Writing updates

I’ve published a new blog post on the website of the AVERT Research Network at Deakin University, where I am now blogging monthly. The post, What does Australian law say about possessing terrorist instructional material?, looks at the legal position of publications such as Inspire magazine. This is something I’ve been thinking about for a few years, ever since the failed Karabegovic prosecution, but had never written on until now.

Also, a Murphy Post from June this year, Islamic State’s virtually planned terror plots: a note on current and future research, has kindly been republished on the VOX-Pol blog.

I also have an update to make about an earlier piece. In my first AVERT post, Which Australian terrorist plots have been directly connected to Islamic State, and how?, I made a vague reference to the Omarjan Azari trial:

For example, in September 2014 a man in Sydney was arrested under the New South Wales Joint Counter Terrorism Team’s Operation Appleby. The Sydney man, who had reportedly had his passport cancelled by ASIO, was allegedly in contact with Syria-based Australian IS member.  Police alleged that the Syria-based Australian IS figure ordered the suspect to murder random members of the public in Sydney. I am being excessively vague about this one as the suspect is currently on trial. We will need to wait to see whether the allegations hold up in court.

Since then, the jury has found him guilty. I assume he will be sentenced in the coming months and hopefully more information about his case will become public.

In other news, a couple of months ago I resigned from my job at APO (Swinburne University), to focus more on my PhD. I was sad to do so. I had worked there for over seven years and it was a fantastic job, but the PhD is my most important piece of work to focus on at the moment, along with the book I’m co-authoring with Debra Smith on the history of terrorism and counter-terrorism in Australia.

Finally, I want to get back to using this blog more to share valuable resources about terrorism and national security produced by a wide range of people.

I recently read this interview with Patrick Skinner, in the CTC Sentinel, at least three or so times. Skinner is a former CIA case officer (and analyst with The Soufan Group) who decided to become a rookie police officer in his local neighbourhood of Savannah, Georgia. The humility and thoughtfulness shown in this interview contrasts so much with the political grandstanding we often see about terrorism. And he provides a pertinent warning:

I’m very aware at work every day of the potential consequences of doing something wrong to someone, for example humiliating or disrespecting them. The damage is so immediate. One bad impression will overcome 10 good experiences. I’m hyper aware of the fact that I am acting in the name of the state. And I am very, very, very hesitant to use that power until I know that I’m right. And does that mean that I’m a hesitating cop? Well, no, but it probably means I’m not gonna make a lot of mistakes. I do not want to make a mistake in the name of the state, using the power of the state. But overseas, we do that a lot. It’s not our intention. We call it collateral damage, but it’s killing innocent people or it’s raids based on bad intel. You want to avoid kicking in doors in the wrong house, which we did overseas all the time. And we kind of just missed the very large impact that has on people. I would say, exercise more caution than you think you should. You really don’t want to make mistakes. I can’t stress this enough. Mistakes made in law enforcement or CT are devastating to individuals. Mistakes in law enforcement and CT made repeatedly are devastating to communities and entire systems of justice.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that recently, particularly in relation to the mistaken charges against Mohamed Nizamdeen. I strongly recommend reading the full interview.

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