Sheik Mohammed Omran at the Hume Islamic Youth Centre in Coolaroo. Picture: Aaron Francis
Sheik Mohammed Omran at the Hume Islamic Youth Centre in Coolaroo. Picture: Aaron Francis

Bolt: This misplaced blame fools no one

Mohammed Omran is the last person who should attack Prime Minister Scott Morrison for demanding Muslim leaders do more to fight Islamic terrorism.

And I've heard the tape to prove it.

Sure, this influential Salafist Sheik is not alone in hopping into Morrison for blaming radical Islam for Hassan Khalif Shire Ali stabbing three people in Bourke St last Friday while shouting "Allahu Akbar".

The Forum On Australia's Islamic Relations, for instance, complained: "The actions of a mentally ill person suffering from a psychotic episode is not the fault of a whole religious community."

Sheik Mohammed Omran at the Hume Islamic Youth Centre in Coolaroo. Picture: Aaron Francis
Sheik Mohammed Omran at the Hume Islamic Youth Centre in Coolaroo. Picture: Aaron Francis

In fact, Victoria Police have no evidence that Shire Ali, monitored for three years as a known Islamic State supporter, was mentally ill. Nor is it just Muslims complaining that Morrison urged Muslim clerics to keep a closer eye on the dangerous.

Professor Greg Barton, chair in Global Islamic Politics at Deakin University, protested that "Islamic leaders generally have little to do with the troubled young people most likely to be involved in lone-actor attacks like the one in Melbourne".

But of all the people to attack Morrison, the one who most amazed me was Sheik Omran, head of the fundamentalist Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamaah Association

There he was on the front page of The Australian on Tuesday, blaming "the bloody Prime Minister" - not Islam - for Shire Ali's rampage.

"(Morrison) has spent billions of dollars - billions - on security service. And what is the end result? We have crazy people in the street," said Omran, also known as Abu Ayman.

"If this man was a Christian, he would not be called a terrorist."

You should know some things about Omran, who came from Jordan, before you believe preachers like him bear no responsibility for stopping Islamist violence.

Professor Greg Barton, chair in Global Islamic Politics at Deakin University.
Professor Greg Barton, chair in Global Islamic Politics at Deakin University.

First, Friday's killer, Shire Ali, a refugee who came from Somalia, is believed by police to have prayed at Omran's mosque and youth centre at Coolaroo. So did the young men found guilty of plotting a terrorist attack on Melbourne. So did schoolboy Jake Bilardi, who died in Iraq as a suicide bomber for IS.

Then there was Abdul Nacer Benbrika, who came from Algeria.

Benbrika worked with Omran before breaking away and creating a terrorist cell that plotted to blow up the MCG.

Be clear: I'm not saying Omran told any of these men to become terrorists and suicide bombers. He says he's against such violence and he has denounced terrorist attacks. I must also take his word that his son, Ayman, was indeed just an aid worker in Idlib, a Syrian town then held by rebels forces including the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front and the militant Ahrar al-Sham, when he was killed in a rocket attack in 2016.

But I can understand if some of Omran's followers interpreted his sermons as calls for radical action.

After all, he once defended al-Qaeda head Osama bin Laden, responsible for the September 11 attacks, as "a good man in some ways and not in other ways", and in 2005 told the ABC: "I dispute any evil action linked to bin Laden." No Muslim had flown those jets into the World Trade Centre, he insisted.

 

Shire Ali clearly tried to provoke police into shooting him as he swung at them with his knife.
Shire Ali clearly tried to provoke police into shooting him as he swung at them with his knife.

In 2003, SBS asked Omran: "Is it a good Muslim's duty to go and fight the coalition forces for jihad in Iraq at the moment?"

Omran's response: "I would say yes."

But listen also to the sermons of this gifted preacher.

One, on the internet, has Omran preaching on the Hamas terrorists in Gaza who are fighting Israel. "If we have real Muslims, no one dare to touch you," he shouts.

"One Muslim they get. If they know there are a thousand, million Muslims will send their men to defend their people who will try or even think about it? …

"Already Gaza … write their speeches in their blood. They don't need anyone to speak on behalf of them. They already give the best speech about how the Muslims should be …

"We all say the best life is the afterlife. A paradise is waiting for us but in reality, we are scared to die.

"Why you are scared to die? If you really believe that after this is better for you, you should rush to death."

On Friday, Shire Ali did indeed "rush to death", clearly trying to provoke police into shooting him as he swung at them with his knife.

So to those saying his murderous attack had nothing to do with Islam or imams here, I ask: who the hell are you trying to fool?



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