Australian Muslim groups are receiving more than $100,000 a year in
funds from Libya, according to documents obtained by the Herald.
The money is being directed to the Australian Federation of Islamic
Councils (AFIC), which has close links with Tripoli.
Earlier this year, AFIC representatives went to Tripoli to organise the
transfer of funds. Evidence of the Libyan link is contained in AFIC records
supplied to the Herald.
Minutes of the AFIC's Federal Congress this year state: "Following the
meeting of our delegation with Dr Mohammed Ahmed Sherif in Tripoli in February,
1987, AFIC received a grant of $US100,000 ($A140,000) from the World Islamic
Call Society for purpose of investment in order to strengthen the financial
viability of the Federation."
Libyan links, or alleged links with the Australasian and Pacific regions in
recent years include:
Financial aid for New Caledonia's main pro-independence group, the Kanak
Socialist Nationalist Liberation Front.
The movement of weapons into the South Pacific for dissident groups through
Financial support from a faction of the Free Papua Movement.
The sponsoring of a conference of revolutionary groups attended by Tasmanian
Aboriginal activist, Mr Michael Mansell, who reported that the Libyan leader,
Colonel Gaddafi, would help establish a separate Aboriginal nation if the
government did not accede to Aboriginal land rights claims.
Prominent Muslim leaders confirmed that the Libyan money had been received,
but insisted that it was a "no strings attached" grant for purely religious and
They said AFIC received funds from a number of Middle Eastern countries on
the condition that Australian groups were free to act with complete
Other AFIC documents suggest that smaller amounts of Libyan money - of
about $10,000 - have been used to help fund the legal battle of the
controversial religious leader of the Lakemba mosque, Sheikh Taj El-din Hilaly,
to stay in the country.
The Sheikh has been fighting a protracted battle with the Department of
Immigration and Ethnic Affairs which has refused to grant him permanent
residence. The former Minister, Mr Hurford, ordered the Sheikh to leave
Australia because of an alleged "deep-seated contempt of basic Australian values
The present Minister, Mr Young, however has apparently abandoned legal
action and granted the Sheikh a two-year temporary visa.
The documents supplied to the Herald suggest a well-established link
between Australian Muslim groups and Tripoli.
In one letter from Sheikh Hilaly to the secretary of the Islamic Call
Society in Tripoli, he writes to outline how the previous rules and regulations
of the Islamic Centre at Lakemba have been replaced with a true Islamic type of
administration which it is hoped will be adopted around Australia.
Yesterday Sheikh Hilaly confirmed that money was coming from Libya but
denied that he had received any for his legal costs. He said any documents
purporting to show this must be forgeries and were probably the work of enemies
in the community who, with the backing of the Saudi Arabians, were seeking to
This was because he had resisted the efforts by local representative of
Middle Eastern regimes to influence local Muslim affairs and because he had
criticised the Saudi royal family for its departure from true Islamic values.
He said he did have connections with Libya, he had lived there for five
years, but insisted they were purely religious and without any political
"We don't stand for anyone seeking to influence us here. If they were to
try that we would cut off links immediately. There is nothing wrong with us
accepting money for charitable works, for schools and education."
A spokesman for the acting Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Duffy, said the
Federal Government would wait until it was had documentation about the
Gaddafi-backed funding before taking action.
The Opposition spokesman on Foreign Affairs, Mr John Spender, said that
any funds supplied by Gaddafi should be looked upon with scepticism verging on
"We all know he funds organisations in different countries, some innocent,
ranging to some terrorist," Mr Spender said.
"I have seen no proof about how the money is to be used but we know that
Gaddafi is a person who engages in terrorism as an act of policy."