[Published 19 December 2014]
The joint press conference given by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on 16 December after the siege at the Lindt Chocolate café in Martin Place had finally ended - was particularly noteworthy for certain viewpoints expressed by Mr Abbott during that conference.
The Prime Minister - flanked by NSW Premier Mike Baird, Commissioner Colvin of the Federal Australian Police and Deputy Commissioner Burn of the New South Wales Police — made the following statement:
“It is pretty obvious that the perpetrator was a deeply disturbed individual, a long history of crime, a long history of mental instability and infatuation with extremism. It’s interesting that the ISIL death cult seems to attract people like that. I refuse to use the term Islamic State and I would strongly caution anyone, anywhere, from using that term, because that exults a movement which has nothing to do with any real religion and is a travesty of a true and just state. It is very wrong to identify the death cult that the individual concerned tried to associate himself with; it is very wrong to identify that death cult with any community or with any faith. The phrase that I like to refer to, uttered by my friend, Prime Minister Najib of Malaysia, of the ISIL death cult: it’s against God, it’s against religion, it’s against humanity.”
The Prime Minister’s description of the perpetrator - self-styled Islamic cleric Man Haron Monis — failed to mention his involvement - with his partner Amirah Droudis — in a long running legal battle defending charges arising from letters sent in 2007 to the families of Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan.
Their cases and appeals have so far progressed through eight separate court hearings and appeals in which Monis and Droudis were separately represented by two different legal teams.
Funded at enormous public expense by Australian taxpayers — the matter first reached the High Court in 2012 leaving the High Court’s six judges who heard their case split neatly down the middle 3-3.
At this High Court hearing three QC’s, Five Senior Counsel, and 10 Junior Counsel appeared for Monis and Droudis, the Queen and the State of New South Wales - with the Commonwealth, South Australia, Victoria, Western Australia and Queensland intervening .
The latest hearing — a second Application for removal of all the proceedings to the High Court — was heard on 12 December 2014 by the High Court - comprising his Honour Chief Justice French and his Honour Justice Gageler — who refused the applications.
The matters are listed for mention in the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal again on 12 February 2015.
The opinions of these legal teams regarding Monis’s alleged mental instability and ability to give instructions and comprehend what he was being told could prove most enlightening.
The Prime Minister’s comments exhorting people not to mention the term “Islamic State” fly in the face of the unpleasant reality that has developed since Islamic State and the restoration of the Caliphate were formally declared in June and has since reportedly attracted 80 recruits to its ranks from Australia.
Prime Minister Abbott’s attempt to downplay the threat to world peace and security constituted by the actions of Islamic State — as endorsed by the UN Security Council in Resolutions 2170 and 2178 — constitute a serious error of judgement.
Mr Abbott’s “death cult” views were first expressed in September this year.
At pains to “de-islamize” the Martin Place siege—the Prime Minister stated at his joint press conference:
“We are a very united society. Yes, we have amongst us a few deranged individuals who may choose to try to wrap their psychoses in a political ideology. But the point I keep making is that the ISIL death cult has nothing to do with any religion, any real religion. It has nothing to do with any particular community. It is something to which sick individuals succumb and sick individuals exist in all communities and in all societies. This idea that ISIL is somehow spawned by any particular religion, frankly it’s probably even less true than saying that Catholicism spawned the IRA. They’re just completely separate things.”
Islam was clearly visible at the Lindt Chocolat café when Monis forced hostages to hold up a black flag that declared in Arabic script:
“There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.”
“Islamic State” was also certainly at the forefront of his thinking.
In a video - shot while the siege was ongoing and posted to Facebook - Westpac executive and fitness business owner Marcia Mikhael relayed three requests by Monis including:
“One is for him to get an IS flag and he will release one hostage.”
New York Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counter Terrorism - John Miller — had no reticence in stating that the Martin Place siege had the hallmarks of Islamic State orders — telling the Daily Telegraph on December 16:
“You have to go back to September when ISIS put out the call through its official spokesman for people to attack in their own countries with what they have at hand.”
Viewing Islamic State as purely a death cult and not a well-armed and run State already occupying an area larger than England denies the reality of what this group poses.
The bogeyman in the Lindt Chocolate Café won’t go away because Australia’s Prime Minister wants to put the term “Islamic State” out of sight and out of mind.