Early May 2003 – the French Consulate, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
Non! Willie Brigitte was becoming agitated. We will not accept it monsieur! The consular officials examine the photograph: thick bushy beard and hair, dark sunglasses and a traditional Muslim cap. And there was Brigitte standing there! Trimmed beard, trimmed hair no sunglasses and no cap. Why did he want a new passport? To erase records of his travels?
Non. He would not get a full passport. A three month temporary passport. You must return to France before it expires. And now we must lunch mes amis.
Brigitte – 18 May 2003, Sydney, Australia
Brigitte – June 2003
Brigitte – June 2003
Brigitte – August 2003
The Café owner – July 2000
He’s a strange one Jamaal, ‘the whale’, always wearing black oversize French style beret one of my relatives Muslim brother Mohammed, recommended him he said he was new to Sydney and could have worked at my other café Island Dreams in Lakemba but Instead chose the Island Dreams Fusion Café at Corner of Haymarket St. in the city had to remind him when to pray! He was handsome but he kept giving the wrong change to the customers and I remember five times he gave the wrong change ’the worst thing I could say is sometimes he was not there, he had very bad concentration. I was always telling him to relax and he just laughed.’ he told me he converted to Islam in Yemen and loved Australia and the people and wanted to stay here.
Then he appears with his shy bride she wore a hijab and he even went to see her dad to ask for her [hand in marriage].
The next time she saw him he was in Villawood Detention centre.
Mid June 2003 – The Gymnasium owner and manager
Willie the cowboy’ they called him. The man in black. Tony Mundine, one of Australia’s most famous boxers and convert to Islam, owned the Vine Street Redfern gym. Antony Mundine the WBA Middle Weight champion trained there. So did Willie Brigitte. Brigitte always dressed in black clothes and carried a black bag. And wore an oversize French-style beret or beanie over his head as he was training. A terrorist? Well, he didn’t have a heavy beard. A few wisps. A boxer. He was well built. About 1.85 cm. No beard though. And glasses.
…he just turned up one day. He was a friendly guy. He never gave me any trouble. I wouldn’t have thought he was a terrorist. He was just a regular person. He was a very fit boy. He could handle himself alright…When he came to the gym he was still single, he never said he planned to marry, but later he said he had moved to Lakemba and was sharing a place with friends.
… A chocolate colored boy with dreadlocks. I didn’t ask too many questions, where he came from. He spoke with a French accent and he was always looking around the place. One thing I noticed about him was that he was a smooth operator. You know how you can just tell when you meet someone who knows more that they let on. The person who spent most time with him was a former world kick boxing champion and professional middleweight boxer. …
At first he would come in most days but then he dropped off. Then he was gone and the next thing I know the police are talking to me. I have no idea why he trained at our gym. Maybe because there were some other Muslim boys around. Maybe he knew that Anthony was a Muslim. He always came in alone. I didn’t think he had a wife or girlfriend.’
Brigitte told him he was a social worker and a professional basketball player in France and also told him quietly that he worked for Amnesty International but he didn’t want anyone to know. He said: ’a lot of people don’t like people who work for Amnesty’. He recalled Brigitte gave the impression of being a devoted Muslim. He gave him pamphlets about Islam but never attempted to proselytize.
And where did he live?
I got talking to him and he told me he would travel in by train every day from Lakemba… He seemed like quite a nice bloke so I was just shocked when the police came in’.
Two weeks after the WBA title fight on 3 September he revisited the gym and claimed he was ‘busy with things and that when he easy settled he would be back to get on with the kids project’- he was interested in the welfare of the Redfern children. Or so he said.
Did Brigitte attend the Redfern gym because he knew the owner was a well known Islamic convert and sporting identity? Or to meet a future wife? Or spot agents and contacts? Or to get fit for operational reasons as members of the Atta cell did in Florida prior to the 9 11 attacks?
The gymnasium manager recalls driving Brigitte home to Lakemba at 10 pm to a street near the Lakemba mosque where he disappeared into the rear of a block of units. Why?
Brigitte – September 2003
The gym manager at Mundines Gym introduced us as we both spoke Creole and he believed we would have something in common.
Willie told me had been a counselor in France. And he told me he was taking a year long break from his counseling job and that he had gone to Africa to study the Koran and was fluent in Arabic. He spoke as much about Islam as about his visitor status in Australia.
We ended up going to Anthony Mundine’s prize fight on September 3. We swapped phone numbers. He told me he was looking for a wife to help him stay in Australia. We talked about Muslim people-I knew he was Muslim.
Terrorists are strangely prone to boasting. On 3 September Brigitte and date attended Anthony Mundines WBA super-middle title fight. Watching the bout with his date he became ‘opinionated’ about the 9 11 terrorist attacks:
He had a point of view on September 11 like everyone else. The way he was talking was like these people [the Americans] deserved it…’ He was definitely adamant that people deserved it.
‘Don’t try to change my mind, they deserved it’, he said. I then had some feeling about him. I didn’t trust him.
She began thinking about him critically after the 9 11 conversations:
He had ‘sneaky eyes’. He didn’t have any real personality. It’s more like somebody with nothing inside. When we talked on the phone he was always very cold. No expression, laughing. He never had any emotion.
“Cold’, ‘expressionless’; no emotion’: The psychological profile of an Islamic terrorist:
I knew in some way he had different ideas. I think there’s a large difference between people who are born Muslim and who grow Muslim…I never saw him with people outside the gym. He was different with people. He was not looking very friendly and he had more distance with people.
Brigitte quizzed her. Would marriage be a good way to stay in Australia?
Straight away I told him that if you do that in Australia, people will know… You must have a lot of things to prove-why you’re here and why you are really [marrying] that girl. Don’t do this only to get the papers because people will know what happened.
Brigitte’s date was ‘shocked’ to hear he married a Sydney woman shortly after their two dates:
I was surprised about that because he never told me he was married. The way we were talking about getting married to stay in the country. When I heard he was a suspect, I was like ‘no’ it couldn’t be him’
And her reaction to learning of his deportation?
I couldn’t believe it. I tried to call Willy to be sure it wasn’t him, but there was no answer…I was used to thinking this guy was extremist…but there’s a big line between thinking that way and being a terrorist.
Is it? He denied he had visited Indonesia but she thought he was lying.
‘I cannot prove he went there but the way he was talking, he knew little bits about it.’
After their date at the World Boxing championship on 3 September she never met him again. Still the mobile phone was useful and later provided useful data-for ASIO. Over twelve of Brigitte’s contacts.
Ten days later Willie Brigitte married MB/KB! She was studying Indonesian and had served with The Australian Army in East Timor. And a Muslim convert! All coincidental, of course. A curious leitmotif in the Brigitte terrorist narrative: Indonesia.
Sheikh ‘Abdul-Salaam Zoud, Iman of Masjid Ahuls Sunnah Sydney – 13 September 2003
I am indeed blessed. The marriage ceremony for MB and Brigitte was held at my home in South West Sydney. ‘By example of the Prophet’ a small private ceremony. Under Islamic law.
On the same day they signed an Australia civil marriage certificate. And the girl. So quiet. Her Islamic name is Khadiya- the first and favorite wife of the Prophet (pbuh) and one of the four perfect women in the world.
Khadija was married to Willie Brigitte on 3 September 2003. Forty witnesses reportedly attended.
Now there’s a target list for ASIO!
The bride knew one person –Brigitte. She had only five face to face meetings with him. And it was an arranged marriage as the best are. Enough of these foolish questions. I am traveling to Saudi Arabia. I will not be interviewed by kaffir.
Who ’introduced’ Brigitte to his future wife? Why didn’t ASIO observe a ‘marriage’ between a former serving member of the Australian Defense Forces to a prospective Islamic terrorist at the home of one of Australia’s most radical Islamic fundamentalists, an and an acknowledged jihadist?
Jamaam and Imaarah (The Muslim Group and Leadership) wrote by Sheikh Zoud defined his relation to jihad ‘work’:
Some of these organizations work openly, while others work in secret. Some operate formally and officially and others operate informally and unofficially…
Why wasn’t Sheikh Zoud under any kind of surveillance? He is now in Saudi Arabia. Now he has no trouble traveling overseas! Or being ’interviewed’.
Brigitte – The Marriage, September 8
Brigitte – September 2003
The Building Manager
Brigitte and his wife left suddenly. Brigitte said his wife wanted to live somewhere else…’I don’t understand why. It’s very nice here’. They lived quietly. Simply… Media reports emphasized its plainness. Plastic flowers. A burnt out heater inside. The neighbors remember they regularly had visitors. At night.
Brigitte: Arrested, 9 October 2003
MB/KB, the Wife – 5 November 2003.
Brigitte’s wife sounded like an aggrieved academic after her husband’s arrest:
Did ASIO use my husband’s case as an excuse to gain access to prayer hall regulars, stir trouble and create divisions within the Muslim community?
Melanie was flattering. If only ASIO management had the operational imagination!
She was not hurt by reports Brigitte had married her to stay in Australia.
I know that’s not true. I entered the marriage ‘by example of the Prophet’. I don’t really want to speak to anyone about this – it’s my business and nobody else’s business.
And her husbands activities?
Obviously I have nothing to do with that. Ask ASIO.
But, ASIO had been professional with her?
They hadn’t used heavy handed tactics.
Now, that’s professional!
No more interviews. I don’t want to get myself in more strife.’
But she gave more interviews….
Her email to the Sydney Morning Herald concluded ’…by the way,. Wahabi is not a term used by us. We refer ourselves only as Muslims. Regards. KB. KB. Khadjya Brown.
Perhaps. But most scholars agree, Salafist is the word Wahabis use to describe themselves.
KB, the wife – 7 November 2003
On the day of my exams. In the middle of my exam! They deported Virgil! I now learn he had been married twice before. They believe I had no knowledge of my husband’s true character and they have ‘cleared me’. I am now free to return to my linguistics degree and study Bahasa. And yes according to the Central records Army Office I am still listed as a member of the Australian Defence Forces. I put in my discharge in September last year. If they haven’t processed it then that’s their problem.
After his arrest…. we discussed our options during visits to the Villawood detention Centre. We had decided to accept repatriation to a French territory preferably Guadeloupe. His Mother lives there. …He seriously thought if we left we’d be allowed back in.
We had a wild goose chase to obtain the appropriate visas and airline ticket. I said to him: ‘Its best to leave and I’ll catch up with you in a couple of weeks’. It was, ‘Get this visa. No, no you’ll have to get this other visa’. Then he decided not to go to France, but then to his home island.
Then the government deported him. They just wasted my time!
I arrived at the detention center for a pre-booked visit. and was told. “Sorry, he was deported yesterday’.
KB, the wife – 20 November 2003
She had not attempted to contact her husband as only had a mailing address for him and did not trust any material she sent would reach him. She was relying on updates from Brigitte’s mother. But she lives in the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe! Media inquiries into her past? ‘They’re just trying to bait me and make me talk to them but I am not going to’.
But the telephone interviews with the Sydney morning Herald, the email?
Cool calm and very collected. Trained in the military. She wanted to speak to her husband but had no plans to visit Paris.
That’s the last place I’d go.
If she visited Paris, she would be placed in prison and interrogated.
Brigitte did not keep a low profile in Australia.
Brigitte lived in Belmore and Lakemba in Sydney’s populous Muslim belt – the axis of evil in Australia and Australian Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism for over a decade.
Global jihadists, including AQ terrorists, have been in phone contact with identified Australian sympathers in New South Wales and Lakemba since the first WTC bombing in 1993.
Brigitte visited the most surveilled prayer room in Australia Civic Arcade, -132 Haldon St Lakemba. The prayer room is the Sydney base for Australia’s most extreme Islamic fundamentalist organization Ahl Al Sunnah Wal Jamaah, a prime ASIO surveillance target.
Members of the Islamic Youth Islamic Youth Organization a prime ASIO surveillance target visit the prayer room. Daily. Visitors to the prayer hall include
Mamdouh Habib, one of the two Australians held at Guantanamo Bay
Bilal Kazal, under investigation for over a decade and Murat Ofkeli (Abu Zer) arrested in the Netherlands
Murat Okfeli a/k/a Abu Zer Okfeli, arrested in the Netherlands and accused of recruiting young Muslims for jihad against the US and its allies
Each Friday Brigitte was obliged to attend Sal –a –Jumu’ah at the Haldon Street Prayer room or the mosques near his flat. Shortly before his arrest on 9 October he attended the prayer room.
Lakemba is the suburb in which anonymous assassins fired 13 machine gun shots from a passing car. into the police station at 1.15 am 1 November 1998. Five police narrowly missed death
Ali Abdulrazak had just finished praying when he was shot ten times in the head and chest by masked men who drove alongside his parked care outside the Lakemba mosque in the mid –afternoon of August 2003 . His nephew, Ziad Abdulrazak (24) and Mervart Hamka (22) asleep in her bed were shot dead in a drive by shooting at Greeenacre, on 14 October. Over 100 shots were fired into the house.
In Lakemba and the area, there have been over 118 recent kneecappings, murders, shootings, robberies, and other assaults-two involving grenades.
During a house search, police investigating a double murder discovered 100 spent .45 and 22 caliber bullets and two unfired semi-automatic pistols. A live grenade was found inside the house. Semi automatic pistols and a military assault rifle had been used to murder a 34 year old man at Lakemba on 29 September 2001.
In Mid August 2002 10 Muslims jumped from a car and bashed a three man camera crew on assignment from the multicultural broadcasting service SBS outside the Lakemba mosque.
Southwestern Sydney including Lakemba was recently described by the NSW Police Commissioner as
‘A form of urban terrorism’, the worst he had seen for forty years: ’they are urban terrorists…These people are criminals and murderers. They are not frightened of the police.’
Familiar themes to students of Islamic terrorism.
Brigitte felt at home in such an environment.
Some of the Lakemba prayer room devotees and their relatives have been charged with various offences, including an individual named by the CIA as ‘Bin Laden’s man on the ground in Australia’ who on 3 November 2001 allegedly beat Mamdouh Habib around the back, head and legs in Lakemba’s main street. After Habib was detained in Guantanamo Bay the charges were dropped.
In 2002 Murat Okfeli was attacked by members of the ‘local Muslim community’. His money and passport were reportedly stolen. Communal and inter-Islamic violence has plagued Sydney’s South West for over a decade.
The Islamic Charity Projects Association based in Bankstown and the Lakemba based Islamic Youth movement erupted into violence in the 1990s. Some reports claimed the conflict centered on access to a community radio station and eventually the dispute became so complex, involving shootings, death threats and bashings, that few understood, or even remembered, its origins.
ASIO has raided homes of many terrorist suspects in Lakemba and nearby suburbs for nearly a decade and should have excellent knowledge of Lakemba terrorist topography.
Yet Brigitte managed to evade ASIO surveillance.
One of Australia most respected investigative journalists, described the Haldon Street Lakemba address which Brigitte frequented:
‘Above this store is the headquarters of the Islamic Youth Movement in Lakemba, Sydney. ASIO has this place under heavy surveillance. I’m told by an insider that this street is ‘wired like a Christmas tree’. It’s an open secret here that even the mobile phones are bugged; the landlines are bugged, there are listening devices in the buildings and even listening devices in the cars. There are more ASIO officers and their agents around here than any other strip in Australia’. [Emphasis added].
So, how did Brigitte avoid detection by ASIO if he associated with these individuals?
How could Brigitte avoid coming to the attention of ASIO surveillance given his presence in certain target areas, including Lakemba and residential and other target buildings?
Brigitte’s associates were suspected terrorists, some of whom had been trained overseas. Six houses in the Lakemba area were raided by the AFP/ASIO team after Brigitte’s departure from Australia. All were known to ASIO. For example. Bilal Kazal A publicly identified ASIO target since 2000, whose house has been raided several times and his passport seized. Kazal lives in a dark brown brick house in Lakemba. He often washes his old blue Ford parked in the driveway.
Just around the corner from the prayer room Brigitte attended!
ASIO also raided the Blue Mountains (NSW) home of the member of the Islamic Information Centre who had recommended Brigitte for employment in the hilall restaurant. The Blue Mountains features prominently in the JI terrorist training narrative in Australia. Again Indonesia is the common linking theme.
Two of Brigitte’s contacts or associates had their passports confiscated by the Australian Government for unexplained contacts with Brigitte. One of them met Brigitte at the Haldon Street prayer room. Over twelve official interviews were conducted.
The Redfern gymnasium manager recalls driving Brigitte home to Lakemba at 10 pm to a street near the Lakemba mosque where he disappeared into the rear of a block of units.
But Brigitte liked night visits.
On a table in Brigitte’s shabby sparsely furnished two-bedroom flat replete with plastic flowers, in Wiley Park, South Western Sydney was Michael J Taylor’s ‘Everyone’s Book of Military Aircraft’ and a copy of ‘Passenger Aircraft and Airlines’. Why?
Did police find a fax in Brigitte’s flat which listed the ingredients to make undetectable TATP [Triacetone Triperoxide], a highly volatile and unstable chemical favored by- suicide bombers? E.g. Richard Colvin Reid, a/k/a Abdul-Raheem. A/k/a Abdul Raheem, Abu Ibrahim the ‘Shoe bomber’ attempted to blow up a transatlantic flight AA Paris-Miami and 197 passengers. He had inserted between 0.25 and 0.28 of TATP and Pentrie charges in the hollowed our heels of his shoes.
Did Brigitte ‘know’ Reid?
Did police also discover a dossier of photos of a nuclear reactor in his flat?
Was Brigitte’s flat regularly used for night time meetings?
Why were the windows of the flat covered with blankets and there was no sign that the flat was used for personal accommodation? Was it a safe house? Or terrorist base?
Was Brigitte carrying a guide to survival in the aftermath of a chemical attack when he was arrested? Did he buy children’s toys? CASIO watches? Toy cars?
Was Brigitte associated with Jamma-ul-Faqra or LET?
Who introduced Brigitte to MB/KB? Who arranged the marriage? Why was Sheikh Zoud, a known Islamic fundamentalist and jihadist, the Sydney representative of Sheikh Omran and the Islamic fundamentalist Ahl al-Sunna Wal Jamaah Association, chosen to marry Brigitte and KB?
Why was Willie Brigitte sent to Australia? Was he recruiting, talent spotting, seeding a spectacular strategic and long term terrorist attack, planning a spectacular terrorist attack against the Lucas heights nuclear reactor, a skyjacking, and chemical biological attacks? A suicide boat attack on US civil or naval ships or Australian defense facilities?
The Garden island Naval Base, the Holdsworthy Army Barracks? Or?
These people roam about freely
Lebanese Islamic spokesman Keysar Trad is a singularly well placed source in the Sydney Islamic fundamentalist community. He has translated for the Ash-Shabab al-Islami , the Islamic Youth Movements publication Nida’al Islam ( Call of Islam), is Islamic community spokesman, critic of NSW police and ethnic profiling, Vice-President of the Lebanese Muslim Association, peace activist and is a confidante/adviser/translator for Sheik Hilaly of the Lakemba Mosque and is known as the ‘Muslim with the million quotes’. Some are truer than others.
The quotation below is true. Referring to Bilal Khazal, and other Australian Islamic fundamentalists linked to Al Qaeda he stated to Sydney media on 10 June 2003:
‘..If any people named in the ABC program, such as Mr. Khazal, were a security threat, they would be in custody. All the concerns that they raised if they were genuine concerns, why were these people not arrested? Why weren’t they charged with anything? These people roam about freely.’
In late September 2003, the phones started humming. In Paris, not Canberra or Sydney. The French intelligence service intercepted two phone calls. Brigitte related. This rang alarm bells in Paris.
On 7 October ASIO knew it had a problem- or a disaster. Brigitte was in Australia for terrorist-related purposes. The New South Wales Police and Federal Police set the pace. Brigitte was placed under surveillance.
Subsequently, a spokesman for the Federal Attorney-General claimed that he could not be located: ‘…Given that he was on a tourist visa and so didn’t have to list his whereabouts it takes some time to find a person among twenty million’.
But according to evidence before the Australian Senate 3 November 2003, the Australian Federal Police Commissioner, ASIO alerted the AFP on 8 October 2003. Brigitte was located and arrested on 9 October 2003. The New South Wales and Federal Police (Combined Terrorist Task force) located Brigitte in 24 hours!
Dennis Richardson, Director–General of ASIO, told the Australian Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee Monday 3 November:
‘We do know that but for the French advice in Late September and early October it is very unlikely that we would have been aware by now of Brigitte’s presence in Australia. Indeed, but for the French advice he [Brigitte] would probably still be here…
Translated from Richardson’s Canberra-speak, the message is clear:’ he [Brigitte] would ‘still be here’
Not very unlikely. Not probably; certainly. The French services located Willie Brigitte. through telephone intercepts of conversations between his associates which referred to him by his Muslim name and referred to his relocation in Australia and phone calls (s) from Brigitte to Paris France. Paris informed ACO Canberra. That is how the Australian government and Australians learnt of Willie Brigitte’s dark network in Australia.