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Sydney will be attacked

Luke McIlveen / Australian Daily Telegraph | August 29 2006

MOST Australians believe we are locked in a losing war against Islamic terrorists and an attack on our home soil, most likely Sydney, is inevitable.

For the first time, The Daily Telegraph can reveal how ordinary Australians feel about living under the shadow of terrorism – and the results are chilling.

Three quarters of the Australian public believe we are losing the war against terrorists, while more than half believe it is "very likely" or "fairly likely" we will be attacked in the next 12 months.

"We recently had a bomb scare at work and it has made me start to second-guess everything. I've become quite paranoid, especially catching the train to work," said Natasha Collins, 21, who works in retail in Kings Cross.

The majority of people are resigned to the fact Western countries – including Australia – will be at war with terrorists for at least the next 20 years.

Five years after the September 11 attacks on New York and four years after the first Bali bombings killed 88 Australians, most Australians surveyed said they accepted that terrorism was part of their daily lives.

"It's less safe, I wouldn't go overseas now," Newcastle resident John Levett, 57, said.

Far from being optimistic about the future of world stability, more than half believe the threat from terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda will only get worse in the next few years.

The Daily Telegraph's poll, based on face-to-face interviews with 572 people in Sydney, Newcastle, country NSW and the ACT in the past week, also raises concerns among ordinary people about the behaviour of Muslims in Australia.

A majority (52 per cent) said they believed most Muslims living in Australia were moderate.

"I work with some Muslim people and they get so stereotyped. They're nothing like they are shown, they're good people,'' said Isaac Wynyard, 20, a warehouse worker from Parramatta.

But a further 21 per cent said they believed Australian Muslims were not moderate, while the remaining 27 per cent said they did not know either way.

Maureen Stowefern, 62, from Newcastle said: "Not all Muslims are terrorists but all terrorists are Muslims.''

The poll dispels the myth among Australians that fears of terrorism are overblown.

In the same week that aspiring terrorist Faheem Lodhi was jailed for 20 years over a series of planned attacks that could have rivalled the London bombings and September 11, Australians called on their political leaders to do more to protect the population from an attack on home soil.

A clear majority called for stricter security at Australian airports in the wake of the British plot to blow up planes over five key US cities.

The controversial idea of "passenger profiling'' at airports was also supported by just over half of those surveyed.

Such a move would see certain stereotypes - such as young Muslim men - singled out for security screening before being allowed to board a plane.

Postal worker Kathy Bennett, 42, from Queanbeyan, doubted whether the war against terror would end.

"I don't think we ever can win it,'' she said. "It will last forever. I think all we can do is take a stand.''


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