The Hon Michael Danby
Federal Member for Melbourne Ports
Shadow Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Opposition
Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for the Arts

Please see an article written in 2009 by Michael Danby titled ‘Ah McGeough you’ve done it again’, published in The Quadrant Online.

As the opposition leader explained on Monday, Labor believes that the terrorist state that has been proclaimed in Iraq represents a threat to Australian national security unlike one we have ever faced.

Mr DANBY (Melbourne Ports) (11:54):  The cartoon figure Mr Magoo was based on a character of a retiree who managed to get himself in absurd situations because of his nearsightedness, which was compounded by his stubborn refusal to admit the problem. I am reminded of that character’s punchline: ‘Magoo, you have done it again!’ when reading the analysis of foreign correspondent Paul McGeough. Mr McGeough is of course the biographer of Hamas boss Khalid Mishal and one of the few people in the world who regards the Hamas jihadist as a moderate. McGeough’s/McGoo’s so-called authoritative analysis—not! as young people put it these days—was his scoop that the former then Iraqi leader Iyad Allawi personally shot prisoners in a Baghdad jail.  Still a world scoop of another sad fake anti-American propaganda.

The thing that ties those comments together with his analysis of what is happening—it is very similar to the Greens’ analysis of the situation in Iraq—is anti-Americanism. You cannot judge international events simply through such an ideological framework without looking at them afresh, as the Leader of the Opposition has, as the member for Wakefield has and as other members of the opposition have in supporting the government. We do not do that simply because we want to parrot the government. We do it from an ethical point of view, as the member for Wakefield has explained.

We have seen Mr McGeough and the Greens push the near-sighted argument that Australia should not be involved in conflict situations in Iraq, because Iraq “is more dangerous than ever”. In an article for Fairfax Mr McGeough described every possible danger that the Australian military will face in Iraq. However, he failed to balance his analysis with the threat that a permanent terrorist state in northern Iraq and Syria would pose not just to Iraqi minorities but to countries around the world, including Australia. It is very regrettable to see our country ranked in the Economist magazine as the country with the fourth-highest number of people, proportionally, in ISIS—we are punching above our weight, in a category we would not like to be in. We have to admit that there is a problem. That is the first part to a correct analysis of this situation.

Labor, along with the Australian government and a growing list of countries around the world, do not share the Greens Magoo-like blindness. As the opposition leader explained on Monday, Labor believes that the terrorist state that has been proclaimed in Iraq represents a threat to Australian national security unlike one we have ever faced. Of course, the situation does not demand that Australia would send any infantry formations as we did in the Iraq war. No-one is talking about boots on the ground. We are talking about humanitarian assistance to besieged minorities. We are perhaps talking about some kind of air assistance to prevent ISIS fanatics besieging other minorities and to give some assistance to Iraqi or Peshmerga Kurdish ground forces. Air force operations has not been asked for by the Iraqi government, but when a new Iraqi government is properly formed and does make a request for this it is something Australia could perhaps consider.

Developments in Syria and Iraq are something I have spoken about many times in this Parliament. The issue of Australians going to join terrorist groups in the Middle East is one I have taken up since the second half of last year. In my view, the Attorney-General has focused on our jihadi exodus too late. For the information of the Greens political party, the scores of Australians fighting in Iraq and Syria pose a threat to us because they might return home radicalised, with skills that would enable them to be involved in a mass casualty attack in Australia. Such returned hard men are capable of such actions has already been demonstrated. In May this year, Mehdi Nemmouche, a French citizen who is known to have fought with ISIS and who travelled through this part of the world, including Singapore and Malaysia, before he returned to Belgium where he murdered four people in the Jewish museum in Brussels. A battle hardened veteran of ISIS, he coldly took out a Kalashnikov and shot each of the victims in the head. More recently, Australia and the wider world were horrified to see the video of a British terrorist brutally murder American journalist James Foley.  Worse for its local shock was the proud tweet by an Australian, Khaled Sharrouf, with the hideous photo of him and his son holding up severed heads.

QSIL returnee, Mehdi Nemmouche, who cold bloodedly murdered four people at the Jewish museum in Brussels after fighting in Syria

A doyen of Australian political commentators, Paul Kelly, argued that that photo of the Australian boy being ripped from the suburbs of Australia by his jihadist father into the horrors of Syria and Iraq was an iconic moment in Australian political perceptions of this issue.

Khaled himself has tweeted:

… if I wanted to attack ‘yous’ (sic) I could have so easily. …I love to slaughter [Australians] … Allah loves it when u dogs r slaughtered.

Even the self-proclaimed leader of this group, the self-styled caliph, Baghdadi, despite the insouciance of Senator Milne, said in Iraq in 2006 when released from custody by the United States armed forces:

… we will meet again in New York.

If Senator Milne does not understand what that means, I will translate it for her. These people want to bring their views, their activities, their terrorism, to Australia, to Europe, to the United States. Australian members of ISIS will go to any lengths to commit murder. In July an Australian ISIS member, known as Abu Bakr al Australi, blew himself up outside a Shia mosque killing five people and injuring 40. There was another poor, 19-year-old, deranged young fellow from Brunswick in Melbourne who was the second suicide bomber of ISIS. These things affect us, Senator Milne and Senator Rhiannon. Preventing young Australians being involved in this certainly should form part of our motivation in seeing that ISIS is not successful and in our minor interventions there. Al Australi’s act is one example of the countless massacres, rapes and other acts of savagery that ISIS have affected on minorities in Iraq and Syria.

19 year old Adam Dahman from Brunswick, Melbourne has been confirmed to be responsible for a suicide bombing that killed at least five people and injured 90 in Baghdad on July 17, 2014

In an emergency debate on Monday, the UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Flavia Pansieri, said that her reports:

… reveal acts of inhumanity on an unimaginable scale.

The UN report was based on 480 interviews and documentary evidence. It said:

Children have been present at the executions, which take the form of beheading or shooting in the head at close range. … Bodies are placed on public display, often on crucifixes, for up to three days, serving as a warning to local residents.

An Australian national, Abu Asma Al-Australi, originally from Queensland, was responsible for a Suicide bombing killing 35 soldiers at the Deir Al Zour Airport in Northern Syria on July 17, 2014. Al Australi committed the attack on behalf of the proscribed terror group the al-Nusrah Front. The image was downloaded from a Jihadi website by Al-Jazeera

Various sources indicate that thousands of defenceless Yazidis, Christians, Kurds and Shia civilians have been massacred by ISIS in the last few months. All of us speak on this in the parliament. I am sure even the Greens were shocked to see on YouTube, just recently, 250 near naked Syrian soldiers marched off to be machine gunned by these brutes. Earlier we saw the same thing happening to 1,500 members of the Iraqi Army. Again, the sight of these naked soldiers lying in pools of blood after having being slaughtered was broadcast on YouTube. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, in recent weeks, ISIS has sold 300 Yazidi girls and women into sexual slavery after they were captured by its fighters in Syria.

The archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, centre, outside Lambeth Palace. ‘There has not been treatment of Christians in [the Middle East], in this manner, since the invasion of Genghis Khan,’ he said

The Egyptian religious authority, Dar al-Ifta, has recently called for ISIS to be referred to as al-Qaeda Separatists in Iraq and Syria. The Dar al-Ifta hopes to help demonstrate to non-Muslims that this group’s extremist ideology and depravity do not represent Islam. Dar al-Ifta’s intervention is one of the many examples of moderate and, frankly, not so moderate, Islamic groups condemning ISIS’s behaviour. For example, Indonesia’s Ulema Council has issued a fatwa against QSIS. Even Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti, Sheik Abdulaziz Al al-Sheik, has described QSIS as ‘enemy number one of Islam’. As well, the member for Wakefield pointed out that prominent British imams have issued a fatwa against them. I agree that we should not be honouring these murderers and rapists with their illustrious name of choice. So, from now on, I am going to refer to them as al-Qaeda Separatists in Iraq and Syria.

The Leader of the Opposition stated on Monday, that QSIS:

… is an enemy of humanity engaged in crimes against humanity.

He said further that QSIS’s:

… enemy is the very existence of peace; it is the presence of justice; it is freedom of worship, freedom of association, freedom of speech and freedom itself.

Iraq and Syria are far away, but we must not be nearsighted. Australians, like other people around the world of good will, may well see violence brought home to them. Only the blind would refuse to admit that these people, the QSIS, are a problem for the whole world. Mr McGeogh and the Greens may be happy to remain nearsighted and cite only the problems and be in denial, as is his namesake, Mr Magoo, they are a joke but QSIS is anything but a joke. Faced with evil it is impossible to relativise ISIS. We must act. I commend both the government and the opposition for identifying this as a separate and new problem and for acting in a measured and balanced and ethical way without going to the extent that we did in the previous war in Iraq.