30 October, 2006

Sydney mufti: the terrorist connections?

The row over Sheik Taj el-Dene Elhilaly,the Sydney mufti continues. At last, it is getting interesting.

The Australian claims that the federal government knew of the Sheik's links with Egyptian terrorist groups as early as 1984. In 1986, the Australian continues, the then immigration minister tried to have Elhilaly deported but was opposed by senior figures in the Labour government "including then Treasurer Paul Keating and MP Leo McLeay", who were worried about losing ethnic votes. MCleay's constituency contained the mosque where the mufti was based. In 1990 the Shiek was granted permanent residence in the country despite the intelligence available:

The Egyptian Government and its secret agents were concerned about Sheik Hilali's influence, particularly on the expatriate Egyptian community in Australia. They revealed that Sheik Hilali had spent some years training in Libya.

The Egyptians were concerned that he had been sent to train extremists.

After his arrival in Australia, Sheik Hilali was said to be linked to another extremist group, the Soldiers of God, which was believed to be involved in the assassination of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat in 1981.
If the Australian's report is accurate, then suddenly, it becomes clear why the government is getting so worked up about, and why Islamic leaders are distancing themselves from, the mufti. Embarrassment all round.

As for the mufti himself, a heart attack, means there will be no press interviews, sermons or terrorist activities over the next few days.

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