Australia/Israel Review

The hateful rhetoric of Hizb ut-Tahrir Australia 

Oct 6, 2020 | Ran Porat

Hizb ut-Tahrir Australia leader Ismail Al-Wahwah
Hizb ut-Tahrir Australia leader Ismail Al-Wahwah



Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT, Arabic for “the party for liberation”) is a pan-Islamic fundamentalist movement with branches in different countries, including a few hundred followers in Australia. Mostly banned in the Middle East, the movement calls for the re-establishment of a global Muslim Caliphate based on Islamic religious law (Sharia), while rejecting the integration of Muslims into non-Muslim societies.

Ismai’l Al-Wahwah (aka Abu Anas) is the leader of HT Australia. He is a Palestinian born in the West Bank in 1957, and (according to his own testimony) was forbidden to go back to his hometown after moving to Jordan in 1975 and later to Germany. Al-Wahwah was arrested in the UK a few years ago and was later incarcerated for several years in Jordan for subversive activities.

In the past, Al-Wahwah has refused to condemn the terrorist Islamic State organisation.

HT Australia actively spreads conspiracy theories popular in the Arab world to its Australian followers via social media. Many of these theories are anti-Israel and antisemitic. Al-Wahwah told his followers, for example, that Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, killed by the US in January, was really an American agent. As reported by Ahron Shapiro (AIR, September 2020), Al-Wahwah was quick to insist that the possibility that Israel was behind the Beirut port explosion was “a strong one”.

Al-Wahwah is notorious for openly calling for Israel’s destruction and championing antisemitic tropes, including Holocaust denial. In January of this year he said the Jews “exaggerate, blow out of proportion, lie about, and milk [the West] over [the Holocaust] in order to accomplish their goals” and spoke of how the “occupying Jews… exploit this issue [the Holocaust] in order to humiliate human beings.”

In Dec 2017, following the decision by the US to move its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem, Al-Wahwah threatened: “The very knife with which you [US president Donald Trump and Israel] cut Palestine is a criminal, infidel, hypocritical knife, and it will be turned against you and will cut your bodies and behead you. This knife will sever your heads from your bodies, just like you severed East Jerusalem from West Jerusalem … the day will come when you [the Jews] will cry blood.”

He also insisted that Palestine will only be won back through jihad and war against the “Zionist entity”.

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry and the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies have referred his speech to NSW police for investigation under that state’s racial incitement laws.

In response, HT Australia issued a statement in September proudly proclaiming that the movement “exists at the forefront of efforts to rid Palestine and all Islamic lands from the scourge of foreign occupation … The Jewish entity is an occupying force, and the Ummah [nation of Islam] will not rest until every part of the occupation is reversed from the Islamic holy lands.”

Al-Wahwah himself gave an impassioned speech in which he called Israel (not for the first time) “a cancer” and “an evil rapist occupation.”

Israel is a “cancer” that will be eliminated within days

The peace deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, announced in mid-August, triggered Al-Wahwah to unleash more conspiracy theories and extremism.

He discussed the topic in a video titled “The UAE-‘Israel’ deal – Betrayal of occupied Palestine”, posted on social media on Aug 19.

Al-Wahwah started his speech with a harsh attack on the Gulf states forging ties with “the evil state of Israel”. He presented a warped and antisemitic version of history that is typical of Middle Eastern radicals, claiming that Israel was maliciously planted in the heart of the Muslim world by foreign powers: “Strategically, when the West – France, Britain – has established the Jewish entity after WWI, they knew from day one – this entity cannot survive, stay in the region, unless people in the region can accept it. The people in the region are Muslims, we are Muslims. Naturally, we have rejected, we are rejecting, and we will keep rejecting the existence of the Jewish entity. There is no Muslim in Earth, a true Muslim, who will accept the existence of this entity. It clashes … with your din [religion], with your belief, with your Qur’an, your history. It clashes with everything!”

Al-Wahwah has no doubt that the conflict will end with the destruction of the “cancer” which is the Jewish state: “The story of the struggle over Filastin [Palestine] has one answer – it is ours or theirs. It cannot be between us and them.… compromise or… two state solution – that’s all lying.”

“The Jewish entity, wa-Allah [by God, even] if the whole world gives them acceptance, and support them, they will never be able to stay in the region. It’s a cancer, the Jewish entity is cancer. And cancer, you have to get rid of it! As long as there is cancer in the body, there is a big problem. And Ummat al-Islam [the Islamic nation] will never accept this cancer.”

Al-Wahwah then fancifully describes what would happen when Israel is wiped off the map – all the Jews there will ethnically cleanse themselves from the land and go back to their “real” home countries: “And this state [Israel], they call it state, by God it is so weak that every one of them has his second passport… And they are waiting for the Ummah to stand up, and carry the war, carry the Jihad against them – [then] they will all run away, they will all go back to where they came from, from Paris, London, Warsaw, Moscow – everywhere.”

The victory over Israel, predicts Al-Wahwah, will be swift and decisive: “The Ummah is thinking how can we bring Salah al-Din [the Muslim leader who conquered Jerusalem in the 12th century] back, how can we free the land, how can we carry the Jihad… By God, it will not take us one week, two weeks, if sincere people come out from Syria, from Egypt, from Jordan, from Turkey, from Iraq – Wallahi [by God] it will not take us two weeks to free the land of Filastin [Palestine]! So easy!”

Al-Wahwah concludes his poisonous vision with another denial of the right of the Jewish state to exist, claiming that Israel “is not even a true state…From the bread until the airplane [and] the rockets, they take it from the West. They are not a true land, not a true state. They try to tell us – we are strong. What can you do with your weapons if millions of the Ummah moves towards Filastin [Palestine]? What can you do with your weapons? How can that help you? Zero!”

Jews are liars and rude

Arab rulers that forge closer ties with Israel are “slaves” to the US, according to Al-Wahwah, and their fate will be bleak: “we will put all of them in the same basket as the Jewish entity, the occupier … and the Ummah will deal with them [in a] similar [way] and the Ummah will get rid of all of them!”

Al-Wahwah’s antisemitic views resurfaced when he said that the 1993-1995 Oslo peace agreements promised the Palestinians statehood in five years and they still did not have it 20 years later, and “if the Jews speak about 20 years, it would be maybe 200 years! …That’s the Jewish attitude.”

Talking about the alleged commitment made by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to the UAE leaders to freeze plans to extend sovereignty to parts of the West Bank, Al-Wahwah reveals what he really thinks of Jews: “The Jews, you know, they tried to be very rude. They are very rude.”

Almost a decade ago, AIJAC was among the first to call on the Australian Government to examine whether Hizb ut-Tahrir merits legal prohibition in Australia, given the group’s engagement in violence and terrorism overseas, and continued incitement to political violence everywhere.

The long string of antisemitic statements and incitement by the leaders of this movement’s Australian branch should now trigger additional scrutiny by local law enforcement agencies and, hopefully, action against this dangerous organisation.

Dr. Ran Porat is a research associate at the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation at Monash University, a research fellow at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the Interdisciplinary Centre in Herzliya and a research associate at the Future Directions International Research Institute, Western Australia.


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