Critics: Australia will round up Muslim fanatics Print E-mail
Sunday, 23 October 2005


Up to 80 Islamic extremists face electronic tagging under draft anti-terrorism laws that will soon be presented to the Australian parliament, critics of the proposed measures said Saturday.


The 80 are those who have trained abroad with al-Qaida and other banned terrorist groups but can't be prosecuted because this was not made illegal until July 2002.


The proposed legislation provides for terror suspects to be served with control orders that would oblige them to wear electronic tagging devices, report to authorities regularly and undertake not to make contact with certain people or groups.


State leaders agreed this month to proposals from Prime Minister John Howard to beef up terror laws in the wake of the July bombings in London, but opposition to them has grown.


The Labor Party's Arch Bevis, opposition spokesman on homeland security, said scrutiny was needed for changes that would include allowing for terror suspects to be held without charge for 14 days. "We've got to make sure that laws provide for a secure Australia but we don't need to trample on civil liberties to do that," Bevis said.


Australian Muslim Civil Rights Advocacy Network spokesman Waleed Kadous warned that the provisions were open to abuse. He said they allowed the government to detain people who couldn't be prosecuted under the law. "There is just too much room in this legislation for abuse," Kadous said.


Australia has added to its banned list 17 Islamic terrorist groups, including al-Qaida, Jemaah Islamiyah, Lashkar-e-Toiba, Abu Sayyaf and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.


Last month spy agency ASIO warned that there could be as many as 800 Muslim extremists primed to carry out London-style terrorist attacks in Australia. A year ago ASIO had put the number of potential terrorists at around 75 and said these people, all of whom had trained in Afghanistan or Pakistan, were being monitored.


The China Post, 23 October 2005

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