Sydney’s Sheikh Feiz and his students

Last week Mr. Howard, the Australian Prime Minister, told parliament that new intelligence reports had recently surfaced, showing that al-Qaeda had actively been seeking targets in Australia in 2000 and 2001 long before the 11 September attacks on the United States.

The story so far. Sheikh Mohammad Omran stares confidently at the camera. He looks so…scholarly! So…sensitive! A twinkle in one eye. Glasses. White cap. A pen placed strategically in his top pocket. His four fingers lightly touch the divided pages of the Book of God, the Holy Koran. The Holy book as a media artifact for impressions management? How….gesselschaft! A joker? Or a jester? Or a trickster? His smile would send a student of semiotics into a spin – what is he thinking?

Sheik Omran was featured in a sensational story in The Weekend Australian, October 18-19 2003 – if true! He revealed he had prevented a terrorist attack against Australia through his ‘friends’ the Ayub Terrorist twins and West Australian, Jack Roche. Although there was a slight problem with collateral…

The Sheikh’s media blitz included his providing glowing character references and security clearances for his many friends, students and teachers identified by Australian and overseas intelligence organizations as regional global terrorists- all denied by the Sheikh, emir of the Salafi Ahl Sunnah wal Jamaal Association of Melbourne; the fundamentalist’s fundamentalist.

The article concludes, ‘Is the Sheik joking? Only he knows’.

BBC News 5 June 2003

The story so far. Sheikh Mohammad Omran stares confidently at the camera. He looks so…scholarly! So…sensitive! A twinkle in one eye. Glasses. White cap. A pen placed strategically in his top pocket. His four fingers lightly touch the divided pages of the Book of God, the Holy Koran. The Holy book as a media artifact for impressions management? How….gesselschaft! A joker? Or a jester? Or a trickster? His smile would send a student of semiotics into a spin – what is he thinking?

Sheik Omran was featured in a sensational story in The Weekend Australian, October 18-19 2003 – if true! He revealed he had prevented a terrorist attack against Australia through his ‘friends’ the Ayub Terrorist twins and West Australian, Jack Roche. Although there was a slight problem with collateral…

The Sheikh’s media blitz included his providing glowing character references and security clearances for his many friends, students and teachers identified by Australian and overseas intelligence organizations as regional global terrorists- all denied by the Sheikh, emir of the Salafi Ahl Sunnah wal Jamaal Association of Melbourne; the fundamentalist’s fundamentalist.

The article concludes, ‘Is the Sheik joking? Only he knows’.

Enter Sheikh Feiz

Two months later, almost to the day, another Sheikh comes out! Also featured in the Weekend Australian, December 20-21 2003, entitled: ‘Sheik on it: ASIO’s new friend in the field? …Which field? And panoramic photos too and the same amount of page space.

Sheikh Feiz Mohammad – Sheikh Omran’s student! The 33 year old ‘spiritual leader teacher and guide ’of Islamic and Lebanese youth in Sydney’s South West and head of the Global Islamic Youth Centre.

The color photograph features Sheikh Feiz; arms folded gazing into the mystic in his lush green field at his Greendale (NSW) property against a blue sky background as white clouds roll by dreamily. Bucolic bliss! Other worldly really. He looks so…together! So…peaceful. Natural. But as Oscar Wilde observed, being natural is simply a pose.

Like his mentor’ Sheikh Omran, Sheik Feiz Mohamed also had a revelation for readers of The Weekend Australian. He revealed he told ASIO officers that he had ‘loaned’ his video camera to his student West Australian JI ‘member’ Jack Roche who according to ASIO, allegedly used it for video surveillance of Israeli targets in Canberra and Sydney.

Like his mentor, Sheik Omran, Sheik Feiz also has students and friends who are terrorist hard hitters. He too is opposed to terrorism. Sheik Omran claims he is opposed to all forms of ‘local terrorism’. How cute!

As for jihad! Such a polysemous concept.

The article concludes with reference to Sheikh Feiz’s perplexing smile.

But two of Sheik Feiz students’ Jack Roche and Zak Mallah are the first people charged with terrorist offences in Australia

Jack Roche, of Perth, Western Australia, British-born Muslim convert was charged on 19th November 2002 under the Federal Crimes Act (1976) with ‘conspiring with diverse others’ in Malaysia, Pakistan and Afghanistan between February 15 and May 26 in 2000 to damage the Israeli embassy in Canberra and consulate in Sydney by fire or explosives, and as a consequence, to harm diplomatic staff.

It is unlikely the alleged co-conspirators, senior AQ identities, Abu Saifs, Hafs and Mukhtar will attend the trial as they tend to be preoccupied. Mukhtar; Trans: commander/leader refers to recently captured master terrorist, Kalid Sheikh Mohamed, 9/11 master mind, Osama bin Laden confidante and assessed as the worlds most dangerous terrorist. He is now in US custody helping with inquiries.

Zak Mallah of Sydney, New South Wales, the first person to be charged under Australia’s new terrorist laws, was charged 3 December 2003 under Section 106.1 of the Crimes Act with making preparations for or planning for a terrorist act.

Why now? Why have the two sheiks engaged in a media strategy? This has the unintended consequence of raising more questions concerning…Is it a planned distraction? A diversion exercise? From?

Were the two Sheikhs preparing us for…or…?

Were the Weekend Australian articles examples of Salaafi spin? A jihadist joke? To depict Muslim fundamentalists with terrorist contacts as genuine religious figures? Who do not threaten Australia’s national security? Are ‘forces for good?

And most importantly, does their claim to a ‘special relationship’ with ASIO prove their goodwill towards ASIO and Australia?

Is their media campaign a form of ‘outwitting’ – an operational game – a subtle counter intelligence game – to identify ASIO’s CT priorities, methods and targets?

Is their media gambit an attempt to draw heat from any future court appearances involving themselves and their former students?

Sheik Feiz- The Islamic ‘Rocky ‘

The 33 year old ‘spiritual leader and guide of ‘troubled’ [read crime, shootings, gang rapes and narcotics] Muslim and Lebanese youth in Sydney was born in Sydney New South Wales of Lebanese parents in 1970. Sheik Feiz was a restless youth as he recalls:

‘As a teenager I got a bit nasty, a lot of drugs, and a lot of nasty stuff.’

Identity, shame and honor ensured his adolescence was a tempest and like many Lebanese youths he walked on the wild side: At 17, Feiz was into socially sanctioned violence. As NSW amateur welterweight champion he was engagingly titled: ‘Frank the Killer’. Two years later he was a body building champion and now Frank the Beast’. Killer and beast!

After reaching such heights where can one descend? But his life was empty – he was drifting from scene to scene. And cascading. The nights became longer than the days.

At 19 Feiz ‘feared death or imprisonment. That was the next stage’. Although his parents were Muslims, his religious and personal identity began a crazy dance. Modernity is choice. Studying Christianity, Buddhism and even Judaism –where he believed he was not welcome– he finally came home – to Islam, where: ‘I found the truth.’

The truth. Islam offers restless youth the oldest religious promise: consolation. Like the eyeless characters in TS Eliot’s The Wasteland’What shall I do tomorrow / what shall we ever do?

Many young Islamic fundamentalists are homeless minds in a disenchanted secular world in which Islam has been displaced, e.g. Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, whose relatives described him as a ‘lonely lad with an empty life who found solace with his Muslim brothers’.

Few restless Islamist youth self recruit. There is typically a touch, and tap on the shoulder, a nod or similar semiotics, from a ‘senior adviser’, wise man, an elderly watchful talent spotter and Iman and where better and more secure than in a mosque or a prayer room; a zone of peace in the zone of war surrounded by imagined conspiratorial and destructive enemies?

Islam and the Middle East produce many spiritual and real orphans including Osama bin Laden. The Prophet was orphaned twice. And then at a critical developmental stage – the recruiters are skilled psychologists! A host of pseudo father figures appear proffering a gift! – Revenge! Revenge against a host of fantasized and imagined grievances – the repressed delight of many adolescents.

Revenge is condensed into blame at mosques and prayer rooms by Islamic hate ‘teachers’ and Emirs; and further condensed into manipulable political hate objects and enemies by Jihadist conspiratorial teachings and then subtly transformed into terrorist targets: the Jews, Israel, the West.

Enter Sheik Feiz mentor: Sheikh Omran

Islam is like a drug. A true believer is rarely satisfied. Behavioral reinforcement: five times a day the believer submits. Beautiful vision is the aim. Clarity. The Sheikh recalled: ‘I don’t believe in unclear concepts. Everything divine must be clear’.

Aged 19. In 1989, Feiz life was transformed. He was now a Muslim. He now had a mentor. His mentor? Sheikh Omran-the Islamic fundamentalist who is critical of other fundamentalists for not being fundamentalist!

Sheikh Omran claims or boasts ‘…Feiz calls me his sheik…. I sent him to Medina University in Saudi Arabia. From that time he has been my student and we have been very close since then’.

Islamic education at the Islamic University of Medina in Saudi Arabia. Where Feiz ‘studied’ from 1990 -1997 and the university where the real ‘work’ is conducted off campus. Work.

The Sheikh returned to Australia with street cred and set up a prayer centre in Lakemba and in July 2000 set up the Global Islamic Youth Centre in Liverpool, Sydney, New South Wales, in ‘accordance with the teachings of Quran and Sunnah’ and prayer rooms offering ‘Arabic classes and Hajj packages, fiqh classes, fajr, madrassa and boxing and an activity curiously entitled’ Sports mania. And a cool website!

The Centre and prayer rooms are equipped with gymnasiums. Mosques and gymnasiums. A familiar combination in Florida and Sydney and Paris.

Mid 2000. Enter Sheik Feiz’s student one: Jack Roche

British born former soldier, convert to Islam Jack Roche, and member of Jemaah Islamah (JI) was also a homeless mind: ‘I was looking for something to motivate my life; I couldn’t find that in English or Australian culture…it was just missing. I needed some focus in my life and thankfully Islam gave me that…’

Roche converted to Islam in 1989 and was unfairly presented in media reports as ‘simple minded’ whereas he was fluent in Indonesian, managed to live and study clandestinely in Islamic circles in Australia and South East Asia.

He became immersed in Indonesian based Islamic fundamentalism, which had started to sink roots in Australia in 1996 in the form of JI in Perth, Melbourne and Sydney as Mantiqi [District] 4.

In 1995-97 Roche met Bashir during one of his eleven visits to Australia: ‘I liked what he was saying, It was very clear, it all made sense’.

He was, in his words, ‘seconded’ probably by the Ayub terrorist twins in late 1999, to visit Bantali Malaysia where he went straight to the top and met a ‘shadowy Islamic scholar’ Riduan Isamuddin, known popularly as ‘Hambali’ the JI operative who was also a member of Al Qaeda and had as many aliases as he had safe houses.

Hambali was living next door to malice- Roche’s favorite religious leader-who he had previously met in Australia- Abu Bakir Bashir! And Hambali had attended the al Mukmin Koran Studies Boarding Islamic School, for 12-18 year olds and co-founded by Bashir. A sign on one of the buildings reads, in Arabic and English:

Jihad is our way. Death in the way of Allah is our highest inspiration’ Hambali too was a student of Bashir!

At the time Roche met him, Hambali was in the Al Qaeda elite dedicated to jihad-i.e. terrorism. After 1999, Australia’s role in East Timor, Afghanistan and Iraq enraged him. He devoted many years of life – conspiring to kill Australians. .

Hambali relaxed by weaving conspiracy webs: he was reportedly a master of disguise dressed like a Westerner and underwent plastic surgery to alter his appearance.

From 5-8 January 2000, Hambali JI, hosted/organized the pre 9 11 clandestine terrorist summit, which included his long time co-conspirator and friend Khalid Sheik Mohamed, the 9 11 terrorist mastermind, Ramsi Bin Al Shibh and 9 11 hijackers Khalid al-Mindahar and Nawaf al-Hazmi, who went on to hijack and smash AA FN 77 into the Pentagon on 11th September 2001. 

The terrorists disguised as businessmen and tourists met in a condominium, Hazel Evergreen in Kajudung, Kuala Lumpur, owned by JI, member/supporter/ Yazid Sufaat. Of course Sufaat had no idea his condominium was being used for terrorists’ clandestine meeting. He ‘thought’ it was used for charitable purposes although the CIA claimed he was ‘directed by a terrorist to make his apartment available’. 

Roche was moving amongst heavy hitters. The heaviest. Hambali reportedly paid Roche’s fare and gave him a note of introduction to meet the other Sheikh- Osama bin Laden.

In November 2002, Jack Roche recalled ‘Hambali’s idea’;

Hambali’s idea was to set up a cell in Australia that was a lot more committed than the group in general in Australia. He said there needed to be ‘three of four people’ for an operational cell. Possibly four people who are committed, they work together, they have nothing to do with anybody else – and their ultimate aim is to go for targets. To target something, to work on that. Get that target and then to disappear. And then maybe in a few months time do it again’.

Rarely has the economy of terrorism been so elegantly summarized.

The ‘simple minded’ Roche had the necessary organizational, operational, and personal skills to travel in countries and regions where Western intelligence services could not penetrate. But he had a good teacher! Roche was a’ student’ of Sheikh Feiz!

Sheikh Feiz recalled ’He [Roche] was my student. Then he went overseas and when he came back he attended some of my lessons’.

‘Overseas’ ‘came back?’ From Afghanistan. Afghanistan means – training. In a Bin Laden training camp.

Roche wanted a favor. He wanted to borrow a video camera from Sheikh Feiz. Note: he did not try to hire or purchase a video camera. As Sheik Feiz recalled, ‘Roche asked: “Would you mind if I borrowed a video camera?” I said yes, but he didn’t tell me what he wanted it for.’

Two years later neither Fez nor ASIO knew that the video camera had allegedly been used by Roche to scope terrorist targets in Canberra. After all, Sheikh Feiz had not been the subject of a ‘friendly interview’ by ASIO and…these sheiks are an unworldly lot! The Sheikh of course was very surprised.

‘He was a very humble quiet simple minded person. It was very surprising to hear what they said he did.’

Sheikhs are always surprised at revelations – about terrorism.

Enter Sheik Feiz student two: The Ayub terrorist twins

The same time frame. Feiz met and befriended the Ayub twins, who ran the Australian arm of the terrorist group JI, responsible via Al Qaeda, for the Bali bombing. The terrorist twins attended his ‘lessons’ and he invited them home for dinner often, at his home. The Sheikh recalled: ‘They were very nice people. I never experienced any problems’.

Self reference is another psychological quirk of Sheikhs! He never had any problems! Sheik Feiz is amazed that the Ayub twins were JI leaders in Australia. Unbelievable really!

Curious. Sheik Omran and Sheikh Feiz share the same circle of ‘friends.’ But it must be admitted that Sheik Omran has the global edge although both Sheiks would believe in the motto, ‘think globally act locally’.

Enter Sheik Feiz student three: Zak Mallah

Terrorism creates oxymorons. ‘Islamic student’ is a favorite. Another of Sheik Feiz’s ‘students’ was Zak Mallah of Condell, in Sydney’s South West, adjoining the suburb where visiting terrorist Willie Brigitte lived for five months in South Western Sydney (dubbed ‘the Axis of Evil’ in Australia) before ASIO knew of his links to terrorist groups.

Location, location, location, one of the keys to CT success.

A pity ASIO did not, could not, monitor/ intercept Willie Brigitte’s phone and insert listening devices in his residence as they did to Zak Mallah! What product!

Curiously, Willie Brigitte also traveled from Lakemba to attend the Mundine gymnasium in Redfern, Sydney. Anthony Mundine was another of Sheik Feiz’s students!

Zak Mallah was presented by Lebanese and Muslim community self-appointed ‘leaders’ as a terminal case of anomie. But was he? He had attended Greenacre Primary School and Punchbowl Boys High School. He told Channel 9 Sunday program on 25 August 2002: ‘I’ve got family here and I’m looking for a job as well. Currently I work at [ ] as a casual position. I was at TAFE as well and did management and leadership. That shows I have education backing me up.’

True, he was an orphan and reportedly socially isolated. But he had a sister and brother and support from a cousin. True, he worked at menial jobs, including stacking at Franklin’s supermarket and lived alone in a small one-bedroom flat. A depiction of anomie from a sociology text. But Mallah was connected. He had a web of affiliations – Islamic fundamentalist affiliations. He had made a pilgrimage to Mecca when he was 13.

And he had been Sheik Feiz’s student since he was fourteen years old!

ASIO later asked him – Why did you go with a group of people? Did they believe he would travel alone? Seems young to be traveling to Saudi Arabia!

After 9 11, Mallah attracted ASIO’s attention by the company he kept, including attending the Lakemba based Islamic Youth Movement lectures where the heavy hitters of Islamic terrorism prayed and ….

On 21 May 2002 Mallah applied for a passport to ‘travel in peace’ to Lebanon, as he later told ASIO, to visit relatives and an arranged marriage to the 17 year old sister of his brother’s wife.

ASIO rang him at work. We want to see you now straight away. ‘But I am tired!’ he exclaimed. They even offered to pay his taxi fare. An interview was necessary before he could obtain a passport. A two hour interview. He liked his interviewing officers at first. They seemed alright. Naturally, he denied any connection with individuals who condoned violence. Asked if had any intention of taking part in  violence which would damage Australian security, he replied it would be stupid and prophetically: ‘I’d be back here behind bars’.

‘No’ would have been better! Asked if he ever expressed any views or intentions to anybody about such conduct, he replied, ‘I’m nobody, who am I?’ Wrong answer. Invites speculation. When the question was repeated, he replied: ‘No’. Asked to elaborate, Mallah recalled:  ‘Everybody talks about it’…nobody will actually do anything and it’s just talk’I said that I am not a politician and that I don’t know much about politics. …Then they asked me about religious violence and I said it depends on whether you mean a ‘holy war’ which is a battle, or killing innocents without warning’.

Did he have connections to Al Qaeda? What did he did he think of Osama bin Laden? He told them he regarded Osama bin Laden as a ‘Muslim brother’ but did not support the 9 11 terrorist attacks. Completely unexpected answers really.

Asked if he would engage in political or religious violence. He said, ‘No. I have never thought of doing that’.

According to another account, the ASIO officers asked Mallah if he would participate in religious violence and replied: ’I said’ I would not, but if jihad was declared, I would have to take part because the Koran tells me to.’

Why did he want to travel to Lebanon? To get married, he replied ASIO interviewers reportedly wasn’t he too young to get married? What an ethnocentric, culturally insensitive inappropriate question! How judgmental!

Zeik told ASIO the US was supporting Israel against Palestine and that the September terrorist attacks were the result of US Middle East policy. ASIO reportedly took exception to his reply although it is shared by Australian religious academic, media and opinion making elites.

The interview became a seminar, a tutorial and a lecture involving fiqh. A clash of civilizations in a small rented office in Canterbury Road, Bankstown!

On 12 March 2003 Mallah appealed to the Federal Review body – the AAT. Evidence was presented on camera. The government refused to issue a passport to him under Sec 7 E 1 of the Australian Passports Act (1938). He rested the Koran bookmarked with references to Jihad, on his forehead and swore on the sacred book. The tribunal listened gravely as he gave three meanings of jihad. ’The first one is the struggle against your own soul, which is the devil, the second is defending your religion and another deeper ‘religious reason’ (he) did not ‘quite understand’. Another report cites him as stating ‘defending people from the devil’.

His barrister asked if he sometimes made statements influenced by anger. ‘Yes’…In the struggle for the Palestinians, I get angry about that.’ Do you mean literally? ‘No, Metaphorically’.

Metaphorically! He’s no fool. But he was not granted a passport. ASIO produced a persuasive case. Mallah seethed with Islamic rage. He was a victim. He was persecuted because he was a Muslim. A victim of racism. And ASIO!

‘What evidence do they have? Is it because I’m a Muslim? It’s religious discrimination, if that’s the case. Or is because I am an Arab? This is racism ands that’s why I am taking them to the Administrative Appeals tribunal. I’ve met so many Muslims in Sydney that are feeling this sort of prejudice since September 11….Everything I said was the truth. I told them the US is supporting Israel in the war against Palestine but if this stopped the Israelis would have to go back to peace talks. I might have said that what happened on September 11 was the result of US policy but since when was it against the law to express an opinion? …They wanted to know why I went to Mecca with a group of people. Obviously you don’t go to Mecca as an individual, you always go in group, and, in any case, I was only 13 years old at the time. They seemed surprised by this and wrote it all down. …So many Muslims go back and forth between Lebanon and Australia, so why have I been chosen? If I am a threat to security or a terrorist, why aren’t they locking me up? …My only conclusion is that ASIO and the governments are picking on Muslims.’

The ever alert Sheik Feiz , a keen psychologist – there are unconfirmed reports he is a behaviouralist – noted changes in his ‘students’ behavior: ‘I could see the way he was acting, the way he was changing, the way he was talking’.

According to media reports, evidence allegedly gleaned from ASIO telephone intercepts and listening devices indicated he planned to go to Lebanon and become a suicide bomber against Israel.

On 29 September 2003 Mallah’s bed-sitter in Ainslie Place, Condell Park was raided and later fined $ 1400.00 for possession of a.22 caliber weapon and 100 rounds of ammunition. During a raid, the task force also reportedly found a suicide ‘note’ or ‘letter’ on a computer disk: ‘Peace be upon those who follow the guidance. This is Zak Mallah, Australian born, Australian bred. I start my letter with verses from the Koran, which outline the causes and reasons for my actions. I, Zak Mallah, have been oppressed and have been wronged and I have made the decision to help and defend myself in whatever way I see necessary. I forgave and tried to reconcile, but I wasn’t forgiven and my reconciliation was rejected, and to that [sic] I choose to revenge. Allah has gifted me with this Australian way of life and I chose to die defending it by putting an end to your mischievous ways and approaches. My target is ASIO because I strongly believe that they have mistreated many citizens, and have been disrespectful to many.

I therefore declare my own personal and individual jihad against these oppressors. I choose to…make them taste the consequences of their oppression in hope that they change…their approach in dealing with Australian citizens in future, and for that cause, I am willing to die’.

The police also reportedly found on a computer disk, an alleged threat to kill a [named] ASIO officer and a jihad-style video which featured Zeik reading from the Koran and holding up a placard which read: ‘I will take you hostage’.

On 3 December 2003 at approximately 6 pm Zak Mallah was targeted in an undercover operation, a ‘stake out’ at Wattawa Reserve, Condell Park by the AFP/NSW police task force and arrested and charged with being involved in the preparation of a terrorist act under Sec 101 C of the Crimes Act. His house was also searched – again!

‘They want to put me in jail saying the $1400 fine is not enough and they have other new evidence against me. They have nothing against me. The discussion they heard on the phone was just that. I was just mucking around’.

Terrorism is a game of no rules and you kill adults, kids and innocents but jihad is when people come together on the battlefield because one feels he is wrongly oppressed or accused.

If standing up for yourself against the government , not physically but just having a different point of view…Then I am a terrorist, but I don’t want to hurt or kill anybody’.

Outside the court, he lapsed into his street talk: ‘If youse want to challenge me on the dictionary, the first meaning of terrorist is, one, he stands up against the Government, so if youse want to call me as a terrorist, I mean they’re free to label me as a national security threat, they might was well label me as a terrorist ‘cause I am standing up against the Government, which, therefore is the meaning of terrorist’.

His lawyer interrupted:’ ‘Zak was just playing word games with what the word terrorism means’.

According to Sheikh Feiz –who should know! – Mallah is an ‘innocent’ and legally innocent as he is a child.

‘It is very sad. He has got no any stable family, no stable friends, and he is living on his own so naturally such a person would be affected. They should, take it easy on him. He is only a young child, He is a lost child’.

The Sheik did not mention that his student according to a media report [SMH 05/12/2003] ‘had adored the limelight, wearing eyeliner, playing up to the television cameras and privately briefing journalists against his lawyers’ express wishes. Recently it was alleged that Mallah has been negotiating with media outlets to sell photos and a jihad-style video of himself reading verses of the Koran to cover the cost of his $1400.00 fine’

Islamic spokesmen including the ubiquitous Keysar Trad, morphed in his latest role as a counselor, claimed that Mallah was ‘sick’, ’no threat’, ‘depressed’, a ‘disturbed young man who needs help’, a ‘sad case’ and ‘confused’ and ‘needs ‘counseling’.

Drawing on the insights of person-centered psychology, Counselor Trad described Zak’s ‘suicide-jihad’ note a ‘cry for help’! Counselor Trad intoned:

I have been providing counseling for him over the past few weeks…personally I don’t feel he is a threat’.

Clearly, Mallah needed to get in touch with his inner self. Or perhaps a significant brother! Anyway, Counselor Trad hoped that despite his ‘previous dalliance with the fundamentalist Ahl Sunnah wal Jamaah Association’ Mallah would now join the ‘mainstream Muslim community’!

Mallah’s lawyer inferred he was suffering suicidal ideation but as Islamic spokesmen have incessantly –and misleadingly – claimed, Islam explicitly forbids suicide, except ‘martyrdom operations’ such as the 9 11 terror attacks.

If Zak Mallah is’ sick’ i.e., depressed or delusional – so too are the views and beliefs of millions of Muslims on topics such as jihad, hatred of Israel and the United States. Is Zak Mullah suffering from a form of Muslim Munchausen’s Syndrome?

Will Islamists treat as suffering a psychotic system of delusional beliefs – with attendant persecutory mania? And Islamism treated as an overvalued idea?

Is Mallah a sphinx without a secret?

Whatever the assessment of his mental states; Zak Mallah is a soft target. NSW Deputy Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione disclosed to the media after his arrest they have been ‘watching him for years’…he had been known to them ‘for years’ and believed ‘to have acted alone’.

Flash-back!   2002 – Roche comes out in his own media blitz

October 30 2002.3 o’clock in the early morning. ASIO and the AFP raided Roche’s South Perth West Australian ground floor apartment where he lived quietly with his Indonesian-born wife he had met in Jakarta in 1994.

On October 30 Roche was unhappy. He had been raided. His two computers were missing; telephone bills and personal documents were gone. And the Dick Smith receipt…and his pamphlets on Islam. He had spent years translating them!

As a former solider he wanted to regain the operational initiative. He telephones drive–time Radio 6 PR in Perth and spoke under the name ‘Jim’. He claimed inter alias, he supported Al Qaeda and Osama bin, Laden was innocent until found guilty. He was a follower of JI and Emir Abu Bakir Bashir, who of course was not responsible for the Bali bombings

In a series of defensive and pre-emptive newspaper interviews published in Australia also using the name ‘Jim’ and background briefings, Roche disclosed he was sent to Afghanistan to learn how to make bombs – to train in the use of explosives – ‘how to use TNT and detonators for use against Australian targets’ –an unfortunate phrase which read like an instruction in a jihad instruction manual….although he has sought to minimize his training and skills.

On 1 November 2002 he was in The Australian photographed holding an AFP Property Seizure Record and referred to as ‘Jim’, Roche claimed:

The term Jemmah Islamiah could technically apply ‘to any member at any time nobody ever says they are a member of JI and I’m not going to say I’m a member of JI.’

In another interview, Roche claimed correctly ‘Technically speaking you could encompass all Muslims under that name because basically it means the Islamic group and I mean, surely all Muslims belong to the Islamic group.’

Good point!

Roche claimed JI did not exist! This in sense was true. Roche was following his emir’s orders. Abu Bashir Bakhir believed small Islamic communities –Jemaah Islamiah should be established as a prelude to graded struggle to create an Islamic state in Indonesia and eventually Australia and the region.

The Australian group was merely called: jemaah or community. The ‘member’ could credibly disavow membership. Great for terrorists defense lawyers! From an operational perspective the ‘Islamic group or communities acted as bases, collecting funds, assets, and providing natural cover and a haven for terrorist sleepers by operating as a ‘prayer group’ study group, sports group….The ‘Islamic communities could be quickly made operational. Overnight even! Only the ‘inner few’ would know!

Sociologically, the Islamic groups’ were based on charismatic religious leadership and resembled an extended family based on a web of arranged marriages or organized by senior JI members for operational objectives. The reliability of the wife – typically of Indonesian birth – vetted by JI, was reportedly necessary for JI membership.  

Roche also provided a series of taped interviews to The Australian newspaper on the understanding that they would not be published until he was charged. Damage control! Drip feed the news to reduce the shock!

Roche claimed he was ‘ready to recruit an operational cell’ to ‘target Israeli or US interests’ and he had been ‘asked’ to form an al Qaeda cell in Australia, to be composed entirely of Caucasians . He denied they ever worked on a specific target. ‘Personally I was quite willing to go through with that sort of stuff…’ but claimed he got cold heat…’I am not a very good Muslim!’

Roche can be a trickster too!

According to Roche’s account, other JI members opposed him and his alleged plans as the cell would not be under their control. The dispute apparently centered on a terrorist division of labor! And other JI members were seduced by sun, sand surf and sin. Australian style.

Although Sheikh Omran modesty claims to have had a critical role in breaking up the plot from the perspective of the admittedly narrow Western conception of truth, Sheikh Omran does not play a role in Roches’ narrative. Perhaps Roche was caught in an elaborate set up…a distraction exercise.

But Roche made a singularly true statement to the media: … ‘In Islam you cannot divorce politics from religion and any Muslim who tells you any different is a liar’.

Still, his lawyer did point out, ‘He [Roche] disavows the use of violence’. And that’s progress!

The Canberra – Sydney video surveillance tape

An incriminating videotape was located by the search team in Roche’s South Perth residence. According to detailed media reports and Roche’s interviews, published in Australia and overseas, Roche was allegedly casing targets in Canberra and Sydney NSW. .The tape allegedly shot in June 2000 was allegedly filmed from an alleged Canberra taxi.

An alleged voice tells the alleged taxi driver: ‘slowly, slowly, and slowly’. The camera allegedly centers on a sign- ‘Embassy of Israel’. Similar to the terrorist’s modus operandi in Singapore and the 9 11 terrorists pre-planning videos of New York. Video reconnaissance for precision targeting. In ‘normal’ circumstances, the video would have been compressed onto a disc and forwarded to Afghanistan where Bin Laden and his merry men forensically examine it for tradecraft and maximum destruction.

1 November 2002 or thereabouts:

The day after the Roche raid, ASIO ‘confronted’ Sheikh Feiz. Over two (2) years after Roche had allegedly surveilled the Israeli embassy in Canberra and the Sydney consulate on behalf of JI and Al Qaeda!

ASIO: Did you give him [Roche] the camera?

Sheikh: Yes I loaned it to him and that is all I know about it.

ASIO told the ‘stunned’ Sheik Feiz.:

‘They told me he [Roche] went to Canberra …they accused him of videoing embassies. I was shocked, I was absolutely stunned. If he had said to me ‘I want to film and embassy’ or a ‘synagogue or something like that, I would have said “you are kidding’.

No. Fact: Sheikh Feiz Mohammad ‘loaned’ Roche the video camera. Roche’s photos reveal him as unsmiling and serious. No kidding!

And the Muslim Mentor? The deeply spiritual Sheikh Feiz condemns terrorism and predictably intones:

‘I condemn in the highest way every act of terrorism. Go and listen to what we say and what we teach, we oppose terrorism’.

So…Will Sheikh Feiz appear at Zac Mallah’s trial in February 2004?

Will Sheikh Feiz claim he has a ‘special relationship’ with ASIO and claim immunity from giving evidence at Roche’s trial in May 2004?  

Could Sheik Feiz, a deeply religious man and religious teacher, possibly be accused by the prosecution – the Commonwealth of Australia and ASIO – as a co-conspirator?

Or will he insist, like Abu Bakir Bashir- despite or because of incontrovertible evidence, as he told CNN in November 2003, he is merely ‘the knife maker’ and cannot be responsible how the knives are used-which does not answer the question:

Why would an emir, sheik, religious leader make knives?

Will the Sheik give evidence to the effect that he supplied the video camera as an act of goodwill to his student-Jack Roche- who had ‘ just returned from Afghanistan, and base his defense on…‘I did not know the camera was loaded?’

Will Sheikh Feiz offer more than a ‘perplexing smile’?

Last week, Mr. Howard [Australian Prime Minister] told parliament that new intelligence reports had recently surfaced, showing that al-Qaeda had actively been seeking targets in Australia in 2000 and 2 

Posted in Previous Editorials

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