Australia’s spy chief defends comments on terrorism, refugees

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Sydney, May 31 (IANS) The head of Australia’s spy agency on Wednesday defended his earlier comments that radical Sunni Islam was to be blamed for terrorism, not refugees.

Duncan Lewis told ABC News that tens of thousands of refugees have come to Australia over the last decade or so, but “very few of them have become subjects of interest for ASIO (Australian Security Intelligence Organisation) and have been involved in terrorist planning”.

He said that three out of the 12 terror attacks in the country in the past few years were carried out by refugees or children of refugees but asserted that they are terrorists not because they were refugees “but because of the violent, extremist interpretation of Sunni Islam that they have adopted”.

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He also stressed that the country’s scrutiny of asylum applications and border control was adequately tough.

Lewis came under fire from the One Nation party for defending the country’s refugee programme and rejecting the belief that refugees were responsible for terrorism at a committee meeting last week of the Australian Senate.

One Nation party Senator Malcolm Roberts, who wants to ban the entry of Muslims in Australia, had tweeted “if ASIO cannot see a link between refugees and terrorism, we are in far greater danger than I thought”.

Among Australia’s most tragic terrorist attacks was the 17-hour long siege of a cafe in Sydney in December 2014 by a self-proclaimed cleric of Iranian-origin, Haron Monis, that killed three, including himself.



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