Australia’s Muslim Youth Project

A Muslim Youth Group is under investigation by police for radicalising young children in Western Sydney.

The group is the youth arm of radical Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir which is also under scrutiny for its extremist rallies and videos.

"We need to fear Allah, not the West. We need to fear Allah, not the Kufar!” said Bilal Merhi, a well-known preacher for radical Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir.

“That's how you put fear into the hearts of the enemy... when you have nuclear power, the Khilafa will invest in nuclear power, that how you put fear (Arabic) that's how you put fear in their hearts!” Merhi said.

The Muslim Youth Project also posted a video on its Facebook page calling on young Australian Muslims to go to Syria and do Jihad.

“They want to pack their bags, get on a plane and go to Syria... they want to do Jihad... One trip on Jihad is better than 50 Hajj!” the video voiceover tells listeners, arguing that calls for young Muslims to be moderate and focus on the pilgrimage to Mecca, the Hajj, should be rejected and they should do Jihad instead.

The Muslim Youth Project Facebook page. Photo: Supplied
The Muslim Youth Project Facebook page. Photo: Supplied

At a Summer Camp last month in Western Sydney, he told a group of boys this about Islamic State's brutal killing spree in Iraq and Syria.

“What the Mujahedeen are doing today is the best they can do and we give them, we all salute, we take our hat off to them what they are doing today. They're doing their best with whatever they have,” Merhi said.

Young attendees at the lecture can be seen getting bottles of water during the talk.

“They (Australian authorities) have these anti-terror laws to squash the Muslims, at the same time they're speaking to the leaders trying to negotiate try to get them to water down the Islam, change Islam, make it more Australian for us. No more Jihad, no more Sharia, no more Khilafah. Let's get that out the way, just give us nice prayers five times a day, fast and if you do that we will give you the funding... we have anti-terror laws and we will squash them."

Merhi refused requests for an interview. But at the weekend, Seven News approached Merhi at a rally held by radical Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir. He refused to answer questions about his lectures and videos for the Muslim Youth Project.

We first encountered Merhi last October, when he led children as young as six in extremist chants. Photo: 7News
We first encountered Merhi last October, when he led children as young as six in extremist chants. Photo: 7News

As to whether Bilal Merhi will be charged and this group banned, the Federal Joint Counter Terrorism Taskforce has the videos we've unearthed and will say only that they are investigating. But legal experts say new laws mean these videos are illegal and those responsible must be prosecuted.

"Well that young audience is not going to know the history of Hizb ut-Tahrir and is not going to make a distinction between what he's saying and what they're seeing on their nightly news broadcasts from Syria and Iraq, they're going to see those words as effectively saying the fighters in Iraq and Syria are doing the right thing, that's what you've got to do,” said Greg Barton, Professor at the Global Terrorism Research Centre at Monash University in Melbourne.

“He (Merehi) gives this general argument in favour of the need to fight for a Caliphate and praising the Mujahedeen I think when you put those elements together and given the age of the audience he's addressing it really does look like incitement to violence, incitement to go and join the Jihad in Iraq and Syria,” Professor Barton said.

Child welfare officers are checking the children involved are safe.

“The preaching of hate and violence is simply aberrant. Young and impressionable minds shouldn't be hearing these kind of messages,” said New South Wales Family and Community Services Minister Gabrielle Upton.

“It is simply unacceptable. It is unacceptable because children in our society regardless of culture, religion, ethnicity deserve a safe home and they shouldn't be incited to violence,” Minister Upton said.

Bilal Merhi lectures young Muslims at a Summer Camp event. Photo: YouTube
Bilal Merhi lectures young Muslims at a Summer Camp event. Photo: YouTube

The Federal Government says it will crack down on these online extremists.

"You wouldn't expect me, of course, to speak about the facts of particular cases, but the Australian people can be reassured that the Australian Police forces and intelligence agencies keep a very close eye on this behaviour,” said Federal Attorney General George Brandis.

"Where it is clear that somebody has advocated terrorism, where it's clear that somebody has sought to encourage others or to enable others to fight in the civil war in the Middle East, they will be prosecuted and taken off our streets,” Mr Brandis said.

Meanwhile, Bilal Merhi wants young Muslims here to be ready for the new Islamic State.

“If he's going to declare war against the illegal state of Israel, and open the borders to send in the Mujahedeen to wipe out this barbaric entity from our lands and the Muslims say please, we love them, their our neighbours. You think that what the Muslims are going to do? Of course the Muslims are ready for Khilafa!”

Morning news break - 20 January