Australian special forces have been operating in several African countries over the past year gathering intelligence on terrorist activities, a report said yesterday.
The Sydney Morning Herald said 4 Squadron of the elite Special Air Service (SAS) had mounted dozens of clandestine operations in places such as Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Kenya in a role normally carried out by spies.
Citing a government source, it said the missions by the previously unknown squadron were believed to involve terrorism intelligence gathering amid concerns about the threat posed by the Islamist al-Shabaab militia.
They are also aimed at developing rescue strategies for evacuating trapped Australian civilians while assessing African border controls and exploring landing sites for possible military interventions.
The information gathered flows into databases used by the US and its allies, it said.
The Herald added that the operations have raised serious concerns among some sections of the military and intelligence communities that the troops do not have adequate legal protection or contingency plans if they are captured.
“They have all the espionage skills, but without [the Australian Secret Intelligence Service’s (ASIS)] legal cover,” one government source said.
According to the newspaper, ASIS officers are permitted under Australian law to carry false passports and, if arrested, to deny who they are employed by.
Australian Defence Force members, such as the SAS, on normal operations cannot carry false identification and cannot deny which government they work for.
Australian Minister of Defense Stephen Smith refused to confirm the group’s existence “because we don’t want to put at risk either operations or our national security.”
However, he said that all Australian operatives overseas did their job within the law and had proper protection.
The Polish Supreme Court on Friday quashed a lower court’s green light for the extradition of a businessman to China for alleged fraud, a charge he has denied, saying that he is being targeted for supporting Falun Gong. Polish authorities took Chinese-born Swedish citizen Li Zhihui, now 53, into custody in 2019 on an international warrant issued by China for alleged non-payment in a business deal, Krzysztof Kitajgrodzki, his Polish lawyer, told reporters. Following the Supreme Court ruling, the case would return to a lower appellate court for review. Kitajgrodzki told reporters that it was still not a given that his client
The Palauan president-elect has vowed to stand up to Chinese “bullying” in the Pacific, saying that the archipelago nation is set to stand by its alliances with “true friends,” Taiwan and the US. Surangel Whipps Jr, 52, a supermarket owner and two-time senator from a prominent Palauan family, is to be sworn in as the new president tomorrow, succeeding his brother-in-law, Tommy Remengesau Jr. In a forthright interview, Whipps said that the US had demonstrated over the years that it was a reliable friend of Palau, most recently shown by its delivery of 6,000 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. “It’s important for
DELIVERING HOPE: The Japanese PM pledged to push ahead with plans to stage the Games, despite polls showing about 80% think they will not or should not happen Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga yesterday vowed to get the COVID-19 pandemic under control and hold the already postponed Olympic Games this summer with ample protection. In a speech opening a new session of parliament, Suga said that his government would revise laws to make disease prevention measures enforceable with penalties and compensation. Early in the pandemic, Japan was able to keep its caseload manageable with nonbinding requests for businesses to close or operate with social distancing, and for people to stay at home, but recent weeks have seen several highs in new cases per day, in part blamed on eased attitudes
On Sunday last week, in a nondescript building in the Indian city of Gwalior, 322km south of Delhi, a large crowd of men gathered. Most wore bright saffron hats and scarves, a color evoking Hindu nationalism, and many held strands of flowers as devotional offerings. They were there to attend the inauguration of the Godse Gyan Shala, a memorial library and “knowledge center” dedicated to Nathuram Godse, the man who shot Mahatma Gandhi. The devotional yellow and pink flowers were laid around a black and white photograph of Godse, the centerpiece of the room. On Jan. 30, 1948, Godse stepped out in