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Monday, 15 June 2009
Page: 5967


Mr BEVIS (8:37 PM) —On behalf of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, I present the committee’s report entitled Review of the re-listing of Ansar al-Islam, AAA, IAA, IMU, JeM and LeJ as terrorist organisations.

Ordered that the report be made a parliamentary paper.


Mr BEVIS —This report has departed from the usual format of terrorist proscription reports. In this report the committee has sought some improvements with respect to the statement of reasons process. The committee recommends that in future the Attorney-General provide the committee with a statement of reasons where a decision is taken not to re-list an organisation, similar to that now supplied when an organisation is listed.

There is no requirement for the Attorney-General to provide the committee with detailed reasons when he decides not to re-list an organisation. However, it would be useful if, where the Attorney-General has decided he will not be re-listing an organisation as a terrorist organisation under the Criminal Code, a statement of reasons explaining his decision is provided to the committee and that there also be a publicly released statement of reasons.

The committee was advised that the Attorney-General recently considered advice from the Director-General of Security with respect to the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ). Based on that advice he stated he would not be re-listing EIJ as a terrorist organisation under the Criminal Code after the current listing expired on 30 March 2009. The committee’s recommendations would enhance transparency and public confidence in this important process.

The committee in this parliament and earlier parliaments has taken the view that the non-statutory guidelines used by ASIO are a useful tool in evaluating the evidence supporting a listing or re-listing. The committee believes it would be helpful in its role if the statement of reasons were written in part in a way that directly links the evidence with the ASIO guidelines.

This approach would also better inform public understanding of the listing process and outcomes.

The committee has also requested that future statements of reasons be drafted, in part, in such a way that the information is directly referrable to the statutory criteria for listing contained within the Criminal Code.

I turn to the current regulations. They were signed by the Governor-General on 13 March 2009. They were then tabled in the House and the Senate on 17 March 2009. The disallowance period of 15 sitting days for the committee’s review of the listing began from the date of the tabling. Therefore the committee has conducted its affairs in order for it to report to the parliament by today, Monday 15 June 2009.

Notice of the inquiry was placed on the committee’s website and in the national daily newspaper. One submission was received from a public organisation. Representatives of the Federation of Community Legal Centres (Vic.) Inc., the Attorney-General’s Department and ASIO attended a private hearing on the listings.

I now quickly turn to other organisations.

Ansar al-Islam

Ansar al-Islam has immediate objectives to overthrow the Iraqi government, expel coalition forces from the country and establish a Sunni Islamic state administered under Shariah law.

The last confirmed terrorist act Ansar al-Islam was involved in was an attack on a Peshmerga barracks, reportedly killing 19 people and destroying two vehicles on 13 August 2008.

The committee does not recommend disallowance of the regulation in relation to Ansar al-Islam.

Asbat al-Ansar (AAA)

Asbat al Ansar, AAA, has objectives to establish a Sunni Islamic state in Lebanon by overthrowing the Lebanese government, eliminating Israel and impeding anti-Islamic and pro-Western influences in Lebanon. The group believes its struggle justifies violence against civilians. Its strategies in seeking its objectives include the use of terrorist tactics.

AAA remains focused on supporting jihad in Iraq and planning attacks against Lebanese security forces, and Western interests.

The committee does not recommend disallowance of the regulation in relation to the AAA.

Islamic Army of Aden (IAA)

The Islamic Army of Aden, IAA, is a Sunni Islamic extremist group that first came to public prominence in 1998, when it issued statements detailing its intention to overthrow the Yemeni government and implement Shariah law; and called for operations against Western interests in Yemen.

In March-April members of the group suspected of planning to travel to Iraq to fight foreign forces were arrested.

The committee does not recommend disallowance of the regulation in relation to the IAA.

Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan

The IMU is now fighting in support of the Taliban.

The committee does not recommend disallowance of the regulation in relation to the IMU.

Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM)

The JeM is a Sunni Islamic organisation also based in Pakistan.

The committee does not recommend disallowance of the regulation in relation to JeM.

Lashkar-e Jhangvi (LeJ)

The LeJ is a Sunni Islamic group involved in terrorist activities including attacks in Lahore.

The committee does not recommend disallowance of the regulation in relation to LeJ.

In conclusion, as I have done on other occasions, I note the cooperation of members of the committee and thank them for their involvement and also thank the secretariat. (Time expired)