Izhar Ul-Haque (Channel Nine)
In this story about the usual protestations of innocence and discrimination that follow whenever any Muslim is charged with terrorist activity, there is the blinding insight that Ul-Haque was sort of an ordinary guy — which is presented as if it is evidence that he is not guilty. This is what passes for analysis? He played cricket and slept late, therefore he couldn’t be a terrorist? From The Australian, with thanks to Jean-Luc:
TWO pictures have emerged of the first Australian to face court charged under new anti-terror laws for allegedly receiving training from a terrorist group.
While the prosecution alleged this week that terror suspect Izhar Ul-Haque, 21, trained with a banned terrorist organisation in Pakistan, expecting to fight in a jihad, or holy war, and die a martyr, the defence painted a very different picture of the medical student.
A Sydney local court heard that Mr Ul-Haque, who was arrested two weeks ago, was a courteous student originally from Pakistan, who loved playing cricket with his brothers and sleeping late on weekends.
When he was not diligently studying for his medical degree, he helped with household chores. The deeply religious student, the court heard, was a credit to his family and the well-heeled community of northwestern Sydney where he lived.
Both were stunned when Mr Ul-Haque was charged this month with training in a camp run by banned terrorist organisation Laskar-e-Taiba. It was the first time the war on terrorism had reached these prosperous suburbs.
Since then, his family and community have rallied together, livid that such an unlikely person has been targeted by anti-terrorism investigators.
To show support, former teachers, a school counsellor, hockey coach, students and family packed a local court during his application for bail this week from solitary confinement in the nation’s most secure prison.
“We were so appalled that someone of this calibre should have been thrown in jail,” says a former principal of North Sydney Boys High School, where Mr Ul-Haque attended his final years of schooling.
“Terrorism wins an awful victory when we are prepared to destroy a young person’s reputation and future on the flimsy grounds which have landed … Ul-Haque in this present situation,” Bernard Newsom continues in his affidavit to the court.
“After 36 years of teaching, one can identify the gems among the young people … Izhar is one of those gems.” …
An award-winning student, Mr Ul-Haque gained a university entrance score of 99.7 and wanted to become the first doctor in his family.
A sensitive person, his brothers say in affidavits that he has a wicked sense of humour that reminds them of comedian and talkshow host Andrew Denton.
But frustration set in after he failed his second year at the University of NSW. Visiting his father in Pakistan in January 2003, he wrote him a letter outlining his distaste for Westerners and his desire to join a jihad and die a martyr, the court heard.
His alarmed father and brother went to the camp, where he was training for three weeks in combat and weaponry, to try to send him home. In an apparent change of heart, he later returned to Sydney to resume his studies.