009 at 8:18 am

    That story makes no sense. The well-behaved kid suddenly went off the rails because his granddad died? It’s the police’s fault that the kid didn’t want to see his uncle? It’s our fault that the kid got into trouble? That’s some moral equivalence going on there.

    “The system” isn’t there to nanny us. We all have relationships we manage ourselves , and we all take responsibility for how we live our lives. This story you’ve quoted is just some of the propaganda churned out by the human rights brigade who jump into action whenever their patch is threatened by facts. It’s a shame that some have people have such narrow insight that they swallow it whole.

  2. Neil

    August 6, 2009 at 8:42 am

    Easy to say, Ross, unless you’ve had dealings, as I have, with migrants from traumatic backgrounds. It makes sense to me.

  3. Neil

    August 6, 2009 at 8:59 am

    Sydney cabbie Adrian makes an excellent point. 10/10, Adrian. 🙂

  4. Thomas

    August 6, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    I found it interesting that they pointed that they followed a ‘custom’ that is common with Somalians – having the grandparents raise the child – and when that seemingly failed then go on to blame the state for the problems.

  5. Neil

    August 6, 2009 at 10:54 pm

    I do relate to the old man’s sadness, as it is a family tragedy from his viewpoint and probably in many ways beyond his understanding or ability to have done much about, but do see what you are saying.

    On the other hand there are so many factors that neither you nor I can appreciate in something like this. There’s another interesting bit on it here.

    Guess we should also remember that all this is in the realm of “alleged” at this stage.

  6. Bruce

    August 7, 2009 at 12:09 am

    Poor Ibrahim. 😦

    Easy to say, Ross, unless you’ve had dealings, as I have, with migrants from traumatic backgrounds. It makes sense to me.

    I’ll second this – it also makes sense to me in light of the violent experiences I had as a younger fellow. Seems a bit kitsch to quote an argument from Dexter, but something does get into you too soon when you see horrible things as a kid.

    It normalizes both your traumatic experiences and your emotional responses, and the latter are at times, hard to shrug off or keep in a box.

    It won’t steer you toward inevitable violence, we are all a conflation of causes. But it does restrict your options, making violence more likely – or to borrow a Dennettism, less evitable (gee Freedom Evolves was a good book.)

  7. Neil

    August 7, 2009 at 8:30 am

    It is hard for those of us who haven’t had to walk on the wild side to comment from our positions of comfort. Good points made there, Bruce.

  8. Kevin

    August 8, 2009 at 7:51 am

    “To him, the story of his nephew, Yacqub Khayre, an accused terrorist, is one of a system that failed an intelligent boy.

    Haha! He’s blaming SOCIETY! That’s too funny. That poor, intelligent boy wanted to kill others because of society. Just a thought, but maybe it was the militant camp his parents sent him to in Somalia that made him murderous… just maybe? Maybe it was the koran that tells him to kill infidels? Possibly?

    No, you’re right. I’m sure it was Australian society that failed him. islam and jihad camps played no part.

    Sheesh. Ross is absolutely correct here. I’m not sure if the appeasers Neil and Bruce are ignoring the elephant, are being pc, or just genuinely do not understand what islam (aka militant violent islam) is bringing to the table.

    C’mon, be honest, at least with yourself. If no islam existed in Australia, how many plots to kill random Australians would exist? The answer is ‘very close to zero’. If you’re hellbent to blame society for something, blame it for allowing followers of the koran to practice that murderous religion unchallenged.

    (for the record, I’m rating the people up that Neil rated down, and down those he rated up, because opinions should not be rated at all. It seems stalinist to attempt this. Or ‘obamaist’. Same thing, really)

  9. Neil

    August 8, 2009 at 9:35 am

    “Opinions should not be rated at all.” — It is my opinion that Mickey Mouse is behind all the acts of terrorism in the world and that the earth is flat and that the moon landings were staged on a Hollywood back lot.” — I could never be so Stalinist to rate those opinions, and I am sure Kevin wouldn’t dream of rating them.

    Islam = terror is the least helpful approach to the issue. Thank God Obama is sane at least.

    On what really does make a terrorist see From a human to a terrorist in today’s Australian, and on all terrorist acts being Muslim (not) see Domestic terrorism in the United States.

    “The first mosque in Australia was built in 1882 at Marree in South Australia…” For that and other facts (not opinions) about Islam in Australia see Islam in Australia and also contemplate Islam in the USA.

    Also if you read the story this post features you will see the old man doesn’t just blame “Society” — that is to read into it an ideological bias concerning the relationship between circumstances and individual responsiblity. To point to systemic failures (rightly or wrongly in this case is a matter of judgement) is not to abrogate all personal responsibility, but that systemic failures may have occurred is not unlikely. On another issue, are the problems of Aboriginal Australians, it would be absurd to say that the causes are in systemic failures OR in personal responsibility? That issue, like this one, defies such simplistic dichotomies.

    Kevin, you are quite simply wrong. That, after being very honest with myself and you, is my carefully considered conclusion. Download this (PDF): Changing Course – A New Direction for U.S. Relations with the Muslim World (February 2009) — “Violent extremism in the name of Islam poses a serious threat to the United States. Yet the much-publicized divide between the U.S. and the Muslim world is not as deep or irreconcilable as many believe. This Report presents the first senior, bipartisan and interfaith U.S. leadership consensus on a comprehensive approach to improving U.S.-Muslim relations. Moving beyond current deadlocked debates, the Leadership Group on U.S.-Muslim Engagement has crafted a multi-faceted strategy to enhance U.S. and international security.”

  10. Kevin

    August 8, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    “I could never be so Stalinist to rate those opinions, and I am sure Kevin wouldn’t dream of rating them.”

    Nor shall I. Don’t thumb down an idea you disagree with. Engage the person in dialogue. Thumbing down should only be used for comments that are personal attacks, not opinions that we don’t like. Not even ones as crazy as Neil just used. It’s rude, and it stifles discussions.

    “Islam = terror is the least helpful approach to the issue. Thank God Obama is sane at least.”

    Or, as the progressives said in 1938:

    “Nazism = mass murder and genocide is the least helpful approach to the issue. Thank God Chamberlain is sane at least.”

    Keep looking for convoluted secret reasons for his actions if it makes you feel good. Occam says ‘islam’ is the reason. He’s rarely wrong.

    “On another issue, are the problems of Aboriginal Australians, it would be absurd to say that the causes are in systemic failures OR in personal responsibility? That issue, like this one, defies such simplistic dichotomies.”

    I would love to comment on this, but it would be unfair to you. Aboriginal Australians aren’t trying to destroy western civilization, so I’ve never had much reason to learn about them. I saw some in the Crocodile Dundee movie though. They seem like nice people! Wish them well for me if you meet any. Thanks in advance.

    I’m going to write a second comment for the solution, if you don’t mind.

  11. Kevin

    August 8, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    The solution, if you are interested in stopping much terrorism is what many people would consider to be censorship. The murderous parts of the koran must be removed.

    I know, I know, it sounds big brothery. But it’s not. Not really. I can’t currently write a book that supports murder or genocide, and it doesn’t feel like a burden on my freedom at all. Why should the koran, which supports murder and genocide, be allowed to be produced and preached?

    Imagine if I created a brand new religion that said that ‘Everyone from Australia worships the devil and must be killed on sight. And if you find any Aussie with a first name of Neil, they are the worst kind! They must be beaten and tortured before you murder them.” (See, you are the equivalent of the Jew in my koran analogy, Neil :))

    Of course the world wouldn’t allow my new religion to continue, and rightly so. Likewise, the koran, or any other book that promotes murder, should be edited or outright banned.

    I am aware that saying this and doing this are two wildly different things, and it would cost possibly $trillions and result in a similar number of dead people as the continued terrorist attacks would themselves (although most of the dead would be the terrorists themselves in my scenario). But that’s no reason not to right a terrible wrong. islam is a terrible wrong.

    And then we could have a Disney world, where everyone lives happily ever after.


  12. Neil

    August 8, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    Kevin, you have added nothing new. If you want to understand your own government and to be rather less ill-informed about Islam, read the material I suggested in my comment, then go and quarrel with them not me.

    “Islam is a terrible wrong” that we have managed to live with for 1,500 years and have to live with into the future. It is not, repeat n-o-t, a new religion. Any other “solution” is pure fantasy. What do you want to do? Bomb Mecca?

    Imagine someone, if we’re interested in dodgy hypotheticals and poor historical analogies such as those you have trotted out, imagine someone decided that in the interests of world peace all American must be atheists. How would that work out in practice in the good old USA? Would bombing the shit out of people and exiling them to funny little islands destroy all traces of faith in America? No more, I suggest, than the real attempt to impose atheism on the Russian people succeeded. People get funny about their belief in God and the meaning of life, don’t they, and Muslims are just the same as us in that regard.

    I have nothing more to say to you on the subject — ever. It is a waste of both our times. Your views are your problem, not mine.

    I don’t mean to be impolite, but this whole thing is frustrating in the extreme.

  13. Bruce

    August 8, 2009 at 8:27 pm

    Sheesh. Ross is absolutely correct here. I’m not sure if the appeasers Neil and Bruce are ignoring the elephant, are being pc, or just genuinely do not understand what islam (aka militant violent islam) is bringing to the table.

    The fact Kevin, that you accuse me of all people of being an appeaser of any religion is laughable. It also demonstrates a propensity to disregard facts in lieu of your prosecution of a grudge.

    All I advocated was a fuller understanding of the problem, which frankly, you demonstrate a need for.

    For the record, I have already criticised iterations of Islam for contributing to the motives of terrorists. I’ve criticised the false dichotomy of it being either politics or religion (it can be both) that motivated the 9/11 attacks. I refer to the Iran government in many if not most instances as a theocratic, totalitarian regime and I’ve criticised the special treatment the new Afghanistan constitution grants Muslim sects (or at least, the sect in power at any given time.)

    I’ve also published depictions of TEH PROPHET (and other prophets), although not out of spite towards Muslims.

    Also, I’d go to Wikipedia and look up the terms “Outgroup homogenity bias” and “hasty induction”, along with the dictionary for the term “metaphor.” Your argumentation is utterly undermined by these lapses of reason.

    On the issue of censorship, there is a lot to learn about the non-metaphorical use of texts that literally espouse genocide. We are still dissecting NAZI ideology to this day, and I find bans against Mein Kampf utterly stupid in that it’s preventing much needed study.

    Similarly, the tropes in religious texts that when taken literally, espouse violence, are equally worthy of study. Thankfully though, most of the interpretations of this kind of stuff in circulation is far more limited (if bankrupt IMHO) than you are making them out to be.

    Such censorship is the intellectual equivalent of the anti-vaccination movement. Society needs to be exposed to less hostile or otherwise neutered versions of the nasier ideologies in order to combat the nastier version more effectively properly – i.e. to use the vaccination metaphor – to develop resistance.

    Aside from that, the people practicing the gentler iterations of Islam, are as people unsurprisingly tend to be, people. People with rights and a capacity to avoid bumping into others too much without assistance by the censors.

  14. Neil

    August 8, 2009 at 10:15 pm

    Dear me, did I forget to mention that Bruce is an atheist? I keep forgetting, because we have so much in common at times… Including a preference for the sane and the possible in handling a difficult issue in this inevitably pluralist world — a problem that affects Muslims who just want to get on with their lives as much as it does the rest of us.

    Bruce, I have given Kevin the opportunity to read the best stuff around about the issue — especially the link earlier in my comments — but he prefers black and white to living colour as being less confusing. And heaven forbid there could be grey!

  15. Kevin

    August 9, 2009 at 7:05 am

    “I have nothing more to say to you on the subject — ever. It is a waste of both our times. Your views are your problem, not mine.”

    Sadly, your views are Australia’s problem, not mine. As evidenced by this most recent arrest you’ve posted about and your continued desire to blame something else other than the actual culprit – aka the koran. If you (and I assume you will, since blaming the koran seems anathema to you) keep looking for other reasons for this behavior, then you will only be fiddling while your Rome burns. Your mind is closed, but you can’t say that I didn’t try to awaken you! That is very small consolation for me though.

    You say that we have lived with islam for 1500 years, Neil. That’s kind of true, except that neither of us have lived in a place that islam has had a foothold. For people in those areas, your statement is quite untrue. Many millions of people did NOT get to live in the last 1500 years because of islam. I’m assuming that you know the history of how islam was spread – always by swordpoint, killing, always killing, in Egypt, Persia, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Algeria, Chad, etc. Always killing to spread the diseased religion. For 1000 years they murdered and enslaved for the sake of the God described in the koran, treating their women like axolotl tanks. Thank heaven for the gates of Vienna and, on the other side of the continent, the great Charley Martel for saving Europe from this scourge.

    So yeah, it’s fair to say that we’ve lived with islam for 1500 years. But that’s only because we haven’t faced it yet. And with people who share your views on our side, it is doubtful whether we can survive it.

    If you’d like, I can go into detail about the horrors that they inflicted upon tens of millions of people, but you’re an ex-professor, so you probably already know. I’m assuming you just don’t like to talk about it because it isn’t ‘helpful’. Whatever.

  16. Neil

    August 9, 2009 at 7:25 am

    It isn’t every day I let John Winston Howard, that “Man of Steel”, speak for me:

    And just as past struggles called for clear and unambiguous statements of belief and purpose, so we must again make very clear what is at stake.

    Let me repeat what I have said before. This is not a struggle against Islam. It is a struggle against a perverted interpretation of Islam.

    As we see on a daily basis, it is the terrorists and suicide bombers who eagerly set out to spread terror and to kill innocent Muslim civilians.

    Countries with their sons and daughters serving in Iraq and Afghanistan today would like nothing more than to see them complete their job and return home.

    There is a fascinating item on too: Muslims out of Australia (not).

  17. Kevin

    August 9, 2009 at 7:50 am


    I don’t believe I’ve accused you of anything. Mostly because I didn’t read your comment :(. That was quite rude of me though, and I apologize and have read both of them now. In my defense, I mostly just come here to try to get Neil to think outside the box. So far, I’m an utter failure. He’s hardcore inner-box.

    But I’ll engage if you want. You seem willing to blame his seeing horrible things in his youth for his murderous aggression. That sounds believable to me. Can you back it up? Can you give, say, 1,000 suicidal examples of people wanting to kill random individuals and themselves because they had a rough life as a child… but where there is no involvement of the koran? If you can’t, I’m going to continue blaming the koran.

    Because I can give you more than 10,000 examples (not a made-up number… really – 10,000+) of people who were willing (and successful) to kill innocent unknown civilians for the koran, but can only come up with about two dozen non-koran related mass murders that occurred within the last 10 years.


    Responding to your second comment:

    “For the record, I have already criticised[sic hah!] iterations of Islam for contributing to the motives of terrorists.”

    I’m not sure why you italicized ‘iterations’, but I’m thinking that it’s to make clear that you have never criticized islam itself. I’m assuming ‘iterations’ means ‘versions’ in Australia (in America, it means repeating a calculation over and over that contains multiple degrees of freedom to arrive, plugging in the best guess from the previous solution to arrive at a fairly good answer. I’m guessing that’s not what you meant. Oi).

    That’s where your missing the boat. Don’t criticize versions of islam. Don’t criticize muslims. Criticize the evil koran! That’s where the murderous intent lies. That’s where it’s lain for 1,500 years, and caused the demise of countless millions.

    Lastly, I get your dislike of my censorship idea. And I mostly agree with you. I’m just looking for solutions that will create world peace, with all of our freedoms intact, that don’t require the killing of a billion people. If you have a better solution that will end islam and the misogyny and murderous people it creates, I’m all ears.

  18. Kevin

    August 9, 2009 at 7:56 am

    Heh. My last comment seems to have been censored. As they say in Australia, fair dinkum. It’s your blog. Send me an email if you are allowing my posts again.


  19. Neil

    August 9, 2009 at 8:05 am

    It was spammed by Akismet.

  20. Neil

    August 9, 2009 at 8:09 am

    Kevin, take note of John H. He would have regarded your Quran-bashing as distinctly unhelpful. Seems he too is hardcore inner box.

    I may note too the good news that the (Muslim) Indonesian authorities may have wiped out the head (crazy criminal) terrorist in Indonesia, though we’re not absolutely certain yet.

  21. Kevin

    August 9, 2009 at 8:28 am

    Cool. Thanks for letting my honest opinions appear on your blog. You no doubt do not want praise from the likes of me. Nevertheless, you are receiving it. Kudos. It’s hard to let dissenting opinions appear on a blog that you control.

    I hope my crazy antics will make you re-read the koran to search for these horrid statements that abrogate the good ones. I must say that I’m re-reading it looking for the good you seem to find there. In fairness, I’m only on the third page :(. The blood and gore don’t come until the last half of the book.

  22. Kevin

    August 9, 2009 at 8:28 am

    Who’s John H?

  23. Neil

    August 9, 2009 at 8:31 am

    Our former Prime Minister, John Howard, quoted in an earlier comment today: “Let me repeat what I have said before. This is not a struggle against Islam. It is a struggle against a perverted interpretation of Islam…” etc.

    I have read the whole of the Quran.

  24. Kevin

    August 9, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    Oh! You mean ‘The greatest Australian who has ever lived’. Firstly, I agree that he is pretty awesome. I’m not entirely sure that I agree with you that he’s the greatest Australian ever, since I’ve read the works of the almighty Tim Blair. But I’ll agree with you that it’s one of those two. Fair enough?

    Secondly, I think you have to give the guy a break. He’s a politician, so of course he could not admit that a portion of his constituents worshiped an evil book. Our famous politician, Bush, who is barely more intelligent than Obama, made a similarly silly statement. Heck, he even said that the world’s most murderous religion was ‘a religion of peace’! How’s THAT for pulling the wool over your eyes? Heh. Politicians.

    But seriously, God Bless John Howard. Australia’s light may have faded a bit, but at least you got to experience 12 years of greatness, thanks to the glorious John Howard. Perhaps once Rudd is gone you’ll get to experience it again!

  25. Neil

    August 9, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    Howard said what he said 1) because he believed it and 2) because he knew that any foolish blanketing of all Muslims is God’s gift to the terrorists, because it is one of THEIR assertions that there is a “war against Islam.”

  26. Kevin

    August 10, 2009 at 12:16 am

    1) Making claims as to what another individual believes is perilous and fraught with pitfalls. Plus, no one will believe that you grok the mind of that person, so it’s kind of pointless.

    2) I agree. It is important to remember that muslims should not be targeted as evil. After all, they’re just people. Only the koran, or the religion called islam should be ridiculed and belittled. And changed or destroyed.

    3) Australia and America should join together to set aside a day to celebrate the greatness that is John Howard. I’m thinkin’ July 26th. Are you in? I’ll send a letter to my Senator to get the ball rolling. They’re on vacation now though, so it will be like a month before the law is passed. Still, it will be great fun!

  27. Neil

    August 10, 2009 at 7:51 am

    I prefer Rudd to Howard and increasingly Julia Gillard to Rudd. (Sorry, KR.) There have been, IMHO, three “great” Aussie PMs: Alfred Deakin, Robert Menzies, and John Curtin. There is also a spectacular and significant one, Gough Whitlam, who achieved much, but whose period ended in tears. Howard was too backward-looking and also very divisive.

    Alana based her play on extensive interviews with highly educated Afghan women. It is true that in the Taliban period women were very badly oppressed, but that it far from the whole story.

    Removing the Quran from Islam is more or less equivalent to removing Christ from Christianity; the Quran is in fact of even greater significance to a Muslim than the person of the Prophet, who they have seen as merely the human vehicle through whom God communicated the Book. Where there is room for change is in the interpretation and application of the Quran; and an Australian Muslim, Abdullah Saeed, is at the forefront of this debate. I have read his excellent book, and also the whole Quran in two English translations — not just the first few pages. I also studied in preparation for being a History teacher the history of India and Pakistan and of South-East Asia — so while I am not nearly as expert as the scholars who advise the governments of the US and Australia I do bring some knowledge to the table. I have also had much interaction and discussion with actual Muslims.

  28. Kevin

    August 10, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    Thanks for the NYT link. It’s very good news. If the Afghani women could do it 30 years ago, they can do it again.

  29. Neil

    August 10, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    Exactly! While still being Muslims. See Muqtedar Khan and The Wahid Institute.


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