Deportation for terrorists isn’t punishment enough

Just a few days after Shire Ali’s terrorist attack in Bourke Street, Melbourne, which resulted in the knifing death of a revered Australian businessman, Victorian police charged three more men with preparing for an act of terrorism.

According to reports, the three men were inspired by ISIS and were planning to use firearms to inflict maximum casualties. All three men were Australian nationals of Turkish ancestry, and had been watched by security forces for some time, whilst their passports had been cancelled.

People convicted of terrorism offences in Australia have been from a number of different ethno-cultural backgrounds (like Afghans, Somalis and Lebanese), but people being of Turkish ancestry may be a new development, and perhaps only demonstrates the danger of Australia’s Multiculturalism policy. The three men were also, of course, locally radicalised Muslims.

It’s interesting to notice some of the more common public reactions from everyday Australians to either terrorism incidents or terrorism arrests. Calls to have convicted terrorists “deported” often abound in the public square, but these sentiments might rightly be considered a knee-jerk reaction, that don’t really consider the whole terrorism issue very carefully at all.

Whilst certainly getting rid of people convicted of terrorism-related crimes is a good idea, they need to be punished first. Convicted foreign-born terrorists who have completed their prison sentences (preferably with hard labour), should then be deported. Calls to only deport terrorists (as a form of “banishment”) are really too soft on crime – there needs to be a higher standard of deterrence.

In one sense, there’s something slightly cute about patriotic Australians presuming that someone being “banished” from their wonderful country might be the harshest, most severe penalty that could ever possibly be imposed on anyone. Yet in reality, getting a one-way ticket back to their ancestral homelands is hardly likely to act as a very effective deterrent against Islamic-inspired fanatics, who are probably feeling disoriented and alienated with life in Australia in the first place. Perceiving deportation as a punishment in itself is in reality, probably pretty ignorant. Perhaps suggesting that terrorists be “deported” might be a bit like wanting to make them “somebody else’s problem”.

Calls for the death penalty also abound, and this is entirely understandable. However, when one considers that many wannabe Muslim terrorists actually expect or hope to die during their planned acts of terrorism, and have the belief that their strike against the “infidels” will see them off to paradise as “martyrs”; this may not be the best solution either.

Of course, there will be those who will argue that taxpayers should not have to pay to keep convicted terrorists alive for perhaps many years; and this is a valid discussion for society to have.

Deterrence however, needs to be given high consideration when it comes to how Australia might best combat terrorism. Yet the “deportation” line is being cynically exploited by certain politicians, spinning it as a “hard line” against terrorism, when in reality, this is complete nonsense.

Even Cory Bernardi, who should know better, is a culprit. Yet, some politicians will say or advocate anything in a desperate bid to gain personal political support.

Continuing the “tough on terrorism” spin, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton announced new proposals to apparently lower the bar for stripping citizenship and for deportation, but this would only apply to those with a prison sentence of more than six years for a terror offence.

Perhaps those convicted of such serious offences might be considered very dangerous people and should not be let out at all. Perhaps the best deterrence against terrorism (besides any number of gruesome or humiliating suggestions), might be to lock these offenders up in a maximum security Australian prison (with hard labour), and to effectively throw away the key.

Perhaps the Supreme Court Justice who recently sentenced ISIS sympathiser Milad Atai to a maximum 38 years in prison for aiding and abetting the murder of Curtis Cheng, had the right idea.

Accused terror plotters front Melbourne court”, 9 News, 20 November 2018 (Sean Davidson, Lexie Jeuniewic)
Three men arrested in anti-terror raids in Melbourne”, Herald Sun, 20 November 2018 (Mark Buttler)
Melbourne terror attack plot suspects arrested in police raids over mass shooting fears”, 21 November 2018
PM considers plan to kick extremists out of Australia”, Conservatives, 22 November 2018
Australian-born terrorists could be stripped of their citizenship and booted out of the country under radical new changes after the Melbourne attack”, Daily Mail, 22 November 2018 (AAP, Ben Hill)
New laws will strip Australian extremists of citizenship”, SBS News, 23 November 2018 (James Elton-Pym)
Man refuses to stand for Supreme Court Justice as he is sentenced for role in Curtis Cheng murder”, ABC News, 23 November 2018 (Kathleen Calderwood)

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