AN ISLAMIC centre targeted in anti-terrorism raids has hit back at police, calling the raids heavy-handed, racist and suggesting they were used to plant key evidence as part of a police strategy of ''entrapment'' and says it is seeking legal advice.
Read the AL Furqan press release Below in bold
''These raids were not about preventing terrorism or keeping the community safe,'' al-Furqan Islamic Centre in Springvale South said in a statement.
''Instead, they were largely about intimidating the Muslim community, as well as justifying the very expensive existence of anti-terror authorities, whose jobs are threatened with the realisation that there are hardly any serious terrorism cases to investigate.''
The statement came in response to last week's joint federal and state anti-terrorism operation, in which police raided a dozen properties across Melbourne, seizing computers, imitation firearms and registered firearms in the raids and laying terrorism-facilitation charges against a 23-year-old man.
The Age visited the al-Furqan centre last night. A member who came to the door declined a request for an interview. Instead he said any questions should be emailed. The man also declined to give his name.
In an email responding to questions from The Age, a centre spokesman stated the centre will make a decision on its legal options following advice and consultation with its community.
Police declined to comment on the five-page statement, in which al-Furqan claimed women had been asked to ''become spies for ASIO'' and were subjected to ''degrading treatment'' from ''increasingly rude'' police. The statement said police had damaged property and forced children to undress in front of them.
''Up to 30 armed police officers were seen raiding one house. The family inside this house consisted of six young children, aged between three and 14, and their frightened and confused mother; the father was overseas, and the police were aware of this fact.
''Most of the houses raided contained children, who, having been violently awoken at dawn by gun-wielding police - armed with semi-automatic military style weapons - were obviously traumatised as a result … One mother, whose house was raided, suffered a stroke …''
The statement said it was a ''very real possibility'' that authorities ''are engaged in processes of entrapment towards the Muslim community, whereby key evidence is planted rather than discovered''.
The centre questioned why - if there was no immediate danger to the public as Police Assistant Commissioner Steve Fontana had said - ''were raids of such a magnitude required, and how were they justified''?
The raids, it said, were a product of Islamophobia. ''Had any other group been exclusively targeted by the police as the Muslim community has been, there would have been much outrage and backlash - and rightly so.''
The statement said its ''accidental'' discovery last week of an ASIO informer in its ranks ''highlights the quality of those being employed by ASIO and the federal police''.
The spokesman declined to tell The Age how it had discovered the alleged spy among its ranks.
Raids were carried out this week against both the Al Furqan Islamic Information Centre (Al Furqan
IIC), as well as a number of Muslim households within the vicinity. Much speculation and accusation
has accompanied these raids, most of which is unfounded and hurtful. The members of Al Furqan
Islamic Centre are therefore issuing this press release in order to clarify certain matters, and to set
the record straight.
Twelve properties in total were raided, most of which were located in the South and South-East of
Melbourne. We wish to bring attention firstly to the heavy-handedness and unnecessarily violent
manner in which these raids were carried out. An unnecessarily large police force – many of them
very heavily-armed – was sent to conduct the raids at the break of dawn. From the outset, it was
quite obvious that a significant part of their role was merely to intimidate and frighten. In one
example, up to thirty armed police officers were seen raiding one house. The family inside this house
consisted of six young children, aged between three and fourteen, and their frightened and
confused mother; the father was overseas, and the police were aware of this fact. This then begs the
question of why thirty police officers were required to subdue a group of kids and a young lady (that
equates to about 3 officers per child)? The sheer excessiveness of the raids was obvious to all who
witnessed them, and this is but one example.
Carpets were torn out of the floor in the house of another family and ceilings damaged; cash – not
belonging to the suspect – confiscated in yet another; a woman was denied the right to leave her
house; children were forced to dress and undress in the presence of police; some women whose
houses were raided were asked to become spies for ASIO; and general degrading treatment and
language was experienced throughout. Importantly, most of the houses raided contained children,
who, having been violently awoken at dawn by gun-wielding police – armed with semi automatic
military style weapons – were obviously traumatised as a result. Many of the other family members
also reported feelings of shock, anxiety and trauma, and are too scared to even seek professional
help. One mother, whose house was raided, suffered a stroke and was taken to hospital for
treatment. We pray that there are no long-term impacts upon their health – especially those of the
children – who were aged as young as two.
Police occupied some family homes for over 48 hours. One of the raid victims who was merely a
relative of an accused ‘suspect’ said the police worked in shifts. With each successive shift the new officers became increasingly ruder, sometimes concealing what they were doing, and damaging the
property in the process, such as drilling large holes in walls and floors, pulling off carpet and digging
up landscaped yards. Some of the families raided have recently migrated to Australia, and we are
concerned that they may not have been aware of their rights, as they had no access to independent
legal advice (as all phones were immediately seized). They may also not have been aware what
exactly was seized from their homes, and have signed documents of receipts under intimidation
without entirely understanding what they were signing. Many of the families are also weary of
publicly revealing their stories due to fear of media misrepresentation.
Some pressing questions which need to be asked here, and considered by the public, are the
following: according to Police assistant commissioner Steve Fontana, no immediate threat was
identified, which also explains why no members of Al Furqan were actually charged with any
offences. If no danger to the community was present, then why were raids of such a magnitude
required, and how were they justified? Was it necessary to petrify young children with such
intimidating tactics? Are the police satisfied that a woman suffered heart problems as a result of
their over-the-top raids which were obviously not necessary? Why could the police have not simply
requested a basic search warrant, which would have granted them all the access they required,
rather than acting as if there were weapons of mass destruction hidden beneath the carpet of our
homes? We have always been very open about our views, and are happy to discuss them with any
member of the public, and this has also been acknowledged by the police. So why was such a violent
and secretive raid necessary when we make no secret of our beliefs and they can easily be accessed
by any member of the public? Just as important and alarming is the fact that Attorney General Nicola Roxon has publicly said that
“police have uncovered people with a serious intent to cause harm” (Read it here). These prejudicial
comments imply that members of our community are guilty, before having been put through any
judicial process. We are concerned that such comments would have a substantial impact on one’s
presumption of innocence if any cases were taken to court. Besides, how exactly has the Attorney
General come to the definitive conclusion that there is intent to cause harm before evidence has
been put through the proper judicial process and examined by a qualified judge?
These facts only further demonstrate that these raids were not about preventing terrorism or
keeping the community safe. Instead, they were largely about intimidating the Muslim community as well as justifying the very expensive existence of anti-terror authorities, whose jobs are
threatened with the realisation that there are hardly any serious terrorism cases to investigate.
Crucial to keep in mind is the backdrop within which such actions have taken place. The Australian
Human Rights Commission conducted research in 2003 which concluded that anti-Muslim sentiment
was not only alive and well in Australia, but was actually growing. This research only confirmed what
many in the Muslim community already know through experience: that Islamophobia is a real and
growing problem in Australia. These latest raids, as well as those carried out previously, need to be
seen within this context of the rise of Islamophobia. Muslims in Australia have experienced
heightened marginalisation, vilification and discrimination as a result of these attitudes, and the
anti-terror laws are simply an extension of this wide-reaching problem. We have little doubt that
these raids are directly connected to the problem of Islamophobia, and this is evidenced by the fact
that, had any other group been exclusively targeted by the police as the Muslim community has
been, there would have been much outrage and backlash – and rightly so.
It's important to keep in mind when considering these raids that just last week we discovered and
ousted a government spy amongst our community. The existence of such spies is abhorrent and
serves to completely undermine the faith of the Muslim community in the justice processes of this
system. The fact that we accidentally uncovered a spy highlights the quality of those being employed
by ASIO and the Federal Police. This should not only make the public question the capacity of such
authorities in spending tax-payer money, but also question whether they are actually intelligent
enough to distinguish between real and imagined threats. Again, as we have nothing to hide, we did
not feel the need to modify or conceal any of our views or resources, even after the discovery of a
spy clearly indicated that we were being monitored. We are an Islamic information centre whose
goal is to educate people about the teachings of Islam, and thus we are open about and do not feel
the need to shy away from our beliefs. We are also concerned about the very real possibility that such authorities are engaged in processes of entrapment towards the Muslim community, whereby
key evidence is planted rather than discovered. This has been known to occur commonly in America,
and should be considered as a very real possibility here in Australia also.
As is common with such incidents, the media has seen fit to sensationalise and dramatise all aspects
of this case, rather than providing balanced reporting. We ask that the privacy of our community be
respected, and note that it is disturbing to see that family homes have been pictured in certain
media outlets; this is an entirely irresponsible act.
We wish also to clarify certain issues which have been circulating in the media:
1- No firearms, ammunition, explosives, or weapons of any sort were discovered in the Al
2- The firearms located in a community member’s home were legitimately registered and
3- Al Furqan does not run ‘terrorist training camps’. The photos used by the media to make
such claims are from annual camping trips or paintball skirmish outings. These events were
organised by Al Furqan and other Muslim organisations, and the images shared on Facebook
4- ‘Sheikh Harun’ has never referred to himself as a sheikh, and neither has Al Furqan
promoted him as such
5- Al Furqan Islamic Centre has never propagated violence against the Australian public or
called on people to carry out terrorist attacks
6- As there was no evidence of any unregistered firearms, chemicals or bomb-making
materials, we find it detestable and questionable that many media outlets have seen fit to
link bomb-making procedures to discussions of Al Furqan. This also has significant potential
to prejudice any future trials, as well as further entrenching stereotypes of Muslims as
Some of these accusations are little more than fabrications, while others might be based on
misunderstandings. In order to alleviate potential confusion, we would like to briefly clarify our
position on a number of issues:
- We believe that God is One, without father, mother, son, or any partners
- We believe that Muhammad is the final messenger of God and His servant
- We also believe that Jesus was a beloved prophet of God, as well as Abraham, Noah, Adam,
and many others
- We disagree with the popular modern idea that Islam does not entail a political, economic or
legal realm – we disagree that Islam is secular
- We believe that forceful conversions are wrong, and neither do we seek – nor have we ever
sought – to violently overthrow the Australian government and implement Sharia Law
- We make a point to highlight the role of democratic governments, such as Australia, in the
oppression of marginalised groups worldwide, including the propping up and support of
ruthless dictators, such as Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, whom even the United Nations
acknowledges was fraudulently elected
- We strongly condemn the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as support for the
apartheid state of Israel
- We strongly oppose the government’s brutal approach towards asylum seekers and
refugees, which sees children detained in conditions which are worse than prisons. We also
note that many of those seeking asylum are doing so as a result of the military and foreign
policy practices of Australia
- We regularly condemn the violence which capitalism produces globally, including its
contribution towards massive inequality and poverty perpetuated through neo-liberal
- We oppose all forms of colonialism and imperialism, both its obvious and subtle
manifestations. We condemn Australia’s historical legacy of colonialism and exploitation of
Indigenous peoples, as well as its continuing oppression towards them. We empathise with
their historical and current plight, and recognise that they have also been subject to similar
police and government tactics, though on a much larger and repressive scale.
This is what we stand for, and this is what we preach. If at times it is fiery, then that is due to the fact
that we are passionate about justice, and see major injustices occurring around the world today –
particularly against Muslims. We discuss our views in the belief that countries such as Australia
protect the right to free speech, though it is becoming increasingly obvious today that such rights
are not always afforded to Muslims. We welcome any member of the public who would like
clarification about any related matter to contact our centre and make an appointment, either by
phone, email or person, and we will happily discuss all genuine concerns. This invitation is also
extended to those who are sending us abusive messages, as well as Muslim leaders who have
publicly vilified us without having met us.
Finally, we wish to express solidarity with all the Muslims raided both past and present, as well as
those imprisoned under unjust and draconian anti-terror laws. We pray for your wellbeing, and offer
our support to you and your families. We would also like to thank the many people who have
expressed their support for us in these trying times. We very much appreciate your concerns and
assistance, and reassure you that, despite the best efforts of the government, media and intelligence
groups, our community remains unified and in high spirits, and we will not let the shameful tactics of
the authorities intimidate or silence us.
yeah they are all innocent victims the guns they found the bomb instructions the al queda magazines instructing them to start bush fires here in Australia all planted by someone , but not them