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Alert, alarmed and coming after your vote

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A sombre Prime Minister is warning: “As far as the Daesh death cult is concerned, it is coming after us.”

Daesh is the derogatory Arabic term for Islamic State, aka ISIL, ISIS and IS. Mr Abbott uses it on good advice. The terrorists hate it because it denies them the status of a Caliphate in the making – an Islamic state based on Sharia law.

So far so good. But according to the author of a bestselling book about ISIL, the PM has played straight into the organisation’s hands.

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Here is a leader of a coalition nation with forces in Iraq putting up in lights that his country’s commitment there does not make us safer at home in Australia.

Michael Weiss, co-author of ISIS: Inside The Army of Terror, told ABC radio that the Prime Minister, like other western leaders, is in fact delivering what he most wants to avoid.

Islamic State
Tony Abbott’s language could be playing into Islamic State’s hands. Photo: AAP

Mr Abbott’s warning gives credibility to Daesh’s own claims. It fosters the appearance of success for ISIL, affecting those inclined to identify with a perverse ideal that could give them status.

The appeal is to Muslims but as we have already seen in this country, some newly convert to be part of the action. The sick allure of death and glory blinds them to a gruesome reality.

Mr Weiss and his co-author, Syrian analyst Hassan Hassan, trace the emergence of ISIL to the government of Nouri Al-Maliki.

It came to power in Iraq after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Instead of uniting the nation he sooled the Shia majority on to the Sunni minority. Daesh is now the revenge of the Sunnis.

A revenge elevated to a religious jihad against the infidel: the Shia and their supporters anywhere. That includes America, Europe and, of course, Australia.

Mr Abbott was right at the weekend to point out that to become a terrorist all you need is a knife, a flag, a camera phone and a victim. The inspired lone wolf shows up in Lyon and in Martin Place.

Maps showing Australia’s terrorism hotspots were left on a table at a media event last week. Photo: AAP

Former Prime Minister John Howard urged us “to be alert but not alarmed”, but the current PM is doing nothing to calm the nation and a hell of a lot to scare it.

We have ASIO maps on TV showing us the suburbs in Sydney and Melbourne where the terrorists come from. No surprise, they are where big numbers of Muslims live.

This feeds into divisive profiling. Moderate Muslim leaders are warning it fans discrimination and racist exclusion. And most damaging, it feeds into radicalisation.

This was the impertinent message of former terrorism suspect Zaky Mallah on Q&A last week. We are too busy flaying the ABC for putting him on TV to notice.

Of course, whipping up fear and suspicion, if not hatred, plays into one of the most powerful motivators in politics.

If a leader can tap into this rawest of emotions he can win votes and his party can run a campaign like: “Donate now to support a safer Australia.”

The tragedy is far from making us safer; it is making us more vulnerable.

Paul Bongiorno AM is a veteran of the Canberra Press Gallery, with 40 years’ experience covering Australian politics. He is Contributing Editor for Network Ten, appears on Radio National Breakfast and writes a weekly column on national affairs for The New Daily. He tweets at @PaulBongiorno

Read all of his columns here.

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