Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Victorian police infiltrating Islamic terror groups

The Victoria Police has become Australia's first force to use an undercover officer to infiltrate a radical Islamic group, reports The Age.

During the operation, the officer arranged for the group's alleged leader, Abdul Nacer Benbrika, to accompany him to Mount Disappointment, north of Melbourne, to test explosives in late 2004. The explosives had secretly been supplied by police, who covertly monitored the trip.
The infiltration was part of the ongoing national counter-terrorism investigation, Operation Pendennis. Thirteen of the group's Melbourne members were later charged with terrorism-related offences, including belonging to an unnamed terrorist organisation.

The infiltration, the first of its kind, has raised concern among the usual suspects about using undercover agents in terrorism-related investigations because of the vagueness of terrorism laws and the potential to entrap suspects.

The accused from Melbourne are charged with laws passed in 2002 that make it an offence to be a member of an organisation "that is directly or indirectly engaged in preparing, planning, assisting in or fostering the doing of a terrorist act", regardless of whether that act ever takes place.

What a shame MI5 failed to do the same in the UK.