David Hicks And Me. One Woman's Fantasy.No link available, so I'm transcribing this from the dead tree edition of yesterday's Sunday Herald Sun.
As David Hicks finally walks free, Kate Kyriacou traces the strange journey of a high school dropout who became a highly trained guerilla fighting a war against his own people.
What turned Hicks into an outsider
Yesterday was the first day of the rest of David Hicks' life. He returned, probably thankfully, to an ordinary, quiet life he once deplored.
It was a yearning to leave the suburban life that years ago took him away from his two children to fight another country's war.
But how did an animal-loving suburban boy make his way to meet the world's most notorious terrorist, Osama bin Laden?
It was a journey of a thousand steps that began with a desire to "help people" and ended with his arrest for terrorism.
Hicks had a troubled childhood. He was eight when his parents divorced. By the age of 14, he was called to the principal's office at least once a week.
He dropped out of school and ended up on the streets, where he stole cars to feed himself.
His father, Terry, sent the boy to a farm facility for "at risk" boys. It was there that Hicks discovered a talent for dealing with animals and latter became a talented rodeo rider.
He was 17 when he met Jodie Sparrow - a young woman whose family were heavily involved in the sport.
The pair had a whirlwind romance and Ms Sparrow soon gave birth to their first child, Bonnie. A year later, their son Terry was born.
When Hicks was 21, Ms Sparrow broke off their relationship, leaving him shattered.
"I was pretty cold, you know, I just didn't want a bar of him and I didn't, you know - actually, I was a bitch," she told Chanel9 in a paid interview.
Hicks was heartbroken by the breakup. He decided to travel and seek adventure.
He found a job as a racehorse trainer in Japan, a job he loved. In his spare time, Hicks watched satellite TV reports on the war in Kosovo.
In particular, he was interested in the plight of the ethnic Albanians who were engaged in a battle with Serbian forces to gain independence for Kosovo.
"I can do something to help them," he told friends in Japan and searched the internet for information on the Kosovo Liberation Army.
By the time he arrived in Kosovo, the war was almost over. But Hicks returned to Australia with a newfound passion for war - and for Islam.
The hardline Muslim guerillas he had stood alongside in Kosovo had told him about their faith and beliefs and Hicks took in every word.
Friends said Hicks saw terrible things in Kosovo. He told stories of seeing the bodies of women and children with the word "pigs" written across their naked, mutilated bodies.
His stunned family watched as he joined a local mosque and insisted on being called Mohammed Darwoud (sic).
Telling his former partner his new lifestyle was "not suitable" forthe children, Hicks once again took off overseas.
In March, 2000, Hicks started a training couse with terrorist organisation Lashkar-e-Tayyiba - the armed wing of a Pakistan-based religious organisation.
the LeT taught Hicks weapons handling, hand-to-hand combat, topography, guerilla warfare and survival techniques.
According to US Homeland Security information, the group "operates heavy infantry weaponry" and has links to al-Qaida.
By January 2001, Hicks had moved on to al-Qaida, where he completed four training courses at secret camps in Afghanistan.
Starting with "basic training", the Australian was taught weapons handling, commando tactics, and explosives.
Next he took "Guerilla Tactics and Mountain Warfare" - a seven-week course covering advanced marksmanship, ambush, reconnaissance and surveillance.
In May, 2001, Hicks was trained in urban warfare, where he learnt house entries and sniper skills.
At a private house in Kabul, Hicks completed a three-week course in "information collecting", where he was given instructions on how to disguise himself as a Muslim when travelling in foreign countries and surveillance techniques.
According to information presented in the Federal Magistrates' Court of Asutralia, Hicks was a highly trained operative working with terrorist organisations.
"The training has provided Mr Hicks with the capability to execute plans for terrorist acts or to provide instruction to others in this regard," the court heard.
Finishing his training, Hicks planned to return home because his visa had expired, but could not raise the money to do so.
He had spent the past year sending fanatical letters home to his alarmed family, telling of his activities and beliefs.
"Christians and Jews are fighting Muslims in Eritrea and the same in Nigeria," he wrote. "All because non-believers work together to destroy Islam.
"Myself as a preactising Muslim with military experience can go to help in any of these conflicts."
Despite these beliefs, Hicks was determined to get home and attempted to travel into Pakistan to try to fix the problems with his visa.
He was left stranded in Afghanistan when the border was closed in the wake of the September 11 attacks on New York.
Before long, Hicks was called into action by al-Qaida and was sent to man the trenches outside Kandahar airport.
From there he was moved to a nearby mountain village, where he was ordered to guard a tank.
"He was given a rifle and found his own ammunition, which he carried as he was fearful that the Northern Alliance would kill all foreigners," court documents revealed.
But a few days later, Hicks moved to Kabul, where his skills were to be used to train others in guerilla warfare.
Before that could happen, he was ordered to the frontline in Kunduz, where he was spotted by the Northern Alliance.
he took off, jumping in a taxi in a bid to cross the border into Pakistan.
Then it all unravelled for Hicks. On December 9, 2001, he was pulled from the taxi and handed to US military officials.
He wouldn't arrive at the notorious Guantanamo Bay until a month later, after extensive interrogation by both Australian and US intelligence officials.
But the interrogations did not end there - and according to an affidavit prepared by Hicks's US-appointed lawyer, Major Michael Mori, they would only get worse.
Hicks told how he would crouch in his cell listening to the sounds of his fellow inmates being beaten and tortured. He said that sometimes they would use attacke dogs to brutalise prisoners as they prayed, or if they refused medication.
When prisoners emerged from their cells with fewer than the usual number of bruises, it was a sure sign they were informing on other captives.
And then they would come for him. He claimed that sometimes they would come with injections. Other times with a blindfold and handcuffs.
"I have had handcuffs placed on my so tightly, and for so long - as much as 14 to 15 hours - that my hands were numb for a considerable period thereafter," Hicks wrote.
"I have been struck with hands, fists and other objects - including rifle butts.
"I have also been kicked. I have been hit in the face, head, feet and torso.
"I have had my head rammed into asphalt several times while blindfolded."
In his affidavit, Hicks also claimed he had been offered the services of a prostitute for 15 minutes if he would spy on his fellow inmates. He refused.
He said that sometimes they would inject him with a sedative, leaving him even more helpless to fend off th eblows from rifle butts and fists.
Hicks lost about 13kg while locked away in Guantanamo Bay.
Inmates who didn't co-operate with the interrogators were made to go without showers, mail, reading material and even food.
After 18 months of this treatment, he was moved to a one-person cell in a section known as Camp Echo.
For clsoe to a year, hicks was kept in his cell without any access to sunlight or exercise.
In October 2004, Hicks was allowed to return to the general prison population of Camp Delta.
It would be more than two years - almost six years from the day he was pulled from a taxi and arrested on his way to Pakistan - before hicks would face terrorism charges before a military commission.
In March this year, Hicks pleaded guilty to providing material support for terrorism and attempted murder, after his lawyers struck a deal with the convening authority.
Four days later he was sentenced to seven years' jail - with six years and three months suspended and the remaining nine months to be served in an Australian prison.
It was a major win for Hicks' legal team.
Things were different at Yatala - a maximum security prison for Adelaide's most violent criminals.
"After that long in solitary confinement, you become reliant on the person looking after your," Terry Hicks said.
"(At Guantanamo Bay) they become your life. They open the door; they tell you when to step through the doorway.
"Here, (at Yatala) they just open the door and walk away.
"But he wouldn't go. He's not used to doing things - even small things like that - on his own any more."
For weeks, Hicks' father and his legal team worked frantically to prepare for his release. Corrections authorities stressed Hicks would be afforded no special treatment.
Yesterday, any clothing or cash he had at the time of his arrest was handed back and he was escorted through the gates to his first taste of free air. And a long-awaited new life.
I'd like to fisk this article, but that can wait. For now, I am trying to refrain from hurling up my breakfast at this complete and utter tosh.
Obviously Kate feels for the poor dear; after all those training courses learning how to kill people and being considered for the role of teaching other people the same things isn't so much in the bigger scheme of things.
That he stayed with the terrorists even after September 11 tells me all I need to know, and after reading this and other crap about Hicks, I'd lay money on us never hearing a renunciation of islam directly from him.
First because I don't believe he's renounced it. (Taqiyya, anyone?)
Second, because he'd be well aware of the punishment for apostasy in islam. (Death.)
Any typos are mine, and now I need a shower and a bucket.