EXCLUSIVEThe Daily Telegraph
October 16, 2015
THE state’s police force has assembled a plain-clothed terror squad that is taking to the streets and asking youths if they have been “approached” about Islam in an attempt to cut off recruitment.
The move, while praised by many, has prompted some to compare the tactics to those of the Gestapo – the secret police force of Hitler’s Nazi regime.
The Daily Telegraph can confirm the plain-clothed NSW Police officers are targeting areas in western Sydney where they believe terrorist recruiters are preying on vulnerable young Australians.
The unprecedented attempts to cut off radicalisation at its source have outraged some members of the Muslim community.
A video captured by a young Muslim man as he was approached by police has surfaced online and is being distributed by radical Islamic political party Hizb ut-Tahrir, a group which believes in sharia law and wants a global caliphate.
It shows two plain clothed officers – one male, one female – talking to a group of youths in Bankstown.
After asking the group to stop recording them, the male police officer asks if they have been “approached” about Islam recently.
“The reason why we’re walking around Bankstown today is to speak to the young blokes in Bankstown and see if they’re being approached by anyone in relation to Islam and stuff like that,” the officer can be heard saying.
In a statement, NSW Police said: “Community engagement is one tool we are using in the fight against radicalisation. It is crucial we identify and speak to those people at greatest risk of being targeted by those with extremist views.”
“Rather than just approaching people and expecting co-operation, the police need to work a lot harder at getting people on side.”
Muslim community leader and anti-radicalisation campaigner Jamal Daoud said he was pleased to see police making themselves visible but criticised the style of questioning in the video.
“Any activity from the police is OK but this is some kind of joke,” Mr Daoud said.
“Why are you asking about Islam? You need to ask about radical Islam or extremism or ISIS…to ask someone about Islam is stupid.”
Mr Daoud said brainwashing and terrorism recruitment was happening behind the closed doors of mosques, religious centres and book stores but added there was also a problem in public with groups like the street Dawah movement.
The NSW Police strategy has led to fervent debate on social media.
Parramatta man Michael Robert drew parallels between the religious questioning and the methods of the Hitler’s notorious secret police.
“Sorry, I don’t talk to the Gestapo,” he wrote.
Arsalaan Khan said: “I think what the police is doing is to safeguard the residents of Sydney and we should all co-operate with them.”
The video also drew harsh criticism from NSW Senator David Leyonhjelm, who was sent the footage by The Daily Telegraph.
“I don’t blame the young people for not co-operating with police. If I were in their place, I would probably have given them some lip,” he said.
“Rather than just approaching people and expecting co-operation, the police need to work a lot harder at getting people on side.
“Our police need to study up on Peel’s Principles, which state that the ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent on public approval of police actions. Unfortunately, many young people feel they have been harassed in some way by police.
“A lot more work needs to be done by the police to create a culture of respect.
“My concern is that every second week the police seem to be convincing politicians to come up with bad laws to cover up for these kinds of failures.”