opinion

The only quote we have from the Melbourne 'terrorist' can make us breathe easier tonight.

The month of Ramadan has, so far, been asphyxiated by fear and violence.

As terrorist organisation Islamic State ramped up its calls to Muslim brothers across the world to carry out its toxic, black message of death and destruction, we’ve seen lives lost in Manchester, London, and our very own Melbourne.

When Brighton siege gunman Yacqub Khayre booked a sex worker on Monday, he had a plan to murder as many policemen as possible. Holding her hostage in the up-market Buckingham serviced apartments, he would go on to kill an unidentified 36-year-old hotel clerk in the foyer, and to deliver non-life threatening injuries to three police personnel.

LISTEN: Our thoughts on the Manchester attack. (Post continues…)

In the early hours of Tuesday morning Amaq, the propaganda arm of IS, claimed responsibility for the attacks, naming Khayre as one of its ‘soldiers’.

Indeed, the thought that someone who walked among us, who bought milk beside us in the supermarket or went for walks through the local park, could be a “soldier” for IS is truly chilling – but is it legitimate?

Some of the final words to ever leave Khayre’s own mouth, before he was fatally shot, suggest it isn’t.

In a phone call to Channel Seven’s offices at 5:41pm, Khayre announced: “This is for IS, this is for Al-Qaeda.” That very sentence is one that can provide us with some form of relief tonight.

Why? Because, according to Dr Julian Droogan, head of Macquarie University’s research program into extremism and terrorism, it is impossible to align oneself with both IS and Al-Qaeda.

Speaking to Mamamia, Dr Droogan said Khayre pinning his actions to both organisations demonstrates a lack of elementary knowledge of each, considering “they are strategic rivals with one another”.

“[IS and Al-Qaeda] dislike each other immensely so you can’t have someone working for both organisations at the same time,” Dr Droogan said.

“So I think instead we have a troubled young man who is ascribing his actions to different causes to give himself a veneer of respectability or importance.”

Yacqub Khayre may have been a crazed madman. He may have had an intense and unrelenting addiction to methamphetamines. He may have been a psychopath. But an organised, trained, mastermind of terror he was not.

While Khayre may have been inspired by IS material to act, and did indeed carry out hours of terror, Dr Droogan believes this was a crime instigated by a range of “personal issues” rather than religious or political ones.

Yacqub Khayre was acutely aware uttering ‘IS’ to a terrified Channel Seven receptionist would land his face and name in every news bulletin. In this sense he was performative; but he was also a loner.

ADVERTISEMENT

“You could argue [Khayre] didn’t have any real political motivations because he was connected to a group entirely through his own imagination,” Dr Droogan said.

 Yacqub Khayre was acutely aware uttering 'IS' to a terrified Channel Seven receptionist would land his face and name in every news bulletin. (Image: Seven News)

In a press conference on Tuesday, Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton mirrored this view, telling a crowded room of reporters: "There is nothing that we've found thus far that would suggest to us that this was anything that was planned, or done in concert with others."

Instead of a 'soldier', Dr Droogan likened men like Khayre to "wannabe terrorists" and "fan boys" who simply want to affix a badge of notoriety to their crazed acts, rather than men who seek a set of outcomes under the Caliphate.

Dr Droogan also said IS claiming responsibility for the siege means little. After all, it is "advantageous" for IS to announce they are responsible for any and all acts of violence as a means of spreading their message - that's just 'good' PR.

Regardless of how or why that sick man did what he did, an innocent human being is dead. A woman was held hostage for hours on end. Police officers are carrying bullet holes in their bodies.

But at least we know Khayre wasn't trained right under our noses.

Yacqub Khayre thought covering his depravity in IS and Al-Qaeda stickers would make us see him as a soldier.

It didn't. It just made us see him as a coward and a fool.

Tags: