30 December 2014

Federal grant for jihadist recruit

From: The AustralianDecember 31, 2014, by: MARK SCHLIEBS and EAN HIGGINS:

SA Pics
Samir Atwani at Canterbury Boys High in Sydney.

A TOP Sydney school student was praised by Arthur Sinodinos and given $2000 by the federal government shortly before flying out of Australia to join Islamic State’s propaganda unit in Syria.

It is unclear whether Samir Atwani, who graduated from Sydney’s Canterbury Boys High last year after receiving a university admissions score of 96.25, used any of the government prize money to travel to Syria, where he became a video editor for the proscribed terrorist group.

Last week, The Australian revealed the man, now identified as Mr Atwani, had been studying electrical engineering at university but abandoned the degree when he went to Syria sometime in the past six months. He is now based in Deir Ezzor province. Mr Atwani was a high-achieving student at Canterbury Boys High, which former prime minister John Howard attended as a boy.

...One of the teenager’s closest friends said yesterday Mr Atwani, along with his online profiles, vanished in August, despite the teenager doing well at university, where he had started an engineering degree.

Mr Atwani is understood to have been born in Australia into a family descended from the [Arab] refugee community in Lebanon who fled Israel after the creation of the Jewish state.

Mr Atwani’s friend said the budding video editor had gone to Lebanon for some weeks with his father about 18 months ago, where they visited Palestinian relatives. He said Mr Atwani had ­occasionally mentioned Islamic State videos and praised them — not for their content, but for their high production quality.

...This month, Mr Atwani told The Australian he had volunteered to be in the media unit after Islamic State sought volunteers with experience in video production, and described watching an alleged “spy” being beheaded as “satisfying”....

08 December 2014

Tony Burke cancels Palestine speech

LABOR frontbencher Tony Burke has pulled out at the last minute from giving an address to the inaugural general meeting of the lobby group Labor for Palestine, after learning that the organiser of the event supported boycotts and armed conflict against Israel.
Hours after telling The Australian that Mr Burke would give the speech at Lakemba in Sydney’s west tonight, a spokesman for the member for Watson in Sydney’s southwest said there was uncertainty about whether the event was going ahead. “Tony is not attending,” the spokesman said.
The decision came after The Australian highlighted the fact that the contact person for the event was Fahad Ali, a medical student at Sydney University who has been known as a leader of the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel and lauded by prominent pro-BDS academic Jake Lynch.
Mr Ali last night confirmed Mr Burke had cancelled his speech after the revelations provided to his office by The Australian, but said he would proceed with the event anyway.
He said he did not support an immediate campaign of violence against Israel, and did not condone the rocket attacks by Hamas, but did support what he said was the right of Palestinians to “self-defence” and “armed resistance”.
Mr Burke’s spokesman said the frontbencher supported a two-state outcome pursued through peaceful means.

Mr Ali recently appeared on his Facebook page under a flag of a terrorist group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The PFLP is not proscribed in Australia but is on the list of terrorist organisations against which Australia imposes financial sanctions under a UN Security Council resolution.