Monday, October 29, 2012

Hm, Hasmi... Harakat... Hamas...

... I think we may be on to something here, inspector.

Last night's SBS Television's World News was the occasion for a brief outburst of hilarity in this household.

Hot on the heels of the prime minister discoursing earnestly on her new 'Australia in the Asian Century' white paper (which highlighted the need for Australians to learn one of the major Asian languages) came a report on the foiling by Indonesian police of a new "terror plot" aimed at the US embassy in Jakarta.

There was SBS reporter Marion Ives busy telling us that "Indonesian authorities say a new militant group called Hasmi is behind the plot," when the report cut suddenly to an unidentified, shaven-headed, forty-something Australian male (presumably a spokesman for the Australian Federal Police or ASIO, or one of their proliferating band of counterterrorism 'experts') discoursing earnestly on the ideological intricacies of the alleged Hasmi plot. Caught in mid-sentence, this genius was recorded saying:

"... and the attacks it was about to carry out are believed to be the first ones it had organised. It's almost certainly a successor organisation to Gema [his pronunciation] Islamiyah and similar groups which have a long history in Indonesia. The other is that the first part of its name is Harakat and that is a name of a number of militant Islamic organisations including Hamas, Al-Shabaab..."

Ergo, Hasmi must be directly related to Hamas. Not!

Allow me to explain. 'Haraka' is simply the Arabic word for 'movement', as in 'political movement'. It has no religious connotations whatever. Hamas' official name in Arabic is thus 'harakat al-muqawama al-islamiya' (Islamic Resistance Movement). Likewise, Hamas' secular Palestinian rival, Fatah's official name is 'harakat at-tahrir al-watani al-filastiniya' (Palestinian National Liberation Movement).

It's precisely this kind of cluelessness that has me wondering yet again about our bloated security apparatus, which is based on legislation which, according to the Law Council of Australia, is "contrary to the most fundamental principles of our criminal justice system,"* and costs us over a billion dollars annually. (See my posts Beautiful Sets of Figures (31/1/12) and Behind the ASIO Assessment (23/11/10).)

[*Terrorist laws 'go too far', Harriet Alexander, Sydney Morning Herald, 26/10/12.]

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