These stories are all interchangeable. Like every serial killer media post-mortem, they begin with, “But he/she was just so normal.” And yes they were. In the sense that Islam is seen as normative without understanding what it actually is and what it is and what it means.
To the people who knew her from those days, she would have seemed the unlikeliest terrorist – they would never have thought of her as a religious martyr.
But in the months and weeks leading up to her death last week in a bullet-ridden house in war-torn Syria alongside her husband Yusuf Ali, her Facebook posts reveal a young woman heading for a dangerous future – and fully prepared for what she would meet.
“Everything is temporary,” she wrote. And: “Islam is my identity. The burqa is my shield. Jannah (the Islamic garden of paradise) is my destination.”
The husband she called her “lion”, and the “man of my dreams” wrote in one of his last posts: “Preparing for the grave”.
This sounds crazy to ordinary Australians, but it’s just Islam. It’s not some “crazy form” of Islam. Not every mosque will tell people that they have to prepare to die now. But it’s there in the cultural DNA. And it doesn’t make to prepare to bring it out.
Islam is a militant religion. It doesn’t become radicalized. The term “radicalization” implies that there is a moderate baseline. Rather normative Islam is temporarily moderated by some mosques, but the moderation tends to last only as long as there isn’t a serious conflict.
And today in a heavily interconnected world, there is always a conflict to recruit the second generation of immigrants into.
Like trying to build a “nice” Communism or Nazism, a moderate Islam only lasts until the point of conflict occurs.
Despite her education at one of the country’s top Anglican schools, St Hilda’s in Brisbane, Karroum was always a Muslim – but it was not until a couple of years ago that she started to wear a burqa. On her Facebook page, she described her work as a “Slave of Allah” and her posts became increasingly extreme, condemning America, the war on terror and even democracy.
“Today I witnessed hijabi girls promoting democracy with their T-shirts and their stupid voting papers. Kuffars! May Allah guide these strangers!” she posted on federal election day last September.
After wild Muslim riots in Sydney’s Hyde Park in 2012 she called for more violence, urging Facebook followers to: “F… the police! Smash the cop cars.”
On the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, she posted: “Worst effing night. I’m proud of being a Muslim!!!!! 10 years of war in Afghanistan for two towers.”
She talked of going to a shooting range and, on Facebook, regularly checked in at a Sydney address she called “Bin Laden’s Cave”.
At which point, it would have been reasonable to arrest and deport the entire family. The entire family? Isn’t that going too far? Despite reports that her family is upset, we have this…
On Facebook, Karroum’s sister Rose, who also embraced Islam and calls herself the “Mujahidah Lioness”, asked for prayers for the couple, who she said had been “martyred”. She described her sister as a “soldier” who had been parted from her husband by “something bigger than them”.
The odds are good that we aren’t done with this family.