This article belongs to Australia - Land of the Free? column.
Most of the news reports have been about how badly the US and Australian Governments have handled the capture and subsequent incarceration of Hicks.
But, what about the man?
This is important for the people of
The Premier of South Australia, Mike Rann, has sought an assurance from the Federal Government that Hicks would not pose a threat to the public when released. This has resulted in a slanging match between the Premier and the Prime Minister without any assurances being given.
So let's assume Premier Rann is serious and not just playing politics. What does he expect Hicks to do?
We know Hicks trained in guerrilla warfare, so perhaps he will hide in the Adelaide Hills and attack trucks on the South Eastern Freeway. He was trained in weapons, so we can expect him shoot someone just because of his training. Maybe he'll lay landmines in the parklands to trap unwary walkers. He was trained in surveillance, kidnapping and assassination so high profile people had better watch out.
No, his contacts with al Qaeda and the ease with which he could activate them into a terrorist cell in
Is David Hicks the innocent adventurer or is he something far more sinister? That is the question uppermost in the minds of South Australians.
Let's face it, if Hicks had not abandoned his young family and his
country of birth to go off and fight for the bad guys, he would never have languished in a jail cell for five years.
The confusion continues because after David Hicks pleaded guilty to ‘providing material support for terrorism' his father Terry Hicks stated he only did it so he could get out
So what are his terrible crimes? In 1999, Hicks served in the Kosovo Liberation Army fighting against Serbian forces for two months. He returned to
In November 1999 Hicks entered
Hicks was interviewed by senior al- Qaeda commanders about his background and the travel habits of Australians.
Later the US Department of Defense claimed "That after viewing TV news coverage in
Hicks claimed in a letter to his father that he was going to defend
He was captured by a Northern Alliance Warlord on or about
To understand David Hicks' story the only interview are transcripts of a Federal Police interview and dramatised using actors by Debbie Whitmont on the
Hicks left school early and had been employed boning chickens, filleting kangaroos, recycling tyres etc. By the time he was 24, he had a broken relationship, two small children and he'd picked up some bad habits, such as drugs.
After travelling to
Some of what Hicks said during his Federal Police Interview gave us an insight into what he was thinking. ‘I had to learn once and for all what is Islam and speak to a Muslim to find out what is this life he's living, what is
his beliefs and thoughts,' said Hicks.
When asked about stating in his letters home that he had met bin Laden 20 times Hicks answered thus. ‘You've got … at times, I've been excited, maybe tried to be a big shot, right? So try and explain all the letters. You imagine someone like me coming from
When asked who he thought he was training to fight against. ‘Against anyone suppressing Muslims, you know? You've got … you've got people from so many different organisations training … taking training from al-Qaeda, but they come from different parts of the world. So the organisations full of all these people doing these things for these types. Different intentions.'
When asked why he returned to
Certainly David Hicks does not appear to be a calculating person that knows exactly what he wants. In fact, he appears to be just what his legal team, his father, and David himself says he is. A naïve young man seeking adventures that got caught up in war and suffered the consequences.
I don't think the people of