The Daily Terror was turning up the heat today on those scary Muslim bookshops preaching jihad: Shop sells hate but is prompt with the rent. Meanwhile the Herald Sun was sooling the federal police on to the Brunswick bookshop it flushed out yesterday: Hate books probe.

Civil libertarians won’t be the only people upset at this week’s
tabloid frenzy over a few miscreant Muslim booksellers in Sydney and
Melbourne. ASIO’s new chief, Paul O’Sullivan, will also be
disappointed. Civil liberties aside, what our angry mob of would-be
book burners seem to have ignored is the potential for intelligence
services to mine these shops for information. A task that demands
careful undercover skills and a modicum of subtlety – not a blaze of
publicity on the front pages of our newspapers.

Intel organisations have a limited suite of techniques when chasing
down terror suspects. Apart from bugging homes of individual suspects,
and staking out the local mosque, bookstores of the kind publicised
this week can be a honey pot for extremists. You can be sure that ASIO was monitoring the shops outed by
the media this week. And the spy mob will not be pleased to see
Inspector Plod turning their “crime scene” upside down, at the behest
of the Herald Sun.

Just as UK security services were able to provide photos of several of
the London bombers at a similar book store, ASIO will have “persons of
interest” files featuring photos of regular customers at the Brunswick
and Lakemba shops that were plastered over the papers this week.

Gung-ho Daily Terror editor David Penberthy may think he’s
helping our authorities fight the war on terror. But his efforts this
week have probably been counter-productive. No radical with an ounce of
sense will now visit the Islamic bookstore in Lakemba, or Sheik Omran’s
Brunswick bookroom – and ASIO will have lost a valuable surveillance
point, as their suspects retreat from these public venues.

Peter Fray

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