Ismail al-Wahwah is an Islamist cleric and leader of the Australia chapter of the international Islamist proselytization organization Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT). Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has accused HT of nurturing “extremism in our suburbs.”Michael Safi, “Hizb ut-Tahrir insists it rejects violence following Abbott’s ‘desperate’ accusation,” Guardian (London), February 19, 2015, http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/feb/20/hizb-ut-tahrir-insists-it-rejects-violence-following-abbotts-desperate-accusation.
Al-Wahwah traveled to Syria in 2013 to preach the necessity of erecting a global caliphate and “[supporting] the blessed uprising.”Geoff Chambers, “Sheikh Ismail al-Wahwah: A sinister player in a world of radicals,” Daily Telegraph (Sydney), October 10, 2014, http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/sheikh-ismail-alwahwah-a-sinister-player-in-a-world-of-radicals/story-fni0cx12-1227085769758. He has made fiery anti-Western, anti-Semitic, and anti-capitalist statements, and believes that Western “civilization will pay the price” for its criminal politicians. Al-Wahwah has called for a new “world order” and has promised to send “troops to Australia, to France to Germany” just as Western countries “send their troops to Iraq to bomb Iraq to spread democracy.”Ben McClellan and Geoff Chambers, “Radical Muslim cleric Ismail al-Wahwah tells supporters a new world order is coming,” Daily Telegraph (Sydney), October 11, 2014, http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/radical-muslim-cleric-ismail-alwahwah-tells-supporters-a-new-world-order-is-coming/story-fni0cx12-1227086878686. He has also called for jihad against Jews in Israel, whom he considers to be “illegitimate occupiers”“Muslim extremist Ismail Alwahwah anti semitic lecture,” News.com.au, March 9, 2015, http://video.news.com.au/v/313805/Muslim-extremist-Ismail-Alwahwah-anti-semitic-lecture. and the “most evil creatures of Allah.”Louise Cheer, “’They will pay with blood’: Islamic leader’s online rant calling the Jewish people ‘the most evil creatures of Allah,’” Daily Mail (London), March 12, 2015, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2991638/They-pay-blood-Islamic-leader-s-online-rant-calling-Jewish-people-evil-creatures-Allah.html.
Al-Wahwah believes Australia is part of a U.S.-led “crusader invasion” targeting the Muslim world.Ben McClellan and Geoff Chambers, “Radical Muslim cleric Ismail al-Wahwah tells supporters a new world order is coming,” Daily Telegraph (Sydney), October 11, 2014, http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/radical-muslim-cleric-ismail-alwahwah-tells-supporters-a-new-world-order-is-coming/story-fni0cx12-1227086878686. He justified the January 2015 attacks on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo as “a cure” for relieving pressure caused by “daily humiliation” of Muslims and “insults to their book and prophet.”Taylor Auerbach, “Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks a ‘cure,’ says leader of Hizb ut-Tahrir Australia Ismail Alwahwah,” Daily Telegraph (Sydney), January 13, 2015, http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/charlie-hebdo-terrorist-attacks-a-cure-says-leader-of-hizb-ut-tahrir-australia-ismail-alwahwah/story-fni0cx12-1227182578266. Al-Wahwah has also been seen at past HT events with Man Haron Monis, the Islamist who took more than a dozen people hostage at a Sydney café in December 2014.Dan Kedmey and David Stout, “3 Dead After Police Storm Sydney Café to End Hostage Crisis,” Time, December 15, 2014, http://time.com/3633134/sydney-hostage-martin-place-lindt-cafe-terrorism/; Taylor Auerbach, “Lindt cafe gunman Man Haron Monis was honoured guest at Hizb ut-Tahrir’s Lakemba hate-fest,” Daily Telegraph (Sydney), March 17, 2015, http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/lindt-cafe-gunman-man-haron-monis-was-honoured-guest-at-hizb-ut-tahrirs-lakemba-hate-fest/story-fnpn118l-1227265393578.
Hizb ut-Tahrir operates legally in Australia, where al-Wahwah’s views remain protected speech. Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott called for the group to be banned, but such efforts failed there and in other Western countries that host HT chapters. Al-Wahwah responded that countries that had banned HT had failed to stop the group’s operations in those countries. Abbott would have to “prevent the flow of air” to stop HT, al-Wahwah has said. Geoff Chambers and Sarah Crawford, “Extremist group Hizb ut-Tahrir sends veiled threat to Prime Minister Tony Abbott,” Daily Telegraph (Sydney), February 10, 2015, http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/extremist-group-hizb-ut-tahrir-sends-veiled-threat-to-prime-minister-tony-abbott/story-fni0cx12-1227213869800.