Wednesday, August 5, 2009


The police authorities of Melbourne charged before a local court on August 5,2009, four Muslims with "conspiring to commit an act in preparation or planning a terrorist act." The police alleged that the charged persons were planning to carry out an act of suicide terrorism on some barracks of the Australian Army located at a place called Holsworthy on the outskirts of Sydney. In addition to army units, the Holsworthy base, according to the Australian media. also houses an anti-extremism unit.

2.The names of the arrested and charged persons were given out as Nayef El Sayed, Saney Edow Aweys, Wissam Mahmoud Fattal and Yacqub Khayre. According to the police, a fifth suspect, who was already in custody in connection with some other offence, was also expected to be charged along with them. The arrested persons have been described as of Somali or Lebanese origin. Khayre has also been accused of travelling to Somalia to train and fight with the Al-Qaeda-inspired Al Shabab, which is fighting against the pro-government forces and controls large parts of Somalia.

3.Tony Negus, acting Chief Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police, told the media: "The men's intention was to actually go into the army barracks and to kill as many soldiers as they could before they themselves were killed.Members of the group have been actively seeking a fatwa or religious ruling to justify a terror attack on Australia." A Victoria ( provincial ) police statement said that "police believe members of a Melbourne-based group have been undertaking planning to carry out a terrorist attack in Australia and are allegedly involved in hostilities in Somalia.' Peter Dein, the counter-terrorism chief of the New South Wales Police, said that the planning was probably getting to the point where the act of terrorism would have happened within weeks.

4.There are about 16,000 residents---many of them Australian citizens--- of Somali origin in Melbourne. Many of them came as refugees after civil strife broke out in Somalia in 1991. These Somalis belong to different Somali clans including the two principal Daarood and Hawiye clans which have been fighting for the control of Somalia. Somalia's transitional federal government (TFG), which drew its support mainly from the Daarood clan, was overthrown in 2004 by a pro-Al Qaeda group called the Islamic Courts Union, consisting largely of members of the Hawiye clan. The ICU was defeated by the TFG in late 2006 with the help of US-backed forces from Ethiopia. The defeated remnants of the ICU, emulated the Afghan Taliban, and formed a new organisation called al-Shabab, which has been fighting for the control of the country with the support of Al Qaeda.

5. As stated in the Chapter titled " Global Jihadi Terrorism As Seen by Al Qaeda" in my book titled "Terrorism---Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow" ( , Ayman al-Zawahiri, the No.2 to Osama bin Laden in Al Qaeda, has been speaking of a global jihadi Intifada in which the Somali Muslims will play an important role. By jihadi Intifada he means a kind of a struggle in which the role of motivated individual Muslims will become more important than that of organisations so that the weakening or collapse of an organisation would not result in a collapse of the Intifada.

6. In a message of December 20,2006, he said: " Brothers in Islam and Jihad in Somalia, know that you are on the southern garrison of Islam,so don't allow Islam to be attacked from your flank......Know that you are fending off the same Crusade which is fighting your brothers in Islam in Chechnya, Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon."

7. In Al Qaeda's portrayal, among the alleged Crusaders fighting against the Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan are the 1550 Australian troops in Afghanistan and Australian personnel helping the US in its campaign in Iraq. Thus, Australia is a legitimate target for acts of reprisal for its role in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as for its earlier alleged role in helping East Timor break away from the Islamic Ummah.The targeted attacks on Australians in Bali and Jakarta since 2002 by terrorists allegedly belonging to the Jemaah Islamiyah are justified as legitimate acts of reprisal.

8.While pro-Al Qaeda elements have been able to carry out acts of reprisal against Australian nationals and interests outside Australia in Indonesia, they have till now not succeeded in mounting any act of reprisal in Australian territory itself for want of support in the local Muslim population. The present arrests indicate that Al Qaeda has succeeded in motivating individual elements of Somali and Lebanese origin in Australia to join the jihad through acts of reprisal mounted in Australian territory. Just as the Pakistani supporters of Al Qaeda in the diaspora in the UK were recruited during their visits to their relatives in Pakistan, the arrested persons from the Somali community in Australia would appear to have been motivated and recruited during their home visits to Somalia.

9.The Somali Muslims have had a long history of contacts with Pakistani jihadi organisations. Pakistani jihadi elements, to escape arrest by the police, often take shelter in Yemen or Somalia. The Tablighi Jamaat (TJ) of Pakistan has been very active among the Somalis in Somalia itself as well as among the Somalis residing abroad. In the early 1990s, Somalia had banned the TJ as an extremist organisation. Despite this, by taking advantage of the civil strife in Somalia, it continues to be active. It has been bringing a number of Somalis to Pakistan for studying in the madrasas controlled by different jihadi organisations. According to Pakistani sources, the Tablighi Jamaat is the only Pakistani organisation, which has an organisational presence in Australia. The February 1998, issue of the "Newsline", a monthly of Pakistan, had quoted workers of the TJ as saying that the TJ had many offices in the US, Russia, the Central Asian Republics, South Africa, Australia and France. Its active presence in Somalia was utilised by Al Qaeda for years to motivate and recruit Somalis for the jihad. If its presence in Australia continues, it could similarly help Al Qaeda in motivating and recruiting from the Somali community in Australia.

10. Sections of the Australian media have been drawing attention for some months to indications of a radicalisation of some sections of the Somali community. This radicalisation was seen more as an echo of the civil strife in Somalia and not as an echo of what was happening in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The arrests made by the Melbourne Police indicate that the radicalisation in the Somali community in Australia is acquiring a pan-Islamic momentum instead of remaining a purely Somalian sectarian phenomenon as it was till now. Another point of concern to the Australian security agencies since September last has been any contacts between members of the Somali community in Australia and the Somali pirates. These concerns were the result of the spurt in acts of piracy by Somalis and unrelated to the activities of Al Qaeda. With the arrest of these persons allegedly planning an act of suicide terrorism in Australia, there will be new concerns about the likelihood of a nexus between Somali radicals and Somali pirates, each helping and keeping the other sustained.

11. The following articles of mine may be of interest:

(a).My article of 15-91999 titled "DAGESTAN: FOCUS ON PAKISTAN'S TABLIGHI JAMAAT" at .

(b). My article of 13.11.2003 titled "JIHADI ANGER: After Italy, Australia?" at .

(c).My article of 28-12-2006 titled "SOMALIA: JIHADIS EMULATING TALIBAN'S TACTICS" at .

(d). My article of 4-8-09 titled "Pro-Al Qaeda Elements Regrouping For Fresh Strikes" at .
( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi,and presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: )