Category Archives: FEDERAL POLICE

Five Eyes, Nine Eyes & 14-Eyes Countries and VPNs Important to know when using (or planning to use) a VPN

The content herein is part of an article published in a VPN site where at the end of this short introduction there will be a link to take you to a lot more viewpoints & info. ENJOY.

This article will discuss available VPNs in relation to the 5 Eyes, the 9 Eyes and the 14 Eyes government surveillance alliances.

Encryption is the only way to protect private communications. While there are encrypted messaging systems that can be used for direct correspondence, virtual private networks (VPNs, also based on encryption) are the best tools for hiding internet activity, such as which websites are visited. Again, there are valid reasons to do so: to protect the privacy of religion, sexual orientation and sensitive medical conditions; all of which can be inferred from visited websites.


During the second world war, US and UK intelligence agencies worked closely on code-breaking. After the war, the UK center at Bletchley Park evolved into the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). The American service evolved into the National Security Agency (NSA). In 1946, the working relationship between the two countries was formalized in the UKUSA agreement. It worked on signals intelligence (SIGINT); that is, the interception and analysis of adversarial telecommunications.

In order to provide global coverage for communications interception, Australia, New Zealand and Australia joined the UK and the USA – and became known as the Five Eyes.

However, such is the NSA’s global dominance of intelligence gathering, other countries have sought to cooperate in return for specific ‘threat’ information from the NSA. This has led to other SIGINT groupings: the 9 Eyes and the 14 Eyes.

The operation of these intelligence agencies was long kept secret. As global communications have increased – and as perceived threats have grown (first in the Cold War between east and west and more recently in the ‘war on terror’), the 5 Eyes in particular began to secretly use technology to gather everything for later analysis. GCHQ, for example, had a secret project called Mastering the Internet. None of this was publicly known.

In 2013, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden leaked thousands of top secret NSA and GCHQ documents showing, for the first time, the extent to which national governments spy on everybody. It is always done in the name of ‘national security’, and both the relevant agencies and their governments insist on their right to do so.


Henry Sapiecha

Around AU$200m later, data retention mostly used for chasing drugs, not terror

The Attorney-General’s Department has exposed a report outlining the opening months of Australia’s data retention scheme.

Australia’s telecommunications companies have been left with a funding hole of over AU$70 million to cover the capital costs of Australia’s data retention scheme, according to the Telecommunications Interception And Access Act 1979 Annual Report 2015-16 [PDF], while data authorisations for terrorism ranked below those for illicit drug offences.

Despite handing out AU$128 million in grants last year, the report, released on Monday, states that the capital cost to industry will total AU$198 million by the end of the 2016-17 financial year.

“Information collected from industry through the Data Retention Industry Grants Programme indicates that the estimated capital cost of implementing data retention obligations over the period between 30 October 2014 and 13 April 2017 is AU$198,527,354,” the report said.

“[Costs] relate to the anticipated direct upfront capital costs and not the recurring or indirect costs associated with compliance.”

In 2015, Attorney-General George Brandis said he expected the average ongoing cost for telcos to run their data retention system would be around AU$4 per month.

The report said the Attorney-General’s Department (AGD) received 210 applications for funding, of which 10 were withdrawn, and 180 telecommunications providers were found to be eligible for funding. Of that 180, “most” were awarded a grant to cover 80 percent of their costs.

It was also detailed that during the implementation period for the data retention scheme, AGD received 402 data retention implementation plans from 310 providers.

Under Australia’s data retention laws, passed by both major parties in March 2015, telecommunications carriers must store customer call records, location information, IP addresses, billing information, and other data for two years, accessible without a warrant by law-enforcement agencies.

Over the period from October 13, 2015 to June 30, 2016, the report said the offence for which the highest number of authorisations to telco data was made was illicit drug offences, with 57,166. This was followed in ranking by miscellaneous, homicide, robbery, fraud, theft, and abduction.

Terrorism offences ranked below property damage and cybercrime, with 4,454 authorisations made.

As part of the data retention laws, the spirit of the legislation was to restrict access to stored metadata to a list of approved enforcement agencies, with those agencies not on the list theoretically having access removed on October 12, 2015.

Overall, the report said 63 enforcement agencies made 333,980 authorisations for retained data, of which 326,373 related to criminal law.

“In 2015-16, law enforcement agencies made 366 arrests, conducted 485 proceedings, and obtained 195 convictions based on evidence obtained under stored communications warrants,” the report said.

During 2015-16, 3,857 telecommunication interception warrants were issued, with interception data used in 3,019 arrests, 3,726 prosecutions, and 1,812 convictions. Total cost for interception warrants was AU$70.3 million, at an average cost of AU$619,200 per warrant.

Australia Post accounted for 64 authorisations between June 30 and October 12, 2015, compared to none the year before; and the Victorian Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources made 173 authorisations in 3.5 months compared to 226 the entire financial year prior.

It was also noted that on six occasions, warrants were exercised by people not authorised to; in three instances, the Ombudsman could not determine whether stored communications related to the person named on a warrant; and in one instance, it could not determine who had received stored communications from a carrier.

It was also revealed that during the 2015-16 year, the Western Australia Police had received a pair of journalist warrants, which saw 33 authorisations of data made.

“These authorisations were for the purpose of enforcing the criminal law,” the report said.

In April, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) revealed that it had “mistakenly” accessed a journalist’s call records without a warrant in breach of the data retention legislation.

It was subsequently learned that AGD had advised government departments to skirt metadata laws and rely on coercive powers.

In May, the Commonwealth Ombudsman found the AFP to be handling metadata in a compliant manner, but noted a number of exceptions.

“We identified two instances where a stored communications warrant had been applied for and subsequently issued in respect of multiple persons, which is not provided for under the Act,” the report said.

In response, the AFP said its warrant templates were not clear enough.

Henry Sapiecha

Federal Budget 2017: Gangs, terrorists targeted in $321 million Australian Federal Police shakeup

A MASSIVE $321 million boost to the Australian Federal Police budget will mean 300 extra covert intelligence operators and forensic specialists to help protect Australians from the threat of terrorism.

GANGS and local terrorists will be the target of a beefed-up Australian Federal Police force in a $321 million Turnbull government plan to tackle ­violent crime.

A major drive to recruit 300 specialist police will see AFP ranks bolstered by new tactical response teams, undercover investigators and forensic experts, some of whom will ­support Victoria Police to iden­tify and arrest gang members.

The security package, to be announced today, is part of a Budget spending spree, which will also benefit Victorians with $100 million to help struggling manufacturing businesses adapt after the car industry closure. Treasurer Scott Morrison told the Herald Sun Tuesday’s Budget aimed to deliver fairness, security and opportunity, sharing the benefits of Australia’s economic growth with everyone.

“We know that things are improving globally and we’ve got to make the right choices to secure those better days ahead,” Mr Morrison said.

“We have to keep the economy growing for more and better paying jobs, to guarantee the services that Australians rely on, to put downward pressure on rising costs of living, and to ensure that the government lives within its means.”

The four-year AFP funding boost will pay for 100 intelligence experts, almost 100 forensic specialists and more than 100 tactical response and covert surveillance officers.

The package will fund more 100 intelligence experts and more.

Firearms specialists, bomb response technicians, intelligence analysts, negotiators and covert online investigators will be added to the AFP’s ranks, with several new officers placed on the National Anti-Gangs Taskforce to help Victoria Police.

Justice Minister Michael Keenan said violent crime and criminal gangs were “two of the biggest issues facing Victoria” and the government would back the AFP to “crack down” on them.

“Victorians, like all Australians, deserve to feel safe to go about their daily lives without fear,” he said.

Mr Keenan said it was the largest funding boost for the AFP’s domestic policing operations in a decade.

“This will equip the AFP with new capabilities and greater flexibility to respond rapidly to emerging crimes today, and into the future,” he said. “The additional experts will fast-track investigations and lock up criminals sooner, targeting areas of priority including terrorism, criminal gangs, drugs, organised crime, cybercrime, fraud and anti-corruption.”

The AFP had previously raised concerns about its lack of funding, but Mr Keenan said the investment was “the first step in the AFP’s 10-year plan” for its future.

Another key element in the Budget will be the $100 million package to help struggling manufacturing businesses grow and adapt to changing technologies.

It includes $47.5 million over the next two years to pay for a third of the costs of capital upgrades to businesses in Victoria and South Australia that are trying to compete in the wake of the car industry closure.

“We shouldn’t fold our tents and believe Australians can’t compete. We can,” Industry and Innovation Minister ­Arthur Sinodinos said.

Mr Morrison said the Budget aimed to help Australians who had not shared in the ­nation’s strong growth.

“Our economic growth has been very good in a global context. At a personal level, at a household level, at a business-by-business level, things have been and felt a lot tougher.”

The manufacturing package also includes $5 million to help automotive research, particularly by students at ­universities.

Australia’s most successful businesswoman Gina Rinehart says Malcolm Turnbull must learn from Donald Trump to make Australia great again.

Ms Rinehart has urged the Prime Minister to cut spending and waste in Tuesday’s federal Budget, saying it is “frustrating” Australia is losing crucial investment.

“We have to do more to cut out spending. We’ve got to cut out a big slab of the expense of government,” she said.

Henry Sapiecha

USA Fed records show dozens of cyber security breaches

US Federal Reserve Hacked More than 50 In Past 5 Years

Published on Jun 1, 2016

According to Fed records, the Federal Reserve detected more than 50 cyber breaches between 2011 and 2015. Several of the incidents have been described internally as “espionage.”
The records show the US central bank’s staff suspected hackers or spies in many of the incidents. The Fed’s computer systems play a critical role in global banking and hold confidential information on discussions about monetary policy that drives financial markets.
The Fed declined to comment. The redacted records do not say who hacked the bank’s systems or whether they accessed sensitive information or stole money.
James Lewis, a cybersecurity expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said “Hacking is a major threat to the stability of the financial system. This data shows why.”

The U.S. Federal Reserve detected more than 50 cyber breaches between 2011 and 2015, with several incidents described internally as “espionage,” according to Fed records.

The central bank’s staff suspected hackers or spies in many of the incidents, the records show. The Fed’s computer systems play a critical role in global banking and hold confidential information on discussions about monetary policy that drives financial markets.

The cybersecurity reports, obtained by Reuters through a Freedom of Information Act request, were heavily redacted by Fed officials to keep secret the central bank’s security procedures.

The Fed declined to comment, and the redacted records do not say who hacked the bank’s systems or whether they accessed sensitive information or stole money.

“Hacking is a major threat to the stability of the financial system. This data shows why,” said James Lewis, a cybersecurity expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank. Lewis reviewed the files at the request of Reuters.


The records represent only a slice of all cyber attacks on the Fed because they include only cases involving the Washington-based Board of Governors, a federal agency that is subject to public records laws. Reuters did not have access to reports by local cybersecurity teams at the central bank’s 12 privately owned regional branches.

The disclosure of breaches at the Fed comes at a time when cybersecurity at central banks worldwide is under scrutiny after hackers stole $81 million from a Bank Bangladesh account at the New York Fed.

Cyber thieves have targeted large financial institutions around the world, including America’s largest bank JPMorgan, as well as smaller players like Ecuador’s Banco del Austro and Vietnam’s Tien Phong Bank.

Hacking attempts were cited in 140 of the 310 reports provided by the Fed’s board. In some reports, the incidents were not classified in any way.

In eight information breaches between 2011 and 2013 – a time when the Fed’s trading desk was buying massive amounts of bonds – Fed staff wrote that the cases involved “malicious code,” referring to software used by hackers.

Four hacking incidents in 2012 were considered acts of “espionage,” according to the records. Information was disclosed in at least two of those incidents, according to the records. In the other two incidents, the records did not indicate whether there was a breach.

In all, the Fed’s national team of cybersecurity experts, which operates mostly out of New Jersey, identified 51 cases of “information disclosure” involving the Fed’s board. Separate reports showed a local team at the board registered four such incidents.

The cases of information disclosure can refer to a range of ways unauthorized people see Fed information, from hacking attacks to Fed emails sent to the wrong recipients, according to two former Fed cybersecurity staffers who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The former employees said that cyber attacks on the Fed are about as common as at other large financial institutions.

It was unclear if the espionage incidents involved foreign governments, as has been suspected in some hacks of federal agencies. Beginning in 2014, for instance, hackers stole more than 21 million background check records from the federal Office of Personnel Management, and U.S. officials attributed the breach to the Chinese government, an accusation denied by Beijing.


Security analysts said foreign governments could stand to gain from inside Fed information. China and Russia, for instance, are major players in the $13.8 trillion federal debt market where Fed policy plays a big role in setting interest rates.

“Obviously that makes it a very clear (hacking) target for other nation states,” said Ari Schwartz, a former top cybersecurity adviser at the White House who is now with the law firm Venable.

U.S. prosecutors in March accused hackers associated with Iran’s government of attacking dozens of U.S. banks.

In the records obtained by Reuters, espionage might also refer to spying by private companies, or even individuals such British activist Lauri Love, who is accused of infiltrating a server at a regional Fed branch in October 2012. Love stole names, e-mail addresses, and phone numbers of Fed computer system users, according to a federal indictment.

The redacted reports obtained by Reuters do not mention Love or any other hacker by name.

The records point to breaches during a sensitive period for the Fed, which was ramping up aid for the struggling U.S. economy by buying massive quantities of U.S. government debt and mortgage-backed securities.

In 2010 and 2011, the Fed went on a $600 billion bond-buying spree that lowered interest rates and made bonds more expensive. It restarted purchases in September 2012 and expanded them up in December of that year.

The Fed cybersecurity records did not indicate whether hackers accessed sensitive information on the timing or amounts of bond purchases or used it for financial gain.


The Fed’s national cybersecurity team – the National Incident Response Team, or NIRT – created 263 of the incident reports obtained by Reuters.

The Federal Reserve headquarters in Washington September 16 2015. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

The Federal Reserve headquarters in Washington September 16 2015. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

NIRT operates in a fortress-like building in East Rutherford, New Jersey that also processes millions of dollars in cash everyday as part of the central bank’s duty to keep the financial system running, according to the New York Fed’s website. The unit provides support to the local cybersecurity teams at the Fed’s Board and regional banks, which process more than $3 trillion in payments every day.

The NIRT handles “higher impact” cases, according to a 2013 report by the Board of Governor’s Office of Inspector General.

One of the two former NIRT employees interviewed by Reuters described being on a team that once worked around the clock for five-straight days to patch software hackers had used to gain access to Fed systems in an attempt to obtain passwords. The former employee worked through several of those nights, taking naps at a desk in the office.

In that case, Fed security staff found no signs that sensitive information had been disclosed, the former employee said. Information about future interest rate policy discussions is isolated from other Fed networks and is more difficult for hackers to access, the former NIRT worker said.

But the Fed was under constant assault, much like any large company, the former employee said, and was “compromised frequently.”

An internal watchdog has criticized the central bank for cybersecurity shortcomings. A 2015 audit by the Fed board’s Office of Inspector General found the board was not adequately scanning databases for vulnerabilities or putting enough restrictions on system access.

“There is heightened risk of unauthorized disclosure and inappropriate use of sensitive board information,” according to the audit released in November.

(Reporting by Jason Lange and Dustin Volz; Editing by David Chance and Brian Thevenot)


Henry Sapiecha



Former Sri Lankan cop wanted over assassination linked to Aussie eco-consultancy business


Sri Lankans protesting the 2006 shooting death of Tamil politician and human rights lawyer Nadarajah Raviraj in Sri Lanka image

Sri Lankans protesting the 2006 shooting death of Tamil politician and human rights lawyer Nadarajah Raviraj in Sri Lanka. Photo: Supplied

A Sri Lankan policeman wanted in connection with the assassination of a prominent Sri Lankan politician and human rights lawyer is suspected of hiding out in Australia and running an eco-consultancy business.

The eco-consultancy is owned by a businesswoman who says she is a friend of former United States President Bill Clinton.

Sri Lankan police have confirmed asking Australian police for assistance in tracking down Fabian Royston Toussaint​ who is wanted in Sri Lanka in connection with the 2006 shooting death of Tamil politician and human rights lawyer Nadarajah Raviraj​.

Malini Ventura, who is now known as Malini Saba image
Malini Ventura, who is now known as Malini Saba, from a promotional pic used by the Ipswich Chamber of Commerce to promote her appointment to the role.

​Australian Securities and Investment Commission records this month listed Mr Toussaint as being a director of Eco Support Consulting, a private company owned by a Malaysian-born businesswoman Malini Ventura which was established in May 2014, and registered in Victoria.

Ms Ventura, who has since changed her last name to Saba, has been involved in promoting charity dinners with Mr Clinton in Sydney and Brisbane that were mysteriously cancelled in 2010 leaving ticket buyers out of pocket.

Fairfax does not suggest Ms Saba is in any way connected to the political assassination or any of the allegations involving Toussaint.
The flyer for the Bill Clinton dinner that was promoted by Ventura and her company Redbrick Development in 2010.

The flyer for the Bill Clinton dinner that was promoted by Ventura and her company Redbrick Development in 2010. Photo: Supplied

Ms Saba last week confirmed that she had employed Mr Toussaint in the eco-consulting business but had fired him in January after becoming aware of the allegations levelled against him.

She also confirmed that Mr Toussaint had come to Australia “as a tourist” but said she did not know his whereabouts.

“That guy has been fired since January and I don’t keep in touch with that person. I wouldn’t know where to look for him. I had my team fire him. ”

She said the company was no longer operating.

Last week Sri Lankan Police Homicide Inspector Anuruddha Polwatha confirmed there was a warrant out for the arrest of Mr Toussaint in connection with the slaying of Raviraj.

Mr Raviraj, who was also a human rights lawyer was gunned down in the street by two men on a motorbike, a day after he led a protest demonstration over a Sri Lankan army bombing that killed civilians in 2006.

Inspector Polwatha said Sri Lankan police had contacted Australian police more than two months ago after receiving a tip-off that Mr Toussaint was living in Australia but were yet to receive any information.

He was surprised to learn of Mr Toussaint’s alleged involvement in the eco-consultancy.

“He’s (Toussaint) a cop. He is not expert in such matters” said Inspector Polwatha speaking by phone from Colombo.

“Can you please send us the details of that company?”.

Inspector Polwatha said police suspected Mr Toussaint may have been seeking asylum in Australia as he was reported to have left Sri Lanka four or five years earlier.

He said Mr Toussaint had been named in court as being a wanted suspect in the killing.

Efforts to contact Mr Toussaint were unsuccessful.

The registered address for the $500 Eco Support Consulting company is listed as being at Swaab lawyers in Hunter St , Sydney.

On Monday Swaab partner Terry Sperber​ said he could confirm that the firm had acted for a Ms Ventura in the past.

But he said: “We haven’t done so for quite some time.”

He said he had no information about the whereabouts of Mr Toussaint or a Ms Ventura.

Ms Saba has courted controversy in the past after being involved in business ventures which investors allege left them out of pocket – claims she vigorously denies.

She also says she is a friend of former Mr Clinton and donated between $500,000 and $1 million to the Clinton Foundation in the United States.

In September Ms Saba featured in local newspapers in Queensland after she was briefly appointed to head a chamber of commerce in Ipswich west of Brisbane this time using the name Malini Saba, but then left after just six weeks.

In 2010 she made headlines when using the name “Malini Alles-Ventura”, she promoted the charity dinners with Mr Clinton organised through a private company Redbrick Development Pty Ltd.

The Australian Financial Review reported the proposed dinners as taking place as part of the Asia Pacific Global Issues forum raising awareness and money for disadvantaged women and children. The paper reported Ms Alles-Ventura was a personal friend of Mr Clinton.

Prominent business people in Brisbane and Sydney bought tickets which were priced in some cases up to $15,000 to attend the events that included a special round table personal dinner with the ex-president to raise money for charity.

One ticket buyer prominent Brisbane businessman John MacTaggart confirmed his organisation Brisbane Angels which represents private investors looking for new technology ventures paid $5000 for tickets to the proposed Clinton dinner in Brisbane in 2010.

“It just started to become obvious things weren’t right. She disappeared.”

Mr MacTaggart said Brisbane Angels had been successful in getting a judgement against Red Brick Development but had not received any refund

“Our legal advice was that that’s about as good as you are going to get. It wasn’t much, about five grand and we weren’t going to spend any more,” he said.

Ms Saba has denied any impropriety in business dealings and said the dinners did not go ahead because Mr Clinton had cancelled.

She denied the ticket sale was a scam and said her “attorneys were still handling” issues with the money being refunded.

When asked who the lawyers were she declined to provide their name.

She said any claims that she had caused individuals to lose money were “all false”.

She said one business in Queensland that was the subject of complaints about losses had been organised by a former partner.

“That’s got nothing to do with me,” she said.

A spokesman for the Australian Federal Police refused to comment on whether officers were assisting Sri Lankan authorities in the hunt for Toussaint.

He said the AFP “did not confirm who it may or may not be investigating nor does it discuss requests for assistance from overseas law enforcement agencies”.

The Immigration Department declined to comment on the grounds it does not make statements on individuals’ immigration status or investigations.

Henry Sapiecha

AFP must admit to its ‘big mistake’ leading to Bali Nine executions,barrister says

Facing death: Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.

Facing death: Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. Photo: AP

The Australian Federal Police must take the blame for the two Bali Nine ringleaders being on death row and do everything to save them, a lawyer close to the case says.

Bob Myers, a barrister and family friend of Bali Nine drug courier Scott Rush, tipped off the AFP in 2005 about the attempted heroin run from Bali to Australia. He said he now feels “betrayed”.

The AFP assured him they would approach Rush before he left the country, he said. Instead, the AFP relayed the names, dates of birth and passport numbers of the Bali Nine members to Indonesian authorities, triggering their arrests.

'Betrayed': The Bali Nine.

Now, Bali Nine ringleaders Andrew Chan, 31, and Myuran Sukumaran, 33, face death by firing squad this month.

“I am really urging … the AFP to stand up and say, ‘Look, this was our fault, we had no authority to do it’,” Mr Myers said on ABC’s Radio National.

“They should be coming out now and saying, ‘We’ve made an enormous mistake’.”

He said the AFP was well aware of the Bali drug conspiracy and could have arrested the drug mules upon their return to Australia.

“They were both misleading and deceptive. They acted as though this was something Indonesia had done all on its own accord, they were terribly concerned about it and going to do everything they could to ensure none of the nine ever faced the death penalty,” he said.

“And it was just all lies, lies and deception.”

Mr Myers said a guideline was in place at the time of the drug plot that stopped authorities from co-operating with requests from other countries in cases that could expose an Australian to the death penalty.

“But here, there wasn’t cooperation at the request of the Indonesian authorities. This was voluntary giving of information to Indonesia,” he said.

“That’s the loophole. It was so close to illegal activity.”

The guideline has since been changed.

Mr Myers said it was time for the AFP to break its decade of silence, publicly admit to its mistakes, and do its utmost to save the lives of Chan and Sukumaran – both widely reported to be reformed and rehabilitated at Kerobokan prison.

“It sickens me to think that the very organisation charged with our protection, the AFP … we should be able to go to them and say, ‘I’m in strife here, can you give me a hand?’ That’s their job, that’s what they’re there for,” he said.

“And to think they can betray nine young Australians in the way they did is really just outrageous.”

An AFP spokesman said the agency changed its guidelines for dealing with such cases in January 2009.

It must now consider relevant factors before sharing intelligence that is likely to see an Australian prosecuted for offences that carry the death penalty.

“Ministerial approval is required in any case in which a person has been arrested or detained for, charged with, or convicted of an offence which carries the death penalty,” the spokesman said in a statement.

The new guidelines also mean the AFP must report to the minister annually on the nature and number of cases in which police assistance is provided in potential death penalty cases


Henry Sapiecha

Federal & NSW Police raid homes in Sydney: Operation ‘not connected to Martin Place siege’

australian federal police banner image


Raids are being carried out on several homes in Sydney by NSW Police and Australian Federal Police (AFP).

NSW Police said officers were conducting search warrants as part of an ongoing operation, but the action was not connected to Monday’s Martin Place siege.

It has been reported one of the properties being raided is a unit block in the north-western suburb of Marsfield.

It is also understood that at least one of the properties was targeted during large-scale counter-terrorism raids in September.

An AFP spokesman said they would release further information when it was safe to do so.

“As this activity remains ongoing, and to ensure the safety and security of the operation and the members involved, it is not appropriate to provide further details at this time,” the spokesman said.

“We will endeavour to provide further information as the AFP and NSW Police are in a position to do so.”

Henry Sapiecha


STOP SIGN AFP has defended its use of a controversial power that it uses to block websites image

The AFP has defended its use of a controversial power that it uses to block websites. Photo: Andrew Quilty

Australia’s top law-enforcement agency has defended its use of a controversial law that requires internet service providers to block websites government agencies deem illegal, without judicial oversight.

Speaking before a parliamentary inquiry, Australian Federal Police’s officials explained  they need section 313 of the Telecommunications Act, which requires telcos such as Telstra and Optus to assist government agencies to enforce criminal laws, protect public revenue and safeguard national security.

The AFP, financial regulator ASIC and an unidentified national security agency have interpreted the law to mean they have the power to order telcos to block websites hosting illegal material.

But internet providers such as  iiNet and industry bodies such as  the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) and the Communications Alliance have called for restrictions. They argue there is not enough oversight and that some providers had even received blocking requests from animal protection agency the RSPCA.

Section 313  allows an “almost unlimited range of government and law-enforcement agencies that can rely on the powers set out in section 313”, iiNet’s submission to the inquiry says.

That interpretation of the Act came to light last year after ASIC inadvertently blocked more than 250,000 websites by requesting a block on an internet protocol (IP) address as opposed to a domain name like As many IP addresses host multiple websites, the request resulted in many  legal sites being blocked.

ASIC has used the power to block websites being employed for investment fraud. It’s unknown what the RSPCA wanted to block.

AFP officials said they couldn’t comment on the ASIC incident but thought their use of the power was uncontroversial.

The AFP said it had used the power to block malicious software, child exploitation material and sites such as  online marketplace Silk Road, which are used by criminals to sell drugs and other illegal items. As the judicial process “takes time”, it said it preferred section 313 blocks over court orders.

To justify its position, the AFP used the analogy of blocking access to a building in the real world that was unsafe to access.

“We’re not asking for information, we’re simply saying this needs to stop,” said Commissioner Kevin Zuccato, acting Deputy Commissioner of Close Operations Support.

“An example for me would be the ability to go outside and identify that there’s a threat coming up the road and ask my people to erect bollards so that folks can’t get to this building. It’s simply saying ‘stop, you can’t enter’ and allows us to do what we need … ”

Department of Communications officials  attending the hearing admitted the blocks could be circumvented by the use of virtual private networks (VPNs), which allow web users to camouflage their location.

Between 2011 and 2013 the department estimated 32 requests to block websites had been made.

As far as it was aware, only three government agencies had used the power.

As a form of oversight, the department recommended agencies making use of the power report their requests to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

AFP officials said on Wednesday they would not have a problem with this. It added thatthe auditing of its use of the powers was already “robust” and that blocking of sites was only “used as a last resort”.

Getting websites taken down first was usually the preferred method, they said.

Australian Greens Senator Scott Ludlam has previously said the interpretation of the law opened the door “to wide-scale banning of sites” on the internet.

“It also means no one is effectively in charge; other government agencies could demand sites be blocked with no co-ordination or accountability in place.”

Henry Sapiecha



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

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

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.


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.”


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.


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

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.


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

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

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.


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.


“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.


NSW Police make arrests in counter terrorism operation

Where the raids took place in Brisbane Source DailyTelegraph map image


Where the raids were carried out in Sydney Source DailyTelegraph image


Henry Sapiecha