Family targeted in Sydney’s anti-terrorism raids launches legal action
The mother and her two sons are filing a lawsuit.
The mother and her two sons are filing a lawsuit. Photo: Janie Barrett
Mohamed woke to the sound of his mother screaming.
Men in balaclavas with bright flashlights had bashed the door in at 4.30am and dragged Amatuallah out of bed without giving her a chance to cover herself.
Mohamed, 15, and his brother Omar, 14, were handcuffed while police searched their south-west Sydney home for 12 hours.
“They bought in dogs to smell the place, they bought in metal detectors, they scratched the doors, they dug up the backyard, they looked through all the books and they found nothing,” Mohamed said. “Even if they found one thing, they would have charged us.”
The family of three will launch a civil suit in the NSW Supreme Court this week claiming they were brutally and unfairly targeted during counter-terrorism raids in Sydney last month.
Their home was one of 16 raided by state and federal police before dawn on September 18 but they were not detained or charged and they still have not been told why they were targeted.
The family’s claim of heavy-handedness is one of several arising from the largest-ever counter-terrorism raids, which netted just one suspect.
Mohamed said he wants a police officer who punched his mother to be charged. He claimed his mother tried to stop an officer from ripping her bed sheets off and was assaulted in the process.
“What really burns me from inside was hearing my mum screaming and seeing her in pain and not being able to do anything. I will remember that forever,” he said.
“My mum has covered herself all her life and all of a sudden someone punches her because she didn’t want to expose her body.”
The family have used aliases and concealed their identities to protect themselves from further backlash.
Mohamed said their neighbours have stopped talking to them and he and his brother are scared to return to school this week because they do not know how students will react.
He is even worried the unwanted attention might affect his job prospects.
Police took away the family’s laptops and mobile phones and Mohamed has not been able to complete holiday assignments before school returns.
“I’m an Australian boy, I was bred here, I’ve lived in this house for 11 years, I don’t know any other country,” he said. “Every time I go to bed I’m afraid that I will wake up at 4.30am with police over my head and handcuffs on my hands.”
Zali Burrows, the family’s lawyer, has enlisted barrister Clive Evatt to launch legal action. A complaint was made to an independent police observer at the raid who told Ms Burrows that an incident report would be provided.
A spokesman for the NSW police, who executed the search warrant, said they were not aware of any formal complaints.
“However if one is received it will be investigated thoroughly,” the spokesman said.
It’s believed Amatuallah’s family were targeted because of loose family links to a man charged with foreign incursion offences, yet they are adamant they are a law-abiding family with no links to terrorism.
Others swept up in the raids have also challenged their inclusion. Marsfield labourer Mustafa Dirani, 21, who was detained then released, said he had never even contemplated religious extremism.
Kawa Alou claims he had his nose broken and Maywand Osman suffered serious bruising on his face.
One man, Omarjan Azari, was charged with conspiring to commit a terrorist act after allegedly speaking via phone to terrorist Mohammed Ali Baryalei, who told him to behead a stranger.
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/family-targeted-in-sydneys-antiterrorism-raids-launches-legal-action-20141006-10qrsd.html#ixzz3FPAsP1iv