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Transcript of interview with Paul Murray: 6PR: 31 May 2013: Convicted terrorist housed at low security Inverbrackie detention centre



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Michael Keenan MP - Federal Member for Stirling 6PR Interview with Paul Murray May 31, 2013

Topics: Convicted terrorist housed at low security Inverbrackie detention centre

Paul Murray

The head of ASIO, Director-General David Irvine, was being questioned about an issue and I must say that it wasn’t terribly reassuring to hear the head of ASIO responding to how a man had come here claiming refugee in Australia as an asylum seeker, who was a member of the terror group Egyptian Islamic Jihad, seemed to have slipped through our security net. It wasn’t in anyway reassuring to hear that exchange. Michael Keenan is the Shadow Minister for Justice, Customs and Border Protection and he joins us now. G’day Michael.

Michael Keenan

Good Morning Paul.

Paul Murray

What are your misgivings about this bloke Maksoud Abdel Latif?

Michael Keenan

He is a convicted terrorist. He has been convicted of premeditated murder, explosives and firearms offences. He has committed offences both in Egypt and outside of Egypt and he is not the sort of person we want to see in our country. We certainly don’t want to see him detained in the facility which the Government detained him in once he arrived here, which was the very low security Inverbrackie detention facility, which is surrounded by what is the equivalent of a pool fence.

Paul Murray

Is it true that he had an Interpol red alert out on him at the time he arrived here?

Michael Keenan

Yes and for your listeners to understand that is effectively an international arrest warrant and anybody who comes into contact with Australian law enforcement agencies that has such a notice on them should have immediately rang alarm bells. That is why what you would have heard in estimates yesterday, both from ASIO and the AFP prior to that, should really shock and concern all Australians and we require answers about how this has been allowed to occur.

Paul Murray

I don’t know what you thought of David Irvine’s response but when he was particularly hit up by George Brandis, I think it was or was it Eric Abetz, one of the two..

Michael Keenan

It was George Brandis.

Paul Murray

It was George Brandis and he ummed and ahhed and sort of said basically that there had been an administrative error. I wasn’t reassured. What was your feeling of that response?

Michael Keenan

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David Irvine is an exceptionally professional public servant and we shouldn’t be blaming him. He has been placed in an extraordinarily difficult situation where ASIO is required to do security checks on the incredible wave of illegal boat arrivals that we are having at the moment and astonishingly Paul, the Government actually cut their resources that they had at their disposal to do those checks. He and his agency have been placed in an impossible situation.

Paul Murray

I think George Brandis established yesterday that they were only scratching the surface in terms of doing proper checks on people before they were released into the community?

Michael Keenan

Well how can they Paul when we are having 100 people arrive per day and it is almost impossible for that agency even to establish somebody’s identity and that clearly is one of the reasons why they had problems identifying this terrorist. ASIO are required to do the impossible and they now do what is called a “light touch” assessment, which essentially means they have very little capacity to even assess somebody’s identity before they are released into the community.

Paul Murray

What are you saying should happen as a result of this breach regarding this terrorist?

Michael Keenan

We need to understand how this has been allowed to occur and we need an independent inquiry to establish that. Astonishingly DIAC had put this guy into Inverbrackie and ASIO had actually come to them in August last year and said this guy is a convicted terrorist, a very serious terrorist, and they did nothing. The AFP, who were apparently doing a parallel investigation, came to Immigration on the 14th November last year and said the same thing and again nothing happened. The only time the Government took action was on the 17th April, which was after this was published in The West Australian saying that this convicted terrorist was being kept at Inverbrackie and finally they moved him to Villawood, which is a slightly more secure facility. We need to understand what has happened here and get to the bottom of the way this has been dealt with by the Government because this really is a national security scandal.

Paul Murray

Is he still there?

Michael Keenan

Apparently he is now detained within Villawood. Villawood of course has had 60 escapes from it, so it is hardly a maximum security facility either. There are two parts of Villawood, a maximum security part and there is another less secure part and the Government has not been up front about where he has been kept. Again we have had no response from them and I have actually been pursuing this since the middle of April and the Government has refused to provide any further information, which is why we need this independent inquiry to establish what has gone on.

Paul Murray

So the exact words after the umming and ahhing from David Irvine were “initially there was a clerical or some other mistake which we subsequently identified”. I take it you want an inquiry into what that clerical or other mistake was and how it happened?

Michael Keenan

It is much broader than that because both ASIO and the AFP had been pursuing the identity of this man and both of them came to the same conclusion although apparently independently of the other, and both of them had advised DIAC of their conclusion to say that this guy is a very serious convicted terrorist. It is not just ASIO that has been involved here and of course once both ASIO and the AFP had advised the Immigration Department and on both occasions nothing was done. There has clearly been a whole series of problems that the Government must explain. That is why I believe it would be in their interest as well as the interest of all Australians to have an independent inquiry into why this has actually happened.

Paul Murray

Does this instance go someway to justifying claims that the Opposition has been making, which you have been roundly

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criticised for by the asylum seeker lobby, that we really don’t know who is on these boats?

Michael Keenan

We don’t and this is only one example of a number of cases that have come to our attention. There is a guy who has been accused of murdering his girlfriend and he wasn’t just released into low security facility he was released into the community on a bridging visa. There is also an accused drug smuggler from Iran. These are only the cases that we found out about through the media and the Government has never been forthcoming about them. Clearly when you have 42,000 people arriving here courtesy of criminals, other criminal and other undesirable people are going to take advantage of that. Now when we have raised these issues in the past it is not the asylum seeker lobby that has been attacking us it is the Government that has been accusing us of racism just for asking about these national security breaches. When you are not in control over who is coming here the potential for bad people to come is clearly very high and that is what has been occurring in some cases.

Paul Murray

I think George Brandis, the figure I heard him establish was, when he got a response from Irvine about the number of people who had a substantial security assessment about them before being released into the community, I think was just 25 per cent wasn’t it?

Michael Keenan

Yes that’s right. They just do not have the resources to do any sort of sensible examination of people who are coming here. ASIO is an agency of about 1700 people and I understand they have hundreds of people working on this but they are having a hundred extra people arrive per day and it is clearly impossible for them to do a sensible security assessment on people who don’t come with identity documents. It is very difficult to contact their home countries to establish their identity and they have been asked to do the impossible by the Labor Party in an environment where their resources have actually been cut. It is not ASIO that is to blame here, it is the Government who is to blame and must take responsibility for what has occurred.

Paul Murray

Good to talk to you Michael. Thanks a lot.

Michael Keenan

Nice to talk to you Paul.

Ends…………………………………………………………………………………………………..

© Authorised by Michael Keenan MP, 203 Wanneroo Road, Tuart Hill WA 6060

www.keenan.net.au

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