Mallah is a victim of a society that encourages Islamophobia and the isolation of young Muslims.
Journalist Michael Koziol explained in the Sydney Morning Herald, “Growing up in the south-western Sydney suburb of Punchbowl…he struggled with reading and writing, and felt racially vilified and isolated. The Australia-born son of Lebanese parents, his mother died when he was 13.”
Mallah applied for a passport to fly to the Middle East in the early 2000s, but was rejected after an ASIO interrogation, and, “having received a death threat, he purchased a gun and was charged with possession of an illegal firearm.”
In 2003, The Australian—who are now championing Abbott’s crusade against Q&A—paid him $500 for a front cover photo.
Mallah was monitored and potentially entrapped by ASIO. He was charged with threatening a suicide attack in Sydney.
But the evidence rested on a video making this pledge. Mallah made the video for someone he thought was a journalist, but who turned out to be an undercover spy.
Mallah himself wrote recently in The Guardian, “A jury heard that I had been set up by the New South Wales police, aided and abetted by an undercover operative who paid me money to hear a good terrorism story.
“They decided I was not guilty of the most serious offences and no threat. I was dumb and naive at the time. I was only 20.”
So Mallah became the first person to be charged under Australia’s anti-terrorism laws—and the first acquitted. He pled guilty to another charge of threatening to kill ASIO officers, and spent two years behind bars.
A Sydney Morning Herald article at the time summed up the jury’s assessment: “a jury in the NSW Supreme Court accepted the 21-year-old never intended to kill anyone and was just an angry loner who resented the Government for denying him a passport and allegedly oppressing Muslims in Australia.”
By Amy Thomas