In November 2013, the first conference around the theme of Government Intervention in the Muslim Community was held in Sydney, Australia. Since then, a series of significant events have taken place that are of concern to Muslims living in Australia. This timeline tracks the notable occurrences, developments, media controversies surrounding matters of concern to the Muslim community over the last two years.
This timeline was presented as part of the Campaign Publication released for the “Innocent Until Proven Muslim?” Conference in late 2015.
December 2013: The Australian Federal Police and NSW police charge two men with an array of foreign-incursion offences – the first such charges to stem from the Syrian conflict.
December 2013: ASIO suddenly cancels the passports of 20 men from across Western Sydney, accusing them of being prepared to ”engage in politically motivated violence” if they were allowed to travel overseas or of having a ”jihadi mentality” making them a threat to national security.
20 January 2014: Scott Morrison says the government could seek to remove the Australian citizenship rights of dual nationals fighting in Syria, along the lines of powers being exercised in the UK.
11 February 2014: ASIO figures show that the number of passports cancelled on “security reasons” has tripled over the last year.
5 May 2014: A Muslim mother-of-four is arrested as she allegedly tries to board a flight in Sydney carrying cash and equipment — believed to include camouflage gear — for her husband fighting in Syria.
9 May 2014: Australia’s domestic spy agency asks for new powers to be able to target and pick up the communications of suspected terrorists and criminals by using “attributes” like internet user handles, or what time an email is sent.
25 June 2014: Attorney-General George Brandis urges the nation’s most senior Islamic leaders to use their “moral authority” to dissuade young Muslims from going to fight with extremists in Syria and Iraq.
Senator Brandis said the community leaders were “absolutely vital partners” in curbing the flow of Australians to extremist groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
5 August 2014: The Federal Government announces they will have enhanced powers to suspend passports at short notice. Abbott government announces $600 million boost to spy and counter-terror agencies to help fight home-grown terrorism.
August 2014: Tony Abbott introduces #TeamAustralia
September 2014: More than 800 police launch synchronised raids on houses and vehicles across Sydney’s west and north-west, and Brisbane’s south.
15 people detained during the operation in Sydney.
Two men are arrested in those raids and charged with recruiting and funding foreign fighters with Al Qaeda-linked terrorist organisation Jabhat al-Nusra in Brisbane’s south.
September 2014: About 200 people from Sydney’s Muslim community hold a protest against the raids outside Lakemba station.
September 2014: 18 year-old Numan Haider is shot and killed by police in Endeavour Hills, Melbourne. Police said they had “no choice” but to shoot dead the teenager after he stabbed the two officers outside the police station.
October 2014: The first tranche of the Coalition’s tough new terror laws passes parliament.
The new laws give ASIO officers wider powers to tap computer networks and carry a 10-year jail term for anyone identifying details of a special intelligence operation.
October 2014: The niqab is banned in the public gallery of Parliament House.
October 2014: The Federal Government announces military missions in Iraq.
October 2014: A man faces court after intimidating and assaulting two Muslim women in Newcastle.
October 2014: Victoria Police spent more than $200,000 in federal funding on a program that helps Muslim leaders counter radical teachings.
November 2014: Announcements are made for a new national security unit to be set up inside Customs to generate top-secret intelligence on the movements of jihadist fighters and other priority targets as part of a wholesale restructure of the nation’s border protection regime.
November 2014: The Australian Federal Police’s Counter Terrorism Chief warns that Australians should prepare for more counter-terrorism raids as big as the recent 800-strong police raids in Sydney and Brisbane.
November 2014: A plastic sword is seized in anti-terror raids.
November 2014: Julie Bishop mentions that the Government sponsored an Australian Female ‘scholar’ to Pakistan to talk about Radicalisation, Extremism and the “success of Australia’s secular Constitution”.
November 2014: Drugs, explosive chemicals and compounds, bullet casings, a training grenade and spent munitions are allegedly discovered in a raid on a Rochedale South home. No terrorism charges. The accused is James Fraser.
November 2014: A court hears that the evidence against Omarjan Azari, a Sydney youth arrested in the September raids, consists of a single intercepted phone call that was mistranslated. The evidence was used to accuse him of planning a “terrifying” public terrorist act.
December 2014: The Federal Government declares Syria’s Al-Raqqa Province a no-go zone for those who travel there without a legitimate purpose.
December 2014: Man Monis kills a hostage in Lindt Café siege at Martin Place, Sydney and is killed himself by the heavily armed Tactical Operations Unit.
December 2014: Arrests and terror raids take place in across homes in North-West Sydney. 1 man is arrested.
January 2015: ANIC (Australian National Imams Council) welcomes the proposal for a government Imams register for a compliant Islamic leadership.
January 2015: Two people are charged with weapons offences after an investigation into terror funding.
February 2015: Abbott praises El-Sisi’s calls for a religious revolution in Islam and to change “centuries-old ways of thinking”. He also makes false statements about Hizb ut-Tahrir and alludes to outlawing the global Islamic political party.
February 2015: Two people are charged in Fairfeld for terror offences after a last minute “tipoff”.
April 2015: As part of ‘Operation Rising’, AFP raids homes in the South-Eastern suburbs of Melbourne, executing 7 search warrants and arresting 5 teenagers. 2 men are charged with terrorism related offences and 1 man charged with weapons related offences.
May 2015: A 17 year old is charged with terror offences after an FBI tipoff that saw an American Jewish man contact the 17 year old to carry out terror acts.
June 2015: ‘Hackabout’ – a digital campaign aiming to stop violent extremism online – is funded by the US State Department and the Attorney General’s department The CVE (Countering Violent Extremism).
July 2015: About 1000 people sign an online petition urging Muslim community leaders, Imams, and prominent personalities to boycott Eid Al Fitr Dinners organised by the Australian Federal Police.
July 2015: Adam Brookman, 39, returns to Australia under police escort, after he surrendered to authorities in Turkey. Mr Brookman reportedly earlier told Fairfax Media he wanted to use his medical skills for humanitarian work, but eventually fled from Islamic State because of its violence.
August 2015: Letters are sent to Muslim parents in NSW to place school children in a register if they pray at school.
August 2015: Terrorism-related charges against teenager Harun Causevic are formally dropped at a brief sitting of the Melbourne Magistrates Court. Causevic was the first Victorian to be held under a preventative detention order (PDO) when he was detained without charge following counter-terrorism raids in April.
August 2015: The government releases ‘Border Force” advice to the Muslim community for those intending to leave for the Hajj pilgrimage. Muslims feel it justifies racial profiling and harassment at airports.
August 2015: The New South Wales Government announces a state-wide audit of all Muslim prayer groups. This includes surveillance of students and also approval of content presented.
September 2015: Australian Federal Police arrest a supposed ‘Islamic State Jihadist’ after an FBI investigation confirmed that he was a young Jewish American man pretending to be an Australian-based ISIS jihadist.
September 2015: School teachers act as the new tool for the government to heighten suspicion against Muslim children and community. A “radicalisation awareness kit” is distributed.
October 2015: Omar Chendab goes on ABC’s 7:30 program after finding that he was prohibited from leaving the country to undertake the Hajj pilgrimage as the government cancelled his passport with no explanation. A legal bid to challenge the cancelation also begins.
October 2015: 15 year old Farhad Jabar Khalil Mohammad shoots and kills a NSW Police employee and is killed when officers return fire.
October 2015: The Parramatta Mosque is searched by police and intelligence authorities as part of the investigations into the shooting of a NSW Police employee. Police leave empty handed.
October 2015: 200 officers including riot police and dog squad operators conduct a 6am raid at properties in Guildford, Wentworthville, Merrylands and Marsfield. 5 men are arrested. 3 of the men were released without charge on the same day.
November 2015: Government Intervention in the Muslim Community: Innocent Until Proven Guilty conference is held in Sydney and Melbourne, attracting a full house attendance at both events. Community members from across the Muslim community (youth, mothers, shuyookh, teachers) narrate their stories unveiling a snapshot of the systemic surveillance, harassment and criminalization of individuals under existing and introduced “counter-terror” measures.
November 2015: The NSW government announces a $47 million package to dispatch teams of school teachers and counsellors across the state to help identify students at risk of “radicalisation” and help to counter “violent extremism” in Muslim youth.
December 2015: New laws to strip citizenship from dual citizen passes through parliament with bipartisan support from the Labor party and the Liberal party.
December 2015: A joint Muslim Student Association (MSA) Victoria community statement is released unequivocally rejecting the Alfred-Deakin Institute of Citizenship and Globalisation’s repeated attempts to gather support for it’s “counter violent extremism” (CVE) programs in Victorian universities, specifically the #MyJihad campaign.
December 2015: Five Sydney males are arrested after police raids at three western Sydney homes. Each were charged with conspiracy to prepare a terrorist act.
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