Sometimes timing is everything.
Ten days ago I warned that the Australian Defence Force was playing with fire by deliberately seeking to recruit Muslims. My speech at the International Symposium on Liberty & Islam can be found here. And now, right on cue, it’s been revealed that an Australian soldier has died in Syria while fighting for al Qaeda.
But I’m not talking about that timing. Blind Freddy could see this coming a mile away.
Instead, I’m talking about the Chief of Defence Force, General David Hurley, and his timing.
Because the same weekend I made my speech about Islam and the Australian military, General Hurley spoke on that very issue too. But he had a different view. In fact, General Hurley said that religious tolerance was vital for morale. And then he went right ahead and killed mine by stating that he wanted more Muslims to join and that he would be giving them roles as specialist staff. Of course, my morale was already fairly low since General Hurley wrote to me last year that the public expression of my Catholic faith was an issue preventing my continued service to this nation.
The big problem with General Hurley’s timing is that Caner Temel, the dead Australian soldier in Syria, was killed more than two months ago. So the Chief of Defence Force should have known that Muslims in our military are more likely to fight for our enemies than the rest of us. Yet he still went ahead and made his comments endorsing Islamic recruitment last week.
And if General Hurley did not know that Caner was an Australian soldier then there are some really big questions that need answering. We’ll get to those in a minute.
But first, let’s talk about Caner Temel. Not many Australians would have heard of him.
Caner’s story is one that we should all be familiar with. It is the story of progressive, multicultural Australia. And like most stories about progressive, multicultural Australia, the good parts are mostly myth and the reality is bloody and brutal. Like this story about the arrest of a progressive, multicultural Middle Eastern crime syndicate in Melbourne yesterday. Or this one about progressive, multicultural violence in our largest cities because progressive, multicultural Muslims are at war with each other in Syria.
Caner’s story briefly burst into flame in early January. That’s because he was snipered while hanging out in Syria. And by hanging out, I mean that he was fighting under the black flag with squiggly writing that is the banner of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
For those who don’t know, this is the name of al Qaeda’s pet project: the Islamic caliphate. It’s also the fastest growing country in the world, thanks to the fact that al Qaeda fighters strolled into Fallujah just after Christmas and started running the joint. They’ve been in control of the capital of Iraq’s al Anbar province ever since. In response, the democratically elected Government of Iraq has lobbed in a few artillery shells and legalised marriage for nine year old girls. And yes, that’s the same Iraqi government that was ‘successfully’ installed by Western militaries. But I digress. Back to Caner. It is, after all, his day in the sun.
Caner’s al Qaeda buddy, Abu Hafs, told the ABC without any hint of irony back in January that Caner had been ‘shot by a less extreme rebel group’. I’m not sure if Abu said that with a straight face because dead is about as extreme as it gets. It would be concerning if the full extent of Caner’s understanding of ‘extreme’ was ever unleashed. That story died down in the ho-hum reporting of all the other Australians who have died while fighting in Syria recently. It’s hard to keep getting excited about something that happens with monotonous regularity.
But overnight, Caner has literally shot back into prominence, even though he was killed in action more than two months ago. The reason: Caner has the distinction of being the first Western soldier to have ‘bought it’ in Syria.
In fact, Caner was a sapper from Brisbane. And while his mates were deployed to Afghanistan or training to fill the next rotations, Caner did something different. He went AWOL in September 2010.
And that’s problem number one for the Australian Defence Force. It’s not really very efficient when its soldiers just pack up in the middle of a war.
And problem number two is even bigger. When soldiers that the Australian Defence Force spends time, effort and taxpayer dollars training pack up and leave so that they can enlist with the enemy, it is just not good PR. And that’s just the start. Of more import, it seems that al Qaeda has now outsourced military training to the Australian Army. That’s good for them, not so good for us.
I suppose the good news is that Caner didn’t hang around to commit an incident of ‘workplace violence’, à la the Allah Akbar shouting Nidal Hasan. He’s the US Army major who gunned down his fellow soldiers in Fort Hood in 2009. When he’d finished living up to his Islamic ideals, 13 US soldiers were dead and more than 30 were wounded.
Or Caner could have followed in the footsteps of Asan Akbar. He dropped a grenade in a tent in Kuwait in 2003. That incident of workplace violence killed another soldier and wounded 15 more.
Another US Muslim soldier went AWOL around about the same time as Caner. A short time later Naser Jason Abdo was arrested for planning to follow in the footsteps of the above mentioned Nidal Hasan. It could have crossed Caner’s mind to do something similar.
It’s also possible that Caner could have helped out one of Australia’s home grown terror plots. Military bases are high on the list of targets and, no doubt, an enthusiastic Muslim soldier would be of no little assistance to such a plan. It’s not a far-fetched scenario. Three Australian Muslims are in jail for planning to kill as many Diggers as possible at Holsworthy Army Barracks.
But Caner just flew to Syria and worked his way up the chain of extreme until he was fighting for al Qaeda. And then he died. That’s probably the best thing he ever did for Australia.
The Chief of Defence Force should have known that Caner was an Australian soldier. If he didn’t, it must be asked how an Australian soldier can go AWOL and, unnoticed, wind up with al Qaeda.
It must be asked what plans are in place to monitor Australians who are attracted to Islamic ideals, especially if they are in the military.
And it must also be asked why the Chief of the Australian Defence Force is so confident that Australian Muslims are not going to bust a jihad on us like those who have served in other nations’ militaries.
I will be so bold as to answer the last one in advance. If Muslims in the Australian military can enlist with al Qaeda without anyone knowing, then the Chief of Defence Force, General Hurley, also has absolutely no way of knowing when one will unleash a little Allah Akbar around these parts.
However, I am all ears. Let’s have his answer.