The purpose of this article is to pose the question do terrorist or radicals deserve a second chance? As a Sydney criminal lawyer, in determining my answer I seek to remain impartial and in doing so discuss (1) The Law in relation to terrorism, (2) the need to differentiate between radicalisation and terrorism, (3) Undertake an analogy and provide an opinion of  the success of how our intelligence agencies employ its current anti-radical/anti-terrorism methodology (vis-is-vis other methodologies) and (4) discuss by way of analogy how the transformation from radical to terrorist can either be reverse engineered and or exasperated/exaggerated (depending on what outcomes are employed).


Australia’s counter-terrorism laws are well known. Accordingly, a ‘terrorist act’ is an act, or a threat to commit an act, that is done with the intention to coerce or influence the public or any government by intimidation to advance a political, religious or ideological cause, and the act causes:

  • death, serious harm or endangers a person;
  • serious damage to property;
  • a serious risk to the health or safety of the public;  or
  • seriously interferes with, disrupts or destroys critical infrastructure such as a telecommunications or electricity network.

Australia’s terrorist organisations offences are contained in the  Criminal Code Act 1995

For more information about the law in respect of terrorism please visit our dedicated page.


From inception Radicalisation and Terrorism have different definitions.

Radicalisation as defined by Wikipedia is:

“A process by which an individual, or group comes to adopt increasingly extreme political, social, or religious ideals and aspirations that reject or undermine the status quo or contemporary ideas and expressions of the nation. The outcomes of radicalization are shaped by the ideas of the society at large; for example, radicalism can originate from a broad social consensus against progressive changes in society or from a broad desire for change in society. Radicalization can be both violent and nonviolent”

Whereas Terrorism as defined by Wikipedia is:

“An action or threat of action where the action causes certain defined forms of harm or interference and the action is done or the threat is made with the intention of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause”



With methods not dissimilar to Strike Force Raptor it does suffice to say that policing in the 21st century promotes the use of vast covert powers which can be employed both in the community and inside detention settings. It is my view upon conducting research that currently ASIO, the Defence Force, The NSW Police and the Australia Federal Police all employ surveillance and Taskforce kinds of Policing which is rightly so aimed to destroy and disrupt (but not necessarily reverse radicalisation/terrorism).

The police and security methodologies which are widely reported in the media include (but are not limited to):

  • Clandestine profiling/screening/re-screening (identification of suspects);
  • the use of honey traps (usually female);
  • Attempted and actual Cultural humiliations;
  • Psychological surveillance with or without arrest;
  • Quasi detention even inside the community;
  • The use of specifically designed community-based actions as well as detention centre acts designed to “break down” a person psychologically;
  • The use of covert operatives and informers;
  • Manipulating phobias or phobia tortures;
  • Confusion and disorientation tactics;
  • Fear up tactics and threats (including implicit and explicit death threats);
  • Sensory deprivations;
  • Manipulations of environment;
  • Trickery, Good cop bad cop and other integration methods;
  • The False Flag technique;
  • Interception of communication and other devises (data retention); and
  • Community and detention-based employment of methodologies such as those described in the veritable Manhattan Project of the mind (MK Ultra kinds of techniques).


In order to ascertain as to if the current methods are working, I intend on looking at three cases. The first two involve an Australian perspective wherein terror occurred whereas the last deals with a Canadian perspective wherein it did not.


Man Haron Monis born “Mohammed Hassan Manteghi Borujerdi” as set out in Wikipedia lived from (19 May 1964 – 16 December 2014). He was an Iranian-born refugee and Australian citizen who took hostages in a siege at the Lindt Chocolate Café at Martin Place, Sydney on 15 December 2014, lasting for 17 hours, until the early hours of the following morning. The siege resulted in the death of Monis and two hostages. Throughout the siege Monis repeatedly kept asking to speak with our leaders and prior to the siege he had been displaying much strange behaviour.  In particular quite some time before the siege Monis, together with Amirah Droudis, undertook a campaign protesting against the presence of Australian troops in Afghanistan, by writing letters to the families of soldiers killed there, in which he called the soldiers murderers, and urged the soldiers’ families to petition the government to remove its troops from Afghanistan.

Monis was then investigated by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation four times. There were more than 40 calls to ASIO’s National Security Hotline and there were numerous incidents wherein he appeared on media, was in trouble with the law, had tied himself to Parliament house and participated in Hunger strikes and other incidents wherein he appeared to have been under extreme duress/pressure/had gone mad. It is widely reported that Monis had also been on the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation’s watch-list in 2008 and 2009, but for reasons that were not specified was dropped off the list prior to the siege.

Without any kind of exculpation or excusing his atrocities it does suffice to say he was on the radar and there most likely was a failing of the policing tactics used prior to the siege.




On 9 November 2018, a male attacker, Hassan Khalif Shire Ali, set his car on fire and stabbed three people, one fatally, in the Central Business District of Melbourne, Australia, before being shot and killed by police. The incident is being treated as “terror-related” by Victoria Police


The Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police, Graham Ashton, told the media that the attacker was known to federal intelligence agencies but was not actively monitored. The Australian Federal Police’s acting national manager of counter-terrorism said Hassan’s passport was cancelled in 2015 when ASIO believed he was planning to travel to Syria to fight for the ISIL terrorist group, but he was never a target of joint counter-terrorism taskforce investigations as they did not believe he was a threat. Relatives and acquaintances have described Ali as having mental health and substance abuse issues, being delusional and agitated prior to the attack, and complaining of “being chased by unseen people with spears.”

Without any kind of exculpation or excusing his atrocities it does suffice to say he prior to the siege was on the radar and there most likely was a failing of the policing tactics used prior to the siege.



The Canadian case of Maxime fiset differs from the two cases set out above.

Maxime fiset first shaved his head not long after graduating high school in Quebec City in Canada. He collected a copy of Mein Kampf, a Nazi flag, and several books on how to build bombs, and he began referring to himself as a neo-Nazi. He once attempted to engineer a detonator to be used in an attack but stopped short of going through with his plan. After being detected by intelligence authorities Fiset slowly began to abandon neo-Nazi ideology, a change precipitated mainly during a stint as a bouncer at a gay bar. When the bar found out Fiset was a neo-Nazi, they chose not to fire him, while his acquaintances at Stormfront, then the internet’s most prominent white-supremacist community, urged him to quit.

Fiset with intelligence authority’s assistance was re-educated and turned his whole life around. He participated in the Centre for the Prevention of Radicalization Leading to Violence (CPRLV) a Montreal-based non-profit group and later was invited and even took to a stage in an events room at the Montreal Holocaust Museum to give a presentation on the rise of right-wing radicalization. He was attending on behalf of the (CPRLV). CPRLV is a non-profit organisation that works to bring people back from the brink of radicalization through community support rather than aggressive security intervention.



Without any criticism I support our Australian politicians and their 2018 Safer Australia project (which provides $34.7 billion per annum to the ADF and $518.6 million to ASIO each year). In fact, as tax payers I think we should dedicate even more. However, whether it’s combating far right individuals, anti-abortion crusaders, those from extreme left-wing groups, extremist environmentalists or extremist Islamic agendas I simply point out that studies show when a radicalised person is not stigmatized and dismissed from society as “evil” they can deserve a second chance if they are given one, in fact sometimes if  they’re not then the results can be detrimental . In this sense I believe even radicals (but not terrorists) do deserve a second chance.

The question now answered begs another question which is what now must we in Australia do with our radicals? In my view we must support such programs as run in Canada such as the Canadian Centre for the Prevention of Radicalization Leading to Violence. Moreover, we must reach out to radical people and those who exhibit tell-tale Symptoms. His is because while they may be bona fide crazy they may just as much being subjected to harsh and oppressive covert policing tactics. In this sense in my view we should all encourage our agencies and politicians to at least try and reverse radicalisation, build up the radicalised sense of self-esteem/agency, and have a relationship of trust between the organizations investigating radicals and the radicalized individual/s themselves working forward with the view of prevention. In this sense the Canadian Centre for the Prevention of Radicalization is a good organisation for Australia to benchmark.


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