The enemy within: al-Shabab in Australia
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The enemy within: al-Shabab in Australia

The enemy within: al-Shabab in Australia

The al-Shabab terrorist group responsible for the Westgate shopping mall massacre in Nairobi has links with home-grown Australian terrorists.

In August 2009, Australian security agencies foiled an al-Shabab associated plot to attack Holsworthy Army Barracks in Sydney. Codenamed Operation Neath, the counterterrorism operation disrupted the mass-shooting plot in its early stages. Five men were charged, and three—Wissam Fattal (pictured), Saney Edow Aweys and Nayef el-Sayed—were convicted of planning to attack the barracks.

The men had sought weapons, dispatched others for training, conducted reconnaissance of Holsworthy Barracks and asked senior al-Shabab religious figures in Somalia for permission to attack Australian targets. See: Multiculturalism failure: Australian jihadists jailedFattal

Saney Aweys, the key link to al-Shabab, was from a Somali background; Wissam Fattal and Nayef el-Sayed were of Lebanese descent.

Prior to the Nairobi teror attack, the Holsworthy Barracks incident marks one of the few al-Shabab associated plots in the West, yet it has received little attention by analysts and authorities.

Jihadist activity occurred in Australia prior to the Holsworthy Barracks plot.

There was an unsuccessful al-Qa`ida and Jemaah Islamiyya -directed conspiracy to bomb Israeli and Jewish targets during the 2000 Sydney Olympics, a Lashkar-i-Tayyiba (LeT)-guided plot that was foiled in 2003, and self-starting cells arrested in Melbourne and Sydney in 2005’s Operation Pendennis.

Clusters of aspiring Australian jihadists had also traveled for training or combat overseas, chiefly to Afghanistan and Pakistan from 1999-2003, Lebanon throughout the 2000s, Somalia from 2007 onwards, and there are also some indications of travel for jihad in Yemen.

Taxpayers fund madrassas in Australia

Following the Nairobi massacre, Somali community leaders warned  that education authorities had ignored calls to regulate madrassas, or religious schools, which were free to teach radical religious doctrines to young people and could be a fertile ground for recruiting jihadists in Australia for terrorist groups such as al-Shabab.

Somali Cultural Association president Aden Ibrahim said he and his colleagues had urged state and federal authorities for the past five years to close a loophole that had allowed religious leaders to set up the schools in Australia without any regulation of, or control over, the curriculum.

The schools, which operate on weekends and after school hours, are run out of suburban mosques and are supposed to teach Somali language and culture. But, Mr Ibrahim said, in the absence of proper oversight they sometimes promoted hardline religious doctrines.

The madrassas, many of which receive government funding of up to $30,000 a year, were allowed a free hand in what they taught and often used volunteers without any formal teaching qualifications.

Mr Ibrahim said there had been concerns in the community about what was being taught in madrassas, including those at Braybrook and Broadmeadows.

Many local Somalis were fearful of speaking out about al-Shabab, claiming there were former operatives who had gone to Somalia to fight but had now returned to Australia.

In 2009, the Australian Federal Police swooped on a cell of Somali and Lebanese-born Australians accused of providing support to radical groups in Africa.

SOMALI community leaders warned yesterday that education authorities had ignored calls to regulate madrassas, or religious schools, which were free to teach radical religious doctrines to young people and could be a fertile ground for recruiting jihadists in Australia for terrorist groups such as al-Shabab.

Somali Cultural Association president Aden Ibrahim said he and his colleagues had urged state and federal authorities for the past five years to close a loophole that had allowed religious leaders to set up the schools in Australia without any regulation of, or control over, the curriculum.

Mr Ibrahim said al-Shabab, which has claimed responsibility for the Westgate shopping mall massacre in Nairobi, had little support among Somalis in Australia. However, the madrassas needed to be monitored to prevent youths being radicalised by charismatic figures building a power base at certain mosques.

The schools, which operate on weekends and after school hours, are run out of suburban mosques and are supposed to teach Somali language and culture. But, Mr Ibrahim said, in the absence of proper oversight they sometimes promoted hardline religious doctrines.

The madrassas, many of which receive government funding of up to $30,000 a year, were allowed a free hand in what they taught and often used volunteers without any formal teaching qualifications.

- See more at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/madrassa-lessons-worry-somalis/story-e6frg6nf-1226725553794#sthash.B3ThlYZ9.dpuf

SOMALI community leaders warned yesterday that education authorities had ignored calls to regulate madrassas, or religious schools, which were free to teach radical religious doctrines to young people and could be a fertile ground for recruiting jihadists in Australia for terrorist groups such as al-Shabab.

Somali Cultural Association president Aden Ibrahim said he and his colleagues had urged state and federal authorities for the past five years to close a loophole that had allowed religious leaders to set up the schools in Australia without any regulation of, or control over, the curriculum.

Mr Ibrahim said al-Shabab, which has claimed responsibility for the Westgate shopping mall massacre in Nairobi, had little support among Somalis in Australia. However, the madrassas needed to be monitored to prevent youths being radicalised by charismatic figures building a power base at certain mosques.

The schools, which operate on weekends and after school hours, are run out of suburban mosques and are supposed to teach Somali language and culture. But, Mr Ibrahim said, in the absence of proper oversight they sometimes promoted hardline religious doctrines.

The madrassas, many of which receive government funding of up to $30,000 a year, were allowed a free hand in what they taught and often used volunteers without any formal teaching qualifications.

- See more at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/madrassa-lessons-worry-somalis/story-e6frg6nf-1226725553794#sthash.B3ThlYZ9.dpuf

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