First Published in Dissent, 2005/2006

I've been looking for terrorists, but I haven't seen any.

On the weekend my boys and I were in the garden and we looked everywhere for terrorists but we didn't see any. There were a pair of Eastern Rosellas and we're pretty sure they were because we looked them up in the bird book and although they could be confused for juvenile Crimson Rosellas or perhaps a lorikeet or two, we were pretty sure they were Eastern Rosellas. But no terrorists.

I know there must be terrorists in Australia because Prime Minister John Howard says he's seen them. And he's shown them to the State Premiers and Territory Chief Ministers. But I haven't seen them.

We looked at Caulfield Park, Carnegie Velodrome, Princess Park and Queen's Park and we didn't see any there, either. And I didn't see any at the MCG for the Grand Final, which is good because then the whole stadium would have had to be evacuated and you can imagine how alert and alarmed 90,000 football fans would be if there was an Auskick bag left near a seat while someone went to get a pie or a beer.

I've seen some men and women with guns and very surly men and women with badges and notebooks at Flagstaff Station but I don't think terrorists wear uniforms in Australia, do they? I know our police wouldn't shoot a Brazilian electrician eight times, because even the police know how hard it is to get a qualified electrician these days.

I saw some people from the Middle East at Tullamarine Airport the other day, including young males, but I don't think they were terrorists because they were with a little old lady in a wheelchair and they were crying a lot. She was being deported. There were some men with guns and others with uniforms but that was as close to terrorists as I could see. Perhaps the young Muslim men crying over their grandmother's forced deportation might grow up to be terrorists.

I did see terrorists when I was a Middle East reporter. They had guns. Some of the Palestinian ones had black Mercedes sedans with dark glass windows and their drivers and guards had guns. All the Israeli ones had guns. The Irish terrorists had their own CCTV - so if the IRA can use CCTV, I suppose we should, too. The one Welsh terrorist I met blew up an electricity pylon.

Come to think of it, I've actually seen quite a few terrorists. It was my job. They told me who they were and what they did.

But I haven't seen any terrorists in Australia. Perhaps they are the sort of terrorists you can't see; a bit like the tooth fairy and Santa Claus and the Bogeyman.

If anyone sees a terrorist - other than an emotionally unstable person expelled from our closed psychiatric hospitals - could they please let me know?

See the original here: Spot the Terrorist

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