Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Fallen Diggers' families abused

From The Australian, October 22, 2009, by Paul Maley:

THREE days after their son was killed by a Taliban rocket attack in Afghanistan, the Sher family received a phone call. The caller, a woman who identified herself as Sister Amirah, asked if she could send a letter offering condolences over the death of 30-year-old Private Greg Sher, who had served with the Sydney-based 1st Commando Regiment.

... "A Jewish man who kills innocent Muslim civilians is not a pig, he is a thousand times worse," the letter said. "Some people don't eat the meat of a pig, but they are dirtier than pig. What's the point if some people don't eat pork while their behaviour is worse than dirty animals? Why should we call a pig a hero?"

The Shers, a proud Jewish family, were appalled. ...they were one of several Australian families whose sons had died in Afghanistan who were then targeted by a man calling himself "Sheik Haron".

Yesterday, the Australian Federal Police charged a 45-year-old man from the inner western suburb of Croydon Park with seven counts of using a postal or similar service to menace, harass or cause offence.

Sheik Haron or, as he is known on his website, "Ayatollah Manteghi Boroujerdi" is understood to have written to, phoned or otherwise harassed up to seven grieving families.

In his most egregious intrusion, one of his supporters confronted Breanna Till, the partner of Sergeant Brett Till who was killed while defusing a bomb in March. The incident took place at her husband's funeral, after the supporter presented Ms Till with one of the sheik's poisonous letters. ...Ms Till declined to discuss the matter. However, defence sources have confirmed the exchange took place.

Little is known about the sheik, who is understood to go by a number of names. His website contains dozens of letters, at least seven of which are addressed to the relatives of fallen Diggers.
Another letter on the site is addressed to the family of Australian trade official Craig Senger, who was killed when an offshoot of Jemaah Islamiah bombed the Marriott hotel in Jakarta in July.

...John Worsley, whose son was killed in December 2007 following a clash with the Taliban, was also harassed by the sheik.

"We received a phone call the afternoon or the evening our boy was killed," Mr Worsley said. "He said words to the effect that he was sorry to hear that we'd lost our son, but as the conversation progressed it was, our country's involved in a war it shouldn't be involved in, in a country it shouldn't be in." After the phone call, the letters started coming, three in total. "They said our boy was a killer of innocents and things like that."

The AFP was tight-lipped about the case yesterday, although officers suggested their interest in the sheik was far from over, saying their inquiries were "ongoing".

As part of the investigation, officers from the Sydney Joint Counter-Terrorism Team executed search warrants on residential addresses in the Sydney suburbs of Croydon Park, Campsie, and Green Valley.

The charged man was granted conditional bail and will appear in court on November 10.
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