Here is yet another story that follows the now-familiar pattern: a Westernized, secular Muslim becomes more religious, joins a prayer group, and ends up being caught up in terrorist activity. Yet despite the recurrence of this pattern, we are simultaneously commanded, on pain of being branded a “bigot” and a “racist,” to adopt unquestioningly the dogma that those who commit violence in the name of Islam are twisting and hijacking the religion. The implications of the fact that the “hijackers” seem always to claim that they represent true and authentic Islam, and to be operating out of mosques, seem to escape all the learned analysts.
SOMALI terror suspects Saney Edow Aweys, Yacqub Khayre and Abdirahman Ahmed began attending the controversial 8 Blacks prayer centre in North Melbourne this year, only a few months before they were charged with plotting a terrorist attack.
Police and intelligence agencies have long regarded the old snooker hall turned makeshift mosque, nestled behind a 7-Eleven store on Boundary Road, as a key hub in the militant islamist net-work.
Agencies had placed the hall under surveillance.
All three accused had previously prayed at another Melbourne mosque — the name of which is suppressed — before moving to 8 Blacks, where they took religious instruction in the same small “reading group” throughout this year.
The Australian has learned that Mr Aweys, a 27-year-old father of four, started praying regularly at the mosque about January.
But for at least a year before that, he visited the prayer hall on occasions, even lending his labouring skills to install a security gate at the entrance to the building’s car park.
It is understood he was planning to join the hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca, in the next three months before travelling on to Somalia alone.
According to a Somali friend of Mr Aweys, who lives in the same Carlton housing commission building and who has known him for eight years, he was a “smiling” and “happy” man who appeared to enjoy life in Australia, and it was only recently that he became attracted to religion.
“He was like an Aussie boy. He used to hang out with the boys, play soccer, go to the clubs,” the friend said.
“He had Aussie friends, wog friends — that’s Greeks and Italians to us — and Lebanese friends.
“He wasn’t religious until the last few months. 8 Blacks was only a recent thing.”
Having been caught up in a Western lifestyle, older family members initially regarded Mr Aweys’s new-found religiosity as a positive, helping him adhere to a disciplined, family-focused life.
“People told him: ‘You gotta stop playing around, you’ve got a family. Go to the mosque, settle down,”‘ the friend said.
Over time he let his beard grow, began dressing in traditional Islamic clothes and voiced more radical ideas.
“But most recently he had actually seemed to go back to normal,” said another family friend and community elder.
“His family thought he’d dropped out (of 8 Blacks), he’d shaved his beard, he was being seen at the cafes with the rest of the community, he was working with his family again, everyone thought he was OK.”…
Whatever Aweys’ motivations in this may have been, that is straight out of the Al-Qaeda playbook: blend in. Appear Westernized. Don’t wear a beard. Don’t carry around a Qur’an.
Obligatory “His Friends Were Shocked! Shocked!” passage:
People who know Mr Aweys, and spoken to by The Australian, expressed shock at his arrest. One friend expressed disbelief at the suggestion Mr Aweys intended to leave his family and travel to Somalia.
At a community meeting held yesterday in Coburg, in Melbourne’s north, between police, elders and relatives of the accused, many were angry that only the “harmless” and the “little fish” had been arrested.
Much of that anger came from the family of Yacqub Khayre, of Reservoir, who said he was a “harmless dropout” who had been targeted by police.
Mr Khayre, 22, is facing one charge of conspiring to act in preparation for a terrorist act against the Holsworthy Army base in Sydney….
The director of 8 Blacks, Farah Abdi Hakim — who leases the old two-storey snooker hall and uses the top floor as a mosque and the bottom as a community centre — said Mr Aweys was a friend, but he did not know Mr Khayre.
He denied that his community centre was a hub for Islamic zealots.
“This is my centre but it is open to everybody. I drive a cab, I am a family man, and this is a community centre — if you came, if anyone came, you can come in,” he said.
Mr Abdi Hakim, 36, an Australian citizen with eight children, said he was concerned news of the raids would incite racism against the Somali community.
“We move from Somalia because we have a problem with al-Qa’ida there; why would we want to bring that problem here?” heasked [sic]. “I have lived in Australia for 20 years. Tell me, when am I going to be an Australian? When do I stop being a Somali?”…
When you move as aggressively against activity designed to subvert and destroy the Australian state as any Australian would.