When the sensationally-labelled “foreign-fighters” legislation was being introduced and later passed, Australian Government ministers, the Attorney-General in particular, were at a pains to point out that it targets those fighting for any side of the conflict in Syria.

It was clear, however, that the legislation was merely being manipulated politically to serve the Australian Government’s disgraceful agenda in Syria – which is, in truth, the US agenda in Syria. This was demonstrated by the selective application of the legislation, which has been on the books since the late 70s.

In the case of Muslims going to Syria to fight the brutal Assad regime, the foreign fighters and other “counter-terrorism” legislation has been used aggressively with passports cancelled preemptively and arrests of those returning. In the case of others, the legislation is simply ignored.

There have been three cases this year of non-Muslims who clearly broke the law by going to fight in Syria yet were allowed to walk free on their return.

  • George Khamis, a Melbourne man, went and fought with the Assyrian militia Dwekh Nawsha, returning to Australia in March 2015. Channel Seven aired an interview with him at the time. No charges were laid at the time nor since then.
  • Matthew Gardiner, a former Australia Army combat engineer and Northern Territory Labor President, returned to Darwin in April 2015 after also assisting Kurdish fighters in Syria. No charges were laid at the time nor since then.
  • Ashley Dyball returned to large and public reception in Melbourne last night after travelling to Syria to fight with a Kurdish militia group in May 2015. No charges have been laid.

These are three cases where the “foreign fighters” law has clearly been broken and where authorities have just as clearly turned a blind eye. AFP and government officials hide behind empty talk of “ongoing investigations” but nothing is done. In the case of Muslims, they act first and talk later, as demonstrated most poignantly with the sensational AFP raids.

This does not come as a surprise.

As many in the Muslim community have emphasised for years now, the “anti-terror” laws, albeit couched in neutral legal language, specifically and purposefully target Muslims and do so within a politicised “counter-terror” regime.

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