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Mr Howard and Mr Downer must clarify whether they received warnings on the terrorist threat to Australians.



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MEDIA RELEASE

KEVIN RUDD M.P.

Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Security

MR HOWARD AND MR DOWNER MUST CLARIFY WHETHER THEY RECEIVED WARNINGS ON THE TERRORIST THREAT TO AUSTRALIANS

In the lead up to the Iraq war, Prime Minister Howard continually argued that Australia’s participation in the war, far from increasing the terrorist threat, would actually decrease the terrorist threat.

Yet newspaper reports today suggest Mr Howard and his Ministers were “repeatedly warned” about the effect the Iraq war would have on “fanning Islamic extremism and spurring terrorist recruiting”.

The reports also claim an intelligence analyst has said of the pre-war intelligence reporting that “…we were sure, in the longer term, there would be a lot of anger towards the West”… "We would see there was a risk here that this is going to provoke

more support for terrorism and violent responses."

Mr Downer’s defence today was that the Government did receive some intelligence warnings about an increased terrorist threat arising from Iraq and this was dealt with by an adjustment to Australian travel advisories for the Middle East. However there are three problems with this:

• How do today’s reports sit with Mr Howard’s claim that we would be safer from terrorism, not at greater risk from terrorism, as a result of our participation in the Iraq war?

• How does Mr Downer’s defence sit with the views of individuals like AFP Commissioner Mick Keelty who argued that a contributing factor to the terrorist attack in Madrid in March was Spain’s participation in the Iraq war?

• How does Mr Downer’s defence sit with the comments of Dr Rohan Gunaratna, Dr Zachary Abuza and Clive Williams that Australia is at greater risk of terrorist

attack because of our participation in the Iraq war - not just Australians who live in the Middle Eastern countries covered off by Mr Downer’s travel advisories?

Mr Howard and Mr Downer must clarify this by issuing a definitive statement that at no time did they, their offices or departments receive any advice, written or oral, from the Australian intelligence community warning that Australians (outside the Middle East) faced an increased terrorist threat arising from Australia’s participation in the Iraq war.

Ends. 23 August 2004

Media contact: Alister Jordan 0417 605 823