Australian Federal Police and NSW’s Counter-Terrorism Command are investigating book shops allegedly selling extremist Islamic literature.
Reports in the Daily Telegraph say the Islamic Bookstore at Lakemba, in Sydney’s south-west, stocks a book titled Defence of the Muslim Lands, which discusses the effectiveness of suicide bombings and has an endorsement from Osama bin Laden on the cover.
In nearby Auburn, other such books have been found at the IDCA bookstore and the Islamic Science, Culture and Art Association, the report said.
NSW Police Commissioner Ken Moroney today said an investigation was underway to examine the content of the literature being sold, and determine if it breached State or Federal laws.
“There is a joint investigation between the Australian Federal Police and the Counter-Terrorism Command of the NSW Police. That investigation will be continuing”, Mr Moroney said.
“It needs to be determined as to what offences (may) have been committed, and obviously in this investigation it will be necessary to seek qualified legal opinion … as to who actually commits the offence.
“Is it the author, is it the publisher, is it the retailer, is it the purchaser of this particular material, or is it all of the above?”
The investigation had been underway “a short time” and charges would be laid if it was found an offence had been committed, Mr Moroney said.
“Clearly it is an offence to incite people to commit a range of offences,” he said.
He would not say how many shops were under investigation, nor whether ASIO had been monitoring the book stores.
Mr Moroney would not speculate on any strengthening of laws relating to such material.
“I’m sure if it is recommended that current laws need to be strengthened at Commonwealth and State level, then those who are the lawmakers will take that into account,” he said.
“Personally I regard the material as offensive at a minimum.”
A spokesman for The Islamic Bookstore at Lakemba declined to comment today, but said the shop hoped to issue a media statement early tomorrow.
Comment was being sought from the IDCA bookstore and the Islamic Science, Culture and Art Association.
Later, Mr Ruddock said relevant agencies were looking into the matter.
“This issue is a very real problem here and abroad,” Mr Ruddock told reporters in Canberra.
“If there are offences that have been committed here in Australia, competent authorities will seek to obtain appropriate evidence and we will deal with it.
“There is already a person who has been committed for trial in relation to … collecting or making documents likely to facilitate terrorist acts.”