sam-de-silva on Fri, 7 Mar 2003 08:50:31 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Anti terrorism and spying on peace activists

hi, this may be of interest - its a story by alex kouttab a local commentator 


Australia, its anti-terrorism legislation and the isolation of the Arab and 
Islamic community

by Alexander Kouttab 
"alexander kouttab" <>

The transformation of Australia into a 'police state' continues unabated, 
despite the limited success of those who have campaigned against Australia's 
proposed 'anti-terrorism' laws since they were first introduced after 9/11. 

The laws allow for individuals to be detained without trial, and in their 
original format, those detained would be held incommunicado, denied the right 
to legal representation, denied the right to silence (refusal to answer 
questions carries a 5 year prison term) and their detention could be 
continued indefinately.  

No special provisions were made for children and the only concession that the 
government has made since the laws were first proposed, is that children 
under the age of 14 won't be strip searched.   

As worrying as this blatent erosion of basic civial liberties is, the grounds 
for detaining someone are even more worrying.  An individual detained doesn't 
have to be suspected of belonging to a designated 'terrorist' organisation or 
of being involved in terrorist activities - they only have to be suspected of 
maybe having information about possible terrorist activities in Australia or 

Many have pointed out that the selective definition/charge of terrorism 
has its own politics - one that strenuously excludes the links that should 
be made between the modern state, state warfare and state terrorism.  It is 
also no coincidence that the map of America's 'war against terrorism' is 
tailored to first world-third world relations and the divide that still 
separates coloniser from colonised. 

Terrorism is so ideologically overloaded with Hollywood stereotypes and images 
of the fanatic which implicate all Arabs and Muslims as possible terrorists 
solely by virtue of their ethnic and/or religious background, that it should 
not be hard to guess which communities 'the authorities' will swoop upon as 
fertile beds of possible information about the less than plausible chance of 
terrorist activity here in Australia.    


Spy force eyes radicals 

By Mark Dunn 

SECRET spy dossiers on radicals and religious extremists have been compiled 
by a Victoria Police special squad since the US and Bali terrorist attacks 

The Herald Sun has learned that hundreds of suspect Victorians have been 
investigated by Victoria Police's Security Intelligence Group, formerly known 
as Special Branch. 

Covert operations also include monitoring Islamic associations and Muslim 
youth groups. 

Freedom of Information documents reveal an SIG targeting committee decides 
whether to infiltrate radical groups, monitor their activities and build 
dossiers on members. 

Since September 2001, the spy force has: 

MONITORED the Australian Muslim Students and Youth conference on Islamic 
re-awakening, which touched on terrorism and September 11 events. 

PROBED security incidents linked to the Bali bombings at the Stock Exchange, 
Parliament House, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Defence Department 
and Crown casino. 

MONITORED the large Iraqi community in the Shepparton area. 

ASSESSED security at CSL Parkville to guard against "bio-terrorism hazard 
issues" and listed all radiological and chemical storages in Melbourne. 

HELPED overseas investigators in February 2002, possibly the FBI, on an 
international terrorism matter in Melbourne. 

REMOVED car registration records of US diplomatic staff from VicRoads data 
bases and ran security checks on all guests at the US Consul-General's 
Melbourne home. 

IDENTIFIED and profiled members of Melbourne's controversial Black Shirts 

Victoria Police would not comment last night. 

For the SIG to legally compile dossiers and conduct covert operations, there 
must be a "proven or believed" involvement in, or planning for, a political, 
religious or ideologically motivated crime. 

The SIG can also initiate undercover surveillance if an individual has a 
criminal history linked to political or religious violence that goes "beyond 
lawful protest". 

In 1998 almost half of 20,000 intelligence files at police headquarters were 
destroyed because they were more than 10 years old or were irrelevant. 

In 1983 the Cain government ordered the destruction of many of the 9300 
files then kept by the former Special Branch. 

It is unknown how many were kept and police will not say how many have been 
created since the beginning of the war on terror in 2001. 

The SIG reports show that environmental, racial and humanitarian activists 
are kept under surveillance. The special squad: 

KEPT files on members of the International Socialist Organisation and 
Socialist Alternative involved in globalisation demonstrations and protests 
against Nike. 

IDENTIFIED and profiled members of Melbourne's controversial Black Shirts, a 
militant fathers' rights group. 

MONITORED members protesting against monkey experiments at Melbourne and 
Monash universities and threats against researchers. 

ASSESSED members of the Animal Humane Society believed to be behind 
vandalism in a fight to save bats at Melbourne's Botanical Gardens. 

MONITORED the Refugee Action Collective and other refugee advocates who ran 
regular protests at the Maribyrnong Detention Centre. 

LAID charges of threats to kill against two members of the Hindu community 
and assessed racial tensions as "extremely volatile" in Melbourne's Tamil-Sri 
Lankan community. 

INVESTIGATED threats against TAC officials and a government minister. 

PROVIDED assessments and surveillance of anti-logging groups. 

The SIG's so-called Team Two handled the bulk of post-September 11 
investigations into some members of Victoria's Islamic community after 
allegations of links to terrorism. 

A decade ago, Ombudsman Barry Perry was highly critical of the secret files 
kept by police. 

His three reports led to an overhaul of how covert operations and dossiers 
are conducted. 

"They can no longer keep files on every Tom, Dick and Harry simply because 
they have got up and said something that is not politically correct," he 

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