Thursday, November 27, 2014

Australia confronting threat from homegrown Islamist radicals

SYDNEY: Australia is confronting what authorities say is a growing threat from homegrown Islamist radicals and fears a new danger is about to rumble over the horizon – would-be militants hooking up with biker gangs.

Over 800 police were involved in counterterrorism raids in Sydney and Brisbane in September, which authorities said thwarted a plot by militants linked to ISIS to behead a random member of the public. Convicted murderer and Brothers 4 Life gang boss Bassam Hamzy adopted the mantle of radical Islam behind bars while ordering his gang to join forces with the Bandidos Motorcycle Club in a bloody drug war, media said.
The new link between radical Islam and bikers is partly a consequence of Australia’s changing demographics.
More than a quarter century ago, when Mark “Ferret” Moroney joined the Finks Outlaw Motorcycle Club, members were like him: tough, covered in tattoos and, like much of Australia at the time, white.

In the 1990s, crime groups run by the children of Lebanese immigrants took control of Sydney’s notorious Kings Cross neighborhood and alliances were forged with bikers, who police say are heavily involved in narcotics and extortion.
In 2005, police thwarted a plot to blow up a nuclear power plant in New South Wales with rockets allegedly stolen by an army major, who sold them to a biker gang, which sold them to a Lebanese organized crime group, which sold them to radical Islamists.

“For me, that was a classic example of the profit driven criminality and the religiously or jihadi motivated sort of violence working together,” he said.