House of Representatives Speech- Intelligence and Security Committee Report

First I will deal with Hamas’s Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, or the brigades. The brigades are the armed element of the military wing of Hamas. While the brigades are an integral part of Hamas, they also operate independently from, and at time at odds with, Hamas’s stated aims. Hamas, through the brigades, seeks to destroy the state of Israel and establish an Islamist Palestinian state in the existing Gaza Strip, West Bank and Israel. It will not enter into peace talks with Israel, and its leaders have stated Hamas cannot live with an Israeli state.

First I will deal with Hamas’s Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, or the brigades. The brigades are the armed element of the military wing of Hamas. While the brigades are an integral part of Hamas, they also operate independently from, and at time at odds with, Hamas’s stated aims. Hamas, through the brigades, seeks to destroy the state of Israel and establish an Islamist Palestinian state in the existing Gaza Strip, West Bank and Israel. It will not enter into peace talks with Israel, and its leaders have stated Hamas cannot live with an Israeli state.

The committee sought information on why Hamas’s brigades were listed and Hamas was not. The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation informed the committee that, when ASIO has information that only part of an organisation satisfies the statutory requirements for listing, only that part of the organisation will be put forward for proscription. This is the case with Hamas’s brigades.

The statement of reasons lists numerous attacks against Israeli civilians. The three most recent were in November 2008, when the brigades announced on their website that they had fired a total of 43 Qassam rockets and a number of mortar shells at several Israeli civilian and military targets; November 2008, when five Grad rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip at the Israeli city of Ashkelon; and January 2009, when numerous rockets were fired into Israel.

In addition to the well-known attacks against Israel, the brigades also have carried out brutal suppression against Palestinians. For example, in August 2009 Hamas launched a devastating attack against a mosque in Rafah. The attack killed at least 22 Palestinians, including an 11-year-old girl. The committee does not recommend disallowance of the regulation in relation to Hamas’s brigades.

The PKK has been involved in many terrorist attacks since 1995, including suicide bombing attacks, which have resulted in large numbers of civilian casualties. These terrorist attacks have been directed against not only Turkish security forces but also civilian and foreign targets. During the course of its review the committee became aware of some moves towards peace between the PKK and the Turkish government. ASIO assured the committee that substantive peace discussions could be one trigger for advice to the Attorney-General to de-list the PKK. None of the submissions to the committee’s inquiry denied that the PKK had been involved in terrorist acts that satisfy the statutory criteria for re-listing. The committee does not recommend disallowance of the regulation in relation to the PKK.

Lashkar-e-Taiba, which maintains links to the Taliban and al Qaeda, is one of the most active of the Pakistan-based Kashmiri militant groups and represents one of the most significant threats to security forces and civilians in Indian-administered Kashmir and beyond. Although the LeT formally denied any involvement, the most significant operations conducted by the LeT were the attacks on multiple targets in the Indian city of Mumbai between 26 and 29 November 2008, in which 172 persons were killed and at least 248 wounded. The committee does not recommend disallowance of the regulation in relation to LeT.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad is considered to be one of the militarily more effective of the Palestinian militant groups. It has a significant presence in Gaza and the West Bank and rejects any idea of any political process with Israel. The committee does not recommend disallowance of the regulation in relation to the PIJ.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my fellow committee members for their work in reviewing these and other terrorist organisations and I would like to thank the secretariat, who worked very effectively on this report, Robert Little and Donna Quintus-Bosz. I commend the report to the House.