Skip to comments.Radical endorses Iraq jihad
Posted on 08/05/2005 3:03:48 PM PDT by Borges
HE preaches that Osama bin Laden is a great man and he does not oppose local Muslims travelling to Iraq to fight Australian troops.
But 15 years ago, self-styled Melbourne Islamic radical Nacer Benbrika told a very different story to Australian authorities when pleading to stay in this country. He told them it was "his love of the Australian lifestyle" that made him want to live here.
What is more, Benbrika, who now openly supports violent jihad overseas, told authorities in 1990 that he feared for his life if he were sent back to the "dangers" of his native Algeria.
Since then, Benbrika has freely roamed the dark side of Melbourne's Muslim community, teaching a radical interpretation of Islam to young, impressionable Muslim youths.
Now authorities fear that this 45-year-old former aircraft engineer poses a threat to the very Australian lifestyle he once claimed to love.
ASIO has twice raided his Broadmeadows home in connection with an investigation into suspected plots to blow up prominent Melbourne landmarks, including Flinders Street railway station.
His passport has been confiscated and Benbrika and his small band of devotees are monitored around the clock by ASIO and the Australian Federal Police.
In the face of dwindling community and political tolerance of such extremist views, Prime Minister John Howard yesterday criticised radical clerics such as Benbrika who openly supported jihad.
"A jihad is the epitome of intolerance, is the epitome of the negativity and darkness which we do not want in this country," Howard said.
But if this "darkness" was inside Benbrika when he arrived as a visitor to this country in 1989, he hid it well from those whose help he needed. According to Immigration Review Tribunal documents obtained by The Weekend Australian, Benbrika enjoyed the support of moderate Muslim leaders in his efforts to extend his visas and live in Australia.
One of these was Melbourne's most senior Muslim cleric and well-known moderate, Sheik Fehmi Naji Ell-Imam, of the giant Preston mosque in Melbourne's north. Fehmi wrote to authorities supporting Benbrika's claim to stay in Australia -- an act he now regrets.
"What happened in the past happened in the past," Fehmi told The Weekend Australian yesterday. "But nowadays he should not spread these ideas and thoughts. What he is preaching are not the teachings of Islam."
Fehmi's support for Benbrika soon rebounded on him. Another senior Muslim who also supported Benbrika's application to stay -- a decision he also regrets -- said the Algerian began attending Fehmi's Preston mosque and openly airing radical views.
"I did not know he was an extremist when I first met him but he made a lot of trouble at the Preston mosque," said the man, who asked not to be named.
"He was associated with a small group of extremists. He was not a stable man and he did a lot of damage to the community."
Fehmi soon found himself in a power struggle with the radical elements in the mosque, of which Benbrika was said to be a driving force.
Eventually, the moderates won and Benbrika and his followers moved on. For a time he attended the Brunswick prayer hall of controversial radical cleric Sheik Mohammed Omran. But sources say that even Omran was too moderate for Benbrika, who moved on and established his own small but hard-core group of young followers.
By this stage, Benbrika has won his battle to stay in Australia. He had overstayed his visa several times and in 1994 was deemed an "unlawful non-citizen". But two years earlier, on August 7, 1992, he had married a 20-year-old Lebanese woman called Rakia Abdullah. She was already an Australian citizen, having arrived here from Lebanon in 1988. He was finally granted a spouse visa in 1995 and became an Australian citizen in 1998.
Benbrika lives with his pregnant wife and their six children in a working-class suburb in Melbourne's north.
Before arriving in Australia, he worked as an electrical engineer with Algerian airlines. However, it is understood that he has not worked for any Australian airlines.
The family has frequently struggled to make ends meet and is believed to rely largely on social security.
According to Benbrika, his teachings are peaceful and he keeps to himself and his own community.
"I am not involved in anything here," he told ABC radio. "I am teaching my brothers here the Koran and the Sunna, and I am trying my best to keep myself, my family, my kids and the Muslims close to this religion."
But in the same breath, Benbrika made claims that have appalled moderate Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
"Osama bin Laden, he is a great man," he said. " Osama was a great man before 11 September, which they said he did it, and until now, nobody knows who did it."
Benbrika also said he would not stop any Australian Muslim from going to Iraq and fighting Western troops there, including Australian troops. 'According to my religion, jihad is part of my religion, and what you have to understand that anyone who fights for the sake of Allah, the first when he dies, the first drop of blood that comes from him out, all his sin will be forgiven."
But will Benbrika be easily forgiven for making such comments? As the Government prepares for a terror summit and considers tougher anti-terror laws, tolerance for such extremist statements is running low. Even moderate Muslims have experienced a backlash. The Preston mosque, with which Benbrika is no longer associated, was flooded with hate calls yesterday.
Meanwhile, Benbrika remains at liberty to spread his divisive messages and enjoy the Australian lifestyle he once claimed to cherish but now seems to despise.
Au. should apply the new UK rules to this fellow ASAP
"feared for his life if he were sent back to the "dangers" of his native Algeria."
Sound like Algeria is where he belongs.
Anyone want more proof that "allah" is Satan?
The "allah" of the Koran is most definitely not the God of the Bible, who is Holy, Just, and Good.
"Allah" of the Koran, supports murder, and missing hands and feet of humanity, and allowing each Muslim to be his own judge, jury, and hangman, beheader, or stoner, whichever
punishment that Sharia law calls for. No wonder Muslims are known as terrorists. It is in the book.
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