The arrest of New Zealand ISIS affiliate Suhayra Aden by Turkish authorities, and our reaction to it, provides interesting insights into New Zealanders’ understanding of terrorism and how to deal with it.
had been warned by the Director General of Intelligence several years ago that New Zealand women were traveling to the Middle East to join ISIS. It was later clarified that the women had left Australia, not New Zealand – but the clarification meant there was nothing to worry about.
Amid the frenzy of the media frenzy and criticism of the Director-General, the real point of his warning sank – that it was irrelevant where the joint Australian / New Zealand citizen was going. The problem is, and what, where will they end up returning?
Despite these warnings, nothing was being done to prepare for the possibility that New Zealanders living elsewhere who traveled to the war zone could one day return here.
It wasn’t until New Zealand “jihadi” Mark Taylor was arrested in 2019 that New Zealand hastily pushed the Suppression of Terrorism Act (Control Order) into law – finally admitting that it was New Zealanders who left to join outside terrorist groups. country may want to return.
Various media outlets have affirmed that the Order of Control Act will apply to Aden, but the law relates to people who have been involved in, or materially assisted those involved in, terrorist activity. It can be difficult to get a court to accept that marrying or having children of an ISIS fighter meets that threshold. How many choices do the wives of ISIS fighters usually have? There may be no reason indicated for the control command to be enforced.
The Prime Minister took his frustration out on Australians, whose actions to strip Aden of his citizenship were selfish, petty and unhelpful in counter-terrorism efforts. Shifting terrorism-related concerns to New Zealand doesn’t argue with that.
But Australia’s actions are also completely predictable. If only we had moved faster, we could have avoided teetering with their so-called problem.
Good read by David Fisher on Isis ‘Kiwi’ terrorists: How Suhayra Aden was radicalized in Australia, abandoned in Syria
– Nicholas Jones (@nickjonesnzer) 17 February 2021
If Aden does not have the will to give up the extremist beliefs that sparked the gruesome and brutal executions of ISIS cold-blooded prisoners, or injure a myriad of perceived offenses and throw those suspected of being homosexuals from buildings, there is a risk of extremism being introduced into buildings. our community.
Basing our decisions on “doing the right thing” and hoping that others will do the same is not an effective strategy.
After all, the “right thing” is a very subjective concept. Had we removed Aden’s citizenship first, we would not have been doing “the wrong thing” – Aden has lived in Australia longer than New Zealand, and it may be that the support of his family and immediate community is all over Tasman, so rehabilitation efforts would be of great benefit. much better chance of working there than here.
If we had put our ropes in the sand, Australia would not be able to push this problem on us. This doesn’t mean we can’t help – “do the right thing” – but it does mean we’ll do it on our terms.
On the other hand, the return of foreign fighters poses much less risk than many fear.
Returning or reformed extremists have proven very effective in deradicalisation in the US and Europe.
Often ex-jihadis and far-right extremists work together, and provide pathways for rehabilitation for individuals across the extremist spectrum. These programs work with a non-judgmental, malleable approach, they operate with approval and work when those involved want to.
A person with experience living with ISIS, and wanting to help others avoid extremism, could be invaluable for such an endeavor.
Based on the evidence to date, Australia needs this more than New Zealand.
Regardless of the headlines, this wasn’t a big or insurmountable problem. But if we heed the warnings when they are given and are taken with a sensible and pragmatic approach from the start, that may not be a problem at all.
Countering terrorism is about pragmatism – achieving national security goals as early and peacefully as possible.
First and foremost, we need to heed warnings when they are given. We need to be more assertive. And we have to stop being pushed by our neighbors across the Tasman.
• Dr John Battersby is a Teaching Fellow at the Center for Defense and Security Studies, Massey University, specializing in terrorism and counter terrorism.