Friday, March 16, 2007
Terrorist Willy Brigitte
The trial in Paris of the 38-year-old French terrorist Willy Brigitte and his condemnation to a nine-year prison sentence were not treated by French media as front-page news. I have the impression that the French authorities have been a little irritated all along by the notion that they were dealing with an affair that should have normally been handled back in Australia, where the alleged misdeeds took place. Besides, there appears to be little solid evidence proving that Brigitte was really planning to attack various sites in Australia: for example, the Lucas Heights reactor and the Pine Ridge installations. At the most, there were several suggestions that he intended to do so—otherwise he would not have been condemned here—but no firm proofs. It was good though, retrospectively, that the professionalism of alert French anti-terrorist investigators forced drowsy Australian authorities to wake up to the risk of local terrorism. When I was in Sydney last year, though, I was never aware of the presence of armed police at strategic sites such as the Harbor Bridge, the Opera House, train stations and Kingsford Smith airport. In talking of armed police, I don't mean plain-clothed cops with concealed revolvers, who would never trouble a determined terrorist. I mean groups of uniformed officers, wearing bulletproof vests, who are openly toting combat weapons.