Media reports over the weekend again brought to light the issue of ASIO and its underhand tactics used against the Muslim community. This follows similar reports earlier this month, and a recent speech by ASIO boss David Irvine given on 24 January 2012 at the Sydney Institute in which he said that the ‘home-grown terror threat’ was “real and amongst us”, explicated ASIO’s desire to recruit Muslims, and claimed that, “ASIO is not against Islam.”
In response to this we emphasise the following points:
1. The underhand tactics used by ASIO against the Muslims community are not new. Bullying, harassment, intimidation of people to “meet for a friendly chat”, bribing, tapping private correspondences and like tactics have been occurring for a long time and Muslim activists, organisations, and mosque committees are all well aware of this reality.
2. The corrupt ways in which spy agencies operate and the ever-increasing amount of resources used in spying reveals the sad reality of modern liberal democracies as increasingly totalitarian states. It also reveals the huge wedge between the rhetoric of freedom and justice and the reality of oppression and injustice. Australian spy agencies now run at more than $1 billion a year. ASIO alone has grown by almost 500% in size over the last decade, as it moves into its new $590 million headquarters in Canberra this year.
3. Notwithstanding this huge growth in size and funding of intelligence agencies, the security threat, by their own admission, apparently keeps growing, indicating upon the fact that the policies keep failing. David Irvine’s most recent warning echoes the words of Kevin Rudd in February 2010 that the threat of terrorism was not diminishing, but had rather become a permanent feature of Australia's security environment. Indeed, the policies of Western Governments under the flawed ‘War on Terror’ have only made things worse. This is to be expected when domestic policies are based on intimidating and criminalising an entire community, and when exploitative foreign policies – the root cause of the problem in the first place – continue unabated.
4. ASIO should learn from the experiences of the notorious intelligence agencies in the Muslim World whose oppressive policies against the people, ranging from the lowly tactics ASIO adopts all the way to routine torture and murder, failed to silence the Muslims. The recent uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa are a testament to this. Muslims are resilient by virtue of their Islam, and attempts to target their Islam are a futile exercise in folly.
5. Muslims see through the lies of ASIO. It is against Islam. The reason it seeks to recruit Muslims is to cover its ugly tactics and objectives with a familiar face and to deceive people thereby. Actions speak louder than words, and in this case the actions reveal the hypocrisy of the words. ASIO is but an arm of the state; a state that is against Islam, and uses its various arms to suppress Islam in order to facilitate policies of integration at home and policies of exploitation abroad.
6. We advise Muslims to neither work for ASIO nor to meet or discuss with them unless legally required too. There is nothing to fear in exercising one’s rights. The more ASIO is secretive and seeks to intimidate, the more we should be open and confident. We encourage Muslims to continue standing up to ASIO’s cheap tactics that seek to intimidate in order to incriminate, and to respond in the most noble of ways by holding on even stronger to their Islam and being even more firm in accounting the excesses of the state.
Hizb ut-Tahrir Australia
20 February 2011