The Sydney Morning Herald reported: Karen Nettleton, the mother of Tara, and the grandmother of the five children caught-up in the ISIS war in Syria, was watching television at her Sydney home when a text arrived from her granddaughter in Syria.
“Hello Nana, how are you? My husband got hit by a drone yesterday and got killed. When I found out I was happy for him to get what he wanted and go to paradise but at the same time I was devastated because I loved him so much and I knew I was never gonna see him again in this life.”
These were the extraordinary words sent to Ms Nettleton from her eldest grandchild, Zaynab, who at 14-years-ofage, had just become the widow of the infamous Sydney jihadist Mohamed Elomar – whom it emerged was killed in a drone strike, allegedly alongside his best friend, and her mother Tara’s own terrorist husband Khaled Sharrouf, who shifted the family to Syria.
It is hard to believe that these are the words of a 14-year old. Forgive my cynicism but they sound to me as though they have been dictated by an adult – and probably a male.
In a further twist, it appears Zaynab is carrying Elomar’s child, having updated her Twitter profile last week with the words “a mom to be”.
The whole situation is most unfortunate. I understand the anguish of Mrs. Nettleton, and her devastation at the news the Australian Federal Police are unable to assist her in bringing the children home to Australia, but there are so many aspects to the problem which do not seem to make sense. Mrs. Nettleton’s daughter, Tara, was married at 15. How did that come to pass? Australia has an absolute minimum age for marriage of 16-years under the Marriage Act 1961, and even marriage between sixteen and eighteen can only take place with a court order in ‘’exceptional and unusual’’ circumstances.
While the grandchildren were born in Australia, and our government has an obligation to protect our citizens, and to offer them assistance when and where it may be required in the world, it is something of a mystery as to why the necessary steps were not taken to prevent the children from leaving Australia. Mrs. Nettleton is trying to close the stable door after the horse has bolted. Surely, if she knew, and she had serious concerns about the welfare of her daughter, and in particular her grandchildren, she should have notified the Federal Police of the plans to take them out of the country – albeit with their parents. The AFP could have delayed or halted their departure, arguing the safety of the children, who were being taken to a war zone, took precedence over the parents’ selfish wishes.
While the sins of the parents should not be visited on the children, and they should not be treated as criminals if they are brought back to Australia, the family has to accept some responsibility for the impasse. One would hope that most reasonable Australians would have some sympathy for the children, but I am uncertain what to make of Tara and her 14-year old, pregnant daughter. Some people it seems are incapable of accepting responsibility for their own lives. I am back-teeth grindinglyfedup with hearing paltry excuses for crimes committed against society. You know the sort of thing: “My mother made me sit on the potty for too long when I was a child” or “my jocks were too tight when I was at school!” Timothy Hampson, 52, a manager at Victoria’s biggest disability services provider, Yooralla, has been jailed for four-years after he was caught by a hidden camera in his office, preying on a vulnerable, cognitively-impaired woman.
According to County Court Judge Paul Grant, Hampson told a psychologist he had been under significant financial pressure as a result of renovations to the family home, holidays and presents, and his wife of 14-years suffering from severe depression. Also, Hampson claimed his wife was angry and negative, while his victim was a gentle, caring and positive person. If that were not bad enough, he claimed, initially, he did nothing wrong to the woman, who has the intellect of a child and had been a client for more than 10-years, because she had given consent. He had sex with the woman about four-or five-times between January and May 2014 but claimed that often she had initiated the sexual contact. Hampson was caught also on camera stealing $400 in cash from a security box containing Yooralla funds. The sentencing of this despicable character follows the release last week of a report by Ombudsman, Deborah Glass, detailing how Victorians with a disability are not reporting abuse, fearing they will not be believed, no action will be taken, or they will be punished. Her inquiry was prompted by revelations last year by Fairfax Media, and the ABC’s Four Corners, into the serious mishandling of several rape and sexual assault cases at Yooralla.
Let us hope that things will change after this and those in authority will start to believe the complaints of those who are suffering at the hands of people like Hampson.