Ikebal Patel, president of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils in a recent radio interview has welcomed comments from the head of Australia's intelligence agency that it needs to recruit more Muslims. ASIO director-general David Irvine made the comments during a rare public address at the Sydney Institute. "ASIO needs to recruit more people from within our newly arrived migrant communities," he said. "Connected to this is the need for ASIO to develop even better outreach into our different ethnic communities, particularly Australian Muslim communities. "My constant message to our valued Islamic community is very simple: 'ASIO is not against Islam, it is against terrorism; against terrorism that kills both Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
Patel emphasized in his interview with Australia Radio that Australian Muslims are very much part and parcel of Australia and that it is in everybody's interest, including the Australian Muslims to ensure that Australia is always protected and secured. Patel went on to describe the relationship between Australian Muslims as one of a cooperation and both work towards the security of Australia.
Improvement of Trust
In his response that Muslims in Australia will not be enthusiastic to join ASIO because of the built-in mistrust and suspicion between that have been dominating the relationship between Muslim and the security agencies, Australian Islamic Council leader in contrary think Muslim will be encouraged to join AISO and by knowing that there are Muslims within the ranks of ASIO, the Australian Muslims would be assured that the workings of ASIO is one that is being checked by members of their own community as well in terms of fairness and in terms of what they actually do.
For better understanding and improvement of trust between Australian Muslims and the country's top domestic spy agency, Mr Patel invites all security agencies in Australia to attend the regular informative session held by the Islamic Council where they can come and speak tothe senior students and community gatherings and open days at mosques etc
Ahmed Kilani from Muslimvillage.com welcomes Mr Irvine's comments, but has called for ASIO to be more open in its relations with the Muslim community and describes the relationship between Muslims and the intelligence agency as uncertain since the September 11 attacks.
"Although it's 10 years later, we welcome the comments but I also think there'll be a lot of suspicion in the Muslim community just in the way that ASIO has been engaging with them in a very covert way, in a very unofficial way, would lead to a lot of suspicion and mistrust for what's happened in the past," he said.
ASIO is Australia's security intelligence service responsible for collecting, analysing and reporting intelligence on threats to security. The ASIO Act defines security as the protection of Australia's territorial and border integrity from serious threats, and the protection of Australia and its people from espionage, sabotage, politically motivated violence, the promotion of communal violence, attacks on Australia's defence system, and acts of foreign interference – whether directed from, or committed within, Australia or not.
ASIO does not investigate lawful protest activity or purely criminal activities. It is not a law enforcement body and have no powers of arrest, but cooperate closely with law enforcement agencies when there is a criminal link. ASIO investigations generally focus on detecting the intentions and activities of terrorists, people who seek to act violently for political reasons and people who seek to clandestinely obtain sensitive Australian information. ASIO is also responsible for the collection of foreign intelligence in Australia, at the request of the Minister for Foreign Affairs or the Minister for Defense.