Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Al-Qaeda Threats Won't Stop Australian Paper

Death threats will not deter a Sydney Arabic newspaper editor from continuing to work and publish in western Sydney. A man claiming to represent al-Qaeda in Australia threatened to blow up the Sydney and Melbourne offices of al-Furat, an Arabic Australian newspaper, and kill its editor-in-chief, Hussein Khoshnow. ASIO and the NSW Police are investigating the message which was left at Mr Khoshnow's Fairfield office in western Sydney. Mr Khoshnow said he and his staff would continue to publish the newspaper and would not be intimidated by the threats. "We never thought that ... a man would be carrying threats on behalf of al-Qaeda in Australia," Mr Khoshnow told reporters. "That's why we're concentrating more on our family's safety issues, more than ourselves. "It's my family's safety and my staff's safety and it will not stop us doing whatever we are doing."The threats were apparently read out in Arabic from a script and left on a telephone answering machine ten days ago. Al-Furat is a secular national Arabic newspaper with a readership of about 20,000. Mr Khoshnow said the newspaper had published articles in support of Saddam Hussein's death sentence. "He (the caller) is supporting Saddam Hussein and his brother and speaking on behalf of al-Qaeda in Australia," Mr Khoshnow said. "It's a bit mixed and really confusing, but that's what he's saying." Mr Khoshnow, who came to Australia from Iraq in 1995, said the young male caller's accent was either from Yemen or Syria. "He's probably Australian-born with a Yemeni or Syrian background." He said he received a threatening email about a year ago from a purported al-Qaeda member in Libya and he suspected the two men were linked. "I think probably these people have a link together, that's why they haven't targeted any other newspapers in Australia, why are they only targeting us," he said.