Inherent in that statement is a challenge to prosecutors to examine the Qur’an, ahadith and Sira themselves and confront the passages that call for open-ended warfare to effect the conversion, subjugation, or death of unbelievers. It would be great if such an examination of Islamic texts and teachings were actually to take place, but Benbrika surely knows that officials are much more likely to be confounded by the politically correct article of faith that Islam is peaceful (or at least, that all religions are equally prone to violence), and the resulting inability to move beyond apologists’ insistence that armed jihad and the imperative to establish sharia law only exist in the minds of misunderstanders and Islamophobes.
The leader of an alleged Melbourne terror cell admitted to his supporters he had been “evasive” when asked for his views on jihad during a television interview, the Victorian Supreme Court has heard.
Abdul Nacer Benbrika, 48, a self-taught religious instructor, told an ABC television interviewer he did not encourage followers to take part in so-called holy wars (jihads) overseas or in Australia.
He said he merely passed on the teachings of the Koran.
“When I teach, I teach what Allah and his prophets said,” Benbrika told the interviewer.
“I’m not telling people to go …. the student understands.
“I tell him what Allah said and he can then decide.”
Prosecutor Richard Maidment, SC, said the statements Benbrika made in the interview were at odds with other evidence already presented to the jury.
“Benbrika is being as evasive and shifty as he can possibly be,” Mr Maidment told the jury.
The interviewer also asked Benbrika if he had ever planned to carry out an attack in Australia.
Benbrika replied that it was against his religion to kill innocent people.
“I would have done it a long time ago,” Benbrika said.
But Mr Maidment pointed out that in secretly-recorded conversations already in evidence, Benbrika told his followers in Melbourne that killing innocent Australians was acceptable.
But did he call them innocent himself? That’s an important distinction for prosecutors to grasp.
“He is completely deceptive,” Mr Maidment said.
After the ABC interview, according to the secretly-recorded conversations between Benbrika and his followers, the cleric admitted he had been misleading.
“I was being evasive,” Benbrika said on the tape.
“I told him (the interviewer) this was what Allah said, this is what the Prophet said.”
Benbrika and his 11 co-accused in Australia’s largest terrorism trial have pleaded not guilty to charges including being members of a terrorist organisation.
The trial before Justice Bernard Bongiorno is continuing.