Cockroaches: A Universal Pejorative in the Particular Armoury of a Sunni Extremist in Melbourne

A Melbourne teenager [name withheld] from a middle-class background had “expressed violent loathing of non-believers and likened Shia Muslims to cockroaches” in his Facebook and Surespot rantings. He had gone further and gathered the material for a pressure cooker bomb –activities which have seen him tried and sentenced to a seven-year jail term (see The Australian, 8 Dec 2016)


There is dark paradox here:  a highly particular ideologue has deployed a universal pejorative.

Ironically his partisan extremism deploys what is a universal term of disparagement: cockroaches

  • A German Professor in Uni-Adelaide from Swabia in Germany told me that his Swabisch people regarded all other Germans as “cockroaches” and that Germans in general viewed the Poles as cockroaches.
  • If you attend to the film WALL STREET carefully, you will be told that New Yorkers regard all Puerto Rican migrants as “cockroaches”
  • The Dutch ruling class in colonial Ceilao in the 18th century looked down upon the Portuguese descendants in their colony as “kakkerlak” ….
  • But, ironically in the course of time, this pejorative embraced them because the Sinhalese and others in that island denigrated the Burgher ethnic group as “kärapoththās” and “Kärapothu lansi”

SEE Michael Roberts: People Inbetween: Ethnic and Class Prejudices in British Ceylon,” 3 August 2015,


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Chip Le Grand: Seven years for terror teen’s Melbourne bomb plot” The Australian, 8 December 2016

The arrest of a teenage bomb maker intent on carrying out the murderous instructions of a charismatic Islamic State recruiter averted what would otherwise have been Australia’s worst terror attack. The Melbourne teenager, who was 17 at the time of his arrest, was yesterday jailed for seven years. His sentencing hearing revealed how close Islamic State came to exporting the Syrian conflict to the heart Melbourne with devastating impact.

Victorian Supreme Court judge Lex Lasry told the teenager, referred to as MHK, that he ­believed he would have carried out his plan to kill and seriously injure innocent people with crude home-made bombs if not for the intervention of police acting on a tip-off.

When police raided the teenager’s comfortable family home in May last year, they discovered terror preparations in an advanced stage: a boxed pressure cooker in the garage and elbow joint pipes under his bed, bulk matches to make phosphorus and sugar detonators, screws to use as shrapnel and detailed instructions on how to make the kind of device used at the Boston Marathon.

The teenager’s intentions were clear from hate-filled communications he exchanged on Facebook and Surespot, an encrypted messaging service, with Junaid Hussain, a British-born Islamic State recruiter and comrade of Australia’s Neil Prakash since killed in Syria by a US drone strike. He expressed a violent loathing of non-believers and ­likened Shia Muslims to cockroaches. Unable to obtain a passport and travel to Syria without parental consent, he followed Hussain’s incessant urgings to wage war at home.

“The only reason these bombs were not fully completed and not then activated by you in a public place was because the police intervened and arrested you,’’ the judge said. “I am satisfied you had every intention of using them, as you had been urged to do by ­Junaid Hussain. The explosion of these devices, depending on where that ­occurred, was likely to endanger or end the lives of members of the community and cause serious ­injuries.’’

At the time of the teenager’s arrest, the target of his bombing campaign was not yet settled. He discussed exploding them on a busy Melbourne street, on a train or outside a police station.The teenager’s descent into ­Islamic extremism was rapid, out of character and very nearly ­escaped the attention of his family and police. At the start of 2014, he was just another kid at a good ­Islamic school. His father was successful in his profession. His family was respected in the community. They were Sunni Muslims who had successfully escaped the sectarian violence and oppression of the Assad regime.

By the end of that year, which saw the Syrian conflict dramatically escalate and Islamic State declare a caliphate over northern Iraq and Syria, the teenager had developed a deep fascination with Islam and through his contact with Hussain, was “absorbing’’ the IS propaganda and watching its macabre beheading videos. “You came to support IS and its campaign of violence,’’ the judge said.

Hussain sent the teenager electronic links to how-to guides for making bombs from readily available household items. In contrast to other homegrown jihadists who have entertained wild notions of blowing up the MCG, attacking army bases or packing a kangaroo’s pouch with C4, the teenager’s actions were “elaborate and carefully planned,’’ the judge noted.

The teenager told the court he admired Hussain, who was responsible for a pipe bomb attack in Britain before he fled to Syria. “You saw him as someone who sacrificed his life to go and join the fight and defend the Muslim nation,’’ the judge said. Justice Lasry said MHK had pleaded guilty, testified and renounced violent extremism and Islamic State. However he was not yet convinced the teenager fully accepted the gravity of what he had almost done.  He fixed a non-parole period of five years and three months and recommended the sentence be served in a youth detention facility rather than an adult prison. With time served his earliest release date is September 2021.


AFP:Teenager jailed for seven years for Australia terror plot”, 7 December 2016,

aa-teen-extremist The young man, who was 17 when he was arrested by police last year, pleaded guilty to one charge of committing an act, or planning the preparation of an act, of terrorism. (Source: File)

An 18-year-old was sentenced to seven years in prison on Wednesday for planning a Mother’s Day attack in Melbourne, the latest of a series of plots in Australia involving teenagers. The young man, who was 17 when he was arrested by police last year, pleaded guilty to one charge of committing an act, or planning the preparation of an act, of terrorism.  He will be eligible for parole in five years and three months. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation said the teenager, who cannot be named, was making pipe and pressure cooker bombs for a May 10 Mother’s Day attack last year when he was arrested.

Police seized several items from his home, including a document entitled “Make a Bomb in Your Mom’s Kitchen” on his computer, ABC said. Canberra has become increasingly worried about homegrown extremism and the terror threat level was raised in September 2014. Australian officials say they have now prevented 11 terror attacks on home soil in the past two years. But some have gone ahead, including the murder of a Sydney police employee last year by a 15-year-old boy.

Counter-terror police have made a series of arrests since late 2014, with the youth and radicalisation of many of those detained a growing concern for authorities. Parliament last month passed new legislation to lower from 16 to 14 the age at which people can be subject to a control order — which aims to prevent a terror attack by limiting a person’s movements, communication and activity.

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Gloria Kalache: Teen jailed for seven years for plotting Melbourne terrorist attack,” 7 Dec 2016, ABC News,

A teenager convicted of planning a terrorist attack in Melbourne’s CBD, on a train or at a police station in 2015 has been sentenced to seven years in jail. The 18-year-old, who cannot be named, was in the process of making pipe and pressure cooker bombs when he was arrested in May last year. In sentencing, Supreme Court Judge Lex Lasry took into account the man’s youth and his prospects for rehabilitation, but said the sentence must be a deterrent to him and others. He said if the teenager had not been arrested he could have killed a number of people.

“You were part way through the construction of several pipe bombs,” Justice Lasry said. “Your plan, until it was interrupted by police, was to build a bomb and detonate it. Had you not been arrested you would have killed and injured innocent people.”

The accused pleaded guilty in December 2015 to one charge of preparing an act of terrorism. The court previously heard a number of items were seized from his family home, including a pressure cooker, matches and pipes, along with a document on his computer titled, Make a Bomb in Your Mom’s Kitchen.

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