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Vol. 78/No. 36      October 13, 2014

Australian gov’t assaults rights,
joins US war in Iraq

SYDNEY — Under the banner of “anti-terrorist” security, the Australian government has moved to boost police powers and curb political rights as it sends warplanes and commandos to join escalating U.S.-led air assaults targeting Islamic State forces in Iraq and Syria.

Some 870 cops in Sydney and Brisbane carried out coordinated pre-dawn raids on 27 residences Sept. 18. In the largest police operation in Australian history, state cops were joined by Australian Federal Police and agents of the Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation.

Fifteen people were arrested in Sydney. Three were held under new police powers of “preventative detention.” Another two — Omarjan Azari, 22, and Mohammed Baryalei, an alleged officer of Islamic State — were charged with conspiring to carry out on camera the beheading of a random person in Sydney.

A few days later two counterterrorism cops in Melbourne killed Abdul Numan Haider, 18, after he stabbed them. Police say Haider had been seen with an Islamic State flag.

The Australian media has carried sensational coverage of these cases with statements by government officials that some 70 Australians have joined the Islamic State army. The raids were conducted as federal parliament prepares to vote on new “anti-terror” laws promoted by Liberal Prime Minister Anthony Abbott and backed by opposition Labor party leader Bill Shorten.

Laws under discussion would consider travel to certain “designated areas” as proof of criminal intent and make it easier to ban organizations and jail their members for talking about “terrorism.”

Expanded powers would allow government officials to cancel passports of “terror suspects” without their knowledge and issue secret warrants to search their property. Another bill would require communications companies to track and maintain records of customers’ phone and Internet activity.

Other proposals would provide for house arrest of suspects without trial, as well as regulation of where suspects can work and live, and who they can associate with.

Preventative detention orders would permit secret detention without charges for up to two weeks and give agents of the Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation the power to jail anyone for refusing to answer questions.

The United Nations Security Council, with U.S. President Barack Obama presiding, passed a resolution Sept. 23 demanding countries strengthen laws to prevent the flow of “foreign fighters” to groups such as Islamic State.

The same day as the raids, eight Super Hornet fighter-bombers, a refuelling plane and an AWAC radar control aircraft, left for the Middle East to join U.S.-led airstrikes against Islamic State in Iraq. Some 600 Australian troops are being deployed to back the operations.
Related articles:
Imperialist allies join US-led war in Iraq, IS threatens Kurds in Syria
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