Former Australian Taliban
fighter, currently in detention at Camp X-Ray
, Guantanamo Bay
. He is also known as Mohammad Dawood or detainee JJJ.
Born in 1975, he grew up as a bit of an angry young man in the mind-numbingly insipid rustbelt of South Australia. He listened to heavy metal music, left school at 14, experimented with drugs, stole a few cars and waltzed his way around Australia, picking up odd jobs as a shark fisherman, outback barman, kangaroo skinner,jackaroo and chicken boner.
To compensate for his small physique (5'4") he was intensely into boxing and bodybuilding - along with taking steroids he ate stale chicken to strengthen his abs. David wanted to join the army, but his poor literacy skills rendered him unfit for service. At a Northern Territory cattle ranch he met the love of his life - Jodie Sparrow, a Ngarrindjeri aborigine, and he became a Dad at the age of 17.
Despite his hell raising past most people would, given the chance to meet David, regard him as a half way decent bloke, and maybe even give him kudos for his tenacity. David could have continued living in Australia
eating as much stale chicken he could de-bone, but he was not a man destined for an ordinary life.
His wife acted as a bit of a pacifying influence in his life, but she ultimately called of their common law marriage in 1997. With Jodie having custody of his two children, in 1999 David headed to Japan to train racehorses. Somehow he suffered a sprained ankle that required him to return to Adelaide to recover. For six months he got stuck into books about the Silk Road and Pakistan - his dogged persistence making up for his limited reading ability. Once healed he returned to Japan, but his mind was moved towards matters Islamic. He penned this poem, a curious infusion of the Koran with Metallica and William Blake that is chillingly prophetic:
Hear the warriors roar, echoing through the land
It shall always reach the ears of the damned
Your oozing blood shall fill thier bowls
While thier hungry mouths devour your soul. . . .
Lordly king on thrown so high
To not obey, is but to die
Mohammed's food you shall be feed
To disagree, so off with your head.
The Muslim world will be the next
To put this earth, to it's test.
At the same time the War in Kosovo was escalating, and David saw the Albanian minority as the underdog. Seeing this as suiting his moral principles and a desire to go foitin' 'round the world David made contact with the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) via the Internet and got hired as a volunteer mercenary. Unfortunately for his plans the war was close to conclusion by the time he arrived. He managed to get involved in some combat during the six short weeks he was there, before the United Nations disarmed most elements of the KLA.
Adelaide was now a totally different planet to David when he returned from his Kosovo adventure. Nobody was interested in his stories. Living with his Dad, he got stuck into Islam - changing his name to Dawood and learning Arabic so as to study Islam in its original text. He made contact with a local mosque who considered David to be serious and mature but had some unstated reservations about his motivations to convert to Islam. A Muslim doctor put him contact with a welding job in Pakistan, and in late November 1999 he headed over to Central Asia.
From this point David's activities are less certain. It is believed that David may have fought with the Islamic separatist group Lashkar-e-Taiba in Kashmir. It is assumed that David trained with the Taliban. Yet the notion that David trained with or worked for al-Qaeda is something less certain, something that a military tribunal will have to evaluate if and when David is given a hearing.
It may have been a surprise, but at least it was plausible, when David learnt from his father by a phone call on 3rd November 2001 that the reason why his Taliban buddies in Kandahar were panicking was probably due to some big terrorist attack that occurred a few weeks earlier in New York and that Uncle Sam had been filled by a terrible resolve. David was heading north to fight the Northern Alliance, but was captured a week later and was handed over to the United States. He was subsequently taken to Camp X-Ray along with other captured Talib and al-Qaeda unlawful combatants.
There have been campaigns in Australia for David to be given the opportunity to state his case in a free court, or freed through habeas corpus. Some commentators point out that David hasn't really committed a crime - under Australian law it is not illegal to join a legitimate foreign military force, which the Taliban was for Afghanistan. Nor has he been granted prisoner of war status. His depth of involvement with al-Qaeda is uncertain, but it is doubtful that he could have got close enough to have learnt about the September 11 attacks. The Australian government has not been pressing the American administration on the case for David Hicks, and to date it remains uncertain when he will front a military tribunal.
(One wag would later say that David should be charged for Crimes Against Poetry