Monday, January 12, 2015


One of the maxims of guerilla warfare, laid down by Mao back in the 30's, is that "the guerilla must move amongst the people as a fish swims in the sea" (yes, I know its a misquote, but I'm sure Mao also said something about pedants being dicks). Guerillas need the support of the local population to operate. They need people to if not covertly feed and shelter them, but at least to keep their secrets and look the other way, to not talk when the police and army come calling. And the same applies to modern terrorists.

The corollary is that if states want to defeat guerillas or terrorists, they too need the support of the population. They need people to refuse to look the other way and to inform the police when someone is planning something. Unfortunately, the Australian police have just ensured that their Muslim community won't cooperate with them again:

About 2pm on Monday, December 15, Rebecca Kay took a phone call from NSW Police Counter-Terrorism.

The officer wondered if she could help police find an Islamic State flag. This was one of the demands of Man Haron Monis, the gunman holding 18 hostages at the Lindt cafe in Martin Place.

"And if they give him a flag he was going to exchange it for a hostage," says Ms Kay, a convert to Islam who has become a prominent community member in western Sydney.

Being a decent person, she was eager to help. But the Australian police abused that goodwill. They tapped all her phone calls (it would be fascinating to see what legal authority they had for that), then started raiding the people she called. The upshot? Further distrust, and an unwillingness to cooperate in future. The beneficiaries? The terrorists. Which really makes you wonder whose side the AFP are on...