Category Archives: AUSTRALIAN INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES

Government’s plan to spy on all Australians exposed in leaked letters

It may shortly be far easier for government spies to access your private data. Photo source: Pixabay

We’re constantly being advised to protect our data and information online, but it turns out there may be even a greater threat & cause for concern.

An exclusive report by The Sunday Telegraph reveals our online data may not even be safe from the Australian Government. Australian citizens may soon be subjected to secret digital monitoring by the top cyber spy agency in the country with no warrant rerquired for accessing all your info when they feel like it.

This means everything from text messages to emails and even bank statements could be accessed in secret under the radical new proposed plan. The Sunday Telegraph viewed the secret letters between the heads of Department of Home Affairs and Defence. The letters detail possible new powers for the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD).

As the current rules stand, intelligence is not to be produced on Australian citizens. Having said that, the Australian Federal Police and domestic spy agency ASIO can investigate people with a warrant and also seek help from the ASD if needed in what are deemed to be extreme cases.

If the proposal is passed, it would be up to Defence Minister Marise Payne and Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton to allow spying to occur. Furthermore, they could approve cases without Australia’s top law officers being aware of it.

The Sunday Telegraph believes Dutton hasn’t yet presented Payne with any formal proposals for changes to the legislation. If passed though, spies would be given permission to secretly access information relating to an Australian citizens’ financial data, health information and phone records. A change in law would mean it’s also illegal for government agencies and private businesses to hold back any information that could hinder the security measures.

The Sunday Telegraph believes the reason for the data crackdown would be to stop terrorism, child exploitation and other serious crimes being conducted both here in Australia and overseas.

Several times in recent months online data and its safety has made headlines. Earlier this year, Facebook came under fire for breaching privacy data rules. As it stands, anything you share or access online remains there, even if you delete it.

This means any photos, emails, website history, online comments and videos you upload or view are stored away somewhere in cyberspace. Worryingly, any information shared on a social media platform such as Facebook will remain with the company, even if your profile is deleted.

What are your thoughts? Have you concerns that your private information could be secretly accessed by spies and the government? Do you think it’s really to protect Australians, or just another feeble excuse for the government to gain more information about us? Big brother is going too far this time one would think. Write to your MP.

Henry Sapiecha

ASIO restructuring strategy and resources in the face of cyber threat

The country’s intelligence agency has aligned its resources to focus on the growing threat of cyber espionage targeting ‘a range’ of Australian interests.

In the wake of accusations from United States intelligence agencies that Russia hacked into Democratic Party emails, thus helping Donald Trump to election victory last year, a report from Australia’s intelligence agency said the country’s national security resources are focused on preventing foreign threat actors from “targeting a range of Australian interests”.

In its 2016-17 Annual Report [PDF], the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) explained that Australia continued to be a target of espionage and foreign interference, noting in particular that foreign intelligence services sought access to privileged and/or classified information on Australia’s alliances and partnerships; the country’s position on international diplomatic, economic, and military issues; as well as energy and mineral resources, and innovations in science and technology-related fields.

ASIO called the threat from espionage and foreign interference to Australian interests “extensive, unrelenting, and increasingly sophisticated”.

“Foreign intelligence services are targeting a range of Australian interests, including clandestine acquisition of intellectual property, science and technology, and commercially sensitive information,” the report explains.

“Foreign intelligence services are also using a wider range of techniques to obtain intelligence and clandestinely interfere in Australia’s affairs, notably including covert influence operations in addition to the tried and tested human-enabled collection, technical collection, and exploitation of the internet and information technology.”

During the reported period, ASIO said it identified foreign powers clandestinely seeking to shape the opinions of members of the Australian public, media organisations, and government officials, motivated by the appeal of “advancing their country’s own political objectives”.

As highlighted by ASIO, rapid technological change continued to provide people who are engaging in activities that threaten Australia’s security with new tools to conceal their activities from security and law enforcement agencies. In particular, ASIO said the use of encrypted communications by security intelligence targets was — and still is — an area of particular concern.

“Australia continues to be a target of espionage through cyber means; the cyber threat is persistent, sophisticated, and not limited by geography,” ASIO warned.

“Increasingly, foreign states have acquired, or are in the process of acquiring, cyber espionage capabilities designed to satisfy strategic, operational, and commercial intelligence requirements.”

Watching carefully the area of investment flows, ASIO said that while Australia’s open and transparent economy, which invites foreign investment, is a welcome and important contributor to Australia’s national wealth, it is not without national security risks.

“For example, foreign intelligence services are interested in accessing bulk data sets and privileged public or private sector information, including Australian intellectual property. Developing and implementing effective mitigation strategies for these issues is critical to reducing the threat to an acceptable level,” the report says.

Another emerging issue of potential national security concern to ASIO is the lack of diversity of ownership within certain infrastructure sectors.

The agency also said that the number of cybersecurity incidents either detected or reported within Australia represents a fraction of the total threat the country legitimately faces.

While technology provided security and law enforcement agencies with new opportunities to identify activities of security concern, ASIO said building and maintaining technical collection capabilities to stay ahead of the threats proved to be resource intensive.

“Transforming existing agency information and communications technology infrastructure to effectively exploit new capabilities, manage the large volume and variety of data available, and to be adapted easily to new technologies is a major challenge, and one that will require significant, ongoing investment,” the agency wrote.

“In addition to technological challenges in the operating environment, we faced heightened threats to our staff, facilities, and information.”

ASIO said such challenges required the diversion of resources to “ensure the security and effectiveness” of the agency’s operations.

Throughout the period, ASIO said it worked closely with Australia’s national security partner agencies, which included work to progress shared national security objectives through joint agency bodies such as the federal, state, and territory Joint Counter Terrorism Teams (JCTT), the National Threat Assessment Centre (NTAC), the Jihadist Network Mapping and Targeting Unit, and the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC).

Similarly, work with international peers was maintained with over 350 partner agencies in 130 countries, ASIO explained.

The intelligence agency specifically worked with counter-terrorism prosecution in New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland, providing assistance and evidence on telecommunications intercepts, physical surveillance, listening, and tracking devices.

“In 2016-17, we continued to work closely with telecommunications companies regarding the security risks associated with the use of certain companies in their supply chains and risks arising from foreign ownership arrangements,” the report says.

“We provided sensitive briefings to the Australian government and the telecommunications sector to outline the threat and, where possible, recommended appropriate mitigation measures.”

ASIO said that through its work with ACSC, it regularly observed cyber espionage activity targeting Australia.

“Foreign state-sponsored adversaries targeted the networks of the Australian government, industry, and individuals to gain access to information and progress other intelligence objectives,” the agency wrote.

“ASIO provided support to the ACSC’s investigations of these harmful activities as well as the centre’s work to remediate compromised systems. The number of countries pursuing cyber espionage programs is expected to increase … as technology evolves, there will be an increase in the sophistication and complexity of attacks.”

It isn’t just foreign threats on ASIO’s radar, with the agency noting it remained alert to, and investigated threats from, malicious insiders.

“Those trusted employees and contractors who deliberately breach their duty to maintain the security of privileged information,” ASIO explained. “These investigations continued to be complex, resource-intensive, and highly sensitive.”

In-house, ASIO said it also worked to build an enterprise technology program to enable the agency to “excel in using technology and data” to achieve its purpose.

“Given the increasing opportunities and challenges brought about by rapid advances in technology, it is imperative that ASIO is a ‘data-enabled organisation’, connected to its partners, accountable to the people, innovative in its approach, and sustainable for the long term,” the report says.

From July 2018, Australia’s new Home Affairs ministry will be responsible for ASIO, Australian Federal Police, Border Force, Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, Austrac, and the office of transport security. It will see Attorney-General George Brandis hand over some national security responsibility to Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton.

Of the ministerial changes and the recommendations of the 2017 Independent Intelligence Review, ASIO Director-General of Security Duncan Lewis said he believes the new measures will play an important role in strengthening the agency’s strategic direction, effectiveness, and coordination of Australia’s national security and intelligence efforts, at a time when “the nation is facing complex, long-term threats” to its security.

Henry Sapiecha

Dozens of government agencies request access to citizen metadata without warrants

man peeps behind blind image www.intelagencies.com

Nearly all the agencies which accessed citizens’ private information in the past have applied for continued access. Photo: Louise Kennerley

Nearly all of the government agencies which last year snooped on citizens’ phone and internet records without warrants have reapplied to access the data following the introduction of legislation which was meant to reduce the scope of access.

Sixty-one non-law enforcement federal and state agencies, including organisations such as Australia Post and Sydney’s Bankstown City Council, have applied to access citizens’ metadata for pursuing criminal activity or protecting public revenue.

The telecommunications data may include information such as phone numbers and addresses of people who called each other, or email addresses and the times messages were sent.

Attorney-General George Brandis image www.intelagencies.com

Attorney-General George Brandis has yet to decide which agencies may have access to telecommunications metadata.

By comparison, the latest official government report on metadata access, covering a period before new mandatory data retention legislation came into effect in October last year, showed 69 agencies accessed metadata. At that time they were automatically authorised to access this data, however following the legislation, non-law enforcement agencies must now apply directly to federal Attorney-General George Brandis for temporary approval to access metadata for up to 40 parliamentary sitting days.

No warrant is required to access the data.

A spokesperson for the Attorney-General’s department said Mr Brandis had not temporarily approved metadata access to any agencies who requested access.

The list of agencies was revealed in a Freedom of Information request filed by former Electronic Frontiers Australia vice chair Geordie Guy, and released to the public on Monday.

More agencies may have requested metadata access since Mr Guy’s FOI request was filed in November last year.

Digital rights group Electronic Frontiers Australia has called on Mr Brandis to reject most of the agencies’ applications.

EFA executive director Jon Lawrence said “only two or three” agencies would have legitimate reasons to access the private information.

“If the Attorney-General is serious about the integrity of his legislation and about protecting the civil liberties of all Australians, then he must act swiftly to reject the majority of these applications,” Mr Lawrence said.

In previous years local city councils have come under fire for using information gleaned from residents’ metadata to chase small-time infringers and recoup fines.

Melbourne’s Knox City Council last year accessed call charge records, and name and address details, to prosecute people who damaged property or were guilty of cruelty against animals or illegal signage, a council spokesperson said.

Bankstown City Council in Sydney appears to be the only council so far to have reapplied for access under the new regime.

A Bankstown spokesperson previously told Fairfax media the council used data to catch residents who dumped waste illegally. The agency made 13 information requests in the year to June 2015.

EFA’s Mr Lawrence said such matters were “hardly a national security issue” which might have justified its access to private information.

Other government agencies which have reapplied to access private communication records include Australia Post — which made 625 information requests last year — state racing bodies, the RSPCA and the Tax Office.

Australia Post has previously said that it requests phone records from telecommunication companies so it can chase people who steal phones or SIM cards from its stores, or pursue people who make “serious threats” to staff or engage in corruption and fraud.

The frequency of metadata requests from non-law enforcement agencies grew 9 per cent last year.

Below is the full list of agencies that applied for access to the data, except for four that were redacted in the FOI documents as their disclosure would be “contrary to the public interest”.

1. Australian Financial Security Authority, Commonwealth
2. Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), Commonwealth
3. Australian Postal Corporation, Commonwealth
4. Australian Taxation Office, Commonwealth
5. Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre, Commonwealth
6. Civil Aviation, Safety Authority (CASA), Commonwealth
7. Clean Energy Regulator, Commonwealth
8. Department of Agriculture, Commonwealth
9. Department of Defence (ADFIS and IGD), Commonwealth
10. Department of the Environment, Commonwealth
11. Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Commonwealth
12. Department of Health, Commonwealth
13. Department of Human Services, Commonwealth
14. Department of Social Services, Commonwealth
15. Fair Work Building and Construction, Commonwealth
16. National Measurement Institute, Commonwealth
17. ACT Revenue Office, ACT
18. Access Canberra (Department of Treasury and Economic Development), ACT
19. Bankstown City Council, NSW
20. Consumer Affairs, VIC
21. Consumer, Building and Occupational Services (Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading – Department of Justice), TAS
22. Consumer and Business Services, SA
23. Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, QLD
24. Department of Commerce, WA
25. Department of Corrective Services, WA
26. Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, QLD
27. Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport & Resources (Fisheries), VIC
28. Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, VIC
29. Department of Environment Regulation, WA
30. Department of Fisheries, WA
31. Department of Justice and Regulation (Consumer Affairs), VIC
32. Department of Justice and Regulation (Sheriff of Victoria), VIC
33. Department of Mines and Petroleum, WA
34. Department of Primary Industries (Fisheries), NSW
35. Environment Protection Authority, SA
36. Greyhound Racing Victoria, VIC
37. Harness Racing New South Wales, NSW
38. Health Care Complaints Commission, NSW
39. Legal Services Board, VIC
40. NSW Environment Protection Authority, NSW
41. NSW Fair Trading, NSW
42. Office of Environment & Heritage, NSW
43. Office of Fair Trading (Department of Justice And Attorney-General Office of the Director General), QLD
44. Office of State Revenue, NSW
45. Office of State Revenue, QLD
46. Office of the Racing Integrity Commissioner, VIC
47. Primary Industries and Regions South Australia (PIRSA), SA
48. Queensland Building and Construction Commission, QLD
49. Racing and Wagering Western Australia, WA
50. Racing NSW, NSW
51. Racing Queensland, QLD
52. Roads and Maritime Services NSW, NSW
53. Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), VIC
54. State Revenue Office, VIC
55. Taxi Services Commission, VIC
56. RevenueSA, SA
57. Victorian WorkSafe Authority, VIC

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Henry Sapiecha

Australia’s cyber defender clueless about origin of 40 per cent of cyber attacks

Major-General Stephen Day image www.intelagencies.com

Major-General Stephen Day is, by his own description, an “ordinary, garden-variety soldier” protecting Australia from cyber attacks. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Australia’s chief cyber security defender has revealed the government has no idea where about 40 per cent of cyber attacks against our country come from.

Major-General Stephen Day, head of the federal government’s new Australian Cyber Security Centre in Canberra, made the comments on Monday evening at the NSW Law Society’s Thought Leadership series.

“Where I come from, we have the nation’s most sophisticated detection capabilities and we have among the best brains at work in cyber security in our country,” he said.

“[But] about 40 per cent – there or thereabouts – of what we see we can’t attribute to anyone, whether it’s criminal, whether it’s espionage or whether it’s sabotage.

“In other words where the originator does not want to be found it can be mightily difficult to attribute these sort of actions.”

According to General Day, there were about 900 cyber-security related incidents against the Australian government and some of the country’s biggest companies last year. This did not include some of the unsuccessful attempts against the organisations, he said.

Asked if he would ever support companies or governments hacking back to retrieve stolen data, General Day said “in time” but it would be difficult.

“It’s called … ‘active defence’. There’s a lot of talk about it. My own view is that in time it might be something that gets done but it’s very difficult because … attribution is difficult,” he said.

“And even once you think you know who’s done it, actually getting to the source is an extraordinarily difficult and expensive thing to do.”

In an appearance at the University of Canberra earlier this year, General Day argued that his lack of a deep knowledge in cyber security was actually an advantage to the government.

“I am an ordinary, garden-variety soldier,” he said. “I have no special expertise in cyber, and …  I actually think that is an advantage,” he said.

He also argued it was a common mistake to leave cyber security in the hands of IT professionals.

“Environmental engineers maybe the people to work with us to keep the air healthy, but there’s no way we would use or leave environmental scientists to work out the future of air travel, or to design military campaigns through air,” he said.

General Day also said then that he thought the federal government was up to scratch when it came to defending against cyber attacks. The same couldn’t be said for state governments.

“We haven’t reached a critical mass of understanding in the state governments yet,” he said. “There are some who are at the very good end of the freeway and there are some at the opposite end as well.”

Henry Sapiecha

Tough new terror laws to ease intelligence sharing between overseas spies, ADF

Attorney-General George Brandis image www.intelagencies.com

Attorney-General George Brandis dismissed concerns that the increased intelligence sharing could allow the ADF to target Australian citizens for killing. Photo: Andrew Meares

Police will have greater powers to curb the movements of terrorism suspects without charge and overseas spies will more easily share intelligence with the military under new national security legislation.

The third wave of the Abbott government’s tougher counterterrorism laws are set to pass the Parliament after Labor said on Tuesday it would support the measures.

Attorney-General George Brandis said the government had accepted 15 changes to the new law recommended by a joint parliamentary committee.

The law makes it easier for the Australian Secret Intelligence Service – the nation’s foreign intelligence-gathering agency – to share intelligence with the Australian Defence Force, a measure aimed at improving the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq.

Critics have warned this could help the ADF target Australian extremists in Iraq, though the change will also probably help military personnel protect themselves against suicide attacks.

Senator Brandis sharply dismissed the “baseless assertion” by Greens senator Penny Wright that the increased intelligence sharing could allow the ADF to target Australian citizens for killing.

He said ASIS was forbidden from using violence and the ADF had strict rules of engagement that would also prohibit such targeted killings. ASIS was already able to share intelligence with the ADF, he said. The change to the law would make that function more explicit and improve the “transparency” of that process.

ASIS, along with Defence’s communications and satellite intelligence agencies, will also be able to more easily collect information on Australian citizens in an emergency.

Currently they need a ministerial authorisation to do so but, under the changes, in the event an appropriate government minister cannot be found to give the authorisation straightaway, approval may be given by the head of the intelligence agency. An appropriate minister will then need to be notified within eight hours.

The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security and the parliamentary joint committee on intelligence and security will review any such authorisations.

Senator Brandis said the number of Australians going to the Middle East to fight with the Islamic State group meant there was a “heightened need” for such intelligence gathering on Australian citizens.

Senator Wright said: “We are debating a bill that may lead to ASIS being involved in the targeted killings of Australian citizens fighting in Iraq and Syria. And the Australian Greens have listened to experts in the space who say that such killings raise significant and difficult questions of domestic policy, human rights and international law.”

Henry Sapiecha

ASIO ACCIDENTLY SPIED ON ITSELF

blue spy eye image www.intelagencies.com

ASIO accidentally spied on itself. Photo: Jessica Hromas

How to spook a spy: spy on your own spooks.

Spying on their own is exactly what Australia’s domestic spy agency did.

The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation accidentally intercepted calls made by one of its own regional offices.

The interception was a breach of the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act, which allows ASIO to use listening devices and computer access.

The breach, which was revealed in the agency’s annual report, was self-reported by ASIO staff and blamed on a technical glitch.

ASIO deleted the intercepted information and says processes have been put in place to prevent the error occurring again.

AAP

Henry Sapiecha

MORE INFO ON THE TERRORIST ISIS ‘ISLAMIC STATE IS SCUM’ CELL MEMBERS ARRESTED IN THE HUGE RAID TASK UNDERTAKEN BY ASIO & FEDERAL POLICE

MUSLAMIC EXTREMISTS IN AUSTRALIA SHOULD BE PERMANENTLY DEPORTED, PENNED UP OR CHARGED AS TRAITORS

POLICE say co-ordinated raids on homes across Brisbane’s south and in Sydney this morning were in response to threats of random attacks on members of the public, including the possible beheading of a random member of the public on a city street and mass shootings.

Fifteen people have been detained and one person charged with terrorism offences, following pre-dawn raids across Sydney and Brisbane, as part of a pre-emptive strike amid fears a suspected terror cell was close to launching an attack.

A Sydney court heard this afternoon that a man arrested during today’s raids was plotting a public execution on Sydney streets that was designed to horrify the community.

Omarjan Azari, 22, faced court on one count of committing an act in preparation or planning for a terrorist act.

Court documents show Azari is accused of conspiring with Mohammad Baryalei, who is known to have ­recruited Australians to fight with Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, including wanted terrorists Khaled Sharrouf and Mohamed Elomar.

Baryalei, a part-time actor who played a paramedic in the TV Underbelly series, has been identified as the most senior Australian member of IS.

He is believed to have fled the country to join the murderous rampage through the Middle East.

Azari was arrested this morning when hundreds of ASIO and heavily armed police officers swooped in anti-terrorism raids to prevent a mass casualty shooting in Sydney and possible beheadings.

Muhammad Ali Baryalei, a known member of an Islamic State who has fled the country, is believed to be behind the terror plot.image www.ispysite.com

Muhammad Ali Baryalei, a known member of an Islamic State who has fled the country, is believed to be behind the terror plot. 

Unconfirmed reports have also emerged that the groups may have been planning beheadings or mass shootings on home soil.

The ABC reports court documents expected to reveal the terror plan involved draping random Sydney person in Islamic State flag and beheading them on camera in Martin Place.

A similar attack was carried out on British Army soldier, Lee Rigby, in London, May 2013. when he was run down and butchered on a busy street by two men.

RAIDS REACTION: Terror threat is real

police at terrorist raid  sydney nsw image www.ispysite.com

Police did say they believed extremists were planning a random attack on members of the public.

This afternoon Premier Campbell Newman revealed that last week’s terror raid may have thwarted an “onshore terrorist action”, with one of the men arrested understood to have been allegedly planning a terror attack somewhere in the state.

Mr Newman said “that at least one individual was contemplating onshore terrorist action” and stressed that the arrests were “very timely”.

It is understood the alleged plot was to be carried out in Queensland.

Fresh allegations are expected to emerge about one of the two men arrested in southeast Queensland last week over terror-related charges, Omar Succarieh and Agim Kruezi.

Speaking about today’s dramatic raids in NSW and southeast Queensland, Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said the two lots of probes were “directly” linked.

“When we briefed you previously in realtion to the arrests here in Queensland last week, the information you were provided with by both the police and the Premier at that time was accurate,” Commissioner Stewart said.

“It was factual in what we knew then. Since that time, we’ve come into possession of information, quite disturbing information, about the intention of at least one of the people presently in custody in this state. it was factual in what we knew then.”

Today’s, Queensland’s raids are undertstood to have been conducted to find out more about the alleged terror plot in Queensland.

The fresh allegations against the unknown Queensland man in custody are expected to emerge in court in NSW tomorrow.

Footage of arrests made in Sydney counter terrorism operation

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he was briefed on the counter terror raids before officers swooped this morning.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he was briefed last night on the operation, adding that the intelligence received by police gave “not just suspicion” but “intent”.

“The exhortations, quite direct exhortations, were coming from an Australian who is apparently quite senior in ISIL to networks of support back in Australia to conduct demonstration killings here in this country,” he said, using another acronym for IS.

“That’s why the police and security agencies decided to act in the way they have.”

Mr Abbott will cut short his visit to Arnhem Land today to farewell RAAF crews heading to the Middle East and to attend security briefings on the terror raids in Sydney.

The Prime Minister said there were “quite direct exhortations … coming from an Australian, who is apparently quite senior in ISIL to networks of support back in Australia to conduct demonstration killings here in this country”.

“This is not just suspicion, this is intent,” he told reporters in Arnhem Land.

“There are, I regret to say, networks of people here in this country who, despite living here, despite enjoying the Australian way of life, they would do us harm.

“It’s very important that our police and security organisations be one step ahead of them and I think this morning they were.”

He praised the police operation and said he acknowledged some people believe Australia’s current involvement in Iraq makes us more of a threat.

“I understand that some people will claim that and I understand that some people will fear that, but let’s remember that Australians were subject to terror attack in Bali long before there was any talk of Australian involvement in Iraq.”

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull told Radio National this morning that the raids demonstrate Australian authorities are keeping the nation safe.

“Our security is the consequence of continued vigilance and hard work on the part of the security agencies,” he said.

“There is no cause, no reason, for being complacent about security.

“There are people regrettably, some of them in our midst, that don’t have the nation’s best interests at heart.”

Ikebal Patel from Muslims Australia told AM that the Islamic community has been stunned by the raids.

“Details are very sketchy and we don’t even know who the individuals are and from which particular area, or sort of association they are part of,” he said.

“So, it’s all very very sketchy. It’s all moving very fast.”

The ABC understands the raids are linked to a similar operation in Queensland last week, when an Islamic bookshop was searched, and two men arrested.

The men have been accused of helping to recruit, facilitate and fund people to travel to Syria to engage in hostile activities.

The only man charged during the raids so far has been named as 22-year-old Omarjan Azari, who faced a Sydney court today on one count of committing an act in preparation or planning for a terrorist act.

Azari, dressed in a navy hooded jacket and black pants, made a brief appearance in the dock of Central Local Court.

OOO

Extra sheriffs surrounded the dock as he was brought up before Magistrate John Bailey.

His lawyer Steve Boland told the court no application would be made for bail, and asked that his client be taken back down to the cells.

Commonwealth prosecutor Michael Allnutt said the allegations involved a plan to “kidnap a person and gruesomely execute” and that it was a plan “clearly designed to shock, horrify and clearly terrify the community.”

OOO

The court heard an “unusual level of fanaticism” was involved in the plan “which would leave a person less likely to take notice of a court order”, and therefore bail should be refused.

Mr Boland said the allegations were based on just “one phone call.”

The case was adjourned until November 13.

Documents before the court say Azari, in the early hours of May 8 this year “did conspire with Mohammad Baryalei and others to do acts in preparation for or planning a terrorist act.”

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said the reports of what those arrested were allegedly planning are “truly horrifying”.

But the events should give Australians a “renewed sense of assurance” in the work of our security agencies.

“These raids will no doubt come as a shock to many Australians,” the Opposition Leader said.

“It’s a development that reminds us all how close to home the threat of terrorism can be.”

Australian Federal Police acting commissioner Andrew Colvin said the operation which resulted in Thursday’s raids began earlier this year.

“Police believe this group … have the intention and have started to carry out planning to commit violent acts here in Australia,” he said.

“Those violent acts particularly related to random acts against members of the public.’’

He said the operation was about police disrupting the potential for violence.

Mr Colvin said that three raids in the southeast Queensland suburbs of Logan, Underwood and Mount Gravatt East were linked to similar raids in the area last week.

“The warrants that you saw today are a follow up from that investigation, or a continuation of that investigation,” he said

Some of those taken into custody had already had their passports cancelled.

NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said “reasonable force” was used to detain one man. “Today’s operation reflects the reality of the threat that we actually face,” he said.

Mr Scipione said random attacks were planned.

“All of those plans that may have been on foot are thwarted,” he said.

Meanwhile, authorities are now concerned about possible public disorder as a result of the arrests and the revealing of details of an alleged plan to carry out a public beheading.

Officials are especially worried because many English-speaking senior Muslim community leaders are overseas on religious pilgrimage.

“The people who normally calm down the hotheads are not here,” the law enforcement source told the ABC.

More than 800 counter-terrorism police and ASIO officers swooped on homes in the early hours, with some of those detained believed to have links to the terror group Islamic State.

OOO

This included 70 AFP and Queensland police officers who conducted raids on homes in Logan, Underwood and Mt Gravatt East.

The arrests in Sydney follow months of surveillance of people linked to the terrorist group Islamic State, which has been cutting a barbaric path through Iraq and Syria.

The Australian Federal Police say a suspected terrorist cell “was close to an attack”.

NSW Police and Australian Federal Police at a search warrent at Bass Hill image www.ispysite.com

NSW Police and Australian Federal Police at a search warrent at Bass Hill. Large numbers of Police have searched the house with the assistance of sniffer dogs and special operations Police. Pics Bill Hearne Source: News Corp Australia

Hundreds of police executed search warrants in Logan, Underwood and Mt Gravatt East along with the Sydney suburbs of Beecroft, Bellavista, Guildford, Merrylands, Northmead, Wentworthville, Marsfield, Westmead, Castle Hill, Revesby, Bass Hill and Regents Park.

Police Commissioner Ian Stewart has this morning confirmed raids took place in Brisbane and Logan this morning “in conjunction” with the terror raids across Sydney.

He refused to go into details of the raids but confirmed they were related to the operation in Sydney and involved both AFP officers and Queensland police.

Mr Stewart said more details about the Brisbane operation would be made public later today but said today’s raids would not have an impact on G20 saying security planning for the summit was already at an extremely high level.

Holland Park Mosque spokesman Ali Kadri said while he could not speak on behalf of the congregation, he was disappointed about the hysteria surrounding the raids.

He said while he had met the family who had been raided at Mt Gravatt East this morning, they did not attend the Holland Park Mosque.

“My feeling is simple, the government has to do their job but the hysteria the government is creating is something I am curious about and disappointed about,” Mr Kadri said.

“The hysteria is causing affliction within the community, we all want to see a safe and secure Australia and the threat to Australia comes from different things, and one is from people misusing Islam (but) also the hate crimes of the mosque being attacked, that also divides the community.”

Mr Kadri encouraged people to come to the Holland Park Mosque tomorrow between 3-4pm for a sausage sizzle and opening.

“The most important thing we want is for people to ask questions rather than using the media or social media as their source of information,” he said.

OOO

Last week, Brisbane man Omar Succarieh, 31, was arrested and charged with terrorism-related offences following a series of raids.

He’s accused of fundraising for Syria-based extremist group Jabhat al-Nusra and helping another man, Agim Kruezi, obtain funds to fight for a terror organisation overseas.

OMAR SUCCARIEH: Bail application to be heard today

TERROR RAID: Accused ‘misses his kids’

Succarieh, who is due to apply for bail in court on Thursday, is believed to be the brother of Ahmed Succarieh, who reportedly became Australia’s first suicide bomber in Syria last year.

Logan man Kruezi, 22, has alleged links to the Islamic State group.

The raid follows the lifting of the national security alert level from medium to high last Friday by the outgoing director general of ASIO David Irvine.

Police remove a sword as part of evidence found at a residential property in the suburb of Marsfield, in Sydney image www.ispysite.com

Sword confiscated in dawn raid of isis scum by federal & local police

It is believed the size of the raid eclipsed that of Operation Pendennis in 2005 when several hundred ASIO, AFP and NSW police arrested 13 men across Melbourne and the Sydney suburb of Bankstown, who had been planning bomb attacks in both capitals.

In Brisbane, a double story house on Creek Road, Mount Gravatt East, was among the properties raided.

One neighbour said he had lived near the family, who he described as “Middle Eastern” for more than 20 years but had rarely communicated with them.

The man said he had only heard dogs barking during the morning raid.

A number of Australian Federal Police officers remain at the address.

It has not yet been confirmed whether any arrests have been made.

islamic scum suspect arrested in dawn raid by police image www.ispysite.com

Residents on Toolooma St, Logan, said police had swarmed on a single-story house there just after 6am.

By all reports the raids were executed quietly, with no signs of shouting or loud noises during the operation.

Members of the Australian Federal Police attended the scene and a sniffer dog was used to search the premise.

However, very little – if anything – has been removed from the property.

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Neighbours said the family who lived there were always friendly.

“Every time I see the lady, she always says g’day to me,” one man said.

Residents said the man can often be seen in the front yard mowing the lawn in his wheelchair.

Police left the property about 10.40am.

Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney said the government was briefed on the raids this morning.

“I’ve got every confidence in both our state police and the Australian Federal Police to handle these issues properly,” Mr Seeney said.

“I think the community should share my confidence.”

Mr Seeney said he was also confident the security organised for the G20 would be able to cope with such issues.

“A high level of security has already been organised around G20 and I am confident that the people who are responsible for G20 security will have built into their security arrangements provisions for every scenario that may develop,” he said.

Senior government ministers were unable to shed more light on the raids, but praised the work of authorities.

“I note the security agencies, the Police, ASIO are working hard to ensure that we are safe,” Coalition frontbencher Malcolm Turnbull told ABC radio this morning.

“Our security is the consequence of continued vigilance and hard work on the part of the security agencies.

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“There is no cause for being complacent about security.

“There are people, regrettably some of them in our midst, that don’t have the nation’s best interest at heart.”

Speaking ahead of this weekend’s G20 Finance Minister’s meeting in Cairns, Joe Hockey said he had confidence in the security measures in place.

“Everyone needs to make sure that with an increased threat level associated with potential terrorist attacks in Australia we have all the necessary precautions taken for both the G20 here in Cairns and also in Brisbane,” the Treasurer told Sunrise.

“But, I am very confident that all bases are covered.

“We have put a lot of effort into this for a long period of time.”

There are about 60 Australians believed to be fighting in Iraq and Syria with groups such as Islamic State, while another 100 are suspected of providing support from Australia.

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NSW Police make arrests in counter terrorism operation

Where the raids took place in Brisbane Source DailyTelegraph map image www.ispysite.com

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Where the raids were carried out in Sydney Source DailyTelegraph image www.ispysite.com

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Henry Sapiecha

flashing-bright-blue-line-300x5

MASSIVE RAIDS BY AUSTRALIAN FEDERAL POLICE & ASIO IN CRACKDOWN ON TERRORISTS GROUPS IN COUNTRY

ASIO and hundreds of police raid Sydney and Brisbane homes in biggest counter-terrorism raid in Australia’s history

ASIO and counter terrorism police have swooped on homes across Brisbane’s south and in Sydney this morning in what is believed to be the largest anti-terrorism bust in the nation’s history.

Several arrests have been made in the secret pre-dawn raids in Sydney but the Courier Mail understands there have been no arrests in Brisbane thus far.

Hundreds of police executed search warrants in Logan, Underwood and Mt Gravatt East along with the Sydney suburbs of Beecroft, Bellavista, Guildford, Merrylands, Northmead, Wentworthville, Marsfield, Westmead, Castle Hill, Revesby, Bass Hill and Regents Park.

terror suspect arrested by fed police in australia image www.ispy-site.com

Police arrest a man in Guilford this morning.

The raid is believed to have been mounted following months of surveillance of people linked to the terrorist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

The Courier Mail has learned that an estimated 600 officers from the Australian Federal Police, state counter terrorism units and ASIO launched the pre-emptive strike in the early hours of this morning.

Another man is arrested in Guilford.image www.ispy-site.com

Another man is arrested in Guilford.

The raids and arrests are believed to have been based on the execution of multiple ASIO and AFP warrants.

It is believed that dozens of suspects have been netted, with links to a Brisbane man who was recently arrested on suspected terrorism related charges.

OMAR SUCCARIEH: Bail application to be heard today

TERROR RAID: Accused ‘misses his kids’

It is believed that a terrorist network had been planning to carry out a series of attacks in Australia.

The raid follows the lifting of the national security alert level from medium to high last Friday by the outgoing director general of ASIO David Irvine.

One of the detained men in the sydney predawn raids image www.ispy-site.com

One of the detained men in the pre-dawn raids in Sydney.

It is believed the size of the raid eclipsed that of Operation Pendennis in 2005 when several hundred ASIO, AFP and NSW police arrested 13 men across Melbourne and the Sydney suburb of Bankstown, who had been planning bomb attacks in both capitals.

An AFP spokesperson said further updates would be provided later on Thursday.

There are about 60 Australians believed to be fighting in Iraq and Syria with groups such as Islamic State, while another 100 are suspected of providing support from Australia.

Police at the scene of a raid at Mt Gravatt East. image www.ispy-site.com

MORE TO COME

Henry Sapiecha

Australian feds want East Timor spy charged

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Attorney-General Senator George Brandis, right, with Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Photo: Andrew Meares

The Australian government has asked the federal police to investigate if lawyer Bernard Collaery and a former spy can be charged with disclosing classified information after revelations Australia spied on East Timor during sensitive oil and gas treaty talks.

Confirmation of the investigation came as the AFP asked the ABC to hand over material relating to its reports on the clandestine operation.

According to sources, the AFP was particularly keen on getting unedited footage of Mr Collaery’s interviews with 7.30, Lateline and Four Corners.

It might also want an extract of an affidavit from the former Australian Secret Intelligence Service agent that reporter Conor Duffy claimed to have obtained.

In the interviews with the ABC and other media organisations, Mr Collaery – who had acted for East Timor and the former  ASIS agent – detailed how the former spy led the operation to insert listening devices into the wall cavity of East Timor’s government offices under the cover of an aid project.

Attorney-General George Brandis and solicitor-general Justin Gleeson both said the former spy and Mr Collaery appeared to have breached laws preventing the public disclosure of classified information.

The offence carried a prison term of up to two years.

When asked if it was investigating Mr Collaery and the former spy for breaching commonwealth laws, a spokesman for the AFP said: “The AFP can confirm it has received a referral in relation to this matter. As this investigation is ongoing, it is inappropriate to comment further.”

The referral was understood to have come from Senator Brandis or his department, which includes ASIO.

In emailed comments, Mr Collaery said he understood ASIO referred the matter to the AFP because of a suspected breach of section 39 of the Intelligence Services Act.

He noted that current ASIO boss David Irvine was head of ASIS at the time of the spying, which Mr Collaery said was illegal.

“This is the police knowingly or unknowingly trying to base a search warrant on an illegality.

“The AFP should be investigating [former foreign minister Alexander] Downer and Irvine.”

The ABC was considering its response but was understood to be prepared to reject the request, despite intimations from the AFP that it would seek a warrant for the material if it failed to comply.

While it was happy to provide footage that went to air (it was available online anyway), it regarded the unedited footage as including off-the-record information that might reveal the identity of protected sources.

The AFP investigation was the latest twist in the extraordinary spying saga that ruptured relations between East Timor and Australia and drew the condemnation of the International Court of Justice.

ASIO agents raided the home of the former ASIS officer and the office of Mr Collaery in December, seizing documents and electronic data then cancelling the former spy’s passport.

Mr Collaery was acting for East Timor in international arbitration to nullify a treaty between Australia and the tiny nation governing oil and gas reserves worth more than $40 billion in the Timor Sea. The former ASIS agent was East Timor’s star witness in the arbitration.

East Timor argued the spying meant the treaty was not negotiated in good faith, as required under the Vienna Convention.

East Timor slammed the raids as “unconscionable conduct” and the International Court of Justice condemned the behaviour and gave an unprecedented interim order for Australia to cease any intelligence monitoring of East Timor and seal the material it seized in the raids.

East Timor was especially outraged that ASIO seized much of the legal material it was using in the arbitration against Australia. Moreover, the raids occurred just before the planned trip of the former spy to the Hague to appear before the arbitration tribunal.

But the government maintained the raids were justified, arguing they were launched to protect national security, not to hamper East Timor’s legal case.

Ever since the raids, Mr Collaery had remained in Europe working on the arbitration case.

Counsel for the whistleblower also could not be reached.

Henry Sapiecha

Telstra found divulging web browsing histories to law-enforcement agencies without a warrant

Telstra says it has divulged customers' web browsing histories without a warrant.image www.intelagencies.coms

Telstra says it has divulged customers’ web browsing histories without a warrant.

The federal government has been left red-faced following revelations that law-enforcement agencies have been accessing Australians’ web browsing histories without a warrant.

Access to phone and internet data held by telecommunications companies has been the subject of much debate recently, as the government seeks to extend the power of intelligence agencies to fight terrorism. It has proposed telcos retain customers’ metadata for up to two years for investigation.

However, spy agency ASIO and federal police have given assurances that data on what websites Australians visit – know as web history – could only be obtained with warrants.

Now a paper published by the parliamentary library on Monday has revealed an industry practice of providing website addresses (URLs) to law enforcement without warrants.

Telstra confirmed on Tuesday evening it had provided URLs to agencies without a warrant “in rare cases”. It did not name the agencies or how many times it provided information.

Jaan Murphy, author of the report, said the current regime already appeared to allow for access.

“The current regime for access to metadata arguably allows law enforcement and intelligence agencies to access [Uniform Resource Locators] under the umbrella of ‘metadata’ (provided the URL does not identify the content of the communication) despite stakeholders holding contradictory perspectives,” Murphy wrote.

In the paper, Murphy quotes a little-known submission by Telstra to a previous inquiry which examined, among many things, whether telcos should be required by law to store certain customer data for a period of up to two years.

Telstra’s submission indicated that the type of data it had already disclosed to law-enforcement and national security agencies without a warrant included “…(URLs) to the extent they do not identify the content of the communication”.

“Industry practice therefore illustrates that URLs are currently provided to law-enforcement and national security agencies without a warrant,” Murphy concluded.

A Telstra spokeswoman said the company did “not collect URLs as a normal part of providing customer services”.

“The last time we did so was in relation to a life-threatening situation involving a child more than 12 months ago,” she said.

In further comments published on Telstra’s Twitter account, company representatives said it did “not collect and store web browsing history against customer accounts”.

“We welcome the clarity from government that browsing history is not part of the current proposal,” Telstra added in two subsequent tweets, referring to the controversial data retention proposal.

In a Senate inquiry discussing comprehensive revisions of the Telecommunications Interception and Access Act last month, outgoing ASIO chief David Irvine said to gain access to web browsing histories agencies such as ASIO needed a warrant.

“Web surfing … is not picked up by us and is not regarded by us as metadata; it is regarded as content, and we need to have a warrant for that,” Mr Irvine told Senator Scott Ludlam.

The Act requires Telstra comply with warrantless authorisation requests from law-enforcement agencies or non-content data. Agencies that can access the data include federal, state and territory police, Medicare, Bankstown Council in NSW, WorkSafe Victoria, the RSPCA, the Tax Office, Australia Post, ASIO, ASIC and many others when conducting criminal and financial investigations.

In 2012-13 the Attorney-General’s Department reported that such data was accessed 330,640 times, an 11 per cent increase over the previous year and a jump of 31 per cent over two years.

A spokesman for Attorney-General George Brandis declined to comment to Fairfax Media, but told ZDNet that access to URLs should require a warrant.

“Security agencies currently require a warrant to access URLs and this requirement will continue,” the spokesman reportedly said.

Earlier this month, the Attorney-General and Prime Minister Tony Abbott said a mandatory data retention regime had been given “in principle” cabinet approval for legislating later this year. They said it was needed to ensure telcos continued to retain data for law-enforcement purposes.

But both have struggled to explain exactly what data would be retained under the regime, although Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has explicitly ruled out web browsing histories.

Telstra’s contradictory statements and assurance that it doesn’t normally collect URLs, but was able to provide them in rare cases, is unlikely to satisfy privacy advocates and civil libertarians.

The Attorney-General’s department, which administers the Act, has, over the past month, repeatedly refused to answer Fairfax questions about what constitutes metadata and whether it includes web browsing histories.

Victoria Police and NSW Police have also refused to provide a definition of metadata.

In high-level briefings with intelligence officials in Canberra, journalists were told that web browsing histories did not constitute metadata. Internet surfing history was considered “content”. Websites visited were also not metadata, they were told.

Northern Territory Police and Victorian Police have previously lobbied parliament for browsing histories to be stored as part of any data retention regime.

Australian Federal Police Assistant Commissioner and National Manager of high tech crime operations, Neil Gaughan, has also said previously that any data retention regime should include browsing histories, despite deputy commissioner Andrew Colvin recently saying the opposite.

Several Coalition MPs have spoken out about the data retention plan, warning there is a potential for the changes to breach the rights of individuals to privacy.

Prime Minister Abbott’s recently appointed Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson is also against data retention, as are a number of other civil liberties groups.

Optus said it did not comment on specific data retention practices or law enforcement requests.

“Optus co-operates fully with law enforcement and national security agencies as required by legislation and in accordance with the rules established for access to customer information,” an Optus spokeswoman said.

Comment was also sought from Vodafone but it had not responded at the time of publication. Its privacy policy was recently updated to include the fact it collected “the websites you visit and the online searches you perform“.

Henry Sapiecha