Ahmad Bazzi stand over a coffin as a picture of son Ali is displayed.
The government is yet to say if Ali Bazzi (top, far right), was a Hezbollah fighter, as claimed. Image by AP PHOTO
  • unrest, conflicts and war

Government quiet on dead Aussie’s Hezbollah ‘links’

January 5, 2024

The Australian government has not publicly confirmed whether or not an Australian killed overseas had ties to a registered terrorist organisation after saying it was looking into the alleged link.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade initially confirmed the deaths of two Australian citizens – brothers Ibrahim and Ali Bazzi – in an Israeli air strike in southern Lebanon before Christmas.

It also said it was working to establish whether Ali Bazzi was a member of Hezbollah after the Shi’ite Muslim group – which Australia designates as a terrorist organisation – claimed him as one of its fighters.

Hezbollah claimed Australian Ali Bazzi as one of its fighters.
 Hezbollah claimed Australian Ali Bazzi as one of the Shi’ite Muslim group’s fighters on his death. Image by AP PHOTO 

Last week, Acting Foreign Affairs Minister Mark Dreyfus confirmed the government was working on it.

Asked on Friday whether any links had been established, the department did not go on the record.

However, the department’s position has generally been that it does not monitor the movement of Australians overseas and that it is bound by privacy obligations.

Australian law prohibits citizens, residents and visa holders from taking part in hostile activities overseas unless they are serving in or with the armed forces of a foreign country – as compared with a non-government armed organisation like Hezbollah.

Hezbollah made no similar claim for Sydney resident Ibrahim Bazzi, whose wife Shorouk Hammoud was also killed in the strike.

Hezbollah is a supporter of Hamas, the Islamist militant group that controls the Gaza Strip where Israel has been waging war.

The war was declared after an October 7 attack on southern Israel by Hamas – which is also considered a terrorist group by the Australian government.

The incursion left more than 1200 Israelis dead and up to 240 taken as hostages, Tel Aviv said.

Israel’s subsequent bombardment, blockade and ground invasion of Gaza has left more than 22,000 Palestinians dead, according to Gaza health ministry figures.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Friday defended Australian cricketer Usman Khawaja’s “positive message of peace” in response to violence in Gaza, saying his attempt to display an image of a dove was not political.

Over the last month, Khawaja has made several efforts to draw attention to violence in the Middle East during Australia’s Test series with Pakistan.

He was barred by the International Cricket Council from writing “all lives are equal” and “freedom is a human right” on his shoes.

The council said it breached rules prohibiting players from wearing personal messages on their uniforms. 

When the batsman later tried to display an image of a dove holding an olive branch on his bat, the council imposed another ban.

A file photo of Usman Khawaja
 Usman Khawaja has been banned from displaying references to the Middle East conflict on the field. Image by Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS 

Mr Albanese praised Khawaja’s latest attempt at the Sydney Test on Friday.

“I think Usman Khawaja having a dove … is a positive message of peace,” he told reporters.

“It’s not a political message, it doesn’t take sides for any religion or any group, it is a positive message that he ought to be able to participate in and I think that Usman Khawaja is a fantastic cricketer.”

The rising Palestinian death toll has led to protests in Australia and calls from the local Palestinian community for the government to take a stronger stance in condemning Israel’s actions.