Community Safety

Terror group's safe haven

June 30, 2024

Sunday 30 June 2024
James Campbell
Adelaide Advertiser

 Middle East group uses Australian branch to sidestep overseas ban
 The Islamist group Hizb utTahrir is using its Australian branch to run online  campaigns in the UK, Pakistan and Bangladesh where it is banned as a  terrorist organisation.
 The organisation, which is based in Lebanon, advocates for the  re-establishment of a caliphate a political-religious Muslim state.
 Despite Jewish leaders' calls for it to be banned as an antiSemitic group  that supports terrorism, it is legal in Australia and operates as a  not-for-profit organisation under NSW law.
 Figures linked to Hizb utTahrir also run registered charities that can accept  taxdeductible donations.
 Until January, it had also operated for many years in the UK despite calls  for it to be banned.
 However, after a press release emerged in which Hizb utTahrir praised Hamas  for the October 7 attacks in Israel, Home Secretary James Cleverly banned the  group, saying it "actively promotes and encourages terrorism, including  praising and celebrating the appalling 7 October attacks".
 He warned "anyone who belongs to and invites support for them will face  consequences".
 The UK action followed bans in Pakistan, in 2004, and Bangladesh, in 2009.
 It has recently been reported that Hizb ut-Tahrir in Australia has covertly  operated a group named Stand4Palestine, which has been part of pro-Palestine  protests on university campuses, glorifying terrorism and calling for  boycotts of Jewish-owned businesses.
 The Sunday Mail can reveal the Stand4Palestine group has been used by Hizb  ut-Tahrir to evade the bans in the UK, Pakistan and Bangladesh and push  pro-Hamas propaganda.
 One piece of online propaganda includes a video in Bangladesh entitled  "Freedom fighters" that celebrates Israelis being stabbed, blown up  on buses, shot in their homes and taken hostage.
 The group's vehicle for dissemination into countries where it is banned has  been WhatsApp groups, with more than 11,000 members. Nearly 25 per cent of  members are located in the UK, as is one of the group's administrators. Most  of the WhatsApp messages have their origin in Australia.
 Zionist Federation of Australia president Jeremy Leibler said the threat  posed by Hizb ut-Tahrir in Australia must be taken seriously.
 "While our social cohesion is under unprecedented pressure, it is  advocating and promoting terrorism across the world, even in our democratic  allies that have rightly banned it," he said.
 "Our authorities gave Hizb ut-Tahrir an inch and it's taken a  mile." Opposition home affairs spokesman James Paterson said the federal  government needed to act.
 "It would be deeply disturbing if the failure to list Hizb utTahrir as a  terrorist organisation allows the banned UK group to relocate here," he  said.
 "We don't want extremists outlawed by our closest partners to operate  with impunity on our turf due to an unwillingness to act."

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