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Is it a problem that Australia sends the most foreign fighters to Syria?

A married Queenslander using the nom de guerre “Abu Asma al-Australi” featured as a suicide bomber in a promotional video released by the Syrian al-Qaeda affiliate Jahbat al-Nusra earlier this month. He…

Australia sends more foreign fighters to Syria than any other western nation - including suspected suicide bomber ‘Abu Asma al-Australi’. What problems does this pose? Twitter/@AbuSiqr

A married Queenslander using the nom de guerre “Abu Asma al-Australi” featured as a suicide bomber in a promotional video released by the Syrian al-Qaeda affiliate Jahbat al-Nusra earlier this month.

He was hardly the first “al-Australi” involved in the Syrian civil war. A 30-year old married Melbourne bricklayer who operated under the alias “Abu al-Walid al-Australi” has also been celebrated as a martyr in al-Nusra propaganda videos since he was killed late last year. ASIO believes that there are at least 200 Australians who have gone to fight in Syria, more than double the number believed from any other Western country.

But why has Australia’s contribution to the Syrian War been so large both in absolute numbers and relative to its population size?

Australians have fought abroad as insurgents in a number of other civil wars, although never as the largest group among foreign fighters. However, we can examine these historical cases for data about why foreign fighters sign up, what their recruiters tell them they are fighting for, and the impact that these individuals have on their wars and their societies at home.

In my new book Foreign Fighters, I examined transnational recruitment by insurgent groups worldwide over the past 200 years. Approximately one in five rebel groups have augmented their forces by persuading people outside their country to join the fight.

In different cases, local insurgents share common ties of religion, ethnicity or ideology with their foreign target audiences, but they employ the same recruitment strategy. In every case, recruiters claim - sometimes accurately - that the entire identity group faces a threat to its existence and the recruit must fight in the name of both duty and self-interest.

They typically reach potential recruits through institutions or representatives of the community, whether houses of worship, union meetings or summer camps. The most receptive in the audience already strongly identify with the group, but tend to be marginalised in the broader society, often because they are members of a minority group.

Other motives, such as adventure-seeking, profit, or ego-gratification might prompt individuals to sign up, but they are consistently told that the situation is dire. And it is the foreign fighters who engage in most of the highly aggressive combat and suicide operations, in part because they believe that the conflict must be won at all costs for their people.

These descriptions reflect the Australian recruits on both sides of the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s. There were leftists and unionists who believed that fascism had to be halted and so fought with the Communists, and Catholics who were told that Communism was set to obliterate the Catholic Church and joined the fascists in response.

They are also true of the Jewish Australian volunteers in the 1948 Israeli War of Independence who were told that their help was needed to establish a homeland or else the Holocaust would inevitably resume. Successor organisations continue to recruit diaspora Jews worldwide using a defensive frame even though they are no longer insurgents. Quite possibly, Ben Zygier (Prisoner X) signed up for the same reason.

Ben Zygier - or ‘Prisoner X’ - was an Australian citizen recruited to work for Israeli intelligence agency Mossad. ABC

The portrayal of a global Muslim community under threat has also been applied by jihadis to every civil war since Afghanistan in the 1980s. It brought recruits to Bosnia, including David Hicks. There were, however, foreign fighters on all sides of the Yugoslavian wars of the 1990s, and Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) staff in Croatia in the 1990s were acquainted with the local expression “kangaroo villages” to describe towns that had been repopulated after ethnic cleansing by transplants from Australia.

But it is the narrative of a single global war against Muslims - being fought on every battlefield from Kosovo to the Philippines - that has made it easy for al-Qaeda branches and like-minded groups to recruit for jihad. It has been effective in Somalia, where Somali-Australian and Lebanese-Australian volunteers learned the skills that they hoped to employ in the thwarted 2009 plot to blow up the Holsworthy Army Barracks.

The confrontation in Syria, and to an extent in Iraq before it, requires a slightly different frame: that of Sunni Muslims being destroyed by Shia governments. That said, there are also Australian Shiite volunteers among the ranks of Hezbollah militants fighting for the Assad regime. Most likely, the particular ties of the Australian Lebanese community with its connections in the region facilitate easy access into Syria and give Australia its disproportionate presence in this conflict.

Convicted terrorist David Hicks trained with the Kosovo Liberation Army during the Kosovo War. AAP

But this coincidence can have consequences. A study published earlier this year found that most jihadis prefer to go and fight on foreign battlefields, away from the constraints of their home societies. But among those who survive and return home with combat experience, about 10% become involved in militant activity in their countries of origin.

As the numbers of Australians fighting in Syria and elsewhere continues to mount, the odds that some will return home to continue the fight grow as well. Indeed, the Holsworthy plot was the attempted first case of blowback against a western country by foreign fighters in Somalia. The same transnational networks that permit recruitment and mobilisation make geographic distance irrelevant.

Stopping the outflow of foreign fighters is difficult, and intercepting them requires active surveillance and inevitable profiling. The best alternative in the long run is to try to build inclusive national and civic identities - if not Australian patriotism - so that alternate transnational identities do not matter enough to go to a distant war zone to kill and die for. This might be effected through national service, either military or in local community building programs like AmeriCorps in the United States.

But it is late in the day to do any such thing for Syria. The best option at this point is vigilance as the latest “al-Australis” return home, in some cases to become recruiters themselves.

Join the conversation

52 Comments sorted by

  1. Graeme Smith

    Citizen

    "But why has Australia’s contribution to the Syrian War been so large both in absolute numbers and relative to its population size?"

    What else would you expect from a nation that has no separation of church and state. What else from a nation that is fully committed to sectarianism. Australia is officially of "the book", constitutionally, legislatively, and financially so like no other equivalent western nation. Unofficially it goes further.

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  2. Greg North

    Retired Engineer

    " Australia sends more foreign fighters to Syria than any other western nation – including suspected suicide bomber ‘Abu Asma al-Australi’. "
    I would suggest that your concept of Australia sending fighters to Syria is well and truly misconstrued for it is not Australia doing that whatsoever.
    That we are a country with great personal liberty and may have citizens here who formerly came from Syria or have a connection to Syrian rebel forces ( or whatever they can be called ) of sufficient passion…

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    1. John Phillip
      John Phillip is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grumpy Old Man

      In reply to Greg North

      Well said, Greg. I wonder why the author shied away from recommending the promotion of "Australian patriotism". The term has been co-opted to imply something along the lines of 'racist bogan" which is more than a shame. As you've pointed out, there are some real faults in the way we have constructed multiculturalism in this country - we almost seem to be apologetic about Australian sovereignty and culture.

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    2. Christopher Nheu

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Phillip

      Australian sovereignty referring to what exactly? The hostile take-over of a land belonging to indigenous Australians?

      I don't think any Australian appreciates ignorance. Ignorance is what spurred on the Cronulla Riots.

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    3. Michael Sheehan

      Geographer at Analyst

      In reply to Greg North

      How many of these dudes are from Syria? I'd say none.

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    4. Graeme Smith

      Citizen

      In reply to John Phillip

      We pretend the sovereign of the uK is not sovereign of Australia. True, We almost seeming to be apologetic about it is just like us. Multiculturalism, like 'Big Australia', like 457 visas, like constitutionally supported sectarianism are not faulty. These work as intended to divide and rule.

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    5. Thomas Fields

      "progressive" watcher

      In reply to Christopher Nheu

      Was it also ignorance that spurred on the Lebanese to assault Australians at Cronulla just before the riots?

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    6. Rex Drabik

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Christopher Nheu

      So Australia isn't a legitimate sovereign nation?

      By your logic, every country on earth not currently populated by its earliest population from tens of thousands of years ago has no right to exist.

      I had to laugh at the "hostile takeover" line as if to say pastoralists, labourers and families constituted an army. Using the arguments employed by today's multiculturalists, we could assert that the early British settlers were in fact "enriching" the monocultural indigenous Australians with their presence and that the Aborigines were "xenophobic" and "racist" to resist the arrival of the British.

      And I would argue that the poor immigration and multicultural policies of successive governments, starting with Whitlam and then Fraser, spurred the Cronulla Riots.

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    7. Michael Sheehan

      Geographer at Analyst

      In reply to Graeme Smith

      Graeme, Australian sovereignty does not lie with QEII.

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    8. Michael Sheehan

      Geographer at Analyst

      In reply to Christopher Nheu

      "Australian sovereignty referring to what exactly?"
      Try learning about our history and Law. Sovereignty lies with the Australia people, and expressed in their Constitution, which they wrote for themselves.

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    9. John Phillip
      John Phillip is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grumpy Old Man

      In reply to Christopher Nheu

      Chris, we can shift the discussion to the 'invasion' or the 'settlement' if you wish but at some point you've got to recognise that the history of humanity has been defined by events such as that. You cant undo the past. All you can do is learn from it. We are NOW a sovereign nation.
      I agree with your second para unreservedly. It was the same ignorance that led to riots in Sydney over that stupid you tube movie that offended some muslims.

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    10. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Michael Sheehan

      " How many of these dudes are from Syria? I'd say none."
      I have no idea Michael, perhaps like yoiurself and that's why I put it as
      " That we are a country with great personal liberty and may have citizens here who formerly came from Syria or have a connection to Syrian rebel forces ( or whatever they can be called ) of sufficient passion…"
      Their connection could be being descendant or whatever, however I would reckon there is a fair chance it is more than none as you feel.

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    11. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Christopher Nheu

      Think of it as you may Christopher and then have a look at western civilisation history and you will see that many contries had indigenous peoples with a way of life vastly differently to other civilisations, expansion of some civilisations being a way of life that could even see you enjoying what it has brought to Australia if you are in Australia.
      Settlement of Australia was not all hostility and with development and white mens problems that many indigenous have had problems with, many have also…

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    12. Graeme Smith

      Citizen

      In reply to Greg North

      "Settlement of Australia was not all hostility... many have also enjoyed the benefits"

      Wow, just listen to Greg! But then again... "The art of writing history is to create a context for selected facts. the context becomes the essence of the work because facts, of themselves, have a paradoxical tendency to resist being set down - a tendency to take on distorted meanings." - Rodney Hall (Don Watson, Caledonia Australis, 1997). Listen up Greg:

      http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/bigideas/acknowledging-australia27s-22forgotten-war22/4962516

      "Sovereignity of Australia in the context of this article is more a reference to what Australia is now.."

      Now? What context of selected facts is Australian dreaming momentarily in?

      http://www.australianhumanitiesreview.org/archive/Issue-April-1996/Reynolds.html

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    13. David Malet

      Associate Director and Fellow of the Melbourne School of Government and Senior Lecturer in International Relations at University of Melbourne

      In reply to Greg North

      Greg, thank you for your comments and I am afraid that you misconstrued them. Obviously I did not claim that the Australian government is sending jihadis (although other government have done so in the past in an effort to get rid of troublemakers.) I had a hard enough time writing a concise and snappy title for this. If you have an alternative suggestion I would be interested in hearing it.

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    14. Raine S Ferdinands

      Education at Education

      In reply to Thomas Fields

      What makes you think that those thuggish Lebanese were not Australians themselves? Perhaps what you meant to say was. "Was it also ignorance .... the Aussie Lebanese to assault Anglo Aussies at Cronulla ...? Hmmmm ... it reveals more than you intended, Thomas.

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    15. Raine S Ferdinands

      Education at Education

      In reply to James Hill

      Nay, it all started with my family's ancestors, our Dutch forefathers Willem Janszoon in 1606. Let's blame it all on the Dutch!! The Dutch caused the Cronulla Riots!!

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    16. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Raine S Ferdinands

      Let's all keep our cultural heritages, multiple or otherwise, for the only people in history not allowed to do so were/are slaves.
      Can we see where all this fetish for "monoculturalism" is inevitably leading?

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    17. Philip Dowling

      IT teacher

      In reply to Christopher Nheu

      Christopher, In all jurisdictions, riots generally occur when a perceived wrong is not corrected by lawful authority.
      There is a curious exceptionalism associated with the Cronulla riots. The rioters are simply accused of being bad people, and that the rioters had no wrong to complain about.
      Police inaction over a long period of time is not recognised.
      It is interesting to compare the reporting of riots within detention centres and those involving indigenous people with the Cronulla riot.
      Further there were revenge attacks associated with the Cronulla riot that were much more bloody and caused more damage, but were under reported as the TV crews weren't on hand.
      Incidentally, Genghis Khan was an exemplar of what a hostile takeover really looks like.

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  3. Liam J

    logged in via email @gmail.com

    Since the Syria 'rebels' are being supported by our allies in Saudi Arabia, the US & UK, and are probably even utilising intel from Pine Gap, surely theres no problem with our citizens getting a piece themselves. When we lie down with dogs of course we'll get fleas, but those very fleas are the perfect pretext for militarisation of police and more surveillance of the population, more agent-provocateur setups. Win-win, war is peace!

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  4. John Crest

    logged in via email @live.com.au

    It's only a problem if we let them back in.

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    1. Notta Mehere

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Crest

      if they go as fighters, then only let them back in a coffin.

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  5. Peter Dawson

    Gap Decade

    Any Syrian (or Arab, for that matter) living in Australia, listening to what Australian government spokespeople or the Australian mainstream media are saying about Syria, would be left with the distinct impression that going to Syria to join the fight to topple the Assad government would be a brave and decent thing to do. So if it is a problem that we send so many fighters to Syria, we know who to turn to in order to start reshaping prevailing attitudes.

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  6. Paul Prociv

    ex medical academic; botanical engineer at University of Queensland

    This article does raise a related matter, albeit one that it has not discussed - dual nationality. If citizenship is all about allegiance to one particular nation-state, then how can you possibly justify holding two passports? This makes it easier for you to move in and out of other countries, but more difficult for the authorities to follow your movements. Not so sure it's for the common good . . .

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    1. Jim KABLE

      teacher

      In reply to Paul Prociv

      And not merely holding two passports but three or four or more. One is either Australian or not - and is thereby protected by it - or not. Seems fair. To live in Australia and be able to take Australian citizenship.

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    2. Raine S Ferdinands

      Education at Education

      In reply to Paul Prociv

      Paul, you raised a valid point about dual nationality. Initially this was so designed to protect the early British settlers, convicts, army personals who may wish to return to "mother country" after serving and living in the Australian colony.
      I still remember a politician (minister of education) who campaigned viscously for his seat, lost and then quickly returned (for good) to the UK. This happened in the 80s; not very long ago. I still wonder how many of our current leaders still hold dual citizenship…

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  7. Thomas Fields

    "progressive" watcher

    The joys of multiculturalism. If Australia actively promotes multiculturalism then of course you're going to have people who have an allegiance to the culture/state they originally hail from.

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    1. Jim KABLE

      teacher

      In reply to Thomas Fields

      The allegiance is of cultural memory not of loyalty to its state, surely!

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    2. Raine S Ferdinands

      Education at Education

      In reply to Thomas Fields

      Sadly there are heaps of misconceptions about multiculturalism “The joys of multiculturalism” does NOT mean “allegiance” to other states/nations. Multiculturalism is about cultural identity, social justice and economic efficiency for all Aussies. It also means accepting English as the national language and accepting the ‘equality of the sexes”.
      Multiculturalism also implies an “…. overriding and unifying commitment to Australia, to its interests and future first and foremost”. Multiculturalism…

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    3. Raine S Ferdinands

      Education at Education

      In reply to Graeme Smith

      "..I see very little of that in the constitution". See little of what, Graeme? Multiculturalism, misconceptions, mercenary involvements?

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    4. Thomas Fields

      "progressive" watcher

      In reply to Raine S Ferdinands

      Allegiance to another culture/state is definitely a part of multiculturalism. It's happening before our very eyes at the moment, so I am unsure why you're denying it.

      I had to laugh at the "unity in diversity" spiel.
      It reminds me of "war is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength".

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    5. Raine S Ferdinands

      Education at Education

      In reply to Thomas Fields

      I certainly did not invent multiculturalism, Thomas.
      (Australian Multicultural Policy 2011 . http://www.immi.gov.au/media/fact-sheets/06australias-multicultura)

      Allegiance to another state is NOT part of multiculturalism. When there are citizens professing allegiance to foreign nations (including mercenary work), than ASIO, our law enforcement units and our politicians have failed Australia!!!

      Multiculturalism is about allowing people to express themselves in different cultural ways,while…

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  8. Rex Drabik

    logged in via Facebook

    "But why has Australia’s contribution to the Syrian War been so large both in absolute numbers and relative to its population size?"

    Australia's has high immigration combined with lax citizenship policies. We are importing large numbers of people who do not have any particular allegiance or loyalty to Australia. Moreover, we have a policy of multiculturalism which actually encourages new arrivals to cling to their old national and ethnic identities. It's hardly surprising that so many 'Australians' are now off fighting in foreign wars.

    As Mark Steyn put it: "The modern multicultural state is too watery a concept to bind huge numbers of immigrants to the land of their nominal citizenship."

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    1. Jim KABLE

      teacher

      In reply to Rex Drabik

      How many Sydney and Melbourne youngsters of Jewish background are at any single moment serving in the Israeli forces. Has anyone got the statistics on that. And do they return to live in our midst? Is this a worry? If not why not?

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    2. Raine S Ferdinands

      Education at Education

      In reply to Jim KABLE

      "Is this a worry?" YES. It is a worry and ASIO needs to examine every individual (without exception) that indulges in mercenary work in foreign lands. ASIO is utterly laid back and when it does act, it either gets it wrong or is paralysed into inaction by public outcry (from bleeding hearts). ASIO needs to have more staff and become more proactive in difficult times (terrorism & civil wars). Our politicians often close both eyes and hope that difficult problems go away by themselves.

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    3. Graeme Smith

      Citizen

      In reply to Jim KABLE

      Jim, presumably Israeli and Australian agencies would share info on the number of 'youngsters' of Jewish Australian background that are at any single moment serving in the Israeli forces. Presumably such 'sensitive' info would be 'classified'. A little googling brought forth:

      In 2006: 100, 200, 300 were IDF enlisted?
      http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/australians-in-israeli-army-could-be-100/2006/07/28/1153816361076.html

      In 2012: 400 made the move over the previous 4 years, for 100/year, giving…

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    4. Graeme Smith

      Citizen

      In reply to Jim KABLE

      "How many .. Jewish background .. serving in the Israeli forces .. anyone... statistics .. return... Is this a worry? If not why not? "

      Thanks for asking this question Jim, for being alert to the spin inherent in this article. After a little further looking I'd say it is a worry. It's likely not considered nor aired much at all due to the vested interests of the big players. It would surely be considered and aired to advantage by those wishing to recruit Muslim foreign fighters to Syria and…

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    5. David Malet

      Associate Director and Fellow of the Melbourne School of Government and Senior Lecturer in International Relations at University of Melbourne

      In reply to Graeme Smith

      Graeme, thank you for your most recent two comments. I am genuinely curious to know what you think my 'spin' is. Which country/religion/group do you think I'm trying to secretly support here?

      I've heard the comment before that the Spanish Civil War volunteers aren't a valid comparison to the jihadis (although I'm not the first one to make the comparison and everyone else who writes about foreign fighters does too). My response is that there were as many Republican/Communist volunteers in 3 years in Spain as there have been jihadi foreign fighters in the last 30 years worldwide, and that the Communist International was absolutely seen as at least as much a threat in the 1930s as the jihadi movement is today. They may have been red, but it's no herring.

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  9. Pat Moore

    gardener

    Yes, the rather disingenuous question you posed in the title headline David presumably implies a criticism of the inadequate Australian government/ASIO intelligence and lack of control concerning these lose gun Arab citizen movements. And nobody seriously considers that any amount of "Australia patriotism" (joke) would even begin to counter this fervid Sunni/Shia Arab jihadi missionary zeal. They don't think of themselves as "Australians" and nor do Australians think of them this way. First and…

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    1. David Malet

      Associate Director and Fellow of the Melbourne School of Government and Senior Lecturer in International Relations at University of Melbourne

      In reply to Pat Moore

      Pat - thanks for your comments. No criticism of any Australian government or intelligence agency is implied here. You can't stop people with no record of illegal behaviour from leaving the country to go on holiday to a country that is somewhere near a civil war - the US has been unsuccessful in its efforts to do this for the past 200 years.
      Beyond that I'm not in a position to comment on who's 'really' Australian, tell the electorate which policies to support (though I seem to recall going to Iraq in 2003 didn't hurt the government of the day in 2004 elections much, did it?), or provide informed information about foreign government backing of the rebel groups. According to the US government, only non-jihadi rebels are receiving US arms. That assertion is met with much skepticism in Washington. Al Nusra looks to be an offshoot of Al Qaeda in Iraq which virtually guarantees that they're not an American proxy force I would think.

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    2. Graeme Smith

      Citizen

      In reply to David Malet

      "Al Nusra looks to be an offshoot of Al Qaeda in Iraq which virtually guarantees that they're not an American proxy force I would think..."

      "According to the US government " ..who are doing the talking and calling for the usual double take. Who else is doing some looking?

      http://www.moslempress.com/caricature-2/

      I thought these two to sum up another relevant viewpoint:

      http://www.moslempress.com/wp-content/themes/goodnews/framework/scripts/timthumb.php?src=http://www.moslempress.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/WhitePanel-Copy-3-Copy.jpg&h=&w=646&zc=1

      http://www.moslempress.com/wp-content/themes/goodnews/framework/scripts/timthumb.php?src=http://www.moslempress.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/WhitePanel-Copy-4-Copy.jpg&h=&w=646&zc=1

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  10. James Hill

    Industrial Designer

    As long as the reward of looting the victims remains the greatest incentive for Islamic militantism, then just put them in prison for the pre-meditation of war crimes, before they even leave home for the war zone.
    In the former Yugoslavia the looting of the Mujahideen, apart from plunder and rapine, included selling women as "white slaves' to the "Islamic market".
    But is all about faith and piety isn't it?
    And lest anyone think this phenomenon of looting is restricted to Islam, the French Norman…

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  11. Eddy Schmid

    Retired

    Funny thing, why is it, that folks like David Hicks gets pilloried for volunteering to fight for the Taliban, when these Australians are free to volunteer to murder innocent Syrians with the permission of the Australian Government ?
    I was under the impression being a mercenary/war criminal was illegal, so why aren't these people being arrested on arrival back in Australia ?
    Or is it only Illegal when fighting against the biggest war mongers that ever walked this earth, the U.S. ?

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    1. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Eddy Schmid

      " when these Australians are free to volunteer to murder innocent Syrians with the permission of the Australian Government ? "
      Thoughts on David Hicks aside Eddy, the Australian government ( and we have a reasonably new one btw ) is not giving permission anymore than that people are free to move out of and into Australia if they have the right documentation and not a known criminal history of a blocking standard re initial entry.
      We do not even know how many of those that do go abroad to fight with rebels or even in the IDF have citizenship for some could even just be Permanent residents.
      There are likely legal implications as to what is criminal by Australian law and first off it needs to be proven just what someone has been doing abroad, it not always easy to get evidence from some places and then not that I personally have any knowledge of mercenary criminality, I suspect that again is going to be something a bit different from being a war criminal.

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  12. Peter Lilly

    Student

    A question to be asked here is why does this only become an issue when it is Muslims involving themselves in foreign conflicts. The number of young Australian Jews who spend a gap year or two in the IDF enforcing an illegal occupation of the West Bank exceeds easily the number of young Muslims who go overseas to fight.

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    1. Paul Prociv

      ex medical academic; botanical engineer at University of Queensland

      In reply to Peter Lilly

      I think it's becoming an issue now because of
      (a) all the agonising about how to respond to the use of chemical weapons in Syria;
      (b) the fact that Jews don't seem to resort to random suicide bombings or threatening activity in non-belligerent countries, like Australia; and
      (c) the genuine concern that these young blokes, who might already harbour hostility towards Australia for religious and other reasons, will become seriously brutalised by their experiences overseas, which is going to have worrisome consequences once they return home.

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    2. Graeme Smith

      Citizen

      In reply to Paul Prociv

      Paul,

      (a) what of Israel's huge arsenal of chemical and nuclear weapons?

      (b) what of Jews resorting to terror tactics and threatening activity continuously, and in non-belligerent countries, and their history of using Australia in various ways to facilitate this.

      (c) Given the above it's not hard to imagine how some Australians might be pissed off at the discriminatory sectarian and racist position adopted by Australia. Surely such a position is asking for trouble. Why hold it then?

      With 40 times as many Jewish foreign fighters going as Muslim what happens if Australia adopts a neutral or disinterested position? Perhaps then there would be nil risk of a Jihadist pissed-off backlash belligerent activity in Australia, but a massive Jewish Australian terror campaign, is that it? Worrisome consequences alright.

      I think the position should be at the least that if anyone of any stripe goes in for foreign fighting they don't return.

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  13. Philip Dowling

    IT teacher

    The unofficial involvement of Australian citizens in overseas conflicts is a matter of great concern for the long term stability of Australia.
    The Syrian civil war is but the latest event that has given publicity to this issue. The breakup of Yugoslavia would appear to have had Australian-based fighters on all sides. It is of particular concern when war crimes are involved, as the identity of foreign fighters is often problematic.
    http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-national/accused-war-criminal-not-a-pow-govt-20130925-2udq4.html

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