“Howard government-funded research has also found there are more young Muslims per capita who are vulnerable to the influence of radical Islam in Australia than in any other western country.”
Tiny Minority of Extremists Alert. “Home-grown jihad threat,” by Richard Kerbaj and Martin Chulov for The Australian:
UP to 3000 young Muslims in Sydney alone are at risk of becoming radicalised by
fundamentalist Islam as community leaders warn that Australia has become a “prime country”
for hardliners pushing extremist ideologies.
Howard government-funded research has also found there are more young Muslims per capita who are vulnerable to the influence of radical Islam in Australia than in any
other western country.
The revelations came as John Howard warned that Australians needed to remain
vigilant about the threat of terrorism.
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.” Mr Howard said September’s APEC summit in Sydney and the World Youth Day next July would have the “inconvenience” of appropriate security, but altering or cancelling the events would be a victory for terrorists.
Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd yesterday called on Mr Howard to implement a
recommendation in the 2005 Wheeler report regarding the screening of cargo on passenger
flights after two men tried to drive a blazing Jeep through the doors of the Glasgow airport terminal on the weekend.
“Terrorism represents a threat to all civilised countries including Britain, including Australia, and therefore it is incumbent upon Australia to make sure that all practical measures are in place when it comes to dealing with any terrorist threat on our shores,” he said.