Just over 100 years ago on 11 November 1914 – the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed V, and caliph of all Muslims, who had earlier signed a treaty with Germany, declared a holy war against Great Britain and her allies, “the mortal enemies of Islam”.
The ruler of the Ottoman Empire, Ottoman Sultan Mehmed V, and caliph of all Muslims called for Jihad.
The Turkish sultan’s call was answered in Egypt and Mesopotamia, and in Broken Hill, Australia where two “Turks” launched a suicide mission (jihad) under their homemade Turkish flag.
The target they had chosen for their Jihad suicide mission was a train of 40 open ore wagons carrying more than 1200 holiday-makers.
The picnickers initially thought that the shots were being discharged in honour of the train’s passing, but once their companions started falling, the reality sank in. Four people died as a result, police were called in. A 90 minute gun battle ensued during which armed members of the public arrived to join the police and military. An eyewitness later stated that Gool had stood with a white rag tied to his rifle but was cut down by gunfire. He was found with 16 wounds. The mob would not allow Abdullah’s body to be taken away in the ambulance. Later that day both bodies were disposed of in secret by the police.
DETAILS:”Each New Year’s Day the local lodge of the Manchester Unity Order of Oddfellows held a picnic at Silverton. Three kilometres out of town, the Muslims, Gool and Abdullah positioned themselves on an embankment located about 30 metres from the tracks. As the train passed they opened fire with two rifles, discharging 20 to 30 shots.Gool and Mullah Abdullah made their way from the train towards the West Camel camp where they lived. On the way they killed Alfred E. Millard who had taken shelter in his hut. By this time the train had pulled over at a siding and the police were telephoned. The police contacted Lieutenant Resch at the local army base who despatched his men. When police encountered Gool and Abdullah near the Cable Hotel, the pair shot and wounded Constable Mills. Gool and Abdullah then took shelter within a white quartz outcrop, which provided good cover. A 90-minute gun battle followed, during which armed members of the public arrived to join the police and military. By the end of the battle very little shooting came from the pair and most of it was off target, leading Constable Ward to conclude that Mullah Abdullah was already dead and Gool was wounded.
James Craig, a 69-year-old occupant of a house behind the Cable Hotel, resisted his daughter’s warning about chopping wood during a gun battle and was hit by a stray bullet and killed. He was the fourth to die.
At “one o’clock a rush took place to the Turks’ stronghold”. An eyewitness later stated that Gool had stood with a white rag tied to his rifle but was cut down by gunfire. He was found with 16 wounds. The mob would not allow Abdullah’s body to be taken away in the ambulance. Later that day both bodies were disposed of in secret by the police.” —Wiki Leaks.
NEWSPAPER REPORT: “Dressed in their freshly laundered best summer clothes, some holding parasols, hundreds of lighthearted men, women and children chatted and waved as the train jolted forward and headed out towards the desert. Australia had been at war since August 1914 – many of these picnickers had brothers, fathers and sons in the Commonwealth Expeditionary Force that only weeks before had reached Suez. Yet this was a day to forget absent ones. On that Saturday morning, few places on earth were as peaceful as the red landscape surrounding Broken Hill, or so remote.
The two turbaned men continued to fire at the train, ducking down after each shot to reload or to take cover in case anyone shot back. But no one shot back. No one had any idea what was going on.
Two girls yelled “Happy New Year!” at the spectacle of two dark men in red jackets and frost-white turbans. They imagined the shots were being fired in honour of the passing train.
A guard of honour. A stone. Children taking pot shots at rabbits. Each wagonload formed its own interpretation.
One passenger, registering two men lying on the embankment above the pipeline trench, assumed that something was wrong with the water pipe – a leak? – and these men were attending to it.
Then a dairyman’s 17-year-old daughter, Alma Priscilla Cowie, standing beside her boyfriend, Clarence O’Brien, slumped to the floor. When O’Brien reached out to hold her, he saw that the back and top of her head had been blown away.
The two soldiers of Allah were not Turks, but British passport-holders from India’s north-west frontier, a region now divided between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The younger was the ice-cream seller, Badsha Mahomed Gül, a thoughtful 39-year-old Afridi. Born in the mountainous Tirah region, Gül had come to Australia as a cameleer. When the camel business declined, he had worked in a silver mine until the outbreak of war, and was laid off after all contracts with the German smelters were cancelled.
Three days after the tragedy, a confession was discovered, tucked under a rock and written in a mixture of Urdu and Dari, in which, astoundingly, Gül claimed to have visited Turkey four times – and even to have enlisted in the sultan’s army. He wished he’d still been in Turkey when war broke out, he told his companion-in-arms Mullah Abdullah.”