More than 200 heavily armed police raided five homes in south-east Melbourne on April 18 to arrest five teenagers for allegedly plotting a terrorist attack on Anzac Day.
Two were held in custody and charged under “anti-terror” laws, one was charged on summons for weapons offences and two were released without charge. Family and neighbours of those arrested said that the raids were carried out with unnecessary violence.
In what has become a pattern, secrecy provisions of the draconian “anti-terror” laws under which the arrests were made have allowed police to lay charges without publicly displaying any evidence — something which will continue throughout the judicial process — while at the same time leaking outlandish allegations to the media, who compliantly give them saturation coverage, treating every allegation as established fact.
The country's political leaders have naturally also accepted the allegations as proven fact — and as evidence that both the “anti-terror” laws and military aggression in the Middle East are necessary to protect Australians.
ACCUSATIONS OF ASSAULT
One of those released without charged was 19-year-old Aboriginal man Eathan Cruse.
“After my hands were cuffed, laying on my stomach, I got kicked in the head,” he told the ABC on April 20. “Then [a police officer] grabbed me, slams me into the fridge, as you can see there'll be blood on the fridge. Then [he] slammed me on the ground and then hit me with his gun and I think I passed out then.”
His mother, Anja, said: “They dragged him into the kitchen. They flogged him pretty bad because there was a pool of blood on the floor … It was just the most terrifying experience ever. There was no reason why they got treated like this … My son wasn’t charged or anything. What was the reason? All that for questioning? It’s not on.”
He spent six hours in hospital after his release and his family, who were also subjected to violence during the raid, has lodged an official complaint. His sisters were dragged from their rooms by their hair.
His father, Glen, told Fairfax Media on April 20: “I got a boot right in the head and they said, 'Shut up, you Abo', and I could hear Eathan … getting knocked out cold … I've still got headaches, migraines, I can't sleep and I've got a massive bruise across my forehead … I'm lying on the floor yelling 'my kids, be careful, my kids'. How's that resisting? I'm not going to resist 20 cops with machine guns.”
Sevdet Besim, 18, was charged on April 18 with “conspiracy to commit acts done in preparation for, or planning, terrorist acts”.
Family friend Jemal Abazi told the April 20 Age: “They belted the absolute shit out of the father. He has a sore back. He hears a noise outside and thinks there is something wrong because he has four boys and he thinks they are fighting or something. And before he gets to open the door, they break the window, smash down the door, put him to the ground, smash him over the head, he cops a hiding. He said he thought he was being attacked by criminals with masks. Why wouldn't you knock on the door?”
HELD WITHOUT CHARGE
Harun Causevic, 18, was charged with conspiracy to commit a terrorist act on April 21. He had been held since April 18 without charge on a Preventative Detention Order, the first use of this draconian measure in Victoria.
His father, Vehid Causevic, told the ABC on April 20 that police had broken his son’s arm when they arrested him and had abused other family members.
Vehid told the ABC that police had made him lie on the floor for 30 minutes saying: “'One more word I kill you. Doesn't matter for your kids.' My wife she starts screaming … I notice everything in the house is broken, the door, everything.”
Harun's sister told the April 20 Age: “I woke up to a sniper pointing [a gun] at my head at 4am. We had all of them come into the house, they kicked in the doors, tear gas was used and they cleared each room. They pulled my nine-year-old brother out of his bed.”
Police confiscated mobile phones, a USB stick and a knife from the house.
While the Murdoch tabloids took the lead, other media, including the ABC, have fallen into line, reporting the arrests as “the foiled Anzac Day terror plot.”
Because the only weapons the police found were two knives, the foiled plot apparently involved massacring police at Anzac Day celebrations with knives.
Even more surreal is the evidence cited for international involvement in the plot. Predictably, the self-styled Islamic State (IS) group, which has carried out atrocities in Syria, Iraq and Libya, has been named as being behind the conspiracy. However, when Besim appeared in court to be charged on April 18, the international dimension to the conspiracy was demonstrated with evidence that he had had phone contact not with a Jihadi commander in Syria but with a 14-year-old-boy in Blackburn, England.
This 14-year-old supposed terrorist mastermind was charged by British authorities on April 23 with two counts of “inciting terrorism overseas”. A statement released by Deborah Walsh, deputy head of counter terrorism at the Crown Prosecution Service, said the first count involved inciting someone “to carry out an attack at an Anzac parade in Australia with the aim of killing and/or causing serious injury to people. The second allegation is that on 18 March 2015, the defendant incited another person to behead someone in Australia.”
The trial by media of the Australian teenagers has also focused on their relationship with Haidar Numan, who was 18 years old when he was shot dead by police at the Endeavor Hills police station on September 23.
Numan had used social media to express frustration at constant harassment by anti-terrorist police. On the night of his death, he responded to a police request to come to the police station to talk to them. For undisclosed reasons the police demanded to talk in the car park. A short time later, they had shot him in the head.
Police have claimed that Numan had attacked them with a knife. No evidence has been produced to support this and until now there has been no inquest into Numan's death or inquiry into the incident. However, not only has the media unquestioningly described Numan as an IS-linked terrorist who the police killed in self-defence, the fact that some of his friends expressed scepticism at the official account and anger at his killing is now being used as evidence that they, too, are IS-linked terrorists.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has used the alleged terror plot to demand that Australians take part in official Anzac Day activities and support the nationalist and militarist ideology of the events.
“The best thing Australians and New Zealanders can do is to turn up in very large numbers at Anzac events, wherever they are, to support our values, our interests, our armed forces,” he said on April 20, while in New Zealand for a ceremony to mark both Anzac Day and the latest deployment of Australian and New Zealand troops to the Middle East.
He then travelled on to Turkey for the official celebrations of the centenary of the Gallipoli landing, where he met his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davatoglu to boost Australia's fight against IS terrorism by increasing security cooperation with the Turkish state. This is the same Turkish state that throughout the siege of Kobane last year gave material and logistical support to the IS forces.
The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which along with other left-wing and feminist Kurdish groups have been the IS's most formidable opponent in the Middle East, are criminalised as a terrorist organisation in both Turkey and Australia.
If one accepts that December's hostage-taking in a Sydney coffee shop was an act of terrorism — rather than a violent act by an attention-seeking psychopath — and that responsibility for the death of the hostage shot by police lies with the hostage-taker, the number of people killed by terrorism in Australia this century is two.
More than two women are killed by domestic violence in Australia every week and 44 people have been killed by industrial accidents in Australia so far this year.
The government responds to the threat of terrorism by spending billions dollars on domestic security and wars overseas. It also demands we sacrifice civil liberties for our safety, such as through the data retention laws passed in March, which give security agencies greater surveillance powers and potentially criminalise journalism.
In response to the threat of domestic violence, funding to women's refuges has been cut (although, at the recent premiers' conference, the federal and state and territory governments promised, with much fanfare, legislation within 12 months that would make AVOs enforceable nationwide).
In response to the threat of workplace deaths, the government has repeatedly legislated to criminalise trade unions that act to protect health and safety.