Tony Abbott and the condemned terrorists

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Prime Minister Tony Abbott wants to prevent 'accidental terrorists' from returning to Australia and so is condemning them to die as suicide bombers or by ISIS beheadings, writes Bob Ellis.

It seems there are "accidental terrorists" who want to come home. They have become disillusioned with the lifestyle of the "death cult" ISIS and they want to come home. They are in Syria and Iraq and in fear of their lives. If they stay, they may be beheaded if they don’t volunteer to be, like Jake Bilardi, suicide bombers, and they want to come home. They went to fight Assad, and it all went wrong, they fell in with the wrong crowd, and they want to come home.

And Tony Abbott says if they do come they will go to gaol for 25 years. This is twice the minimum sentence of a man who rapes and strangles a child. They are much, much worse, Tony Abbott says, than he.

Like David Hicks, they have committed Thoughtcrime, and the level of their evil is not to be borne. David Hicks is an evil man, for the things he thought, and has since repented. There is no forgiveness for him, and no redemption, whatever he does. And not for them either.

There is not much sense, I think, in this vision of the world. Yet our Prime Minister espouses it. He is in a tremendous fight with a "death cult", and he believes there is no other way. Though the parents of these young men and women will be devastated, and their siblings and nephews more likely to become jihadists, and those new jihadists more likely to behead pedestrians on Collins Street, or blow up a train coming in from Katoomba, he has made his "captain’s call". And these young people will not come home, in one piece, as long as he is the captain of Team Australia, and as long as he has his way.

It is worth asking what would happen if they did come home, and were made to attend a prayer group of fellow Muslims whose minister tried to ‘de-programme’ them, to "de-radicalise" them, whose schoolfriends involved them in an encounter group, a football team, a book club, a choir, whose parents were asked to watch out for them.

A device could be put on their arm that tracked their movements. They could be required, like Julian Assange, to report once a week to a local policeman. They could be offered apprenticeships, university courses, TAFE courses. They could, like anyone else, if they committed a crime of any sort, go to gaol, or do community service in lieu of gaol.

What would be wrong, my fellow citizens, with any of that? How would it harm Australia? But no, the prime minister says, and the prime minister is an honourable man, that it is better for us, and their families, that they be crucified and beheaded in Syria, and the family see online the fate he has condemned them to.

Is there any more short-sighted leader on earth? Is there any more careless of the consequences of what he says, and does? How long can a civilised people put up with him?

The answer may be "two more weeks" if Luke Foley wins government in NSW, or wins over 20 more seats.

It may, however, be "four more days" — until the party meeting on Tuesday March the 17th.

It is just after the Ides, and it may be all the time he has.

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