Australia attacked Spain and the Philippines today for caving in to terrorists after a group claiming to be al-Qaida’s European branch threatened to turn Australia into “pools of blood” if it does not withdraw its troops from Iraq.
The Tawhid Islamic Group warned the Australian government in an online statement yesterday, following similar threats against Bulgaria and Poland.
Foreign Minister Alexander Downer blamed the Spanish for withdrawing troops from Iraq after the Madrid bombings in March and the Philippines’ decision to withdraw troops early last week to secure the release of a truck driver held hostage.
“Unfortunately, these actions have encouraged terrorists to continue these threats, so now we are subjected as the Italians are and the Poles and the Bulgarians from this particular group to further threats,” Downer told Nine Network television.
“And it’s very important we send a strong message that we will not be threatened by terrorist groups.”
Downer blamed the Philippines’ decision to negotiate with terrorists for the release of Angelo dela Cruz Thursday for six more hostages being taken the following day in Iraq.
“You have to stand up to these people because if you don’t you empower them,” Downer said.
“If we start caving into terrorists and withdrawing our troops because terrorists demand that we should withdraw our troops, then our foreign policy, our international relationships will be determined by terrorists and in future we’ll leave ourselves very vulnerable to further demands from terrorists.”
Downer said Australia was not familiar with Tawhid Islamic Group, but, “we take all threats seriously.”
The presence of Australian troops in Iraq is looming as a major issue at elections due this year.
The government has said the 880 Australian troops in and around Iraq will remain as long as they are needed, while the opposition Labor Party has vowed to withdraw troops by Christmas if it wins government.