Thursday, December 10, 2015

Australia Arrests Two in Terror Raid

Yesterday, a twenty-year-old man and a fifteen-year-old boy were both arrested and charged with conspiring to conduct an act in preparation for terrorism. Three other men aged twenty-one through twenty-two are already in custody and face similar charges from a raid that took place last year. 

These charges are related to documents that were found last year in a counter-terrorism investigation: Operation Appleby. New South Wales, a state in southern Australia had found out that Islamic Extremists were planning random killings in Australia, and that a senior Islamic Militant had called for demonstration killings, including public beheadings. The radicalized group, that these five men were a part of, was planning attacks on government buildings in Sydney. The two arrested today were also connected to a terror-linked shooting of a Sydney police worker last October.

One thing that really standouts out to me is that a 15 year old was part of these terror plots. The 15-year old who had been arrested today because he was a part of the conspiracy, so he helped prepare and plan the material being presented by his seniors in the radicalized group. It is unclear what his role would have been if an attack had really carried out. Today was the third time this boy's house had been raided. He was home alone in the first raid, where documents, laptops and his Playstation were seized. In the second raid, the boy was arrested and he was subsequently charged with possessing an unauthorised firearm. Aware of some radicalization the government kept in constant contact with the school and even tried to offer free gym memberships as a way to spy on the kid. The police have been in constant contact with the boy's school to prevent radicalization before it gets to the point where people decide to act it out in violence.

Recently it seems like there has been a lot more kids being radicalized. There has been a case two months ago where another fifteen-year old boy, Fahrad Jahar, shot and killed a police officer in the front of a police station. There was a case where a 14 year old boy from Blackburn, England was arrested in early April for communicating a plot to men in Australia that would include using knifes and swords to slash police officers. Last year two girls, a seventeen and a fifteen year old , both packed their bags and headed out to Syria. One of the girls was beaten to death while trying to escape and the other died in fighting. The number of arrests of a under-18 terror offenses almost doubled from 2013-2014 to 2014-2015 in England from 8 to 15.

So what is so appealing about risky, violent extremist groups to teens? This is not a concept that we have not seen before. Gangs, cults, and Hitler's youth movement are only a few examples's of times kids have actively participated in extremist groups.

During the teen years kids try to find their sense of identity; they look for religon, poltics. occupation, and a cultural identity. Kids are often in a warm and nurturing enviroment that allows them to safetly find their identity. However in some cases, joining a certain group can give a sense of belonging and meaning at a time they need it the most. Kids adopt these ideals no matter how ridculous. 

By March of this year, ISIS had recruited about 280 more children than men, and that is just one extremist group. Maybe one way of stopping extremist groups is by giving our children a nuturing and safe enviroment to explore to ensure that they do not feel connected to the wrong people. 

1. Do you feel like countries are doing enough to protect their children from extremist groups?
2. What do you think nations can do to help defeat extremist groups?



Anonymous said...

Responding to your second question, I think that the most effective way to defeat these terrorist groups and prevent children from being radicalized is through education. Many people who are recruited to ISIS and other extremist groups are persuaded with propaganda and deluded about the nature of the situation they are participating in. If there is another voice keeping them informed of the truth and helping keep them safe and healthy, there may be less of a radical pull.

Of course, groups like ISIS also take advantage of people's situations and their psychology, appealing to their desire to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Like you said, "joining a certain group can give a sense of belonging and meaning at a time they need it the most." Young people need some sort of outlet, and we need to find other outlets for them where they can feel accepted and be themselves besides violence and terrorism.


Annika Olives said...

I don't know if there are things that countries can actually do to prevent young people from joining or communicating with extremist groups. These days, groups like ISIS use social media to promote their message extensively and across the globe, and they specifically reach out to kids that are marginalized or ostracized already.

There's a good piece by the New York Times about a lonely Christian Sunday school teacher who was drawn to ISIS because she formed a connection with a man named Faisal. It's quite long but I think it's really worth a read:

So, like Alton said, education is the best option. If kids know that there are places for them to go and if they know how dangerous groups can be, then they'll be less inclined to turn to places like ISIS when they're feeling isolated.

Anonymous said...

In regards to your second question, I would argue that although education may be a great place to start, culture is a huge factor into radicalization. As I have said before in my previous comments, the previous Abbott government of Australia has been extremely hostile not only towards Muslims abroad but also at home. The violent rhetoric unfortunately has not stopped and the current Turnbull government demonizes Muslims. I would like to reply to Alton and say that much of terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS have lots very well educated people. So what I would argue is that the Australian government needs to start changing their tone towards their own people when it comes to prevent people from being intrigued by ISIS. Isolating rhetoric will make people feel disenfranchised thus leading to terrorism from displaced youth.

Anonymous said...

I am very unsure on what countries around the world can do when confronted with how to deal with extremist groups reaching to their youth. As Steven said they can't just outright and ban/censor the propaganda created by these groups, otherwise that could lead to a sense of discontent and anger towards the governments that censored it. Thus, eventually leading to even more youth being led to join a group. People could also try to better inform these kids at a younger age to not join such groups, however like the article stated that still may prove to be ineffective as well. The reason being that kids are very impressionable at a certain age, and they could still join an extremist group if they are introduced to their propaganda. The only real method that governments around the world could do is to crack down even more on terrorist organizations, and make sure their plots are ended before they even begin.