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Inside Supermax Al-Qa'ida V Islamic State Supporters


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Should young extremists be with hardened radicals?

Interesting read.




Australia's most secretive prison lies 90km north-east of Canberra, within the fortress walls of Goulburn's historic jail. In this modern facility, under bright lights and behind red doors, most of the inmates are suspected or convicted Islamist terrorists.

Goulburn's High Risk Management Correctional Centre is where New South Wales sends inmates who are too hard to manage in other prisons or because of their link to terrorism. The inmates are kept in a strictly controlled environment - here there are no common exercise yards and prisoners are mostly segregated from each other in their own small cells.

As well as being partly isolated from each other, the prisoners are totally isolated from the larger NSW prison population of 13,000. That's the idea of keeping them in SuperMax: to concentrate and quarantine the prisoners so they will not radicalise others.

The downside of this approach is the prisoners are arguably harder to deradicalise, and at some point they will have served their sentences and be due for release.

Paul Maley, National Security Editor for the Australian, was recently granted rare access to Goulburn SuperMax, and is apprehensive about what he saw. He questions whether the approach is only incubating a threat for future generations.


"A problem that once lurked in mosques, chat room and obscure prayers halls was transferred, en masse, into the prison system," he writes in a magazine feature article about the visit, to be published in the Weekend Australian.

"The bad news is they are more dangerous than they have ever been, their radical beliefs entrenched in the same system that locked them up in the first place."

"And soon some of them will be up for release."

Two-thirds of the 48 inmates inside the SuperMax are Muslim extremists.

It's described as "the most radical square mile in all of Australia".

Some are middle-aged Al-Qa'ida operatives, sentenced in the wake of the 9/11 bombings, while others are the new generation of Islamic State operatives - young men who may have been radicalised as teenagers.

The average age of the IS supporters is just 21.

They include the young man who is at the centre of Australia's biggest terrorism plot - the alleged conspiracy to abduct and behead a random member of the public.

There's also another young IS supporter who, in another prison, bashed his cellmate and carved 'E4E' (eye for an eye) into his forehead.

"He sweeps the floor and glowers at us malevolently," Paul writes.


What do the cells look like?


Hack spoke with Paul about what he saw inside the prison.

"What it doesn't look like is a prison as you can imagine it," he said.

"You don't get large crowds, you don't get common areas.


You don't get the movie scenes you expect of a prison."

"What you see is an institution, it reminded me in a way of a psychiatric hospital, with big doors and observation windows and all quite enclosed.

"The cells are small, with a concrete bench and 3-inch rubber mattress. There's a toilet and a shower and a concrete desk where you might put a toaster or a kettle."

Prisoners spend at least 16 hours a day in their cells. For good behaviour they can access a running track and a basketball court.

The inmate has to sit inside a sealed Perspex box to meet visitors, and conversations are monitored. Visitors are x-rayed and all mail is read and stored.


Can the prisoners speak to each other?


"They can yell out at each other," Paul said.

The prisoners are kept in one of three units: one is a remand centre for unsentenced prisoners, one is for convicted prisoners serving out long sentences of more than 20 years, and the third is an observation unit where new inmates are assessed.

The Al-Qa'ida and Islamic State supporters are kept in separate units. Paul said the older generation of prisoners - the Al-Qa'ida supporters convicted after 9/11 - take a dim view of the younger ones, who are alleged Islamic State fanatics.

"What's happening in the SuperMax mirrors what's happening in the community," he said.

"The younger guys tend to be wilder and more impulsive and the older guys look down on them as being crazy reckless kids."

Hack also spoke with Peter Severin, the NSW Corrective Services Commissioner, about how the SuperMax operates. He said the two groups of radical Islamist prisoners were kept separate partly because many of the younger ones had not yet been sentenced, but also because the different generations were not compatible.

"Al-Qa'ida as a group is quite well trained and well prepared and they were engaged in terrorism behaviour and that resulted in them being sentenced and charged.

"The young IS supporters are often radicalised very quickly."

He confirmed that prisoners can speak to each other, but these "association arrangements" were limited to two prisoners at a time, and were strictly monitored.

"We can't have a situation where there is complete sensory deprivation, where they can't communicate with anyone except an officer now and then," the Commissioner said.

"This ensures people have some sense of communication normality."


What's the alternative?


In Victoria, radical inmates are spread throughout the system. This arguably makes it easier for them to be deradicalised, but carries the risk they will radicalise other prisoners.

"My concern is that putting younger unsentenced prisoners in with older hardcore ideologues means there's no chance of separating them from radical beliefs," Paul said.


I think there's an argument for removing younger guys from that environment."

"There's a situation where young prisoners are in there who are more than likely going to come out as radical as when they came in, and probably more radical."

Commissioner Severin said the concentration of radical prisoners, such as the situation at Goulburn SuperMax, was "the most reliable principle worldwide when you look at the way terrorist and radicalised prisoners are managed."

But he also suggested he was looking at other options, including transferring inmates to other prisons before they are released, to help them adjust.

"We are actively looking to diversify placement options for these groups," he said.

"You don't want to have someone discharged into the community from a SuperMax environment."



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  • 2 months later...

Posted this some months ago. Seems pretty spot on.


‘Grave questions’ over why Melbourne siege gunman was out on parole


YACQUB Khayre was a violent criminal, a terribly-behaved prisoner, and a one-time terror suspect with known links to extremists.

After serving time for a violent crime and having his parole eligibility date pushed back due to “poor behaviour†behind bars, the 29-year-old was released on parole last year, having to adhere to strict terms and conditions.

Still, on Monday night, he was able to lure a female escort to meet him at a bayside Melbourne hotel, shoot dead a man who worked at the serviced apartment block when he arrived, hold the woman hostage, then start a gunfight with counter-terror officers and shoot three before being gunned down.

As Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull put it, there are “very, very grave questions†to be answered over why this dangerous man was able to carry out this attack, which police are treating as an act of terrorism, in the name of Islamic State and al-Qaeda.


Malcolm Turnbull has asked: ‘How was this man on parole?’

Victorian Police commissioner Graham Ashton this morning confirmed the man behind the fatal Brighton siege had been on parole at the time of the incident.

“He is someone that was known to us as having a long criminal history, a whole range of offending going back many years ago.â€

Khayre had come to the attention of New South Wales police and the Australian Federal Police back in 2009 when he was charged over a terror plot targeting Holsworthy barracks.

If not thwarted, the attack could have seen high numbers of Australian Defence personnel killed at the Sydney army base.

Khayre was acquitted of charges over that attack, but was known to have had links to the Somalia-based IS-linked terror group that the plot was traced back to.

Since walking from the Holsworthy trial in 2010, he had been convicted with “a whole range of offendingâ€, and had spent about two years in a youth justice centre for between 42 and 45 offences, including multiple burglaries, assault and drug possession.

During his time in youth detention he was sentenced for stabbing a man on a train in the leg, demanding his money and phone.

According to AAP, court documents reveal Khayre came to Australia via a Kenyan refugee camp with his grandparents and had a “difficult†relationship with his parents who later followed.

Khayre lost his “steadying influence†after the death of his grandfather, a respected leader of the Somali community that was establishing itself in Melbourne.

He didn’t finish school, was “seriously†abusing drugs and alcohol and started committing offences, the documents show.

In sentencing Khayre for a 2012 aggravated burglary, Judge Felicity Hampel questioned whether he would be able to reform.

“It would appear that each time you have been released from detention or custody, you have rapidly turned back to drug abuse, and nothing has been put to me to indicate that you demonstrate any will or commitment to address it,†she said. “This unfortunately, is not your last matter before a court.â€

Mr Ashton said the offender had most recently done prison time for “reckless intentionally causing injury while in prison, as well as for an arson while in the correctional systemâ€.


Despite this series of offences while behind bars, Khayre ultimately qualified for parole, a decision Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has defended.

“I would make the point that he had served significant jail time and become eligible for parole at a later point than he might have hoped because his sentence had been increased because of poor behaviour — this is the advice that I have — terrible behaviour in prison,†he said.

Still, Mr Andrews defended the offender’s parole, saying he “was eligible†and had “been compliant with the terms and conditions of the parole granted to himâ€.

“I would point to the fact that the sentence did not relate to terrorism acts. He was actually acquitted of (terrorism) charges in New South Wales, as we all know,†he said. “The jail sentence and his parole was in relation to other criminal acts that weren’t of a terrorism nature.

“Of course it is of concern to us that somebody who would be compliant with each and every term and condition of the parole they had been granted and were eligible for, could commit such a crime.†Mr Turnbull said Khayre’s attack was a “shocking, cowardly crimeâ€, made more so by the fact that he was “only recently released on paroleâ€.

In response to questions around the man being able to spark the deadly siege while on parole, Mr Turnbull indicated the Premier had questions to answer over parole conditions in the state.

“There are some very, very grave questions. I have raised these today with the Victorian Premier,†Mr Turnbull said. “How was this man on parole? He had a long record of violence ... he had been charged with a terrorist offence some years ago and had been acquitted. He was known to have connections, at least in the past, with violent extremism, but he was a known, violent offender. How was he on parole?â€

Mr Turnbull said there had been “too many cases of people on parole committing violent offences of this kindâ€.

He said the issue of parole would be a “high priority†at this Friday’s Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting.

The Prime Minister pointed to the case of murdered Melbourne woman Jill Meagher, whose killer Adrian Bayley was on parole when he raped and murdered the young ABC employee. He also pointed to the case of the Lindt cafe gunman Man Haron Monis, around whom similar questions were raised.

The Victorian government has a recent history of violent crimes executed by parolees.

“You mentioned Jill Meagher’s case, but there have been other cases as well,†Mr Turnbull said. “It is clear that this is a real issue where people with known records of violence, including people with known terrorist connections or at least connections with extremists have been released on parole. This is an issue that I will be raising and discussing with the premiers on Friday.â€


Police have said there was “no indication†that Khayre was planning an imminent attack.

The parolee had complied with his parole conditions, including undertaking drug tests, attending appointments, and observing a curfew, the Premier assured.

On Monday however the hostage-taker tampered with the GPS ankle bracelet he was required to wear as part of his parole conditions while the siege was under way, Corrections Victoria has confirmed.

“He was known to us but there is nothing to suggest there was any indication yesterday was imminent,†Mr Ashton said. “Certainly we don’t know yet what caused him to go off like he has last night with undertaking the acts that he has.â€

Investigators are currently seeking to determine the level of planning that went into the siege and the events that followed, and whether there were any others involved.

Mr Ashton said there was no indication at this stage that Khayre’s actions were planned in concert with others.

“We believe at this stage with the information we have he was acting alone and there wasn’t any sort of ongoing threat in relation to any plot or anything around this individual,†he said.



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It's hard to balance the ability to uphold human rights, with the necessary prevention, of anyone with the freedoms available, in a western democracy, having the ability to wreak carnage on the innocent public.


I reckon that once is punishment, twice is a long prison sentence, thrice is Death Penalty, for a specific range of offences.


Problem is, my posting about this, could easily become this kind of offence, look at Thailand.


As awful as terrorism is, what are the numbers of dead etc, compared to collateral damage in our wars, or the road toll from Automobiles?


If it's deaths we're worried about, look at cars. If it's the sway of power in elections or revolutions, then perhaps terrorism is the tool that is used.

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Maybe we will end up with an "Auschwitz" type system. I use this example as I cannot recall anything else as a comparison to identify a specific group of people. All known extremists fitted with a GPS ankle bracelet :dunno: At least you would know where they are and when they are gathering in numbers.

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