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Tuesday, 23 August 2011
Page: 5218

Senator FAULKNER (New South Wales) (16:55): I present the report of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security on the Review of the listing of AQAP and the re-listing of six terrorist organisations. I seek leave to move a motion in relation to the report.

Leave granted.

Senator FAULKNER: I move:

That the Senate take note of the report.

On behalf of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security I present the report of the committee entitled Review of the listing of AQAP and the re-listing of six terrorist organisations. This report reviews the initial listing of the terrorist organisation known as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the re-listing of six previously listed terrorist organisations.

Due to the dissolution of the 42nd Parliament and the 2010 federal election, advice to the committee from the Attorney-General’s Department of the new listing and the re-listings was unavoidably delayed and the committee was therefore unable to review these organisations and report to parliament within the disallowance period. However, the committee did resolve to review the new listing of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the re-listing of six other terrorist organisations, and report to parliament, albeit outside the disallowance period.

Having completed its review, I advise the Senate that the committee would not have recommended disallowance of the regulations for any of these seven organisations had the committee been able to complete its review within the disallowance period. As with previous committee reports on listings and re-listings of terrorist organisations, this report identifies issues relating to the current nature and reach of each of the organisations, with particular emphasis, in the case of the six re-listings, on developments since the committee last reviewed these organisations. This is the first listing of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula—also known as AQAP. The committee took evidence that AQAP has been involved in a number of terrorist attacks in the Arabian Peninsula, both within and outside Yemen.

The committee noted that in February this year the ABC’s Foreign Correspondent television program reported that Yemen is ‘al-Qaeda’s new frontier and a launching pad for Jihadi inspired terrorism’ and that the leader of AQAP, Anwar al-Awlaki, is drawing recruits ‘from many nations around the world, including Australia’. The International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence has recently confirmed the activities of AQAP and its links to Australia, as described in Foreign Correspondent.

Terrorist attacks which AQAP has recently claimed responsibility for include on 7 January this year, 12 soldiers were killed when AQAP militants attacked three military vehicles in the city of Lawdar in Yemen. On 29 October last year, two improvised explosive devices sent from Yemen using international courier companies were intercepted in the United Kingdom and in the United Arab Emirates. The devices were disguised as packages and addressed to synagogues in Chicago. AQAP claimed responsibility for sending these devices. In claiming responsibility for the attempted IED attacks mentioned above, AQAP further claimed to have been responsible for the downing of a UPS cargo plane in Dubai in early September 2010 in which two crew members were killed. And on 23 July 2010, AQAP militants ambushed a military patrol in Shabwah province in Yemen, killing six soldiers.

The committee found that AQAP is engaging in activities that satisfy section 102.1 of the Criminal Code.

This is the fourth relisting of al-Qaeda, Jemaah Islamiyah, al-Qaeda in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb, Jamiat ul-Ansar and the Abu Sayyaf Group; and it is the third relisting of al-Qaeda in Iraq. In each case the committee was satisfied that each of these groups continues to engage in terrorist activities which could be a threat to Australians or Australian interests either here in Australia or overseas.

I should note that, in reviewing the evidence in support of the listings, the committee draws largely on the Statement of Reasons which is prepared by ASIO in conjunction with the Attorney-General’s office. Completion of the Statement of Reasons would normally be at least one or two months prior to the committee writing its report. In order to take into consideration the very latest information about each group, the committee often refers to information on Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Centre website to support the evidence provided in the Statement of Reasons and some of that information may be more up-to-date than that contained in the ASIO Statement of Reasons.

I reiterate that had the committee been able to report within the disallowance period, it would not have recommended disallow­ance of the regulations in relation to any of these seven terrorist organisations.

Mr President, I commend the report to the Senate and I seek leave to continue my remarks.

Leave granted.