Sunday, July 1, 2007

3,000 potential jihadist youth in Sydney

Australia's Prime Minister John Howard knows that Australia is at risk from homegrown Islamic terrorists -- the Muslim researcher his government hired to study the issue confirms it.

While Australia's security threat level would not be heightened following foiled terrorist attacks in Britain since Friday, the Prime Minister criticised those who sought to play down or dismiss the danger of an attack on home soil.

"What is happening in Great Britain is a reminder to all of us that, despite all the talk on occasions from some that the threat of terrorism is exaggerated in our society, it is not, and we must remain vigilant," he said.

"It is just a reminder again that we can't rest, we have to remain vigilant."

The Federal Government's project looking into the radicalisation of young Muslims is headed by a former member of Mr Howard's Islamic advisory board, Mustapha Kara-Ali, who yesterday warned that Australia's mainstream community should not take comfort in the fact that a terrorist attack has not yet been carried out on our shores.

He praised the efforts of national security agencies in arresting 22 alleged Melbourne- and Sydney-based terrorism suspects in November 2005.

"We're finding out that per capita we've got a huge number of young Muslims (vulnerable to radicalisation) compared to other countries where there's a bigger community but yet relatively the same number of extremist youth," he said.

Mr Kara-Ali - who was given a $200,000 grant by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship in June last year to investigate the radicalisation of young Muslims in Sydney's southwest - told The Australian there were up to 3000 young Sunni Muslim in that region of the state who were part of "ideological sleeper cells" on the brink of becoming radicalised.

"I believe in Sydney alone there's about 2000 and 3000 young Muslims vulnerable to being radicalised," he said.

"There are ideological sleeper cells waiting to be completely radicalised. Because radicalisation ... is to act upon your extremist teachings."

So far, Howard's vigilance has paid off. Let's hope that the streak of Ozzie luck continues.

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