From under the linoleum
Old newspapers show Mussolini's imperialism looked a lot like today's

I sat on the floor and picked through the tragedy of the country we now call Ethiopia laid out on the yellowing pages. It was eerily reminiscent of the current Iraq adventure.

A tale for our times
The December 1934 assassination of Sergei Kirov

Seventy years on, the killing of Sergei Kirov casts an eerie light on the events of 11 September 2001, the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the “war on Terror” and the state-sponsored hysteria surrounding the shadowy figures of Osama bin Ladin and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Ninety-three years of bombing the Arabs
It was the Italians, hell-bent on acquiring an African empire, who got the ball rolling. In 1911 the Libyan Arab tribes opposed an Italian invasion. Their civilians were the first people in the world to be bombed from the air.

Dispossessed all over again
After spending nearly two months in the West Bank the pull towards my village was growing stronger, especially after being detained twice and threatened with deportation … an Australian Palestinian returns to her ancestral home.

The tragic inevitability of a forlorn hope
Australia slides further into the Iraq quagmire
Cabinet documents recently released under the 50-year rule show that, in 1954, Liberal (conservative) Prime Minister, Robert Menzies, and key figures in his Cabinet were extremely gloomy about the prospects for success in an American war against nationalists in Indochina. But eventually they went to the Vietnam War anyway.

Bombing King David
One man’s freedom fighter is another’s terrorist

Some historians date the beginning of modern terrorism from the 1946 bombing by Zionist terrorists of the British military HQ in Jerusalem.

Don’t loiter near the exit
Military debacle and economic decline haunt the Bush regime

When I was just a young possum in the school cadet corps there was a hoary old war story that we all knew. It was almost certainly apocryphal, but it ruefully expressed a nasty historic truth about the US role in the demise of the British Empire.


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The Pied Piper of Paris

17 April 2012

Willie Brigitte has been arrested again. You remember Willie? Maybe you’d just started high school then. Whatever. Willie was the young French islamist arrested in Sydney way back in 2003. For a few months he’d been a close associate of Abu Hamza, the Pakistani-Australian architect convicted in 2005 of acting in preparation for a terrorist offence.

Abu Hamza is eligible for parole in 2019 but Willie didn’t go down for that one because we’d deported him to France. Hamza was nabbed as soon as Brigitte’s subsequent arrest in France was made public.

In March 2007 Willie was found guilty of “associating with criminals in relation to a terrorist enterprise” He got nine years, but he was out again in 2009 with time off for time already spent in custody. Whether he actually, really and truly, spent time in custody before the trial is an interesting question because he’d disappeared into the black maw of secretive detention run by the anti-terrorist  authorities. For all we know he could have been back home in Guadeloupe with his mum.

This time around, Willie has been arrested along with 16 others who he’d apparently led on jihad training exercises in the woods outside Paris. No weapons were found in his home. The Paris raids, coming as they did on top of the Merah case, were a handy fillip for Sarkozy’s reelection campaign.

But let’s revisit Willie’s time in Sydney because to this old student of secret police tactics he looks awfully like a career agent provocateur.

Willie arrived in Sydney in mid 2003. By the time he got here, he’d allegedly been under relentless surveillance by French security since 1998. In December 2003 I wrote this:

On the face of it Willie looks like a small time al-Q player. Came to Paris from the West Indies as a boy and became a social worker, converts to Islam at the age of 30, and immediately gets involved with a radical Sunni group. Just afterwards, on the eve of the soccer World Cup, the French cops round up 70 of his new comrades. But not Willie, they narrowly miss Willie (or so they say).

Unlike some of his associates, Willie didn’t go to Afghanistan to fight for the Taliban, instead he goes briefly to Yemen to study the Koran. But just after September 11, he rushes to Pakistan and tries to cross into Afghanistan to offer his services. He takes a look at the border security, thinks better of it, and sits out the invasion in a Lashkar-e-Tayyiba training camp in Pakistan playing with Kalashnikovs (or so they say he says).

So that’s Willie: knows lots of insiders, never gets picked up by the cops, but he never quite gets to the scene of the action either (until now). Might be the CV of a minor, not-too-courageous al-Q player, but it could equally be the CV of an intrepid French secret service operative. Take your pick.

In Sydney, Willie swaggered around the mosques and even Tony Mundine’s boxing studio, hinting he was a big man from al-Qaeda. He attracted the amorous attentions of an Aussie girl named Melanie Brown, a recent convert to Islam, who called herself Khadija.  They married in haste in an Islamic ceremony. Curiously, Melanie’s CV (an ex-army signaller from an Anglican private school) makes her look a lot like she’s actually ASIO.

Strangely, it wasn’t until four months after Brigitte arrived here that the French spooks informed ASIO of his presence (or so the official story goes). Our boys pounced, arresting him for overstaying his tourist visa and working illegally. Interestingly, they didn’t use their sweeping new anti-terrorism powers. Obligingly, we deported Willie to France but when our spooks flew over to interview him over the Hamza business, their French colleagues sent them packing before they could get near him (or so our guys told the media).

It was all very mysterious, but there’s a good case that Willie was an agent provocateur sent to pull potential terrorists out of hiding. Maybe the French and Australian spooks were collaborating. Khadija Brown might have been an ASIO undercover girl. Maybe she stumbled on Willie, thought he was the real thing and blew the whistle or perhaps she was, by agreement with the Frogs, part of Willie’s cover story.

And now the Pied Piper of Paris done it again, leading another bunch of naive idiots into the arms of the law. 

At a time when the Gillard Government has officially unleashed the secret police on a range of domestic activists, including, for example, opponents of the coal industry,  there’s a message here. Kids, just be very cautious about that swaggering idiot who popped up from nowhere and who’s always trying to get you to lurch just that little bit too far outside the law.