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February 24th 2015 print

John Slater

The Grubby ‘Innocence’ of David Hicks

A legal technicality has wiped the jumbuk jihadist's terrorism conviction, but the man who revelled in the company of Osama bin Laden was never an innocent abroad. He knew full well what he was doing -- and so do his apologists on the left

eraseDavid Hick’s recent demands for an apology and compensation, following the setting aside of his terrorism conviction by a US military court, shows that while he may be innocent in the eyes of the law, he is yet to learn his lesson. To examine Hicks’ case as a question of legal guilt is to totally misapprehend the real nature of the situation. Hicks’ “innocence” was not because there was a lack of demonstrated links with the Taliban, Osama Bin Laden or for a want of intent to carry out violent attacks (albeit unrealised). It was because at the particular time Hicks joined the Taliban, the law was not calibrated to deal with the issue of foreign fighters joining overseas terror groups and training to commit pre-meditated mass murders.

This does nothing to diminish that Hicks sought to aid and abet the Taliban – an organisation single-mindedly focused on the destruction of Western civilization – immediately after it had provided aid and comfort to the terrorists who carried out the most deadly attack on the US since Pearl Harbour. After the events of 9/11, America went to war with the Taliban. By any standard, this made Hicks an enemy combatant.

To speak in legal semantics, Hicks may have been found not guilty. Nevertheless, in national security terms, he revelled in an ideology antithetical to not only Australia, but the values underpinning the entire Western world.

Despite all this, the Howard government expended considerable diplomatic capital to secure his return Australia. Claims that more should have been done to have Hicks’ released earlier overlook the sensitivities of persuading the US to essentially grant preferential treatment to an Australian national at a time of war. In truth, the steps taken by Australian authorities were generous in light of Hicks’ actions.

In this light, having the audacity to demand compensation for injuries — like teeth decay, for example — suggests Hicks is either delusional or wilfully ignorant of the seriousness of his conduct.

It is equally astounding that Hicks’ continues to be lionised by the left.  In December last year, Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young remarked, “David Hicks has a hell of a lot more guts than George Brandis and all the other government ministers who stayed silent and turned a blind eye.” Filmaker and far left polemicist John Pilger went further, describing Hicks as a “courageous Australian citizen” who had suffered from “Australia’s silence on the denigration of [his] basic liberties such as freedom of speech and the presumption of innocence.”

In the real world, ‘basic liberties’ and ‘human rights’ exist only to the extent that sovereign nation states are willing to protect them. Not coincidentally, the nation states with the greatest will to safeguard such rights  — the Anglosphere nations of North America, the Anglosphere generally and Continental Europe — also happen to be the major targets of Jihadist groups, such as the one Hicks signed himself up for. In the end, human rights mean nothing if they aren’t supported by the most basic right of all, the right to life.  One seriously wonders why the left is so fixated upon the purported injustices suffered by Hicks, yet have little energy when it comes to standing up for the rights of the real victims of terrorism: innocent people who have lost their lives.

Similar delusions appear to affect those who spend their time apologising or making excuses for Hicks. Just last week Bill Shorten said that while Hicks’ decision to fight with Al Qaeda after 9/11 attacks was ‘foolish’, he had nonetheless suffered an ‘injustice.’ This habit of using distractions and weak language to downplay individual wrongdoing has also been seen in recent suggestions that a lack of social inclusion is to blame for Australian citizens flying overseas to join forces with ISIS. The key feature of this mindset is that it deflects blame from terrorists by raising the question of whether our own values and culture may be partly responsible for inciting groups like the Taliban. Such ideas are alarming, to say the least. We cannot expect to defeat radical Islam if we are left apologising for the values and way of life that are the very reason Australia and its allies became targets for terrorism in the first place.

Make no mistake, wavering in our resolve about what sets the West apart from the barbarism of radical Islam would be gifting terrorists a home goal. Apologising to David Hicks would amount to doing exactly that.