Islamic State jihadis “aren’t fighting for God and are infatuated with death, Australian prime minister, Tony Abbott, has told the United Nations.
In a speech delivered to a meeting of the UN Security Council convened by US president, Barack Obama, as part of the annual UN General Assembly session, Mr Abbott made reference to recent events in Australia linked to Islamic State (Isis) extremists, including the shooting of a young man by police in Melbourne and counter-terrorism raids in Brisbane and Sydney over an alleged plot to behead a member of the public.
“Last week, an Australian operative in Syria instructed his local network to conduct demonstration killings and this week an Australian terror suspect savagely attacked two policemen, the prime minister said.
“Now, it’s hard to imagine that citizens of a pluralist democracy could have succumbed to such delusions yet clearly they have. The Australian government will be utterly unflinching towards anything that threatens our future as a free, fair and multicultural society, a beacon of hope and exemplar of unity in diversity.
Mr Abbott told the meeting of international leaders and diplomats that people were flocking to organisations obsessed with death, such as Isis “because they claim Islam is under threat and because they’re excited by the prospect of battle.
“But whatever they think or say, these terrorists aren’t fighting for God or for religious faith.
“At the heart of every terrorist group is an infatuation with death. What else can explain the beheadings, crucifixions, mass execution, rapes and sexual slavery in every town and city that’s fallen to the terrorist movement now entrenched in eastern Syria and northern Iraq?
Mr Abbott said such organisations were an insult to Islam and repeated his description of the self-style Islamic State caliphate as a “death cult, adding that it had “declared war on word.
He noted that “more than 60 Australians have had their passports suspended to prevent them from joining terrorist groups in the Middle East, justifying current efforts by the Australian government to tighten its counter-terrorism laws “to ensure that foreign fighters returning home can be arrested, prosecuted and jailed for a very long time indeed.
However, the prime minister said that Australia’s efforts to combat the Isis threat were not confined to the domestic front, as the country’s forces prepare for imminent action over Iraq and possibly Syria.
“Our combat aircraft and special forces are now in the Middle East preparing to join the international coalition to disrupt and degrade [Isis] at the request of the Iraqi government, he said.
Mr Abbott insisted the ultimate goal of military action against Isis was not regime change but to protect people.
“It’s not to change governments, but to combat terrorism, he said. “Governments that don’t commit genocide against their own people, nor permit terrorism against ours – that is all we seek.
Then the prime minister suggested there was an even greater imperative to the fight against Isis and organisations like them.
“Perhaps the realisation is now dawning for all peoples, all cultures and all faiths that it can never be right to kill in the name of God, and that would be a moral victory far surpassing any military success, he said.
IMAGE: Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott speaks during a UN Security Council summit meeting on foreign terrorist fighters during the United Nations General Assembly in New York, September 24, 2014. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)