The official blog of the RWR upper North Island Division.
Friday, 13 February 2015
THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD 13 FEB - TERROR SUSPECT OMAR AL-KUTOBI TRIED TO JOIN AUSTRALIAN ARMY
A western Sydney student accused of plotting an Islamic State terror attack tried to join the Australian army but was rejected, his family says.
Omar Al-Kutobi, 24, and his flatmate Mohammad Kiad, 25, were arrested on Tuesday just hours before they were allegedly going to kill a random white person in Sydney.
Police stormed their Fairfield granny flat, seizing a hunting knife, a machete, a home-made Islamic State flag and a video of Al-Kutobi kneeling in front of the flag and vowing in Arabic to attack the "kidneys and necks" of Australians.
Al-Kutobi's father, Ahmad, said his son once loved Australia and wanted to join the army.
He applied about two years ago but was told by the army that he needed more time.
Al-Kutobi, who was studying IT at Melbourne's RMIT University, was only a permanent resident at the time and was granted citizenship months later in 2013.
The Department of Defence would not comment on Al-Kutobi's application.
"Defence will not comment on a matter that is currently before the court," a spokesman said.
Al-Kutobi was not on any intelligence radars at the time and had no criminal record.
It was only at 3pm on Tuesday that he came to the attention of authorities when he bought a hunting knife at Peter's Military and Camping Supplies, a Smithfield store that stocks ammunition, replica guns, military gear, knives and machetes.
When Al-Kutobi came to Australia as a refugee in 2009, he would tell his father it was the best country in the world.
But in the past six months, he grew frustrated and tired.
"He told me life in Australia is so hard," said Ahmad, who lives in Germany. "I told him, 'You don't remember when you said Australia is the best country in the world?' "
He said Al-Kutobi replied, "Yes, but it is changing".
Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Immigration Minister Peter Dutton foreshadowed the tightening of asylum seeker processing following revelations both men came to Australia as refugees and one used false documents.
Fairfax Media understands Al-Kutobi arrived by plane on a false passport, meaning he somehow slipped through immigration at an airport, though this was before biometric screening standards were in place.
The family fled Iraq because Al-Kutobi's father was shot while working as a translator for the US Army.
Kiad was granted a family and spousal visa in 2012, but he separated from his wife soon after.
In an statement provided to Channel Ten, the estranged wife, who didn't identify herself, said: "If they had managed to hurt someone I would have felt guilty for the rest of my life, because I brought this man to Australia."
After the separation, Kiad, a nurse from Kuwait, moved in with his only friend Al-Kutobi, who was studying nursing.
The pair worked together as removalists for Santa Fe Wridgways in Villawood, but chief executive Andrew Simpson said on Thursday that both men were recently let go after being employed over summer.
Mr Abbott said Australia needed to question whether it was giving "the benefit of the doubt" too often to people who were granted residency or citizenship after arriving as asylum seekers.
"If you look at the Martin Place murderer, he had been given the benefit of the doubt at every stage by our system. I suspect that much the same will turn out to be the case with these people," he told Fairfax Radio.
"We need to ask ourselves the question, 'What useful purpose does it serve our country to have these people here?' "
ASIO screens everyone who is granted asylum in Australia, at least at basic level, and usually at a deeper level if any red flags are raised.
Mr Abbott accused Labor of "reducing the level of ASIO screening" while it was in government.
Both men appeared in Central Local Court on Thursday and their Legal Aid-funded barrister Deone Provera said they would apply for bail on March 16.