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Monday, 22 August 2011
Page: 8706


Mr BYRNE (Holt) (10:10): On behalf of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, I present the committee's report 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 relisting 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 relistings was unavoidably delayed and the committee was therefore unable to review these organisations and report to the parliament within the disallowance period. However, the committee resolved to review the new listing of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the relisting of six other terrorist organisations and report to parliament, albeit outside the disallowance period.

Having completed its review, I can advise 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 relistings and 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 relistings on developments since the committee last reviewed these organisations. Information was drawn from the statement of reasons provided by the Attorney-General's Department and, when required, as on this occasion, from a private hearing with the Attorney-General's Department and ASIO.

As mentioned above, this is the first listing of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, 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 Correspondenttelevision 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 have recently claimed responsibility for include one on 7 January this year, when 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 were sent from Yemen using international courier companies and were intercepted in the United Kingdom and in the United Arab Emirates. The devices were disguised as packages and were addressed to synagogues in Chicago. AQAP claim 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. On 23 July 2010, AQAP militants ambushed a military patrol in the Shabwah province in Yemen, killing six soldiers.

The committee found that AQAP is engaged in activities that satisfy section 102.1 of the Criminal Code. The committee would have not recommended disallowance of the regulations to list AQAP. This is the fourth relisting of al-Qaeda, Jemaah Islamiah, al-Qaeda in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb, Jamiat ul-Ansar and the Abu Sayyaf Group, and it is a 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 Australia or Australian interests here 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. However, completion of the statement of reasons would normally be at least one or two months prior to the committee writing its report, so 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 therefore information may be contained in this report which is more up to date than that which is contained in ASIO's statement of reasons. To sum up, I reiterate that if the committee had been able to report within the disallowance period it would not have recommended disallowance of the regulations in relation to any of the seven terrorist organisations mentioned above.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all of the committee members, particularly the deputy chair, for their work in reviewing these terrorist organisations. Lastly, I would like to thank the secretariat. I commend this report to the House.