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Keelty confirms Islamic militants operating i -

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Keelty confirms Islamic militants operating in Australia

Reporter: Michael Edwards

TONY JONES: Australia's Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty has confirmed claims made on
Lateline last night that up to 60 Islamic militants are operating in Australia. The Commissioner
says the claims by a former assistant director of ASIO comes as no surprise. He says security
agencies are in control of the situation, but has signalled the need for reforms to
counter-terrorism laws. Michael Edwards has this report.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: Former ASIO assistant director Michael Roach told Lateline Australia's two main
cities are home to up to 60 military-trained Islamic extremists, capable of making bombs and
plotting attacks.

MICHAEL ROACH, FORMER ASIO ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: They have precision with regard to their planning,
their techniques and their methodologies. They are divided into groups within the cell structures,
for example, having the coordinator of the group, down to those people who will actually deliver
the bomb.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: Today the Federal Police Commissioner confirmed the figure and says security
agencies are keeping track of suspects.

MICK KEELTY, COMMISSIONER, AUSTRALIAN FEDERAL POLICE: There is various amounts of information known
on each one of them, but I don't want to go into the detail of any of that and affect the security
or integrity of the operations.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: The Prime Minister has also moved to reassure the public that security agencies
are on watch.

JOHN HOWARD, PRIME MINISTER: The important message I have for the Australian people is that we are
aware of the people who should be under surveillance and the right thing is being done in relation
to them.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: The Opposition Leader is calling for a guarantee from the Prime Minister.

KIM BEAZLEY, OPPOSITION LEADER: A guarantee that everything conceivable that could be done to
protect the community is being done.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: Commissioner Keelty says the recent attacks in London have highlighted the need
for a review of existing anti-terror laws. Echoing the comments of senior British police in the
aftermath of the London bombings, Mr Roach also ignited a debate about racial profiling.

MICHAEL ROACH: Unfortunately, Middle Eastern people are going to be approached more often than are
not and that's just the way it goes at the moment. We can't do anything about it. But if that
person has nothing to fear, nothing to hide, and is just being approached politely, that person, by
rights, should not be concerned with that approach at all. And I'm sure their communities, their
community leaders, have mentioned that they may be more likely to be approached because of their
beliefs, their dress and their colour and, unfortunately, now that is just what's happening.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: There is alarm within the Islamic community about the use of racial profiling. But
one moderate Muslim politician says it could be a necessary inconvenience.

ADEM SOMYUREK, VICTORIAN LABOR MP: You've got to admit that we are faced with some very unusual
circumstances at the moment. You know, if definite proof or definitive proof can be given to me
that racial profiling will prevent terrorist attacks, I think, perhaps, we might ultimately need to
endure this.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: The Federal Police say racial profiling is not used and the Prime Minister
questions its fairness.

JOHN HOWARD: I don't think anybody should be targeted because of their physical appearance.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: As for Mr Roach, he also seemed to have second thoughts today.

MICHAEL ROACH: We're talking about some people that are fundamentalists that have perhaps been
persuaded by others to undertake unlawful acts, eg, terrorism. So let's just take this racial card
right out of this because this is what's not good for their community and it's not good for
Australia.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: ASIO has declined to comment on the issue. Michael Edwards, Lateline.