Green MP Keith Locke has accused the Security Intelligence Service of scaremongering in its latest annual report about the terrorist danger to New Zealand.
“The outgoing SIS director Richard Woods has clearly ramped up the terrorist threat to justify the huge leap in SIS funding this year from $23.2 million to $43.4 million.
“Mr Woods calls for ‘good quality public debate’ on the terrorist danger, but contributes nothing useful to such a debate. The report contains only vagaries about ‘foreign intelligence services’ collecting economic, scientific and political information ‘to further their own national interests’. How can there be a quality public debate when we don’t even know which countries the SIS is talking about, or whether the SIS succeeded or failed in stopping these attempts at economic, scientific and political espionage? Have our scientific institutions been successfully infiltrated by foreign spies or not? When and by whom ?
“The SIS claims in its report to have investigated links to and activities that support weapons of mass destruction programmes abroad – presumably, this is not a coded reference to the visit of President Musharraf of Pakistan. The lack of detail again, prevents public debate.
‘The SIS also report that they are still on the case of poor Ahmed Zaoui, a refugee from Algeria. The Zaoui case has been ‘time-consuming’, says Mr Woods, in an effort to justify the SIS taking over four years – and counting – to get its case together.
“The other specific achievement mentioned in the report is the expulsion of Rayed Ali, a Yemeni man of ‘security concern’. Oddly for an agency engaged with the ‘war on terror’ the SIS just grabbed Rayed Ali and bundled him out of the country, without any serious effort to interrogate him – perhaps because they knew all along he was an innocent party.
“The reality is that New Zealand doesn’t generate attention from Islamic terrorists because, unlike America, Britain and Australia, we haven’t sent troops to Iraq.
“Mr Woods raises the bogey of Islamic terrorists using the Internet to radicalise people — but there is no indication whether the SIS feels this is an imminent, highly unlikely or merely theoretical threat to New Zealand. Perhaps, as with the Rainbow Warrior terrorist sinking, the SIS expect only to find out afterwards.
” The SIS report leaves us none the wiser about whether the SIS is justifying its budget, or merely treading on the toes of the Police force – the agency most engaged with real international criminals.”