Monday, December 31, 2007

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.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The TMI Files. Tears Before Bedtime.

I'm fighting off the tears here, and it's got nothing to do with Christmas, or Magilla being away until Christmas Day.

It does, however, have plenty to do with God working in mysterious ways.

In a previous incarnation, I studied as a beauty therapist. I completed the course, but never actually went into practice as one.

I did, however stick with the massage and makeup areas, and have quite a bit of experience in the latter.

I've done a gazillion weddings and formals, and a heap of filmwork. (I specialise in making people look like they've had the crap beaten out of them lol).

I am also a voracious reader, although these days it tends to be blogs rather than books, and I've got a pretty decent library.

Well, I did have a pretty decent library until about the last week or two.

As we're no longer in Bogan Central, the house is structured differently (duh! stating the obvious).

The garage is below ground level, and the house is situated on a hillside. In front of the garage door is a drainage channel, which hasn't been handling the recent global warming episodes rains we've been getting here.

So the garage has flooded several times in the last fortnight.

Once may be a random happening, but every time it rains?

Yesterday I was out in the rain up to my elbows in muck cleaning out the channel; I was sick of the water, and worried about my books.

I have my vinyl records down there, too, as I've not got the space to keep them in the house, but I wasn't so worried about those.

Today, I went looking for my collection of Bone comics. I've got almost the whole set, with the majority of those in mint. I started reading and got up to #8 then decided to wait until I had them all.

I'm still waiting.

I've also been saying for yonks that I should cull my books so that I could have more space, and it would make it easier for the next time I move.

The cull has now begun.

I've got at least two full boxes that will have to be turfed, as they are just destroyed by the water.

This includes my Guinness Book of Records books, and a heap of my cookbooks.

I have a lot of cookbooks. Like around 40 or so.

Not any more.

It includes plenty of fiction - hardcover as well as softcover - but luckily my Stephen King has survived.


Not my Corson.

I have the 1990 edition of the makeup artist's bible, and it's my pride and joy.

It's also now waterlogged halfway up the pages, and if there were nobody in the house at the moment, I'd be filling the bin up with tissues.

I think it's safe to say I've been gutted. This is not just a book, this is my Corson!

There are no words to adequately explain the impact this is having on me at the moment, and the analytical corner of my brain is having a field day with this. After all, it's a book. A conglomerate of pages and print, from which the literate ones among us can read and draw information.

And I can always buy another one.

But that's not the point.

I was so excited when I bought it nearly 10 years ago; it's always been handled with kid gloves, better than just about any other book I've got.

I've got plenty other makeup books and magazines, and any number of books I use for reference, but none has the weight (both figurative and literal) of my Corson.


Well, that's my library culled.

I just wish the bloody water had been more discriminating.

Take more cookbooks.


Just give me back my Corson.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Another Game Of Let's Compare.

Billy Joel's Christmas in Fallujah. HT to Blackfive

Jefferson Pepper's Christmas in Fallujah. HT to Paul Reickhoff and his commenters.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The TMI Files. Things Not To Say To Your Child In Public.

Your child is swinging a long pole within reach of windows and other things that break easily: "What have I told you about waving that thing? If you break something you'll have to get a job or sell a kidney to pay for that."

Your child is about to break something seriously expensive: "I guess if you break that since you're nearly out of kidneys you'll have to look at selling your eggs next."

While Christmas shopping, your child (who runs on solar energy, by the way) is still talking nineteen to the dozen and you can feel your energy draining away even faster: "Don't you have an Off switch? Can't you keep the noise down a bit?"

To which the answer was a most practical: "But humans don't come with off switches, mum."

My response: "Well they should."

(To the amusement of the pregnant woman on the other side of the shelf in the store).

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

When Tony Slagged Off On Cathy.

I reckon that Anthony Mundine would think so - after all, he's one of Allah's Best People himself.

He's just dumped on fellow Aboriginal athletic Cathy Freeman:

Chico Harlan

December 04, 2007 11:00pm

AUSTRALIA'S most divisive Aboriginal athlete thinks that this country's most beloved Aboriginal athlete has surrendered the ability to speak her mind.
Calling her a "sellout", boxer Anthony Mundine said Olympic gold medal-winning sprinter Cathy Freeman cannot be an authentic indigenous leader so long as she's heavily involved in corporate Australia.

"Aboriginal people don't buy that," Mundine said, referencing a leader coming from the mainstream. "That's what happened to Cathy Freeman. She sold out, toeing the line. And that ain't me. I'm not a fake."

Mundine also said repeated times that men, not women, are more qualified to lead. "As far as being a leader, that's not her anyway," he said. "A man can only lead."

Where Mundine has always been raw, Freeman has always been refined.

While Freeman has spent her post-retirement career rubbing elbows with other celebs and speaking about a possible film career, Mundine has decided that acceptance by the mainstream corresponds with a loss of credibility. Not necessarily by choice, he has no endorsement deals.

"If you want to toe the line," Mundine said, "if you want to be some corporate guy and say the right things, do the right things, you might be OK in the media's eye, but it wouldn't be real for me.

"I think Cathy has done a lot for the Aboriginal people, don't get me wrong. But they (mainstream sponsors) control and determine the things she says. I'm not putting anything on her, but at the end of the day, it's got to be a man. She's a leader, but for women," Mundine said.

"I'm not knocking Cathy. She inspired me as an athlete. She's inspired me.

"She is probably the pinnacle Olympian, and we all respect that. But Cathy can't say - 'I don't like this prime minister' or 'I don't like this issue'.

"I want to represent my people properly, and represent the street.

"I'm going on my own crusade ... and that's why I become the villain."

Freeman first emerged as an Aboriginal leader at the 1994 Commonwealth Games, when she waved the Aboriginal flag during a post-race victory lap.

She was criticised at the time, even by the Commonwealth Games head Arthur Tunstall, but she has helped raise awareness of Aboriginal issues.

And who will ever forget that night in September, 2000, her gold medal at the Sydney Olympics, when she became an Australian sporting legend and a national treasure.

Harsh words from the snappy dresser himself, but who can blame him?

After all, I'm sure we're all aware by now that (M)en are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means.

This is, of course, from my favourite sura and verse in the quran.

Basically, Cathy should sit back and let some bloke look after her.

It doesn't matter that she's a highly trained athlete and a role model to who knows how many women of all colours from around the world, because she got herself some corporate deals and got to schmooze a bit, she's a sellout and should shut up.

Hmmm. A bit of the pot calling the kettle black*, I'm thinking.

As for being a role model, how about our man Anthony's little face-saving exercise for the old Catmeat himself.

Not too long back, the Chaser's War on Everything decided to have a bit of a poke at the Sheikh. Needless to say, this did not go down too well with some of his supporters.

Since that sort of pisstake provided much hilarity for the non-muslims here, I suspect some rather harshly worded emails and phone calls were received, which necessitated a spot of backpedalling by all concerned.

Cue Tony to the rescue.

I know Anthony thinks he is keeping it all real, but covering for sheikh's inability to take a joke (Hasn't he heard of Candid Camera??) in a piece that is obviously a set up to show that actually he can take one could be seen as a bit precious, especially as he likes to spout off.

As for Cathy Freeman, I barely hear of her in the news. From what I've seen of her in the media, she appears to be quite unassuming. She's proud of being Aboriginal, and also proud of being an Australian. She doesn't seem to suffer from the need to play the victim.

She also dresses rather modestly, although still being a touch less covered than Anthony would prefer, no doubt.

Dear Mr. Mundine, please go away. Please try to keep your mouth shut for a change, as the fact that you know everything and have all the answers is rather tiresome.

You don't.

Your petty little sniping demeans you and shows you up for the empty vessel you are.

Warm regards,


*disclaimer: because we are living in a world of diversity and tolerance, I would like to point out that my use of this particular cliche is because it is appropriate, and not because I am a racist bigot. I personally couldn't give a toss what colour either of the subjects of this post are, and I am including this disclaimer because we are living in a world of diversity and tolerance. This means that I could be up on vilification charges for not being tolerant and diverse in this particular instance.

Rather idiotic, I know, but this is Australia in 2007, and if you'll pardon the expression, it shits me to tears that I even need to take things into this sort of minute consideration in case someone who has the right to not be offended doesn't realise that they also have the responsibility to build themselves a bridge and get over it.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

A Letter To The President Prime Minister.

Dear Mr. Rudd,

First of all, congratulations on becoming the latest Prime Minister of Australia.

I am writing to express my concern at you apparently not swearing allegiance to the Crown as a part of your oath.

As the Prime Minister of Australia, I thought it was a part of your constitutional obligation to express your loyalty to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second as the head of the Commonwealth.

It appears that I was mistaken.

Please excuse my ire, but as far as I am concerned, we live under a constitutional monarchy and not a republic, and I have not had the opportunity to vote either for or against any change of such magnitude.

I would be grateful to know if this departure from the tradition is actually constitutional and therefore legal, or was this a mere error of form?

If the former, then please enlighten me as to when our constitution did change.

At the ripe old age of forty, I have not participated in any referenda on this issue lately.

If your neglect of Her Majesty was merely forgetfulness, then I would consider an apology to the Crown a necessity.

As a student of the Chinese culture, you would surely be aware that losing face is something to be avoided at all costs.

Your behaviour has caused Australia to lose face in my eyes, and in the eyes of many others, and I am at a loss to understand such an appalling breach of etiquette and form from the the leader of our country.

In your acceptance speech you promised to govern for ALL AUSTRALIANS.

Sir, by omitting the Queen and the allegiance you owe her, you are not governing for ALL AUSTRALIANS. I have no idea who you are governing for, and I do not believe it is a promising start to your tenure.

Yours sincerely,

Nilknarf Arbed.

Colour me severely unimpressed. I'm trying to give up swearing, but I don't think I'll be able to hold off the profanity for much longer. I've been so angry and insulted since I read about this before work.

I have no idea as to the legality of Mr Rudd's verbal oathtaking, but it is an outrageous action to take.

For someone who was voted in on the coattails of John Howard's successful policies, he shows an astounding lack of respect for those who felt he offered more of the same (but different) economic success.

I find myself becoming more untrusting of his ability to lead our country with any sort of foresight with such a display of hubris at so solemn an occasion.