Barry Soper: Spy chief not up front with NZ

Pro-ISIS demonstration in Mosul, Iraq. AP file photo, June 2014.
Pro-ISIS demonstration in Mosul, Iraq. AP file photo, June 2014.

The trouble with spy agencies is that they'll only tell you what they want you to hear. By their very nature they're secret squirrels, amassing info with a view - we're told - of keeping us safe.

They also have the ability of scaring the living daylights out of us, which is what they did when the boss of the Security Intelligence Service, Rebecca Kitteridge, appeared before our politicians late last year.

Kitteridge told us there has been a rise in the number of Kiwi women leaving the country to become jihadi brides - which we all found difficult to fathom. Why would young women leave the safety of this beautiful country to live in the hellholes of Syria and Iraq? What's more, what would incense them to get hitched to the savages that are marauding around those hapless countries in the name of Islam?

Of course all the usual questions were asked but not answered, like how many had snuck out of the country and where were they living?

After talking to the politicians, Kitteridge told us the numbers of young women leaving from New Zealand was small but significant and refused to give further details.

A grave Prime Minister emerged telling us there was no question one or two people had left for Syria and they were known to have engaged in weddings - effectively at the last minute.

At the time there was news of two Austrian teenage girls who'd gone to Syria, one was killed fighting there and the other was beaten to death for trying to escape a forced marriage and rape.

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So it was all pretty scary stuff, whipping this country into something of a frenzied bewilderment. Surely it was only a matter of time before a distraught parent would plead for their daughters to see sense and come home. We could be thankful for our vigilant spy agencies who clearly knew what was going on and would be on the case when these disturbed young women finally did come home.

But there was silence on that front and noise from the Muslim community who maintained it was news to them. They rightly dispelled the notion that ISIS ideology had no place in the teachings of Islam.

Like all stories it blew over and we all got on with our lives, even if at the back of our minds, the feeling that the reach of the Islamic State butchers had finally reached our shores.

Well it turns out that the jihadi brides hadn't left our shores at all. They'd been living in Australia with their Kiwi passports and took off from there.

So why wasn't the spy chief and the Prime Minister more up front with us? The conspiracy theorists say they deliberately created a climate to ease the way for our spy agencies to be given more power, which they now do look likely to get.

Of course Key denies it, but then he would, wouldn't he?


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