While the radicals comprise only a small number of Australia’s 300,000 Muslims (who come from some 20 countries), their vociferous and intolerant discourse is disturbing. It also adds increasing light to the problem of home-grown Islamist militancy in Australia.
Last year, the firebrand imam, Abdul Nacer Benbrika, originally from Algeria but who eventually became an Australian citizen, went on national television and stated unequivocally that he could not tolerate any religion but Islam: "According to my religion, here, I don't accept all other religion except the religion of Islam… I am telling you that my religion doesn't tolerate other religion. It doesn't tolerate. The only one law which needs to spread, it can be here or anywhere else, has to be Islam."
Benbrika, who described Osama bin Laden as “great man,” also caused a stir by inciting Australian Muslims to go to Iraq and fight coalition – including Australian – troops; stating that it was a religious obligation for Muslims to do so.
Benbrika was arrested last November for being the ringleader of a terrorist plot. According to police officials from the State of Victoria, though the plot was in its "developmental stages,” Benbrika and his followers (two cells, one in Sydney, the other in Melbourne), were clearly inspired by the terrorist attacks in Madrid and London and were planning a major attack. In a telephone conversation intercepted by the police, Abdulla Merhi, said he "could wait months but not years" to carry out jihad. "You shouldn't kill just one, two or three," Mr Benbrika allegedly responded. "Do a big thing." "Like Madrid?" Mr Merhi allegedly inquired, to which Mr Benbrika was said to have replied: "That's it." He continued, "If you kill, we kill here 1000, because if you get large numbers here, the government will listen." Members of the Melbourne cell were allegedly filming the Australian Stock Exchange and Flinders Street Station, the main commuter rail terminus in Melbourne.
They also provide this tidbit of information on Al-Hilali, the cleric who likened women to meat:
Al-Hilali has been in the news before. He was nearly deported several times before gaining citizenship owing to his radical preaching and tirades. He called the 9/11 attacks "God's work against oppressors" and continues to astound people with his virulent anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial. These statements got him expelled from the Prime Minister's Muslim Advisory Board.