"Summary of Allegations" and reasoning of the Director of Security in making a Security Risk Certificate about Mr Ahmed Zaoui
1. Ahmed ZAOUI arrived in New Zealand on 4 December 2002, having attempted to destroy a false South African passport en route. He was interviewed by Immigration and Customs officers at the airport, detained, and interviewed by the Police. He was then interviewed jointly by Police and SIS officers, and later by an Arabic-speaking SIS officer alone.
2. In the joint Police/SIS interview Mr ZAOUI was questioned about the videotape he had made during his journey overland from Malaysia via Thailand and Laos to Viet Nam. The focus on places which are not obvious tourist sites but which are frequented by westerners, including an oil company building, tourist buses and an internet cafe, looked suspiciously like a "casing" video. His answers did not dispel security concerns. The videotape also shows what he said was a second visit to a mosque in Hanoi, likely to be frequented by Algerian diplomats. He had no satisfactory answer as to why, if (as he had said) he feared being discovered by Algerian security officers, be should twice visit a place where he might be recognised by Algerian diplomats.
3. The interview with the Arabic-speaking SIS officer produced one point of security concern, relating to the veracity of an answer Mr ZAOUI gave, which cannot be disclosed without compromising classified security information which cannot be divulged.
4. The Service instituted enquiries with overseas liaison partners about Mr ZAOUI's activities since he left Algeria. These enquiries confirmed that Mr ZAOUI:
* was twice declined refugee status in Belgium, in 1995 and 1996;
* was convicted in Belgium in 1996 of being a leader and instigator of a criminal association with the intention of attacking persons and property;
* having been released from custody, was issued with a ministerial order for home detention which limited his movements to the street in Brussels where he and his family lived;
* nonetheless left Belgium and entered Switzerland illegally in 1997;
* undertook activities in Switzerland which the Swiss government saw as endangering Switzerland's domestic and external security. The Swiss authorities therefore removed his fax, email and internet access;
* appealed to the European Court of Human Rights against this Swiss decision. The European Court considered his proceeding to be manifestly ill-founded and declared it inadmissible in full;
* was expelled from Switzerland to Burkina Faso in 1998;
* left Burkina Faso in 2000 and arrived in Malaysia;
* was convicted in absentia in France in 2001 of participation in a criminal group with a view to preparing terrorist acts.
5. These enquiries also produced classified information which provided background to the above public facts. Both the public facts and the classified information make it clear that there was not just a single source of information being repeated. Rather, the relevant authorities in each of the three countries carried out their own independent investigations into Mr ZAOUI's activities in their own countries and reached the conclusions reflected in the convictions and other decisions.
6. The Service discussed with the liaison partners concerned whether it would be possible to provide an unclassified summary or version of the classified information. The Belgians and Swiss agreed and this information was given to Mr ZAOUI's lawyers in May 2003.
* In essence, the Belgian unclassified information confirmed that Mr ZAOUI had been found to be a leader and instigator of a criminal association with the intention of attacking persons and property. It was not clearly established for what movement he was working.
* The Swiss Federal Council considered (unofficial translation) "the resumption of Mr ZAOUI's activity to be a potential threat to Switzerland's internal security. His polarising and provocative activity may lead to acts of violence, and even attacks, in Switzerland. In view of the international undertakings it has made, Switzerland can no longer tolerate the appearance of groupings which support, encourage or carry out, directly or indirectly, violent or terrorist activities. The intrigues by the leader of the FIS in Switzerland are such as to even affect our country's relations with foreign countries and thereby endanger Switzerland's external security."
7. On 20 March 2003 the Director of Security made a Security Risk Certificate about Mr ZAOUI, relying on definition (c) of security in the NZSJS Act 1969:
(i) Are influenced by any foreign organisation or any foreign person; and
(ii) Are clandestine or deceptive, or threaten the safety of any person; and
(iii) Impact adversely on New Zealand's international well-being."
8. His reasoning is as follows, in the form of comment on each section of the definition. It is based both on the publicly known security-related European decisions and convictions and related unclassified information and on classified security information which cannot be divulged.
It is reasonable to suspect that if permitted to settle in New Zealand Mr ZAOUI would in due course undertake, facilitate, promote or encourage activities like those of which he was convicted in Belgium and France and/or which the Swiss government decided endangered Switzerland's domestic and external security. His presence here would attract, both directly (people who wish to work with him) and indirectly (people encouraged to believe that New Zealand is a safe haven for people with his sort of record), other people likely to engage in activities of security concern.
Mr ZAOUI is a foreign person. He has a long record of involvement with foreign persons and foreign organisations, including leadership. There is good reason to believe that any future activities he may undertake will be influenced by other foreign persons and/or by foreign organisations.
The activities of which be was convicted in Belgium and France were clandestine or deceptive or threatened the safety of persons. The Swiss government believed that his activity in Switzerland "may lead to acts of violence, and even attacks, in Switzerland". Activities of this kind in New Zealand, by Mr ZAOUI or by others attracted to New Zealand by his presence here, could threaten the safety of New Zealanders.
As part of the international community it is New Zealand's responsibility to take its proper part in controlling, defeating and preventing activities of security concern, such as those of which Mr ZAOUI has been convicted in Belgium and France and for which he was deported from Switzerland. Consistent with this, it is a government objective to ensure that New Zealand is neither the victim nor the source of acts of terrorism or other activities of security concern, and to prevent New Zealand from being or becoming a safe haven for people who have undertaken, or may be intending to undertake, such activities.
If Mr ZAOUI, with his public record, were allowed to settle here, that would indicate that New Zealand has a lower level of concern about security than other like-minded countries. That would impact adversely on New Zealand's reputation with such countries and thus on New Zealand's international well-being.
If Mr ZAOUI, or other people attracted to New Zealand by his presence here, were to undertake, facilitate, promote or encourage activities of security concern, either in New Zealand or elsewhere from within New Zealand, the adverse impact on New Zealand's reputation and thus on its international well-being would be compounded
E R Woods
Director of Security
27 January 2004
Herald Feature: Ahmed Zaoui, parliamentarian in prison
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